• AMST 100: Walt Whitman’s New York City

    “O City / Behold me! Incarnate me as I have incarnated you!” An investigation of the burgeoning metropolitan city where the young Walter Whitman became a poet in the 1850s. Combining historical inquiry into the lives of nineteenth-century citizens of Brooklyn and Manhattan with analysis of Whitman’s varied journalistic writings and utterly original poetry, we will reconstruct how Whitman found his muse and his distinctively modern subject in the geography, demographics, markets, politics, and erotics of New York.

    6 credits; Argument and Inquiry Seminar, Intercultural Domestic Studies, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2023 · Peter Balaam
  • AMST 115: Introduction to American Studies

    This overview of the “interdisciplinary discipline” of American Studies will focus on the ways American Studies engages with and departs from other scholarly fields of inquiry. We will study the stories of those who have been marginalized in the social, political, cultural, and economic life of the United States due to their class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, citizenship, and level of ability. We will explore contemporary American Studies concerns like racial and class formation, the production of space and place, the consumption and circulation of culture, and transnational histories.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2023, Spring 2024 · Christopher Elias
  • AMST 130: Latinx Social Movements: From Bandits to the Young Lords

    In this class, we will discuss Latinx social and political movements across America, from post-1848 to the twentieth century. We will work to understand both their historical and historiographical impact: What conditions were these movements responding to? What emerged from their actions? And how are these movements talked about and remembered now? We will also track state responses to these movements, including the creation of law enforcement agencies in the Southwest and national counterintelligence programs.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 142: U.S. Latinx Identity and Representation: Cultures of Belonging

    Popular culture and mass media serve as key sites of identity formation. In this course we will examine U.S. Latinx identity formation by focusing on three case studies: Selena Quintanilla, the singer; telenovelas; and the Disney films Coco and Encanto. These case studies will help us explore how transnationalism, intergenerational knowledge and trauma, and civic and cultural belonging contribute to the shaping of U.S. Latinx collective identities. We will attend to the particular processes of production and reception as we study how audiences engage with cultural producers both in private and in public (notably on social media).

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies, Writing Requirement; offered Winter 2024 · Adriana Estill
  • AMST 204: What’s Race Got To Do With It?: Constructing Communities that Discard Lives

    In this course students will engage race and other forms of identity (including class and disability) using both social scientific and humanistic approaches to examine how the process of building place in the U.S. has historically meant discarding lives, excluding communities, and maintaining caste. Subtopics include: Art’s impact on gentrification, POC suburbanization, Disposable lives in America, Apartheid from architectural design, and Comparative memoir.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 222: Indigenous Film

    This course introduces students to the world of Indigenous films, beginning with representations of Indians and how these images shape what most people “know” about “Indians.” Simultaneously, Indigenous filmmakers exercise visual sovereignty by not only refusing representations of Indigenous people, but by creating visual representations of Indigenous peoples that speak to the urgent issues of the present. Through Indigenous films, we will examine genres, develop an appreciation for historical and cultural contexts of films, and consider how these films are forms of Indigenous resurgence. We will also learn the basics of media literacy and film analysis. Our key concepts include visual sovereignty, Indigenous, Indians, settler colonialism, decolonization, resurgence, tradition, and gender.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 225: Beauty and Race in America

    In this class we consider the construction of American beauty historically, examining the way whiteness intersects with beauty to produce a dominant model that marginalizes women of color. We study how communities of color follow, refuse, or revise these beauty ideals through literature. We explore events like the beauty pageant, material culture such as cosmetics, places like the beauty salon, and body work like cosmetic surgery to understand how beauty is produced and negotiated.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies, Writing Requirement; offered Spring 2024 · Adriana Estill
  • AMST 230: The American Sublime: Landscape, Character & National Destiny in Nineteenth Century America

    Focusing on the early nineteenth century struggle to create an American nation and a national culture, we will look at the ways Americans adopted and adapted European ideas, particularly the aesthetic idea of the Sublime, in their attempt to come to terms with the conquest of the new land and its native inhabitants and with the nature of their national enterprise. Writers Irving, Cooper, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson and painters Cole, Bierstadt, Church, Kensett, and Lane will be included. Major themes will include attitudes towards landscape and settlement, a distinctively American character, the nature and utility of art, and ideas of American empire.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 231: Contemporary Indigenous Activism

    Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island and the Pacific Islands are fighting to revitalize Indigenous languages, uphold tribal sovereignty, and combat violence against Indigenous women, among many other struggles. This course shines a light on contemporary Indigenous activism and investigates social justice through the lens of Indian Country, asking questions like: What tools are movements using to promote Indigenous resurgence? And what are the educational, gendered, environmental, linguistic, and religious struggles to which these movements respond? Students will acquire an understanding of contemporary Indigenous movements, the issues they address, and the responsibilities of non-Native people living on Indigenous lands.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2023 · Meredith McCoy
  • AMST 238: 9/11 and the War on Terror in American Culture

    An exploration of how the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and the subsequent War on Terror impacted American culture. We will focus on issues of both form (the elements determining the look and feel of post-9/11 artwork) and content (the social and moral concerns driving post-9/11 culture). Shared texts will include novels, short stories, poetry, music, art, and films. Particular attention will be paid to themes such as race and racism, religion and religious discrimination, immigration and xenophobia, debates over American exceptionalism, critiques of American capitalism, the “death of irony,” attempts to define “truth,” and the spread of conspiracy theories. 

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 240: The Midwest and the American Imagination

    The history of American culture has always been shaped by a dialectic between the local and the universal, the regional and the national. The particular geography and history of the Midwest (the prairie, the plains, the old Northwest, Native Americans and white adventurers, settlers and immigrants) have shaped its livelihoods, its identities, its meanings. Focusing on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this course will explore literature, art history, and the social and cultural history of the Midwest.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 244: Approaches to Indigenous Studies

    Indigenous Studies is both a body of content knowledge and a research methodology. This course provides an overview of the history of exploitative research dynamics between universities and Indigenous peoples while exposing students to alternative methodologies that center Indigenous perspectives and research priorities. Students will discuss what it means to be an ethical research partner as they learn about decolonizing and Indigenous research strategies. This course brings together ideas from history, anthropology, law, public health, education, literature, art, and social work to evaluate studies relating to Indigenous peoples for their methods, contributions, and ethics.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 248: Confine and Detain: The Carceral State in America

    What function do prisons and immigrant detention centers serve? How do they figure in American history and society, especially since their current forms are relatively new? In this class, we will examine state-sponsored confinement and detention practices from seventeenth to twenty-first century America. Across three units, we will analyze abduction and captivity, forced labor and relocation, and internment and border security as carceral practices. We will pay particular attention to race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability to understand how confinement and detention have shaped American state-building. 

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 250: Asian American Reckonings

    As both targets of racism and beneficiaries of privilege, Asian Americans defy easy categorization. In a timely intervention, Cathy Park Hong, in her 2020 essay collection Minor Feelings, undertakes an “Asian American Reckoning.” Following Hong’s lead, this five-week course will reckon with Asian America in its most vexing aspects. Through an exploration of memoir, cultural criticism, poetry, fiction, and film/media, we will think hard about questions of privilege and discrimination, interracial politics, settler colonialism, and transnational ties. Grappling with the past and looking towards the future, this course asks: What does it mean to be Asian American?

    3 credits; Intercultural Domestic Studies, Literary/Artistic Analysis; offered Fall 2023 · Nancy Cho
  • AMST 254: The 1930s: Social and Cultural Impact of the Great Depression

    Through cultural manifestations–literature, painting, movies, radio, historic preservation, and music–we will trace progress from shock and despair to hope in the ‘30s and see how Americans of all races and classes coped with the disruptions and opportunities of economic cataclysm, political shifts, new social programs and expectations, and technology. Materials will include texts on the New Deal, labor, the Great Migration and race relations; fiction, essays, and plays by Steinbeck, Nathaniel West, James Agee, Thornton Wilder, Meridel LeSueur, Hurston, and Wright; popular movies and music; and photography, painting, Art Deco, and the 1939 World’s Fair.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 256: Walt Whitman’s New York

    An interdisciplinary investigation of the burgeoning, brash, alluring Other that the young Walter Whitman found in New York in the 1850s. Considering “Leaves of Grass,” as well as his journalistic, “self-help,” and political writings, we will reconstruct how Whitman found his muse, his voice, and his distinctively modern and democratic subject in the geography, demographics, markets, politics, and erotics of New York: “O City / Behold me! Incarnate me as I have incarnated you! I have rejected nothing you have offered me!–whom you adopted, I have adopted; good or bad…”

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 260: Sexuality in American Film since 1945

    This five-week class uses feature-length films to examine debates around sexuality in the United States since the end of World War II. Designed to allow students to develop both a deeper understanding of modern American gender & sexual history as well as a fuller appreciation for film as a rich, historically-contingent artform. Explores a number of themes, including but not limited to: sexual identity, gender identity, censorship, racial politics and racism, class anxieties, cultural production, trans experiences, and representation. Will include films like Some Like it Hot (1959), The Graduate (1967), Philadelphia (1993), and Tangerine (2015).

    3 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2023 · Christopher Elias
  • AMST 269: Woodstock Nation

    “If you remember the Sixties, you weren’t there.”  We will test the truth of that popular adage by exploring the American youth counterculture of the 1960s, particularly the turbulent period of the late sixties. Using examples from literature, music, and film, we will examine the hope and idealism, the violence, confusion, wacky creativity, and social mores of this seminal decade in American culture. Topics explored will include the Beat Generation, the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, LSD, and the rise of environmentalism, feminism, and Black Power. 

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 287: California Program: California Art and Visual Culture

    An in-depth exploration of the dynamic relationship between the arts and popular conceptions of California: whether as bountiful utopia, suburban paradise or multicultural frontier. We will meet with California artists and art historians, and visit museums and galleries. Art and artists studied will range from Native American art, the Arts and Crafts movement and California Impressionism to the photography of Ansel Adams, urban murals and the imagery of commercial culture (such as promotional brochures and orange-crate labels).

    Prerequisites: Participation in AMST OCS program not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 289: California Program: California Field Studies

    Students will participate in a number of fieldtrips dealing with California’s history, literature, and environment. Sites visited will include Sutter’s Fort, Pt. Reyes, the Modoc Lava Beds, El Teatro Campesino, Hearst Castle, Silicon Valley, Joshua Tree, Watts Towers, the Rose Bowl and Yosemite National Park. Students will also complete an Oral Culture Project.

    Prerequisites: Participation in AMST OCS program not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 325: Labor and Identity in America

    How have social categories (i.e., race, class, gender, sexuality) been constructed according to labor? How have people lived their identities through their labor? This course will focus on manual labor, with special attention to agricultural work, and will span from the Antebellum South to the present. We will examine how manual labor has functioned as a symbol of belonging in the nation. Throughout the course, we will emphasize lived experience–or, how people responded to cultural shifts, and made social or political change through their work–using oral histories, community archives, cultural productions and social customs in the workplace.

    not offered 2023–2024
  • AMST 345: Theory and Practice of American Studies

    Introduction to some of the animating debates within American Studies from the 1930s to the present. We will study select themes, theories, and methodologies in the writings of a number of scholars and try to understand 1) the often highly contested nature of debates about how best to study American culture; and 2) how various theories and forms of analysis in American Studies have evolved and transformed themselves over the last seventy years. Not designed to be a fine-grained institutional history of American Studies, but a vigorous exploration of some of the central questions of interpretation in the field. Normally taken by majors in their junior year.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 115, 287 or instructor permission 6 credits; Intercultural Domestic Studies, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Winter 2024 · Meredith McCoy
  • AMST 396: AIDS in America

    This junior seminar for AMST majors studies AIDS in America as a means of preparing students to write their own research papers. The AIDS crisis made deep impact on various areas of American society, resulting in a robust, interdisciplinary discourse about the pandemic’s origins, scope, impact, and legacy. We will utilize a variety of media, including poetry, music, memoir, fiction, oral history, film, visual art, performance art, and scholarship. Using the tools of inquiry encountered in this class and throughout their work in the major, students will then prepare an original research paper on a topic of their choice.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 115 6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies, Writing Requirement; offered Spring 2024 · Christopher Elias
  • AMST 398: Advanced Research in American Studies

    This seminar introduces advanced skills in American Studies research, focusing on the shaping and proposing of a major research project. Through a combination of class discussion, small group work and presentations, and one-on-one interactions with the professor, majors learn the process of imaging, creating, and preparing independent interdisciplinary projects as well as the interconnections of disparate scholarly and creative works.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 345 3 credits; S/CR/NC; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2023 · Christopher Elias
  • AMST 399: Senior Seminar in American Studies

    This seminar focuses on advanced skills in American Studies research, critical reading, writing, and presentation. Engagement with one scholarly talk, keyed to the current year’s comps exam theme, will be part of the course. Through a combination of class discussion, small group work and presentations, and one-on-one interactions with the professor, majors learn the process of crafting and supporting independent interdisciplinary arguments, no matter which option for comps they are pursuing. Students also will learn effective strategies for peer review and oral presentation.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 345 3 credits; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Winter 2024 · Adriana Estill
  • AMST 400: Integrative Exercise: Exam and Essay

    Exam: Students read selected works and view films in the field of American Studies and in a special topic area designated by the program. For integrative exercise examination students only. Essay: Seniors working on approved essays or projects in American Studies with the support of their advisers, will work independently to complete their theses, performances or projects to satisfy the college “comps” requirement. Students will be required to give a public presentation on their papers or projects during the spring term.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 396 3 credits; S/NC; offered Winter 2024 · Adriana Estill