Fall 2014 Courses

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Fall 2014 Courses

AMST089 FYS: Native American Artists
Instructor: Dr. Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote
MWF 10:00-10:50;
Greenlaw 222
This course examines the lives, works, and representation of American Indian artists though biographical and autobiographical texts, secondary articles, books, and though art itself.  This course sharpens written and verbal communication though in-class discussion, informal, and formal assignments.  This course also encourages students to critically examine and analyze representations of Native artists and the items they have produced.This course analyzes multifaceted roles that American Indian artists play within their families, communities, and the world at large. This course connects artists and art to vital conversations in American Indian studies such as colonialism, identity, gender, and tribal sovereignty. It also explores how Native people and others have constructed and contested the idea of the “Native American Artist.”  Why is this so contentious?  What do the lives of artists tell us about how Native people have been represented by themselves and others?    How have the represented themselves not just though their art but through texts as well?


AMST201: On the Question of the Animal: Literary Approaches to American Studies
Instructor: Dr. Sharon Holland
TR 3:30-4:45;
Murphey 204
What is it about animals that so intrigues us? What is the difference between human cognition and animal cognition? What do we truly know about dogs, horses or cats? Why should we care? This course is an introduction to the discipline of “Animal Studies” in American Studies work through literary approaches to the question of the animal. We will read work from dog and horse trainers, get an inside look at the workings of North Carolina barn culture and explore the history of the racetrack through such novels as Toni Morrison’s A Mercy and Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule. We will read works by Temple Grandin and view the HBO biopic about her work. We will also read local dog trainer Cat Warren’s book, What the Dog Knows. This course defines the “literary” very broadly and will also include readings in philosophy, and of course, animal science.

AMST/HIST/ANTH 234: The Kiowa in American Indian Studies
Instructor: Dr. Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote
MWF 1:00-1:50; Room TBA
It is possible to gain a comprehensive understanding of American Indian Studies though the lens of one American Indian nation.  This course examines major discussions in the field, through a discussion of the Kiowa, a Plains Indian nation located in Oklahoma. The Kiowa play a unique role in American Indian history, literature, and the arts. This class will take an interdisciplinary approach to explore Kiowa social, cultural, and political life.  We will examine Kiowa efforts to maintain their tribal sovereignty. We will also analyze the role of law policy, gender, and the rise of intertribal movements like the powwow.  To approach these and other issues, students will read a number of articles, historical documents, and following texts:  The Way to Rainy Mountain by Pulitzer Prize winner, N. Scott Momaday, The Jesus Road:  Kiowas, Christianity and Indian Hymns by Luke Lassiter, Clyde Ellis, and Ralph Kotay, and Kiowa Humanity and the Invasion of the State by Jacki Rand.

AMST235: Native America in the 20th Century
Instructor: Dr. Dan Cobb
MW 10:00-10:50; Davie 112
Recitation Sections R 2:00-2:50; R 3:30-4:20; F 10:00-10:50
The idea that American Indian communities would continue to exist in the year 2000 would have confounded late nineteenth-century federal policymakers.  By that time, the Native population had collapsed, the tribal land base had been all but destroyed, and the allotment and assimilation juggernaut pledged to “Kill the Indian to Save the Man.”  And yet, at the dawn of the new millennium, it was the system of colonial administration—not the indigenous peoples subjected to it—that appeared anachronistic.  Against terrible odds and in defiance of dominant expectations, Native communities endured.  “Twentieth-Century Native America” explores this complex and fascinating story.  Readings and lectures will carry students from the Pacific Northwest at the end of the nineteenth century to the Southeast at the end of the twentieth.  Along the way, we will engage critically important issues, such as identity construction and contestation, the shifting meanings of sovereignty and citizenship, and the problems of blood and belonging.


AMST275: American Communities and Cultures: A Photographic Approach (Documenting Communities)
Instructor: Bill Bamberger
T 6:00-8:50; Greenlaw 301
This is a documentary fieldwork class in which each student selects a community to come to know and photograph during the course of the semester.  Community is broadly defined as a place where people come together in a meaningful way.  In previous classes students have photographed unusual kinds of communities or cultural gathering places like shopping malls, airports and cemeteries.  Others have explored the social landscape and American culture with topics like patriotism and the American flag or graffiti art in the South.  The class meets once a week and is divided into two parts: students sharing their evolving projects and slide discussions about the work of renowned documentary photographers. Students must have Adobe Photoshop CS6 and access to a DSLR camera or similar.  Instructor permission required.

AMST482: Images of American Landscapes
Instructor: Dr. Kathy Roberts
TR 11:00-12:15; Wilson 202
This course is designed to attune students to the complexities of cultural landscapes in the US. We will begin our journey by studying the development of landscape as a concept in the Western context and how the idea of landscape shapes the way we look at our physical surroundings. The course will progress thematically, covering different analytical perspectives on landscape studies, such as experience (phenomenological approaches), consumption and the geographic gaze. Towards the end of the course we will consider several particular landscapes in light of our theoretical readings: urban, rural and university. We will take class fieldtrips to visit these landscapes together. By the end of the course, students should be able to understand cultural landscapes as material realities and as forms of communication, capable of revealing what we value as individuals and communities and as a nation, and to evaluate critically the ways in which landscape mediates power relations in the U.S.

