Syllabus - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries

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Syllabus - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries ...

    AMST 211, Introduction to the American South: A Cultural Journey

    Spring 2010, 9:30-10:45 AM, Tu/Th

    Tuesday 11:00-12:30; Wednesday 1:00-2:30, and by Gardner 08 by appointment ? Profs. Bernie Herman and Marcie Cohen Ferris ? Marcie Cohen Ferris, 320 Greenlaw, ? Bernie Herman, 312 Greenlaw, ? Ferris office hours: Tues., 3:30-5 PM, and by appointment. ? Herman office hours:

    ? Emily Hilliard, Teaching Assistant,

    ? Steve Kruger, Teaching Assistant, ? Jacqueline Solis, American Studies Librarian,

    “Introduction to the American South: A Cultural Journey” is a work-in-progress, which we will create together as a classroom community. We look forward to exploring the MANY Souths with you this


For generations, artists, documentarians, musicians, scholars, and writers have

    attempted to capture this diverse region in the works of their hands and minds. They

    have done so in expressive forms of material and visual culture, in the literature of

    native southerners and those who live in the many “southern diasporas” of America

    such as New York‟s Harlem and Chicago‟s South Side, in the musical traditions of the

    blues, gospel, country music, and hip hop, at the tables of white linen restaurants,

    corner cafes, and home kitchens, and in the contemporary media world of blogs,

    websites, journalism, film, and television that have taken southern cultural forms to a

    global audience. Cultural tourism and the commodification of southern culture has

    created a multi-billion dollar industry attracting visitors to the region and exporting its

    folk art, food products, and “southern-aesthetic” sold in countless forms from

    plantation-style house plans to lowcountry sea grass baskets and NASCAR t-shirts.

    Hurricane Katrina‟s near destruction of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast brought attention to the region‟s invaluable culture, and what it would mean to America “to lose New Orleans.”

Students will examine southern cultural identity, recognizing the contributions of all its people, including

    men and women of American Indian, African, Latino, Asian, and European descent,

    and inversely, exploring how global communities have responded to the cultural George McCord, Sunset on St. John‟s River, Ogden Museum exports of the American South. Students will consider the region in all its

    complexity through a multi-disciplinary conversation about the American South that

    considers art, archaeology, architecture, cultural tourism, ecology, folklife, foodways, geography, history,

    language, literature, material culture, myth and manners, music, politics, religion, values, and more.

Course assignments will expose students to the unsurpassed resources of UNC‟s Southern Historical

    Collection and Southern Folklife Collection, as well as southern collections at UNC‟s Ackland Museum

    of Art, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Nasher Museum at Duke University, the Museum of Early

    Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, and other cultural and historical institutions in the region.

    Students will be encouraged to explore local cultural “repositories,” such as the pottery centers of

    Seagrove and Jug Town, to taste the local flavors of southern foodways, and to attend regional art

    happenings, literary readings, musical performances, and folklife events.



    1. To understand the complex history and evolution of the term, “southern culture.”

    2. To critically consider the cultural construction of southern identity: how and why does a

    region create “identity?”

    3. To articulate what makes the South viscerally American.

    4. To question the history and idea of a “distinctive South.”

    5. To consider the idea of a core cultural canon of the American South. Does it exist?

    6. To examine both the diasporic and global American South.


    The readings for our course are keyed to the presentations, but the match is never perfect. You

    are responsible for all the concepts in the readingseven if they are not covered in class. Concepts and materials taken from the readings, however, should inform your class comments,

    assignments, and exams.

    There are five required texts:

    ? Andrew K. Frank, The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American South (RHAAS) Read

    Part I, II, III by mid-term, March 2. Complete Part IV, V by end of term.

    ? Ernest Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying

    ? Southern Cultures, special food issue (Winter 2009), guest editor, Marcie C. Ferris

    ? Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard Poems

    ? Charles G. Zug, III, “North Carolina Pottery Center Booklet”

Many of our readings will come from two southern journals:

    1. Southern Cultures, published quarterly by UNC's Center for the Study of the American South,

    Southern Cultures assembles a rich forum of animated, voices discussing all aspects of southern

    life. Compiling the best of academic and general interest writing, each issue features insightful

    articles, entertaining columns, and captivating photographs--all bound in an award-winning

    design. Regular features survey southern foods, personal reminiscences, and contemporary

    trends. For online access to Southern Cultures issues published since winter 2000, go to Project

