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AMST 600 01 (10625)  
American Scholars
Hazel Carby
W 9.25-11.15 HGS 105
Fall 2015 
 
"What would we really know the meaning of? The meal in the firkin; the milk in the pan; the ballad in the street; the news of the boat; the glance of the eye; the form and the gait of the body. The literature of the poor, the feelings of the child, the philosophy of the street, the meaning of household life, are the topics of the time." —Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar, 1837

A half-century ago American studies was a movement; now it is an institution. But it remains an anomaly in the academy, with neither method nor discipline: a modest program, not a department that immodestly claims the space between disciplines, beyond disciplines, and perhaps encompassing disciplines. In the early days, American studies was imagined as a home for Emerson's American scholar; these days Emerson's scholar is apt to be eyed more skeptically. Nevertheless the philosophy of the street and the meaning of household life continue to be the topics of the time, and American studies remains an oddly Emersonian place for nurturing intellectuals. To explore the various kinds of American scholars and American studies, the American Scholars colloquium meets weekly. Each week, we ask a member of the American Studies faculty: What are the key works that shape your intellectual project? What works pose the crucial issues? What works engage what you would really know the meaning of? Each speaks briefly and leads a discussion of the works chosen. There is no writing assignment, and students receive a credit for participating. This course is mandatory for first-year American Studies graduate students.