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American Studies (AMST)

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This program is designed to encourage and support the interdisciplinary study of American culture. It draws upon the expertise of faculty in various disciplines and strives to understand the institutions, values, and beliefs that have shaped the experiences of U.S. residents. Recognizing the diverse and pluralistic nature of our society, the American Studies program enables the student to construct an interdisciplinary major around topics of the student's own choice such as urban studies, ethnicity, media, religion, gender roles, environmental thought or some other aspect of the American experience. The program supports interdisciplinary courses taught by Carleton faculty and it brings to campus nationally known visiting artists and scholars under the auspices of the Fred C. Andersen Foundation.

Requirements for a Major

American Studies is an interdisciplinary major which a student constructs from offerings in two or more departments of instruction. To major in American Studies students must fill out an application form that can be obtained online at the American Studies Web site. The form asks students to specify the general topic or focus of the major and the disciplines which seem most appropriate for study of that topic.

Majors must complete 69 credits in the following general areas:

I. Core Courses: Each student must complete all four of these:

AMST 115 Introduction to American Studies

AMST 345 Theory and Practice of American Studies

AMST 396 Junior Research Seminar

AMST 399 Senior Seminar in American Studies

AMST 400 Colloquium and Integrative Exercise in American Studies (3 credits, to be taken in winter term of the senior year, along with AMST 399.)

American Studies 115 is a prerequisite for 345 and 396.

II. Survey Courses: Students must take three survey courses. Two of these three survey courses should be part of a two-term sequence in one department. The third survey course should be a one-term course in a different department. Because the entire range of these survey courses is not offered every year, students should consult the online catalog and plan accordingly.

Two-term survey courses:

HIST 120 Rethinking the American Experience: American History, 1607-1865 (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 121 Rethinking the American Experience: American Social History, 1865-1945 (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 122 U.S. Women's History to 1877

HIST 123 U.S. Women's History Since 1877

HIST 125 African American History I

HIST 126 African American History II

POSC 271 Constitutional Law I (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 272 Constitutional Law II

One-term survey courses:

AFAM 113 Introduction to African/African American Studies (not offered in 2013-2014)

ARTH 160 American Art to 1940 (not offered in 2013-2014)

ECON 232 American Economic History: A Cliometric Approach (not offered in 2013-2014)

ENGL 212 Nineteenth-Century American Literature

ENGL 215 Modern American Literature

POSC 122 Politics in America: Liberty and Equality

RELG 140 Religion and American Culture

III. Topical Courses: Each student must take four courses that deal with elements of the American experience that he or she has determined are central to a particular focus within the major. Courses that will fulfill this requirement are listed under three groups. No more than one of these courses may be a 100-level course. (Survey courses above and beyond those used to satisfy the required one-term and two-term sequences may count as a Topical Course.) No more than two Topical Courses may be from the same group. Students must take courses from at least two groups. In order that majors acquire the research skills necessary to complete the major, one of these four courses must be a 300-level course.

IV. Integrative Exercise: A senior may choose:

AMST 400 Colloquium and Integrative Exercise in American Studies

a. Essay or Project Option: a 35-40 page essay on an approved topic; or an approved project (e.g., a critical documentary, radio narrative, web design project, performance piece, or service learning project) accompanied by a 15-20 page essay. Open only to students who receive approval of a project prospectus. Students hoping to write an essay are advised to take a methods course in one of the social science departments or SOAN 242 Qualitative Thinking.

b. Examination Option: A written examination given early in spring term (Not offered in 2013-2014)

American Studies Courses

AMST 100. Self-Invention, Deception, and American Identity The "self-made man" (or woman) is a paradigm of American culture. Achieving economic and social success through individual determination and a strong work ethic is central to the American dream. The notion of "self-made," however, has inspired individuals through the centuries to construct their identities in more literal ways. We'll explore lying and truth-telling, especially through self-invention and identity performance, to understand how self-performance is a recurring and enduring theme in the construction of American identity. Themes and concepts include pseudonymity, passing, impersonation, and hoaxes, especially as they overlap with issues of class, gender, ethnicity, race, age, and nationality. 6 cr., AI, WR1, FallA. Russek

AMST 115. Introduction to American Studies: The Immigrant Experience Is America truly a nation of immigrants? What role has immigration played in the construction of an American identity? This course is a team-taught, comparative study of the experience of migrants and immigrants to America and other countries. We will use texts from history, literature, film, psychology, and other disciplines to help us investigate the following topics: the causes of emigration; acculturation and assimilation; changes in family structure and gender roles; discrimination; and ongoing debates about immigration policy in relation to national ideals and principles. 6 cr., HU; HI, IDS, SpringS. Akimoto, C. Clark