AMST485: Folk, Self-Taught, Vernacular, and Outsider Arts
Instructor: Dr. Bernie Herman
W 3:30-6:20; Murphey 204

Folk, vernacular, self-taught and outsider are terms applied to a large body of aesthetic work that occupies and contests the borderlands of contemporary art.  Our course examines current conversations with this often hotly debated and deeply conflicted field.  Among the themes we will discuss are anxieties of authenticity, the connoisseurship of dysfunction, creative and critical inscription and erasure, aesthetic and identity transgressions, and the representation of outsiders in popular and documentary media.  The class will visit collections and exhibitions. Among the artists to be discussed are the works of Charles Benefiel, Malcolm Mckesson, Thornton Dial, Sr., Mary Lee Bendolph, Ronald Lockett, Martin Ramirez, Irene Williams, and James Castle.  Genres addressed include works on paper, artists’ books, quilts and fiber arts, sculpture and constructions, performance pieces, and installations.  The seminar will also include working with the artist Lonnie Holley during his weeklong residency, planning an exhibition and programming on the art of Ronald Lockett, and exploring the Souls Grown Deep Archive recently acquired by the Southern Folklife Center.


AMST486: Shalom Y’all: The Jewish Experience in the American South
Instructor: Dr. Marcie Ferris
MWF 11:00-11:50; Murphey 115
This course explores ethnicity in the South and focuses on the experience of Jewish southerners. Since the arrival of Sephardic Jews in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, southern Jews have blended their regional identity as Jews and as Southerners. This course explores the “braided identity” of Jews in the South—their relationships with white and black Gentile southerners, their loyalty to the South as a region, and their embrace of southern culture through foodways, language, religious observance, and other expressive forms of culture. The course traces the history of Jewish southerners from the colonial era to the present, using film, museum exhibits, literature, and material culture as resources. Throughout the course we consider the question of southern Jewish distinctiveness. Is southern Jewish culture different from Jewish culture in other regions of the country, and if so, why? Is region a significant factor in American Jewish identity? Students will explore these issues through class discussion and writing assignments.

AMST795: Digital Humanities Field Experience
Instructor: Dr. Robert Allen

AMST850: Digital Humanities Practicum
Instructor: Dr. Seth Kotch
M 2:00-4:50; Greenlaw 431
This practicum blends traditional graduate seminar discussions with hands-on training and experience in the digital humanities. Students will work alongside DH practitioners in the Digital Innovation Lab, contributing to an ongoing digital humanities project or projects that emphasize interdisciplinary, trans-domain, collaborative practice. Students will emerge from this practicum with a deeper understanding of digital humanities approaches, practices, and issues, all of which will have been applied to their own project-based work and training. Lab Work: Students will contribute eight hours per week to ongoing project work in the Digital Innovation Lab. The particular role each student will play on the project tam will depend on their skills, background, professional goals, and experience in relation to the needs of the project. Student work will be split between contributions to a collaborative group project and other ongoing work. Enrollment for this course is limited and is by permission of instructor. Please email Professor Kotch with a statement of interest to request permission to enroll. Enrollment is open to MA and PhD students at UNC and (via inter-institutional registration) to graduate students at Duke and NCSU. Disciplinary diversity is valued.


Folklore Courses

FOLK 077 FYS: Poetic Roots of Hip-Hop
Instructor: Dr. Glenn Hinson
TR 12:30-1:45;
Murphey 204
“There ain’t nothing new about rapping.”  That’s what elders from a host of African American communities declared when hip hop first exploded onto the scene.  This “new” form, they claimed, was just a skilled re-working of poetic forms that had been around for generations.  Each elder seemed to point to a different form—some to the wordplay of rhyming radio deejays, others to the bawdy flow of streetcorner poets, still others to the rhymed storytelling of sanctified singers.  And each was right; elegant rhyming has indeed marked African American talk for generations.  Yet because most such rhyming was spoken, its history remains hidden.  In this seminar, we’ll explore this lost history, searching the historical record to uncover hidden heritages of African American eloquence, rhymed storytelling, and sharp social critique.  Our goal is nothing short of writing the prehistory of hip hop, by revealing the everyday poetries that, for generations, have defined what it means to be African American.   Towards this end, students will meet with oral poets and hip hop emcees, and also conduct original archival research, leading to team-based class presentations and individual papers.  Throughout the semester, students will also attend a range of poetic events, thus honing their skills at hearing and appreciating the eloquence that surrounds us all.


