Beck has taught in a variety of disciplines: American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, African-American Studies, and English. While she uses varying pedagogical strategies, there is always an emphasis on her holy trinity of teaching: experience, application, and creation. A firm believer in combining theory with action, she incorporates service-learning work into courses when appropriate and creates assignments that develop research and technological literacies.
AM 221: Methods and Approaches
This course is an introduction for AM majors and minors to American Studies the discipline, its scholarship, methodologies, and approaches to the study of society and culture in the United States. Students will read and analyze works that reflect the wide variety of methodologies and approaches used by American Studies practitioners from the inception of the discipline in the 1930s to the present. Our course materials include American Studies “classics” as well as recent scholarship: the “myth and symbol” school, the culture concept, feminist critiques, material culture, oral history and ethnography, popular and material culture—with attention to issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, age, and sexuality. Students will have many opportunities to sharpen their analytical, research, writing, and oral presentation skills. In addition, two primary goals of the course will be to define and critique what American Studies practitioners do and to acquaint students with the rich (and sometimes contentious) history of American Studies as a discipline.
This course focuses on the 1980s as a period of special relevance in the late 20th century. Economic consolidation, shifts in popular opinion, frenzied consumption, the rise of the commercial airline industry and cable television—the 1980s was full of flagrant excesses while unemployment, poverty and hunger were on the rise. This decade will serve as thematic backdrop to our exploration of research methods and approaches. Throughout the semester, we will explore the backlash against progressive reform measures of the 1960s and ‘70s, the AIDS Crisis, nuclear armament during the Cold War, 1980s popular culture, and examine race relations vis-à-vis the material and textual artifacts created during this decade. We will study various research methods and approaches that scholars have used to evaluate and investigate this time period in the US, making connections between the past and the present.