Revisiting the ’90s – Fall 2017

This is the course page for the American Studies course: Decades in American Culture: Revisiting the ’90s. Posts linked to this page explore different themes related to our study of the 1890s and 1990s. Enjoy!

Assignment #1

Depicting State Violence: Political Cartoons in the 1890s

What do political cartoons and other images tell us about state violence in the 1890s? How do arguments about white supremacy and rule get characterized in visual form?

The 1890s were a turbulent decade marked by the federal army’s massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee in 1890, the politics of racial display at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, the white-led race riot against blacks in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898, and US imperialism during the War of 1898 – events that were the focus of this class. What can be learned from critical analysis of how these and other events were represented and depicted?

Works Cited

  • David Grua, “Race War and Wounded Knee,” in Surviving Wounded Knee: The Lakotas and the Politics of Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 11-29.
  • Shelly Fisher Fishkin, “Native American Voices Remember Wounded Knee,” in Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden to Wounded Knee (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015), 147-70.
  • Timothy Tyson and David Cecelski, “Introduction,” and Glenda E. Gilmore, “Murder, Memory, and the Flight of the Incubus,” in Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy, eds. Cecelski and Tyson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 3-13; 73-94.
  • Curtis Hinsley, “The World as Marketplace: Commodification of the Exotic at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893,” in Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, ed. Ivan Karp and Steven Levine (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1991), 344-365.
  • Christopher Robert Reed, “The Black Presence at ‘White City’: African and African American Participation at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, May 1, 1893 – October 31, 1893,”
  • Kristin Hoganson, “As Badly off as the Filipinos’: U.S. Woman Suffragists and Turn-of-the-Century U.S. Imperialism,” Journal of Women’s History13 (2001): 9-33.
  • “American Soldiers in the Philippines Write Home about the War,” excerpted by History Matters (
  • Amy Kaplan, “Where is Guantánamo?” American Quarterly3 (2005): 831-858


Assignment #2

Using the day of your birthday and the year of your choice, your assignment is to analyze the major issues of that day – one hundred years apart.  (For instance, Nov. 19, 1896 and Nov. 19, 1996.)

This post is an exercise in how to do a close comparison. In other words, what are the similarities between the two days in respect to shared concerns, interests, and attitudes? How does the one hundred year gap in time account for obvious differences in focus? What can we learn from conducting this comparison in the first place?

Works Cited:

  • Daniel Hallin and Todd Gitlin, “Agon and Ritual: The Gulf War as Popular Culture and as Television Drama,” Political Communication 10 (1993): 411-24.
  • shakomakoNET, “Sinan Antoon and the Gulf War: 25 Years Later,”
  • O.J.: Made in America, dir. Ezra Edelman, 2016
  • Lauren Berlant and Lisa Duggan, “Introduction,” and Jane Gallop with Berlant, “Loose Lips,” in Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and the National Interest, ed. Berlant and Duggan (New York: NYU Press, 2001), 1-8; 246-267.
  • Theodore Kaczynski, excerpts from Industrial Society and Its Future, published in Washington Post, September 22, 1995,
  • John Perry Barlow, “Jack In, Young Pioneer!” Keynote Essay for the 1994 Computerworld College Edition,
  • “Appeal of the Chinese Equal Rights League” (1892)
  • People’s Party, Omaha Platform (1892)
  • Jane Addams, “A Modern Lear,” Survey 29, no. 5 (November 2, 1912): 131-37.
  • William Jennings Bryan, “Cross of Gold” Speech (1896)
  • Godfrey Hodgson, “New Economics,” in More Equal Than Others: America from Nixon to the New Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 87-111.
  • Premilla Nadasen, “How a Democrat Killed Welfare,” Jacobin, February 9, 2016,
  • Naomi Klein, “The Discarded Factory: Degraded Production in the Age of the Superbrand,” in No Logo (New York: Harper Perennial, 2000), 195-229.