Course Number: SOCI 1025
Course Title: Sociology of American Culture
Professor: Todd Motto
Meeting day and time:
Section L01 – Tue/Fri 11:30amSection R01 – Tue/Fri 2:30-3:45pm
Phone: 646 753 0394
Office Hours: By appointment
A course in the sociology of American culture for students enrolled in the “English as a second language” (ESL) program and taking College ESL Writing (I in Fall and II in Spring). This discussion-based course will focus on the study of American culture and identity using readings from the social sciences, literature and history.
Students will achieve an understanding of what culture is and discuss its operations. Students will learn where culture can be observed and described: its operations in language and speech, in the daily life of groups and communities, in art and popular culture, in its laws and practices concerning crime and deviance, in the treatment of strangers and outsiders, in a group’s or community’s expressed beliefs and its religious practices, and so forth. Is it and was it ever univocal, agreed upon by everyone? Is culture always and inevitably imposed on some groups and classes? Is culture a principal source of conflict and violence between and among groups? Is culture what binds and unites people and communities? Is unity always at a social and political cost to some groups and individuals? These are some of the questions that the study of culture raises.
In this course, the emphasis will be on “American culture”: Is there an identifiable American culture? If so, what are its key concerns and values, its history? What are the things that some identify as typically “American”? The course will involve a comprehensive study of the “American Dream” and how it has influenced thoughts, values, and cultural practices. The goals of the course will be assessed principally by the course assignments, exams and class participation.
Course Materials and Readings
The central idea and topic of the course is “culture” but with particular application to American culture. The course opens with a discussion of the meaning of culture and its study by sociologists and anthropologists and others. The professor will draw from his own fields of study to introduce this idea to the students, addressing the various ways of defining and studying what culture is and how it operates. This opening section of the course covers 1-2 classes. The remainder of the class uses readings to understand culture and its operations. Required Texts
Models for Writers by Alfred Rosa & Paul Eschholz, 11th edition, Boston and NY: Bedford/St. Martins, 2012.
Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking & Writing by Gary Colombo, Robert Cullen & Bonnie Lisle. 8th edition, Boston and NY: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. Course Requirements
Students will receive a course letter grade according to the following criteria: 1.
In-class participation, including active participation in all class activities and consistent attendance (please refer to the IALC attendance policy below) – 15%
Consistent completion of all assignments, including vocabulary reviews, writing exercises, readings and presentations – 25%
The successful completion of the first and revised drafts of two formal essays – 30%
Midterm and final written examinations – 30%
Final letter grades for students taking the course for credit will be calculated according to the percentages indicated above. Scores on examinations and class assignments are determined by the quality of the work and demonstrated mastery of concepts discussed in class. Please note that consistent attendance and active class participation are included in the final evaluation. A Note on Participation
While it is not assumed that all students have yet to master English as a second language, participation is essential in a class such as...
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