Tim Spears
Office
Axinn 202
Tel
(802) 443-5318
Email
spears@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall 2022: In Axinn 202; Tuesday 1:00 to 3:00 PM, Thursday 3:00 to 5:00PM, and by appointment.
Additional Programs
American Studies

Tim Spears has been a member of the Middlebury faculty since 1990. He received his B. A. from Yale University and did his graduate work at Harvard University in the History of American Civilization. He has taught a wide range of classes, including courses on consumer culture, Chicago, regional and Southern literature, the Everglades, and football and higher education. Spears is the author of 100 Years on the Road: The Traveling Salesman in American Culture (1995), Chicago Dreaming: Midwesterners and the City, 1871 to 1919 (2005), and Spirals: A Family’s Education in Football (2018). He was also a Senior Consulting Editor for The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia, a large public history reference guide that Indiana University Press published in 2006.  He is currently working on a photographic study of the national cemetery system. 

Courses Taught

Course Description

Football and Higher Education
Football originated on US campuses, and its 150-year history reflects the vibrant, uneasy relation between sports and higher education. The first "big time" college sport in the United States, football became a media spectacle in the 1890s, and since then critics have debated the game's violence, educational merits, commercial trappings, and bearing on college admissions policies. The course will move from the 19th century to the present, tracing the sport's cultural meanings, its relation to class identity and gender roles, and its educational mission, including the sport's regulation by the NCAA. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to these issues, and readings may include literary and secondary works by Steve Almond, Owen Johnson, Dave Meggyesy, and Michael Oriard. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, HIS, NOR, SOC

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Course Description

Chicagoland
In this course we will explore Chicago’s significance by focusing on its physical and spatial character. Moving from the 19th to the 21st century, we will examine the 1871 fire; the 1893 World’s Fair; the settlement house movement; the rise of modern architecture; the emergence of Black Chicago and development of a multi-ethnic, multi-class metropolis spread across various neighborhoods and suburbs; and recent planning efforts to revitalize the city as a space for all Chicagoans. Interdisciplinary in scope, the course will draw on a range of texts and theoretical perspectives to show the generative importance of Chicago’s rich and varied landscape. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, HIS

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Course Description

Hemingway's Outsized Life
In this class we will explore the work of Ernest Hemingway, a writer whose literary style and heroic self-construction remain a source of fascination and controversy. Through a mostly chronological reading of his writings, we will examine Hemingway’s emergence as a pioneering modernist and member of the 1920s “lost generation,” his portrayal of war and violence, and his representations of gender, race, and “American-ness.” Assigned texts will include short stories, novels, and autobiographical works, as well as critical studies (including Ken Burns’ recent documentary film) that consider the impact of Hemingway’s life and writing on broader U.S. cultural history.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, LIT

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Course Description

Independent Study
Select project advisor prior to registration.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Honors Thesis
For students who have completed AMST 0705, and qualify to write two-credit interdisciplinary honors thesis. on some aspect of American culture. The thesis may be completed on a fall/winter schedule or a fall/spring schedule. (Select a thesis advisor prior to registration)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Winter 2021, Winter 2022, Winter 2023

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Course Description

Reconstructing Literature: Realism, Regionalism, and the American scene, 1870-1919 (Pre-1900 AL)
American literature evolved in the late 1800s as a new generation of writers portrayed a rapidly changing culture, transformed by urbanization, industrial growth, immigration, class tensions, new roles for women, shifting race relations, and demographic transformations that seemed to split the nation into city and country. While realism was an effort to describe “life as it is” and regionalism focused on the distinctive features of specific places, both modes of representation stemmed from historical forces that were reshaping the nation. Works to be covered may include fiction by William Dean Howells, Charles Chesnutt, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, and Theodore Dreiser. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, HIS, LIT, NOR

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Course Description

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

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Course Description

Reconstructing Literature: Realism, Regionalism, and the American scene, 1870-1919
American literature evolved in the late 1800s as a new generation of writers portrayed a rapidly changing culture, transformed by urbanization, industrial growth, immigration, class tensions, new roles for women, shifting race relations, and demographic transformations that seemed to split the nation into city and country. While realism was an effort to describe “life as it is” and regionalism focused on the distinctive features of specific places, both modes of representation stemmed from historical forces that were reshaping the nation. Works to be covered may include fiction by William Dean Howells, Charles Chesnutt, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, and Theodore Dreiser. 3 hrs. lect. (Formerly ENAM 0282)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, HIS, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Hemingway's Outsized Life
In this class, we will explore the work of Ernest Hemingway, a writer whose literary style and heroic self-construction remain a source of fascination and controversy. Through a mostly chronological reading of his writings, we will examine Hemingway’s emergence as a pioneering modernist and member of the 1920s “lost generation,” his portrayal of war and violence, and his representations of gender, race, and “American-ness.” Assigned texts will include short stories, novels, and autobiographical works, as well as critical studies (including Ken Burns’ recent documentary film) that consider the impact of Hemingway’s life and writing on broader US cultural history. (Formerly ENAM 0294)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

AMR, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required. (Formerly ENAM 0500)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023, Spring 2024

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Chicagoland
In this course we will explore Chicago’s significance by focusing on its physical and spatial character. Moving from the 19th to the 21st century, we will examine the 1871 fire; the 1893 World’s Fair; the settlement house movement; the rise of modern architecture; the emergence of Black Chicago and development of a multi-ethnic, multi-class metropolis spread across various neighborhoods and suburbs; and recent planning efforts to revitalize the city as a space for all Chicagoans. Interdisciplinary in scope, the course will draw on a range of texts and theoretical perspectives to show the generative importance of Chicago’s rich and varied landscape. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, HIS

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Course Description

Sophomore Seminar in the Liberal Arts
The current pandemic, and all the questions it brings to the fore about what we value in a college experience, make this an ideal moment to consider the meaning and purpose of your liberal arts education. At the heart of this exploration will be a question posed by physicist Arthur Zajonc: “How do we find our own authentic way to an undivided life where meaning and purpose are tightly interwoven with intellect and action, where compassion and care are infused with insight and knowledge?” We will examine how, at this pivotal moment of decision making, you can understand your college career as an act of “cultivating humanity” and how you can meaningfully challenge yourself to take ownership of your intellectual and personal development. Through interdisciplinary and multicultural exploration, drawing from education studies and philosophical, religious, and literary texts, we will engage our course questions by way of student-led discussion, written reflection, and personal, experiential learning practices. In this way we will examine how a liberal arts education might foster the cultivation of an ‘undivided’ life, “the good life”, a life well-lived. (The course is open to sophomores and second semester first-year students. Juniors by permission only.)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

CMP

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Course Description

Senior Seminar in the Liberal Arts
This course is for seniors who would like to reflect upon the meaning of liberal arts education during their final year at Middlebury. As a senior, what do you now understand to be the meaning and purpose of a liberal arts education? How have you chosen to engage the intersections between the intellectual and residential life? Through an interdisciplinary study of various “texts,” we will engage these questions and explore what a ‘good life” might be and how one might pursue such a thing after graduation. There will be opportunities for public speaking and oral presentation, as well as regular writing assignments. This class is not open to students who have already taken INTD/EDST 0210 Sophomore Seminar in the Liberal Arts. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

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Course Description

Liberal Learning in a Time of Challenge
In this course, we will explore how an education in the liberal arts and sciences may help one face -our complicated times with added resilience, compassion and curiosity. Our guiding question: how can your education help you live fully in this moment and cultivate a life of the mind—and spirit—that helps you address the challenges in the world around us? We’ll explore this question by way of discussion, written reflection and mindfulness practices and consider texts such as: Frankl, The Search for Meaning; Coates, Between the World and Me, Mandel, Station Eleven, Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air, and Martel, The Life of Pi. (This course is not open to students who have taken INTD 0210)

Terms Taught

Winter 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, LIT, WTR

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