|345-101-MQ, Understanding America |
America is the most powerful nation in the world, with profound political, economic, military and cultural influence around the globe. Many people see America as a beacon of liberty and democracy, made up of virtuous citizens and bringing progress to the world. Others are critical, accusing the United States of being an international bully and its citizens of being morally lost or culturally backwards. Even Canadians, who are intimately familiar with America through its media and who often count Americans as friends and family, are sometimes puzzled by America or ambivalent towards it. What makes America tick? Are Americans different from Canadians, or from other peoples? Can we describe a single American "character" that spans their many individual, regional, racial and cultural differences? In this class, we'll try to foster a positive understanding of America and its people by studying its history, literature and politics. In so doing, we'll look at the nature of social knowledge itself.