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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

HIST 121 Rethinking the American Experience: American Social History, 1865-1945 (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 122 U.S. Women's History to 1877 (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 123 U.S. Women's History Since 1877 (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 125 African American History I (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 126 African American History II

POSC 271 Constitutional Law I

POSC 272 Constitutional Law II (not offered in 2014-2015)

One-term survey courses:

AFAM 113 Introduction to African/African American Studies (not offered in 2014-2015)

ARTH 160 American Art to 1940 (not offered in 2014-2015)

ECON 232 American Economic History: A Cliometric Approach (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 212 Nineteenth-Century American Literature

ENGL 215 Modern American Literature (not offered in 2014-2015)

MUSC 126 America's Music

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

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., HI, IDS, FallN. Cho, A. Russek

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., HI, WR2, IDS, SpringA. Estill, E. McKinsey

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.  1 cr., NE, Fall,SpringW. Stern

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., SI, WR2, IDS, Not offered in 2014-2015.

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., SI, WR2, IDS, Not offered in 2014-2015.

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 cr., HI, WR2, IDS, Offered in alternate years. SpringA. Estill

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., LA, WR2, IDS, Not offered in 2014-2015.

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., LA, WR2, Not offered in 2014-2015.

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., HI, WR2, Not offered in 2014-2015.

AMST 241. American Food? Is there such a thing as American cuisine? Can it exist outside of the United States? Who defines, creates, and eats it? This course examines perceptions of American food within historical and global contexts. We will look at the relationship between evolving definitions of American food and immigration patterns, global food distribution networks, travel and tourism, foreign policy and war, and labor and public health. Topics range from U.S. military commissaries and ethnic groceries to Parisian soul food restaurants and the adaptation of SPAM into Filipino cuisine. Reading proficiency in a language other than English welcomed. 6 cr., HI, IDS, WinterA. Russek

AMST 242. Unseen Evidence: Images and the Archive in American Studies How are we socially conditioned to see? In an age of self documentation, how do images construct individual and collective identities? This course is a study in visual culture and a practice in "unseeing," or rethinking the way we look at images as artifacts of historical, political, and social discourse. It traces the cultural work of images throughout nineteenth- and twentieth century U.S. history by focusing on three types: postcards, photographs, and cartoons. Working with the Carleton archives, this course introduces students to interdisciplinary research by exploring how American studies scholars use and redefine visual archives in the twenty-first century. 6 cr., WR; HI, WR2, WinterA. Russek

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., SI, IDS, Not offered in 2014-2015.

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., SI, WR2, Not offered in 2014-2015.

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., SI, IDS, Not offered in 2014-2015.

AMST 268. Music in American Social Movements We’ll consider the central role of music in a variety of social movements, including the labor, civil rights, gay rights, and anti-war movements, the anti-nuclear and environmental movements, the American Indian Movement, the Black Arts movement, the Jesus Movement, and Occupy Wall Street. How specifically, is music instrumental in social change? What musical choices are made, and by whom? How are new musics made, and old musics repackaged, to help mobilize social movements and create collective identity? We’ll approach these questions through focused listening and through the work of diverse scholars and participants. No musical experience required. 6 cr., WR; SI, WR2, IDS, Not offered in 2014-2015.

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 U.S. 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., SI, IS, 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. Prerequisite: American Studies 396. 6 cr., NE, FallE. McKinsey

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, WinterStaff

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. Students 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, WinterStaff


Topical Courses:

Group I

AMST 214 Music in the 1970s (not offered in 2014-2015)

AMST 226 Latinas in Hollywood (not offered in 2014-2015)

AMST 230 The American Sublime: Landscape, Character & National Destiny in Nineteenth Century America (not offered in 2014-2015)

AMST 240 The Midwest and the American Imagination (not offered in 2014-2015)

AMST 242 Unseen Evidence: Images and the Archive in American Studies

AMST 268 Music in American Social Movements (not offered in 2014-2015)

ARTH 160 American Art to 1940 (not offered in 2014-2015)

ARTH 171 History of Photography (not offered in 2014-2015)

ARTH 240 Art Since 1945

ARTH 245 Modern Architecture (not offered in 2014-2015)

ARTH 247 Architecture Since 1950 (not offered in 2014-2015)

ARTH 333 Visual Culture and the Civil War

ARTS 340 Advanced Film and Digital Photography

CAMS 186 Film Genres

CAMS 188 Rock 'n' Roll in Cinema (not offered in 2014-2015)

CAMS 224 Classical American Film Comedy (not offered in 2014-2015)

CAMS 225 Film Noir: The Dark Side of the American Dream (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 117 African American Literature (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 119 Introduction to U.S. Latino/a Literature

ENGL 215 Modern American Literature (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 223 American Transcendentalism

ENGL 234 Literature of the American South

ENGL 235 Asian American Literature (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 236 American Nature Writing (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 247 The American West (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 248 Visions of California (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 258 Contemporary American Playwrights of Color

ENGL 272 Telling True Stories: A Journey in Journalism (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 329 The City in American Literature

ENGL 332 Studies in American Literature: Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald (not offered in 2014-2015)

ENGL 334 Postmodern American Fiction

MUSC 112 American Popular Music after 1950

MUSC 114 Broadway Musicals and Social Politics

MUSC 115 Music and Film (not offered in 2014-2015)

MUSC 129 Rock on Record

MUSC 130 The History of Jazz (not offered in 2014-2015)

MUSC 131 The Blues From the Delta to Chicago

MUSC 132 Golden Age of R and B (not offered in 2014-2015)

MUSC 136 History of Rock (not offered in 2014-2015)

MUSC 247 The 1960s Folk Music Revival

MUSC 304 Songwriters and Songwriting

MUSC 332 Motown (not offered in 2014-2015)

THEA 242 Twentieth Century American Drama (not offered in 2014-2015)

Group II

AFAM 113 Introduction to African/African American Studies (not offered in 2014-2015)

AFAM 130 African American Social Movements (not offered in 2014-2015)

AFAM 182 Black Identity and Belonging (not offered in 2014-2015)

AMST 215 Diverse Bodies, One Nation (not offered in 2014-2015)

AMST 225 Beauty and Race in America

AMST 241 American Food?

