HIST231 - AMERICAN CULTURE WARS: SOCIETY, MORALITY, AND POLITICS

Description: 
Should statues of Confederate soldiers be taken down? Is it appropriate for football players to kneel during the national anthem? How should the United States treat refugees from predominantly Muslim nations? These questions are only the latest battlefields in the “culture wars,” the long-running conversation—or, more often, shouting match—about what the United States ought to stand for and how Americans ought to live. This seminar will explore how Americans have wrestled with questions of morality and national identity since the country’s founding. Two questions will drive our discussion. First, why do certain issues become the subject of fierce cultural conflict in American life? Second, do these conflicts enrich or undermine American democracy? We will focus on four moments in the history of the culture wars: the disestablishment of churches in the early United States; opposition to immigration, particularly of Jews and Catholics, in the late nineteenth century; campaigns to prohibit alcohol, culminating in the Eighteenth Amendment; and recent clashes over the expansion of gay rights. In each case we will explore the worldviews and experiences of Americans engaged in these conflicts, drawing on primary sources that will range from presidential debates and congressional speeches to cartoons and popular songs. At the semester’s end, students will write a lecture or research paper on a “culture war” topic of their choosing. Potential subjects include juvenile delinquency, the teaching of evolution, affirmative action, or gun control. **RESEARCH REQUIREMENT OPTIONAL**
Instructors: 
SCHULTZ, WILLIAM
Day and Time: 
W 0330PM-0630PM
Room: 

COLLEGE HALL 217

Activity: 
SEM
Cross Listings: