AmSt 101 Syllabus

Each numbered posting on this blog corresponds to a numbered day in the course "American Studies 101," taught by Professor Elaine Lewinnek at California State University, Fullerton. Here is the syllabus's reading schedule for Summer, 2010.


  1. Tuesday, June 1: Introduction. Read the syllabus, purchase the packet and book, and consider getting started on Wednesday’s discussion board. 

  1. Wednesday, June 2: An Early Perspective on the American Frontier.  Read Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (1893), available online at Read only chapter 1. This is the first day of a required discussion-board. Every other day with assigned reading also has a required discussion board.

  1. Friday, June 4: Revisionist History? Read the first section of our course packet: Patricia Nelson Limerick, “Introduction: Closing the Frontier and Opening Western History” and “Denial and Dependence” from Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West (1987)

  1. Monday, June 7: Urban Frontiers. Read in our course packet: Barbara Berglund, “Introduction: Ordering the Disorderly City,” and “Conclusion: Creating an American Place,” as well as “Preface” to Making San Francisco American: Cultural Frontiers in the Urban West, 1846-1906 (2007)

  1. Wednesday, June 9: The Industry of the Open-Range. Read Robert Hine and John Mack Faragher, “Open Range” in Frontiers: A Short History of the American West (2007)

  1. Friday, June 11: Environmental Frontiers. Read Benjamin Johnson, “Wilderness Parks and Their Discontents,” in Robert Lewis, ed., American Wilderness: A New History (2007)

  1. Monday, June 14: Midterm One. Using the “external links” to our Blackboard page or any other resources you have found, select one primary document about America’s frontier. By “primary document,” I mean eyewitness accounts which were created before about 1920. You may choose a photograph, letter, diary, or other primary source. Compare this document to Turner’s frontier thesis and to at least one other author we have read.  Consider issues of race, gender, economics, environment, and how the frontier is viewed in America.


  1. Wednesday, June 16: Developing the Western Plot. Read Robert Hine and John Mack Faragher, “The Myth of the Frontier” in Frontiers: A Short History of the American West (2007)

  1. Friday, June 18: Disney-fying the Myth. Read Michael Steiner, “Frontierland as Tomorrowland: Walt Disney and the Architectural Packaging of the Mythic West,” Montana, The Magazine of Western History 48 (Spring 1998)

  1. Monday, June 21: Gender Roles and Other Politics of Memory. Read Joan Brubick, excerpts from Rodeo Queens: On the Circuit with America’s Cowgirls (2002)

  1. Wednesday, June 23: Frontiers in Vietnam. Read Richard Slotkin, excerpts from Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (1998)

  1. Friday, June 25: Review for Midterm Two. There is no graded discussion board today, though you may post any questions you have about the second midterm.

  1. Monday, June 28: Midterm Two. Choose a contemporary cultural representation of America’s frontier. Former students have chosen a video game, vacation package tour, song, sports mascot, film, and novel: the possibilities are endless. Whatever specific cultural item that you choose, your task is to analyze it using all the tools of American Studies that you have already learned.


  1. Wednesday, June 30: Automobile Frontiers. Begin reading Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, introduction and chapters 1 and 2. Chapters 3 & 4 are optional.

  1. Friday, July 2: Economic & Governmental Frontiers: Read Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, chapters 5-8

  1. Monday, July 5: Old and New Frontiers. Read Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, chapters 9, 10, and epilogue

  1. Wednesday, July 7: Review for final. There is no graded discussion board today, though you may post questions about the entire course and final exam.

  1. Friday, July 9: Final Exam. In this cumulative exam, you will make connections between Schlosser’s book and the rest of our course’s exploration of America’s frontiers.