Designed as an interdisciplinary course, the work we do in this class is part history, part visual culture analysis, and part cultural anthropology.
The Liberty Bell. Lincoln. Barbie. Route 66. Disneyland. Elvis. Ali. These are all American Icons. This class explores iconic images of America as a way to understand the central myths, promises, and ideas behind the nation – ideas about freedom, individuality, democracy, mobility, second chances, masculinity and femininity, race, and class. Each unit will focus on an individual icon, its origins, what it represented, and how this representation has changed over time and place. The course will invite a critical analysis of these icons and their economic and cultural impact in a global context.
Icons for 2015, with links to relevant web sources:
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s history of the Betsy Ross Legend: http://www.common-place.org/vol-08/no-01/ulrich/
Timothy O’Sullivan’s West: http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2012/05/the-american-west-150-years-ago/100304/ ; and explore The Third View: http://www.thirdview.org/3v/home/index.html
Also Sherman Alexie’s “War Dances” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/08/10/war-dances
The Wizard of Oz
1900 edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
The Migrant Mother
Library of Congress, “Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” Photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview” ttp://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/128_migm.html and this follow-up piece on Florence Owens Thompson: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/fts/kansascity_201307F03.html
Jill Lepore’s “The Last Amazon,” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/22/last-amazon
Rosie the Riveter
The website for Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park Read/or listen to one of the Rosie Oral Histories at the Bancroft Library.
Edgar Allan Poe
***At Temple University, this class was first developed by Bryant Simon (please see his class blog here).