FOLK202: Introduction to Folklore (ENGL/ANTH202)
Instructor: Elijah Gaddis
MW 12:00-12:50; Hanes 120
Recitation Sections R 3:30-4:45; F 11:00-11:50; F 12:00-12:50
Folklorists seek to understand how people interpret and make sense of the world.  The study of folklore asks how, in a world flooded with commercial and highly refined cultural products, people use those particular materials that they themselves create and re-shape in order to express who they are, where they belong, and what they value.  In this course we will look at diverse forms (or “genres”) of folklore, including song, architecture, legend, and food.  We will consider how vernacular expressive culture is learned, what it does for people, and why these processes and products persist through time and space.  Students will be introduced to the discipline of Folklore’s central research methodology, ethnography, and have an opportunity to practice that approach in individual and group research projects. These projects will look at the role of performance in everyday speech acts, invite further reflection on students’ own family foodways, and allow for an in-depth exploration of the diverse traditions of the North Carolina State Fair.


FOLK571: Southern Music
Instructor: Dr. William Ferris
TR 8:00-9:15am; Love House
This course explores the music of the American South and considers how this music serves as a window on the region’s history and culture.  We will first consider the South and how the region’s distinctive sense of place defines music in each generation.  From the Mississippi Delta to Harlan County, Kentucky, from small farms to urban neighborhoods, from the region itself to more distant worlds of the southern diaspora, southern music chronicles places and the people who live within them. Our course covers a vast span of southern music and its roots, from ballads to hip hop, with numerous stops and side-trips along the way.  We will examine the differences between bluegrass and country, zydeco and Cajun, and black and white gospel.  We will also study the influences of southern music on American classical music, art, dance, literature, and food.  The class also includes guest speakers and performers. We will listen to field recordings were made by collectors like Alan Lomax and will consider the impact of these recordings on contemporary music. We will also view documentary films on southern music and will discuss how these films enrich our understanding of each musical tradition.


FOLK610: Vernacular Traditions in African American Music
Instructor: Dr. Glenn Hinson
TR 9:30-10:45;
Phillips 224
This four-credit-hour course explores the history, politics, and stylistic features of vernacular musics in African America, tracing the music’s development from West Africa to contemporary hip hop.  The class’s journey is gradual and intermittent, stepping into selected musical and poetic forms (worksongs, string-band dance music, blues, rhymed comedy routines, gospel, and more) as a way of addressing continuity, creativity, and change within African American aesthetics.  Reading and listening, however, are only part of the class; students will also join together in teams that will each pursue an interview-based research project.  In essence, each team will spend the semester conducting interviews with a group of artists whom they’ve chosen in consultation with the professor.  In recent years, student teams have worked with groups as diverse as sorority step teams, hip hop crews, gospel ensembles, community drum lines, and spoken word artists.  These field projects—which culminate in team-based presentations and individual papers—are both intensive and intensely rewarding; that’s why students in the class earn four credit-hours instead of the standard three.  We’ll also punctuate the semester with in-class visits by a range of guest artists, who in 2014 will include a Ghanaian master percussionist, a freestyle poet, and a gospel group.


FOLK688/RELI688: Observation and Interpretation of Religious Action (Ethnographic Methods for the Study of Religion)
Instructor: Dr. Lauren Leve
M 5:00-7:50; Global Center 3024
This course engages the practices, politics, ethics, and epistemology of ethnography as a technique of data production and analysis, with particular attention to religious phenomena. It is primarily intended as a workshop for graduate students who are currently, or will soon be, engaged in ethnographic research. The class is organized around the assumption that the best ethnographic research is founded on a critical and diverse acquaintance with other ethnographers’ work (both fieldwork practices and published texts) and on a rigorous analysis of the epistemological assumptions that underlie the production of ethnographic knowledge. While this course will privilege problems that arise in the study of religion, it should be useful to a wide range of students interested in the dilemmas, practices and politics of ethnographic research and analysis. Specific topics to be addressed include participant-observation; interviewing; modes of description, inscription and interpretation; the nature of “the field” and the practice of fieldwork in era of new communication technologies and globalization; the tension between positioned knowledge and positivist objectivity; participatory methodologies; problems of power, subjectivity, rhetoric and representation; “experience”; and multi-sited research strategies, as well as ethnographic epistemology and ethics.


FOLK850: Approaches to Folklore Theory
Instructor: Dr. Patricia Sawin
R 2:00-4:50; Fetzer 105

Folklore is not a thing, let alone a single, determinate object. It is, rather, a category of cultural analysis and a way of looking at our cultural world. It was developed as part of the project of European Modernity and had significantly different definitions and impacts in succeeding eras.  Indeed, the “problem” with folklore (in the sense of both a practical challenge and a fascinating intellectual question) is that folklore is taken to stand for so many different partially overlapping or even contradictory objects. What, then, might it mean or entail to study folklore in the 21st century? This graduate seminar is designed to do three things. First, the readings provide one relatively systematic overview of many of the major issues and perspectives that have characterized the study of folklore over the past two centuries and more. Second, written work will require students to apply selected theories to bodies of data in order to understand the continuous process whereby theory illuminates data and data inform new theory. Third and perhaps most importantly, our discussion is intended to model a way of thinking historically about the discipline, recognizing how definitions of the folk and folklore and consequent ideas about the social role of folklore and what questions one might productively ask of such material have emerged from the political and social developments of various periods. Students’ challenge will be to use this perspective to develop a form of folklore study that responds progressively to the realities of the global culture in which we now operate.


FOLK 993: Master’s Research and Thesis