Section Information for Fall 2011Instructor: Prof. Dan Gifford In this course we explore the origins and significance of America’s most revered days. We survey American history—from the Revolution to the modern era—by studying Independence Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Labor Day, and Martin Luther King’s birthday (to name a few). We discover how these days of commemoration and celebration came into existence; how their traditions became defined and understood by Americans; and how holidays have changed and evolved over time. The exploration of holidays will reveal larger narratives about American history and culture, including the role of gender; negotiations of race and class; the rise of mass-produced popular culture; and key moments of contestation and protest. Students will engage with books, articles, and essays as well as elements of holiday culture such as movies, greeting cards, and holiday songs.
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