2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

America Abroad


Fall 2012, Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 quarters

Stacey Davis European history , Samuel Schrager American studies, folklore , Eric Stein cultural anthropology
Fields of Study
American studies, anthropology, community studies, cultural studies, history, international studies, literature, study abroad and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
the humanities and social sciences, community service, international relations, writing, law, media and teaching.

Democracy...is the rock upon which we toil, and we thrive or wane in the communication of those symbols and processes set in motion in its name . -Ralph Ellison

To educated Europeans around 1800 the new republic called The United States of America was founded on an incredible idea drawn from 18th century Enlightenment discourse: that human beings could govern themselves. The fraught implications of this democratic ideal have played out ever since. They loom large in the promise of a new start that drew 35,000,000 immigrants between the 1840s and the close of unrestricted immigration in the 1920s, and millions more who have continued to come; in the institutions that supported 19th century slavery, 20th century Jim Crow segregation, and subsequent Civil Rights movements; in the aspirations, past and present, of women and other lower-status groups. The meanings of American democracy, contested at home, have also been much scrutinized abroad. While American power has often been feared or resisted, other peoples often invoke or adapt democratic ideals to serve their own needs.

This program will explore these complex relationships between the world-in-America and America-in-the-world. How, we will ask, are our identities as Americans shaped by ethnic, religious, gendered, class and place-based experiences--for example, by the cultural hybridizations and the real (and imagined) ties to home cultures endemic in American society? How do diverse Americans wrestle with democratic values in their ordinary lives? We will also consider some of the contemporary manifestations of American presence and power in various locations abroad. Using an anthropological lens, we will reflect on people's often ambivalent readings of tourists and soldiers, American aid organizations and NGOs, Hollywood mediascapes, and American commodities. How, we will ask, ought we to understand American representations of foreign "others" in travel writing, cinema, or museum display, and how have Americans themselves been represented as "others" in relationship to the larger world?

Our program will provide strong contexts for students to study and work closely with faculty in the fields of history, anthropology, folklore, literature and creative non-fiction. In the fall and the first half of winter we will focus on in-depth readings of texts and training in the crafts of ethnography, writing and academic research in preparation for major independent research and senior theses. Students will undertake these projects on a topic of their choice, from mid-winter to mid-spring, either in the U.S. or abroad, in ongoing dialogue with peers and faculty. In the last half of spring the program will reconvene to review students' written work in light of the leading issues of our inquiry.

There will be three main kinds of research projects.  Fieldwork projects in the U.S. can be conducted locally, or elsewhere, on topics involving cultures, identities, community or place; they will have an emphasis on creative non-fiction writing, and optional opportunity for internships.  Academic research projects in the U.S. or abroad can explore a historical, art historical, literary, or sociological topic, using primary or secondary resources.  Community-based projects abroad will combine service learning with research on an aspect of American culture or on values and practices in another society. Service opportunities include include health, education, youth, agriculture, community development, women's empowerment and human rights. Thailand will be a featured destination, with faculty providing language training and in-country instruction and support.  While students can choose any location with faculty approval, there will be additional opportunities for students in Guatemala and Western Europe.

Online Learning
Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online
Greener Store
Required Fees
Approximately $115 for a field trip in fall.
Study Abroad
 (optional) Thailand or location of student interest, approximately 10 weeks, mid-winter to mid-spring, approximately $1,800 to $4,000.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
February 20th, 2013 This program is not accepting new enrollment spring quarter.
August 13th, 2012 Fall fee reduced.