2008-09 Catalog

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Program Description

American Places

Revised Last Updated: 11/25/2008

Fall, Winter and Spring quarters

Faculty: Matt Smith political science, Kristina Ackley Native American studies, Sam Schrager folklore, American studies

Faculty Signature Required: Winter quarter

Major areas of study include American studies, anthropology, literature, history, Native American studies, politics, and community studies.

Class Standing: This all-level program accepts up to 25% freshmen as well as supporting and encouraging those ready for advanced work.

Accepts Winter Enrollment: This program will accept new students who have appropriate background. Contact faculty at Academic Fair or by email. New students should expect to complete some catch-up work during the December break.

"Place absorbs our earliest notice and attention, it bestows on us our original awareness; and our critical powers spring up from the study of it and the growth of experience inside it. Sense of place gives equilibrium; extended, it is sense of direction too." –Eudora Welty

Place forms us, Welty says. Yet in this age of unprecedented interchangeability of spaces, what happens to the distinctive character of places? In the face of the mobility, uprooting, and alienation endemic in the U.S. and elsewhere, what connections to place can we hope to nurture? Our program will explore how place emerges from experiences of location within the physical world and power-laden fields of social relations. We will study how American places are conceived, lived in, felt about, fought over, and transformed at intersections of geography and history, culture and politics. How, we will ask, do persons and groups create—and how are they shaped by—the places they inhabit?

Re-imagining and reinventing place will be a central theme. We will look at how Indigenous communities have contested American spaces by re-mapping race, gender and nation in the face of colonization, and we will listen to ongoing Native discourse about the effects of borders on tribal sovereignty. Our inquiry will consider other groups remaking places: Europeans transplanting home cultures, African Americans asserting selfhood in racist South and North, settlers relocating to the West, and Latin American and Asian immigrants forging transnational identities. Contemporary issues will include tourism and economic development, power in social institutions, practices of community, the value of stories and the fate of cultural traditions. Our views of place will range broadly, encompassing Olympia and New York City, the Six Nations Confederacy and the Idaho woods, families and worship-houses, beauty salons and theme parks, schools and prisons.

This program offers ideal opportunities for students to develop skill as interpreters, writers, and researchers by studying scholarly and imaginative works and by conducting ethnographic fieldwork (observation, interviewing, documentation of social life). From mid-winter to mid-spring, students will undertake an extended project about a place and community of their choice, locally or elsewhere. (NOTE: With faculty approval, students can also carry out this study in a location abroad.) This project, embedded in the conversation of the program, will include the option of combining research with internships or other community service. The research will be a fine context for writing senior theses. We anticipate that the work students accomplish will be a source of pride and pleasure in years to come.

Credits: 16 per quarter

Enrollment: 72

Internship Possibilities: With faculty approval, as part of winter-spring research project.

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Special Expenses: $240 for fall and spring program field trips. Students may incur expenses associated with winter/spring research project. Costs will depend on location of study and choices of research.

Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in humanities, elementary and secondary education, journalism, American studies, Native American studies, social services, law, and environmental studies.

Planning Units: Programs for Freshmen, Culture, Text and Language, Native American and World Indigenous Peoples' Studies

Program Revisions

Date Revision
April 30th, 2008 The program now includes the opportunity for community-based research and internships abroad.
November 17th, 2008 Winter quarter enrollment details added.
November 25th, 2008 Winter quarter enrollment field utilized.