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    Vassar College
   
 
  Sep 23, 2017
 
 
    
Catalogue 2017-2018
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AMST 100 - Introduction to American Studies

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)


(Same as RELI 100 ) This course reveals and challenges the histories of the categories that contribute to the definition of “America.” The course explores ideas such as nationhood and the nation-state, democracy and citizenship, ethnic and racial identity, myths of frontier and facts of empire, borders and expansion, normativity and representation, sovereignty and religion, regionalism and transnationalism as these inform our understanding of the United States and American national identity. One goal of the course is to introduce students to important concepts and works in American Studies. Either AMST 100 or AMST 105  will satisfy the 100-level core requirement of the American Studies major. Topics vary with expertise of the faculty teaching the course.

Topic for 2017/18a: The American Secular: Religion and the Nation-State. Is there a distinct realm in American politics and culture called the secular, a space or a mode of pubic discourse that is crucially free of and from the category of religion? This class considers the sorts of theoretical and historical moments in American life, letters, and practice that have, on the one hand, insisted the importance and necessity of such a realm, and on the other hand, resisted the very notion that religion should be kept out of the American public square. We will ask whether it is possible or even desirable—in our politics, in our public institutions, in ourselves—to conceive of the secular and the religious as radically opposed. We will ask if there are better ways to conceive of the secular and the religious in American life, ways that acknowledge their mutual interdependence rather than their exclusivity. Jonathon Kahn.

 

Open to freshmen and sophomores only.

Two 75-minute periods.



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