What does it mean to be American?
What difference does place make in the American experience?
How are local, regional and national cultures linked?
And how can we begin to understand American culture in all its complexities?
On Location invites students to consider such fundamental American culture studies questions by exploring sites, spaces, and events that have shaped (and been shaped by) national identity and experience. These sites are best understood through direct engagement, and with consideration of their rich material, historical, political, and social meanings.
While specific content changes annually, the distinctive On Location model is always the same: participants visit landmarks, historic and archaeological sites, museums, interpretative centers, public memorials, etc., engaging with them in a multidisciplinary way. Students learn from faculty in different fields, and meet local experts who provide historical background, explain a given community’s investment in the sites in question, or otherwise contextualize the course materials. They also learn by “doing” – by gathering data from a variety of rich local sources, participating in public events, taking extended tours, and generally immersing themselves in the complex cultural landscape being studied.
This course involves an intensive travel and reading load; students should expect to devote the bulk of the 2-3 week course period to the unique form of immersive learning that characterizes the program. On Location fulfills the fieldwork requirement for AMCS majors, and is designated multidisciplinary for those who wish to count it that way (though students must choose one or the other).