AMST 115. Introduction to American Studies: Placing Identities This course will examine the different spaces that inform the production of U.S. identities. We will think about the ways the construction of neighborhoods (urban or suburban) affects our sense of place, ethnicity, and community; we'll consider the impact that border geographies, whether physical or cultural, have on national imaginings; we shall look at contemporary cultural expressions of small town vs. big city life and consider what they feature as particular and unique about Americanness. 6 cr., AL, WR; HI, WR2, IDS, FallA. Estill, E. McKinsey

AMST 127. Introduction to U.S. Latino/a Studies This course will survey the field of Latino/a Studies, juxtaposing it to Chicano, Caribbean and Latin American Studies in order to trace the historical, methodological, and paradigmatic conflicts that led to its institutionalization. How does the lens of U.S. Latino/a Studies help us to examine heterogeneous and changing Latino communities? How are the "Latin Boom" of the entertainment industry and the recent demographic shift that places Latinos as the "majority minority" related? A selection of texts from a variety of disciplines (including history, the social sciences, literature, music, and the visual arts) will inform our discussions. 6 cr., ND, WR, RAD; SI, WR2, IDS, QRE, Not offered in 2013-2014.

AMST 203. Investigative Tips for the Incurably and Globally Curious Whether you are an enterprising journalist, suspicious partner, or nosy neighbor, you'll love this introduction to the many tools used by investigative reporters. A veteran investigative journalist will demonstrate that no document is off limits, and no secret secure, from someone who is trained to dig up the dirt--and all in an ethical fashion! We'll use case studies, movie clips, and scavenger hunts in and around Northfield. The course will take a particular focus on reporting around the globe, with an emphasis on how local cultures, customs and geography affect the news gathering process. 1 cr., ND; NE, Not offered in 2013-2014.

AMST 214. Music in the 1970s Frequently derided as a nadir of musical culture, the 1970s featured extraordinary musical creativity and change. In addition to the flowering of funk, soft rock, heavy metal, disco, and punk, the era also saw debates over authenticity in country music, experimentation with minimalism, jazz, and technology in classical music, and the beginnings of a "world music" market. We'll approach these with deliberate interdisciplinarity, exploring the varied music and musical cultures through focused listening, analysis of period video and historic documents, and through the work of scholars from a variety of disciplines. No prior musical experience needed. 6 cr., AL, WR; SI, WR2, IDS, Not offered in 2013-2014.

AMST 215. Diverse Bodies, One Nation How has the U.S. historically and culturally handled diversity? This course looks at how difference has been negotiated, understood, legislated, represented. We will consider theoretical interventions into issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability in order to better understand how embodiment matters to understandings of Americaness. 6 cr., HU, WR, RAD; SI, WR2, IDS, Not offered in 2013-2014.

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. ND, WR; HI, WR2, IDS, Offered in alternate years. Not offered in 2013-2014.

AMST 226. Latinas in Hollywood Latinas have a long history in Hollywood, from silent films to J. Lo. We will examine how the presence of Latinas onscreen reflects the pressures and needs of different eras. We will think about the pressure to "pass" as white and compare that to the insistent stereotypes about Latinas circulated through film. Throughout the course we'll be attentive to the relationship between film and other media, between the U.S. and other countries. What are the linguistic, social, and economic conditions that enable a "cross-over" artist? And how do Latino/a literatures, documentaries, and performances respond to the film and television industries? Prerequisite: Spanish reading fluency a plus, but not required. 6 cr., AL, WR, RAD; LA, WR2, IDS, Not offered in 2013-2014.

AMST 227. Beyond the Border: Latinos Across America The metaphor of the U.S.-Mexico border often determines our understanding of Latinos' place in the United States. This class studies Latinidad in other spaces: New York, the suburban Southwest, the rural Midwest, and the agricultural Southeast. We will use several disciplines--literary studies, history, cultural studies (music, film, and dance), and sociology--to investigate the following questions: How do immigrant Latinos change the communities they move into? How do these communities change Latinos? How are place and identity transformed? How do the mass media influence how Americans think about where and how Latinos belong in the U.S.? 6 cr., AL, WR, RAD; HI, WR2, IDS, QRE, Not offered in 2013-2014.

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. 6 cr., AL, WR; LA, WR2, Not offered in 2013-2014.

AMST 239. Introduction to Asian American Studies This course is designed as an interdisciplinary study of Asian American identities and cultures. We will address the diversity and fluidity of Asian American experiences through an examination of history, social sciences, literature, and film. Students of all majors and backgrounds are welcome to enroll. 6 cr., ND, WR, RAD; HI, WR2, IDS, Not offered in 2013-2014.

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. 6 cr., AL, WR; HI, WR2, Not offered in 2013-2014.

