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American Studies Overview

Page history last edited by Beth Helfrich 10 years ago

American Studies


Instructors: Jeff Donnelly, Tim Helfrich


Course Outline, Class Page


American Studies (2012-2013)

The American Studies course examines the history and culture of the United States from its early inhabitants and colonization through the early 21st century. At all times, students examine the country’s identity throughout history and with a look to the future. With an emphasis on group and individual project work, formal and informal writing assignments, as well as class discussion and debate, students develop into critical thinkers with the ability to articulate questions, distinguish fact from opinion, analyze and synthesize information, and write and speak intelligently about American literature and American cultural development. Through the analysis and interpretation of historical and modern events from political, cultural, economic, diplomatic, and social perspectives, students examine the continuities and discontinuities in American culture.


The study of American history, identity, and art includes a close focus on such key topics as: the American War for Independence, the philosophy of government, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and post-Cold War America. Students examine works from a wide variety sources and perspectives, in multiple mediums, and utilize the principles of writing and discussion to develop analytical and critical essays, projects, and presentations. Works studied for this course include: fiction and nonfiction from such authors John Steinbeck, Tim O’Brien, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Benjamin Franklin, Malcolm X, Tennessee Williams, and F. Scott Fitzgerald; the music of Stephen Foster, Scott Joplin, Woody Guthrie, Louis Armstrong, and Bruce Springsteen; visual artists such as Winslow Homer, Dorothea Lange, Jasper Johns, and Mark Rothko; and films from DW Griffith, Stanley Kubrick, and Spike Lee.


* American Studies students who have elected to participate in either AP Literature and Composition or AP US History will meet an additional two, thirty-minute seminars (per subject) each week for AP related coursework, with additional readings and assignments selected specifically for exam preparation.

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