    Muse at:

    2. Southern Spaces is a peer-reviewed, online journal exploring the real and imagined places of the American South and their connections with the wider world. The journal welcomes


submissions from scholars, photographers, and visual artists in such areas as geography, southern

    studies, regional studies, African American, Native, and American Studies, women's studies,

    LGBTQ studies, and public health. Southern Spaces includes a great range of materials from traditional scholarly articles (enlivened by web resources, primary documents, and video) to

    southern poets reading their work “in situ,” to new exhibits, as well as a great selection of

    weblinks to other southern resources and institutions. See:



    AND FORMS FOR ASSIGNMENTS ARE POSTED ON THE AMST 211 WEB PAGE. Go to, click the login button, and then click on AMST 211 spring semester.

    The course webpage is located under “Library Research” on our blackboard site.

Postcard 1 DUE 1/21 (5% of final grade)

    Fieldwork: Archival Collection DUE 2/4 (15% of final grade)

    Mid-term DUE 3/4 (20% of final grade)

    Fieldwork: Heritage site or museum DUE 3/25 (15 % of final grade)

    Postcard 2 DUE 4/15 (5% of final grade)

    Fieldwork: Eating experience DUE 4/22 (15% of final grade) Final exam Sat., May 1, 8-11 AM (25% of final grade)

    Class participation: attendance/engagement in class counts towards your final grade.

Fieldwork: Students will visit and write 3-4 page reaction papers about each of the following:

    1 museum or heritage site, 1 collection or archive, 1 eating experience. Each fieldwork

    assignment stands as 15% of the final grade for a total of 45%:

    ? Museums or heritage sites: Ackland Art Museum at UNC-CH, Nasher Museum of Art at

    Duke University, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in Winston-

    Salem, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, Ayr Mount in Hillsborough, Stagville

    in Durham, and the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library, UNC-CH.

    ? Archives and collections: Southern Historical Collection and Southern Folklife Collection in

    UNC‟s Wilson Library, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), Winston-


    ? Eating experience: One of two options. 1) A southern foodways experience that might

    include a meal or farmer‟s market visit. Think about the engagement of all the senses.

    Southern Places, Spaces, Traces, and Faces: Two postcards (these can be new or vintage or homemade). Choose a postcard or make one that epitomizes a Southern place. Postcard 1: on the

    reverse side write a description of the sense of place (think of this as the answer to the statement

    “wish you were here—why?). Postcard 2: on the second postcard write a message that describes

    “how” the postcard visualizes the sense of place. In the address square of both postcards, write the address of the places or people you would visit to learn more about that sense of place. Each

    postcard is 5% of the final grade. Total 10%. See the North Carolina postcard collection at

    Wilson Library: North Carolina Postcard Collection, NC Collection, Wilson Library


    Exams: There will be two in-class examsa mid-term and a final. The midterm counts 20% of the final grade. The final exam counts for 25%.

    Final Grade

    The final grade is computed from the total marks:

    A (96-100), A- (91-95), B+ (88-90), B (84-87), B- (81-83), C+ (78-80), C (74-77), C- (71-73),

    D+ (68-70), D (64-67), D- (61-63), F (<61)

The University of North Carolina policy on academic honesty can be found at:


    Speaking and Writing Skills: Ability to read, write, listen, and speak effectively. Critical Thinking Skills: Ability to raise clear and precise questions, use abstract ideas to

    interpret information, consider diverse points of view, and reach well-reasoned conclusions.


    Participation takes two forms: class attendance and regular participation in class discussion.

    There will be a sign-in sheet circulated for each class. It is your responsibility to be sure that you

    sign in. The instructors and teaching assistants will keep track of those who contribute to class

    discussion. You are allowed two unexcused absences. Each unexcused absence that follows

    drops your participation grade by 20%.

Sitting in class without participating, taking notes, or looking up regularly from your computer

    are behaviors that do NOT constitute participation, or even presence. A steady and unvarying

    stare at the computer screen clearly signals that the computer user is not participating, but doing

    email, instant messaging, or something else irrelevant to the course. Such behavior, which is

    obvious to professors and teaching assistants, will be reflected in your participation grade.

ATTEND lectures sponsored by UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South

    (CSAS). This is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of southern history and culture;

    the link to the Center‟s website is on our course webpage. CSAS sponsors great lectures and

    programs throughout the semester. Explore their website.


    Remember, email is best suited