AMST 252. Food Culture in the United States We explore the creation, exchange, and consumption of food in America, and the spaces in which it is produced, sold, shared, and eaten, focusing especially on food as a cultural artifact that is intricately tied to individual and group identification. We will study what Americans eat now, how American cuisine has changed, and how food is intertwined with ideas about cultural and national identity. We'll consider geography, home and community cooking, business and industry, and globalization in the formation and evolution of eating culture in the U.S. and ways in which food practices overlap with politics, power, and national identity. 6 cr., HU, RAD; SI, IDS, FallA. Russek

AMST 253. From Printing Press to iPhone: Technology in American Culture What is the role of the machine in American culture? Throughout U.S. history, Americans have both embraced mechanization and reviled it. This course asks how technological developments have helped give meaning to Americans social experiences through various periods in U.S. history. The class will introduce students to central themes, methods, and exemplary American studies texts in an attempt to define (and redefine) American identity through the history of technological design. In the process, we will look at the influential role of technology on American history and culture through the lenses of gender, class, race, religion, disability, immigration, regionalism, and food. 6 cr., WR; SI, WR2, WinterA. Russek

AMST 267. Utopia, Dystopia, and Myopia: Suburbia in Fiction and Scholarship This course peers through the picture window of suburban life in the United States. Our primary text will be film. To what extent do fictional accounts reflect the scholarly concerns and analytical conclusions of Historians and Social Scientists? What themes are common in film and/or literature but get little attention from scholars? Students will be obligated to view films on their own if designated show times are inconvenient. Some films may be R-rated. Prerequisite: American Studies 115 or sophomore standing. 6 cr., SS; SI, IDS, WinterR. Keiser

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. Prerequisite: Normally taken by majors in their junior year. African/African American Studies 113 or American Studies 115 or permission of instructor. 6 cr., NE, IDS, WinterA. Estill

AMST 396. Gated Communities and Slums: Globalizing the American City Beyond white flight and suburbanization, the US has witnessed the "secession of the successful" in fortified, gated communities. The spatial concentration of poverty in slums has simultaneously occurred. Gates and favelas or shantytowns have appeared in Brazil, India, China, South Africa and other neoliberal economies. We will examine the diffusion of these placed identities and debate whether they are symbiotic or antithetical. Prerequisite: American Studies 115 or permission of the instructor. 6 cr., SS; SI, IS, Offered in alternate years. SpringR. Keiser

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. Concurrent enrollment in AMST 400 is required. Prerequisite: American Studies 396. 6 cr., ND; NE, WinterStaff

AMST 400. Integrative Exercise 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. Prerequisite: American Studies 396. 3 cr., S/NC, WinterD. Appleman

AMST 400. Integrative Exercise 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. They will be required to give a public presentation on their papers or projects during the spring term. Prerequisite: American Studies 396. 3 cr., S/NC, Not offered in 2013-2014.


Topical Courses:

Group I

AMST 214 Music in the 1970s (not offered in 2013-2014)

AMST 226 Latinas in Hollywood (not offered in 2013-2014)

AMST 230 The American Sublime: Landscape, Character & National Destiny in Nineteenth Century America (not offered in 2013-2014)

AMST 240 The Midwest and the American Imagination (not offered in 2013-2014)

ARTH 160 American Art to 1940 (not offered in 2013-2014)

ARTH 171 History of Photography (not offered in 2013-2014)

ARTH 240 Art Since 1945

ARTH 245 Modern Architecture (not offered in 2013-2014)

ARTH 247 Architecture Since 1950

ARTH 333 Visual Culture and the Civil War

CAMS 188 Rock 'n' Roll in Cinema

CAMS 224 Classical American Film Comedy (not offered in 2013-2014)

CAMS 225 Film Noir: The Dark Side of the American Dream

ENGL 117 African American Literature

ENGL 119 Introduction to U.S. Latino/a Literature (not offered in 2013-2014)

ENGL 215 Modern American Literature

ENGL 223 American Transcendentalism (not offered in 2013-2014)

ENGL 234 Literature of the American South

ENGL 235 Asian American Literature

ENGL 236 American Nature Writing

ENGL 247 The American West (not offered in 2013-2014)

ENGL 248 Visions of California

ENGL 258 Contemporary American Playwrights of Color

ENGL 329 The City in American Literature (not offered in 2013-2014)

ENGL 332 Studies in American Literature: Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald (not offered in 2013-2014)

MUSC 115 Music and Film (not offered in 2013-2014)

MUSC 130 The History of Jazz

MUSC 131 The Blues From the Delta to Chicago (not offered in 2013-2014)

MUSC 136 History of Rock

MUSC 247 The 1960s Folk Music Revival

MUSC 330 Jazz History Seminar (not offered in 2013-2014)

