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American Character

by: Tom Wiza

American Character AMST 301

Tom Wiza
Cal State Fullerton
GPA 3.71

Arlene Ring

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Arlene Ring
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Tom Wiza on Wednesday September 30, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to AMST 301 at California State University - Fullerton taught by Arlene Ring in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 49 views. For similar materials see /class/217056/amst-301-california-state-university-fullerton in American Studies at California State University - Fullerton.

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Date Created: 09/30/15
AMST 301 Study Questions Section I A Ring Fall 2010 Week 1 1 Why do you think Henry Adams feels that determining the nature of national character is a most important historical problem Do other authors we ve read seem to feel the same way Why or why not 2 Crevevoeur s What is an American What according to Crevecoeur characterizes this American this new man What traits did Crevecoeur observe Are they traits that are familiar to us today What are the causes of the national character according to this Frenchman Do you agree with the mood and tone of Crevecoeur s essay Why or why not 3 Paz s The Pachuco and Other Extremes from The Labyrinth of Solitude What are Paz s views of the contrast between Mexican and North American culture About the issues of assimilation and acculturation How does he feel about the Pachucos Why What does this tell us about the question of national character 4 Fallows The Japanese Are Different from You and Me How does Fallows say the Japanese characterize Americans How is Japanese society different from American society How does Fallows say most of the world feels about cultural homogeneity Do you agree Why or why not Week 2 1 Turner s The Signi cance of the Frontier in American History What is Turner s thesis How do Europeans become Americans according to Turner What is the frontier according to Turner What is its impact on people Both good and bad What does this essay tell us about the American character Is Turner s description of the national character true today What is the final mood and message of this essay 2 Smalley s Life on the Prairie Farms What is the problem with the American farming system compared to the European system as Smalley sees it What are some of the causes of this What is his solution Do you think his solution would have worked Why or why not What type of living arrangements do you think are successful today Boundaies isolation chickens get mixed up Week 3 4 1 Ole Rolvaag s Giants in the Earth a What special insights do you think reading a novel provides insights that might be lacking in more orthodox historical sources b How does the experience of setting a new land affect these people What kind of effect does the environment have on the characters Is the environment causing them to change Does this affect all of them the same way How much of the characters cultural past do they retain How much do they lose What are some examples of characters retaining their cultural past What are some examples of characters losing their cultural past 5quot d Does Rolvaag s novel support Turner s frontier thesis If so how If not why not sh42jLMjWBdoc Page 1 of 3 AMST 301 Study Questions Section I A Ring Fall 2010 e Does Rolvaag have a spokesperson here If so who is it and how does heshe speakfor Rolvaag For which character do you feel the most sympathy f What is the meaning of the ending of the novel Why does it end this way What is the dominant mood or message of this novel g What does this novel tell us about the impact of the agrarian frontier upon the national character or identity 2 The film Letters From America What is the cost of settlement in the prairie environment Is Rolvaag celebrating or lamenting the frontier experience Why do you think Rolvaag chose the grave that he did 3 Pare Lorentz film The Plow That Broke the Plains What does this lm tell us about the impact of the environment on the national character and the impact of the national character on the environment Do you see the beginnings of this impact in Giants Why or why not Week 5 6 1 Anzia Yezierska s Bread Givers and the transition to the urban frontier a How does the experience of moving into an urban industrial setting the Lower East Side of New York compare with that of settling the Dakota prairie Do you think the environment of the tenements has an effect on the characters b How does the process of immigration and becoming American compare between Giants in the Earth and Bread Givers How do the responses of Per and Beret compare to the responses of Reb Moishe Smolinsky and his wife Shena What differences do you see in the experiences of the children of these two immigrant families What future do you imagine for these children c What is the dominant view of American life that Yezierska presents Which characters best represent her view d What are the differing views presented by some of the characters For which character do you feel the most sympathy e Are there people today of any ethnicity or religious background who feel the way Reb Smolinsky feels If so what do you think enables them to sustain their beliefs and value system If not why not f What is the final mood of this novel Does it support idea from the film Letters From America that everyone should have two fatherlands Why or why not 11 Howe s The Limits of Ethnicity in Howe s view is the search for ethnic heritage a good thing Is it possible to return to one s roots Is it necessary What are the dangers of doing this The advantages What is Howe s ultimate recommendation that we do with our new found ethnicity 12 The Inheritance what aspects of this lm show the struggle of these immigrants The hope and celebration What are the recurrent themes in the film Do you agree Why or why not Section I overall Some terms to remember assimilation dominant culture anthropocentrism sh42jLMjWBdoc Page 2 of 3 AMST 301 Study Questions Section I A Ring Fall 2010 acculturation cultural hegemony the M factor enculturation egocentrism the R factor culture ethnocentrism metaphors of culture sh42jLMjWBdoc Page 3 of 3 AMST 301 Study Questions Section II A Ring Fall 2010 Things to think about Weeks 8 9 1 What type of history is Levine writing 2 LA 5 Squot Fquot 9 5quot H O H H H N H H U1 Ch How does it compare with more orthodox history you are used to studying Why is history usually written about the movers and shakers Why does Levine focus on ordinary folk Can you think of other sources he might have used Do you think the past can change If so how if not why not If we are interested in understanding what has gone into the shaping of our national character which sort of people historical actors if you will are more important the movers and shakers or the common folk Why How deeply are Americans of all ethnicities affected by prejudice and racism How do you explain the persistence of racism and racial stereotyping in our culture What might be some of the sources or causes of this How did the sacred world of the slaves compare with the world in which their masters lived How did it compare with the world of Per Hansa and Beret Of the Smolinsky family How did slave songs and folk beliefs function in the lives of Black slaves ie what speci cally did songs and folk beliefs do for the slaves Can you provide examples According to Levine where did these folk expressions originate in Africa or in America Where does Alan Lomax think they originated What evidence do Levine andor Lomax provide to support your ideas What sort of slave master relationship is revealed through folklore and music Can you cite some examples to support your ideas How would Levine respond to Stanley Elkins 1959 book Slavery in which Elkins says that the process of enslavement the dreaded Middle Passage and continued bondage in North America were such devastating experiences for slaves that they lost their African culture and began anew largely as childlike blank slates in America How do you think Frederick Jackson Turner would respond to Elkins Did the sacred world suppress resistance to slavery and sti e cultural growth Or did it encourage resistance and 7 cultural expansiveness Weeks 9 10 H l N O N H Vpa7VHWSoFdoc 00 RD How did the experience of emancipation affect the slaves culture and world view How did religion function in African American culture before and alter emancipation What does it mean to move from cultural containment to cultural marginality Which state cultural containment or cultural marginality seems to be preferable What is the difference between a world of sound and a world of vision Page 1 of 2 AMST 301 Study Questions Section II A Ring Fall 2010 22 How did literacy after emancipation influence Black culture and world view 23 Examine Levine s progression from spirituals to gospels and from work songs to blues What distinguishes each of these folk forms What do they tell us about the changing contours of African American culture Spirituals are closer to the blues in meaning that spirituals expressed the pain and sorrow of many enslaved Africans ofthe Americas Later it translated the pain of Black Americans and helped evolve the music genre Blues Gospel music expresses Christianity principles and beliefs doesn39t genrally express a specific peoples grief Many people ask what the difference is between the spirituals and Black gospel music Simply put the spirituals are the Southern sacred quotfolkquot songs created and first sung by African Americans during slavery Their original composers are unknown and they have assumed a position of collective ownership by the whole community They lend themselves easily to communal singing Many are in a callandresponse structure with backandforth exchanges between the leader and the group A formal concert tradition has evolved from the original spirituals with solo and choral arrangements based on original slave melodies employed for performance by amateur and professional artists Black gospel music originated in the churches of the urban North in the 192039s and has been the predominant music of the twentieth century Black Church Each gospel song has an identifiable composer Gospel fuses musical elements of both the spirituals and the blues and incor orates extensive musical improvisation with piano guitar or other instrumental accompaniment While the gospel tradition descended directly from the spirituals and the blues the spirituals have also continued to exist as a parallel cultural force 24 Levine quotes Kenneth Burke in saying that music particularly within subcultures and in the Black folk community provides equipment for living Based on the film The Land Where the Blues Began or the lm Give My Poor Heart Ease do you think the lm s producers support this view Week 11 25 Heroes a What can folk heroes tell us about the national character What can villains tell us b Who are some important heroes and villains in American culture today Do you agree Why or why not c What are the three types of heroes that make up Levine s pantheon of heroes What are their characteristics and who does Levine cite as examples of each type Can you think of other modern day examples that might fit in the pantheon N Ch As you read JW Ward s essay on Lindbergh a What was the socialpolitical mood around the time of Lindbergh s flight Why b Why did the fact that Lindbergh ew alone so enthrall the public c Do you think Lindbergh is a hero in the same sense that the heroes Levine describes are Does Lindbergh fit into the pantheon of heroes If so where and what characteristics put him there 27 Based on Levine s characterization of John Henry as an epic hero how does John Henry as analyzed by Levine compare with Charles Lindbergh as discussed by JW Ward 28 What does the story of each man legend or reality tell us about attitudes towards modernization About aspects of our national character Vpa7VHWSoFdoc Page 2 of 2


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