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Course Information

Instructor Info:Robert Rakoff
Office Extension x5396
TA Info:Melia Chase
Office Extension x4719
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 102
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 102

Rural America is the site of much that defines American life and culture. Our national myths are rooted in rural experience from frontier settlement to rugged individualism to escape from the decadent city and back to the land. Our economy is built on exploitation of rural resources: soil, water, minerals, trees. Our cities continue to sprawl into the countryside, sparking dramatic change in rural populations, politics, economics, and landscapes. In this course we will examine the contested American countryside, looking for the changing meanings and realities of the rural in modern America. We will analyze the role of government and large corporations in reshaping rural areas, the continuing importance of farming and ranching, the role of extractive industries like mining and logging, the changing lives of rural men, women, and children, and the portrayal of rural topics in literature and popular culture. Students will study a range of interpretations of rural life and will undertake their own research projects.

Evaluation Criteria:

Requirements for Evaluation:


1.  Do the reading, attend class, and participate in discussion.

2.  Write up a 1-2 page paper for each class in which you comment on the issues in the readings that seem most important to you.  This will help structure our discussions.

3.  Complete an original research project on a particular rural place, including an in-class presentation. 


Completed portfolios will be due on Friday December 14.