AMST 252 Food Culture in the United States (not offered in 2014-2015)

AMST 253 From Printing Press to iPhone: Technology in American Culture (not offered in 2014-2015)

CAMS 216 American Cinema of the 1970s (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 120 Rethinking the American Experience: American History, 1607-1865

HIST 121 Rethinking the American Experience: American Social History, 1865-1945 (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 122 U.S. Women's History to 1877 (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 123 U.S. Women's History Since 1877 (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 125 African American History I (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 126 African American History II

HIST 205 American Environmental History

HIST 211 More than Pilgrims: Colonial British America (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 212 The Era of the American Revolution (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 213 The Age of Jefferson

HIST 214 Rethinking the American Civil War

HIST 216 History: Beyond the Walls

HIST 219 Is Obama Black?: American Mixed Race History (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 226 U.S. Consumer Culture

HIST 227 The American West (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 229 Working with Gender in U.S. History

HIST 306 American Wilderness (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 307 Wilderness Field Studies: Grand Canyon (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 308 American Cities and Nature

HIST 316 History, Nature & Smartphones

HIST 322 Civil Rights and Black Power (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 324 The Concord Intellectuals (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 347 The Global Cold War (not offered in 2014-2015)

HIST 395 The Global Cold War

RELG 130 Native American Religions

RELG 140 Religion and American Culture

RELG 238 The Sacred Body

RELG 239 American Holy Lands (not offered in 2014-2015)

RELG 243 Native American Religious Freedom

RELG 246 Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle (not offered in 2014-2015)

RELG 249 Religion and American Public Life (not offered in 2014-2015)

RELG 289 Global Religions in Minnesota (not offered in 2014-2015)

RELG 330 Radical Pacifism (not offered in 2014-2015)

RELG 344 Lived Religion in America

Group III

AMST 267 Utopia, Dystopia, and Myopia: Suburbia in Fiction and Scholarship (not offered in 2014-2015)

CGSC 380 Seminar in Developmental Psychology: Cognitive Development During the Preschool Years

CGSC 385 Cognitive Development in Middle Childhood (not offered in 2014-2015)

CGSC 386 Adolescent Cognitive Development: Developing an Identity and Life Plans (not offered in 2014-2015)

ECON 232 American Economic History: A Cliometric Approach (not offered in 2014-2015)

ECON 262 The Economics of Sports

ECON 270 Economics of the Public Sector

ECON 271 Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment

ECON 273 Water and Western Economic Development (not offered in 2014-2015)

ECON 274 Labor Economics

ECON 275 Law and Economics

EDUC 238 Multicultural Education: Race, Gender and Education

EDUC 242 Developing Education Policy for Access and Equity (not offered in 2014-2015)

EDUC 245 The History of American School Reform

EDUC 340 Race, Immigration and Urban Schools (not offered in 2014-2015)

EDUC 344 Teenage Wasteland: Adolescence and the American High School (not offered in 2014-2015)

EDUC 353 Schooling and Opportunity in American Society

MUSC 112 American Popular Music after 1950

MUSC 114 Broadway Musicals and Social Politics

MUSC 126 America's Music

MUSC 144 Music and Social Movements (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 122 Politics in America: Liberty and Equality

POSC 201 National Policymaking (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 202 Parties, Interest Groups and Elections (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 204 Media and Electoral Politics: 2010 United States Election (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 205 Issues in American Democracy (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 206 The American Courts (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 207 Urban Politics in a Global Era

POSC 208 The American Presidency

POSC 212 Environmental Justice

POSC 218 Schools, Scholarship and Policy in the United States

POSC 219 Protest, Power & Grassroots Organizing: American Social Movements (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 231 American Foreign Policy

POSC 271 Constitutional Law I

POSC 272 Constitutional Law II (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 306 How Race Matters in American Politics* (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 351 Political Theory of Martin Luther King, Jr. (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 352 Political Theory of Alexis de Tocqueville* (not offered in 2014-2015)

POSC 355 Identity, Culture and Rights* (not offered in 2014-2015)

PSYC 384 Psychology of Prejudice

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

SOAN 115 Inequality in American Society (not offered in 2014-2015)

SOAN 150 Who Cares and Who Gets Care? Women and Health (not offered in 2014-2015)

SOAN 202 Girls Gone Bad: Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice

SOAN 218 Asians in the United States

SOAN 220 Class, Power, and Inequality in America (not offered in 2014-2015)

SOAN 225 Social Movements

SOAN 259 Comparative Issues in Native North America (not offered in 2014-2015)

SOAN 272 Race and Ethnicity in the United States

SOAN 302 Anthropology and Indigenous Rights

WGST 205 The Politics of Women's Health (not offered in 2014-2015)