English 135AC

Literature of American Cultures: Race and Performance in the 20th c. U.S.

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2010 Saul, Scott
Saul, Scott
TTh 12:30-2 390 Hearst Mining

Other Readings and Media



"Race is not only real, but also illusory. Not only is it common sense; it is also common nonsense. Not only does it establish our identity; it also denies us our identity." — Howard Winant

"Each society demands of its members a certain amount of acting. The ability to present, represent, and act what one actually is." — Hannah Arendt

This course is two courses wrapped up in one. First, it offers a selected history of major innovations in American popular culture of the last hundred years — from the origins of the American culture industries in blackface minstrelsy, ragtime, and jazz to the development of the Hollywood studio system, rock 'n' roll, soul music, and the "New Hollywood".

Second, it tells that first very large story through America's unique history of crossracial and crossethnic interplay. Why, we might ask, is the story of the US so often told through stories of interracial dependency or conflict, whether it's the story of American colonists dressing up as Indians at the Boston Tea Party, Little Eva blessing Uncle Tom, or Elvis or Eminem borrowing from the 'other side of the tracks'? Following this line of inquiry, we will trace America's history through the development of structures of inequity and opportunity that define our social history, and through the development of complicated race-inflected stories of camaraderie, rivalry, beset virtue, and desire that often define our national fantasy life.

This course satisfies UC Berkeley’s American Cultures requirement.

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