AMST 328
American Social Dramas Fall 2016
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed AMST 328 / SOC 328 / COMP 325 / THEA 328
This is not the current course catalog

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As Shakespeare wrote memorably in As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Sociologists have heeded Shakespeare’s wisdom, arguing that social and political events are “performances” that take shape in accordance with familiar cultural scripts, and indeed that social actors implicitly interpret real-world events using plot structures from literary and dramatic genres such as romance, irony, comedy, and tragedy. We will explore this thesis through the lens of contemporary American political events, including the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, September 11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2012 presidential election, and current debates over Confederate symbolism. We will also pay careful attention to the unfolding drama associated with the 2016 presidential election. How do social performances and struggles to “control the narrative” shape the meanings and outcomes of political events? Are they merely “spectacles,” or wellsprings for genuine civic participation? What role do political comedy, satire, and social media play in shaping the trajectory of contemporary events? Major authors will include Victor Turner, Clifford Geertz, J.L. Austin, Erving Goffman, and Jeffrey Alexander. Throughout the semester, each student will develop a significant project on a political event of his or her choosing.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 15
Class#: 1044
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation, five 2-page response papers, a 12-page paper that will go through draft and revision stage, and a presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Anthropology and Sociology majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under SOC or AMST; meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under COMP or THEA
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 328 Division II SOC 328 Division II COMP 325 Division I THEA 328 Division II

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