MUSC 332 Motown

THEA 242 Twentieth Century American Drama

Group II

AFAM 113 Introduction to African/African American Studies (not offered in 2013-2014)

AFAM 130 African American Social Movements (not offered in 2013-2014)

AFAM 182 Black Identity and Belonging

AMST 127 Introduction to U.S. Latino/a Studies (not offered in 2013-2014)

AMST 215 Diverse Bodies, One Nation (not offered in 2013-2014)

AMST 225 Beauty and Race in America (not offered in 2013-2014)

AMST 227 Beyond the Border: Latinos Across America (not offered in 2013-2014)

AMST 252 Food Culture in the United States

AMST 253 From Printing Press to iPhone: Technology in American Culture

CAMS 216 American Cinema of the 1970s (not offered in 2013-2014)

CAMS 310 Moviegoing and Film Exhibition in America (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 120 Rethinking the American Experience: American History, 1607-1865 (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 121 Rethinking the American Experience: American Social History, 1865-1945 (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 122 U.S. Women's History to 1877

HIST 123 U.S. Women's History Since 1877

HIST 125 African American History I

HIST 126 African American History II

HIST 205 American Environmental History

HIST 211 More than Pilgrims: Colonial British America (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 212 The Era of the American Revolution

HIST 213 The Age of Jefferson

HIST 214 Rethinking the American Civil War

HIST 217 From Ragtime to Football: U.S. History in the 1890s (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 219 Is Obama Black?: American Mixed Race History

HIST 226 U.S. Consumer Culture (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 227 History of the American West

HIST 229 Working with Gender in U.S. History

HIST 279 American Intellectual History (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 306 American Wilderness

HIST 307 Wilderness Field Studies: Grand Canyon

HIST 308 American Cities and Nature (not offered in 2013-2014)

HIST 322 Civil Rights and Black Power (not offered in 2013-2014)

RELG 130 Native American Religions (not offered in 2013-2014)

RELG 140 Religion and American Culture

RELG 239 American Holy Lands

RELG 243 Native American Religious Freedom (not offered in 2013-2014)

RELG 246 Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle (not offered in 2013-2014)

RELG 249 Religion and American Public Life (not offered in 2013-2014)

RELG 289 Global Religions in Minnesota

RELG 330 Radical Pacifism (not offered in 2013-2014)

Group III

AMST 267 Utopia, Dystopia, and Myopia: Suburbia in Fiction and Scholarship

ECON 232 American Economic History: A Cliometric Approach (not offered in 2013-2014)

ECON 262 The Economics of Sports (not offered in 2013-2014)

ECON 271 Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment

ECON 273 Water and Western Economic Development

ECON 275 Law and Economics

EDUC 225 Issues in Urban Education (not offered in 2013-2014)

EDUC 238 Multicultural Education: Race, Gender and Education

EDUC 242 Developing Education Policy for Access and Equity (not offered in 2013-2014)

EDUC 340 Race, Immigration and Urban Schools

EDUC 344 Teenage Wasteland: Adolescence and the American High School

EDUC 353 Schooling and Opportunity in American Society (not offered in 2013-2014)

EDUC 365 Democracy, Diversity, and Education (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 122 Politics in America: Liberty and Equality

POSC 201 National Policymaking

POSC 202 Parties, Interest Groups and Elections (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 204 Media and Electoral Politics: 2010 United States Election (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 205 Issues in American Democracy (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 206 The American Courts (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 208 The American Presidency (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 212 Environmental Justice (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 218 Schools, Scholarship and Policy in the United States (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 219 Protest, Power & Grassroots Organizing: American Social Movements (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 220 Politics and Political History in Film (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 231 American Foreign Policy (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 271 Constitutional Law I (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 272 Constitutional Law II

POSC 306 How Race Matters in American Politics* (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 351 Political Theory of Martin Luther King, Jr. (not offered in 2013-2014)

POSC 352 Political Theory of Alexis de Tocqueville*

POSC 355 Identity, Culture and Rights*

PSYC 384 Psychology of Prejudice

SOAN 114 Modern Families: An Introduction to the Sociology of the Family

SOAN 115 Inequality in American Society

SOAN 150 Who Cares and Who Gets Care? Women and Health

SOAN 202 Girls Gone Bad: Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice (not offered in 2013-2014)

SOAN 220 Class, Power, and Inequality in America (not offered in 2013-2014)

SOAN 221 Law and Society (not offered in 2013-2014)

SOAN 225 Social Movements (not offered in 2013-2014)

SOAN 259 Comparative Issues in Native North America

SOAN 272 Race and Ethnicity in the United States

SOAN 302 Anthropology and Indigenous Rights (not offered in 2013-2014)

WGST 250 Women's Health Activism (not offered in 2013-2014)