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American Studies (AMST)

Director: Associate Professor Nancy Cho

Professor Emeritus: Robert Bonner, Robert Tisdale

Professor: Elizabeth McKinsey

Associate Professor: Adriana Estill

Committee Members: Sharon Akimoto, Barbara Allen, Deborah Appleman, Peter Balaam, Laurel Bradley, Lawrence E. Burnett, Clifford E. Clark, Jr., Carol Donelan, Michael Griffin, Gregory G. Hewett, Anna Rachel Igra, Baird E. Jarman, Kirk Jeffrey, Mark T. Kanazawa, Richard Keiser, Stephen K. Kelly, Michael J. Kowalewski, Jerome M. Levi, Michael McNally, Beverly Nagel, Annette Nierobisz, Kofi Owusu, Ronald W. Rodman, Melinda Russell, John F. Schott, Kimberly K. Smith, Ruth Weiner, David Wiles, Harry McKinley Williams, Carolyn Wong, Serena R. Zabin

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 66 credits (eleven courses) 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 400 Colloquium and Integrative Exercise in American Studies

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 Social History, 1607-1865

HIST 121 Rethinking the American Experience: American Social History, 1865-1945

HIST 220 African American History I

HIST 221 African American History II

HIST 222 U.S. Women's History to 1877 (not offered in 2007-2008)

HIST 223 U.S. Women's History Since 1877 (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 271 Constitutional Law I

POSC 272 Constitutional Law II


One-term survey courses:

ARTH 160 American Art to 1940 (not offered in 2007-2008)

CAMS 215 American Film History (not offered in 2007-2008)

ECON 232 American Economic History: A Cliometric Approach

ENGL 112 Introduction to 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.

American Studies Courses

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, RAD, 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, FallN. Cho, A. Estill

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, RAD, WinterA. Estill

AMST 222. Cheating in Baseball: An Ethical & Historical Study Ever wonder why the “phantom tag” is illegal in the official baseball rulebook but is regularly seen on ESPN? Cheating in baseball is as old as the game itself. This course will first examine dozens of real-life examples of cheating in Major League baseball from an ethical standpoint; why is the same act considered cheating by some and smart, aggressive play by others? Second, the course will analyze forms of cheating in baseball over time as a lens to view changing social mores throughout American history. Some baseball knowledge helpful but not necessary. Class meets May 5-16. Drop/Add Deadline is May 5. 1 cr., ND, SpringW. Stern

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, RAD, Not offered in 2007-2008.

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, Not offered in 2007-2008.

AMST 238. Native American Literature Study and discussion of Native American literature from its graphic and oral roots to contemporary memoir, fiction, and poetry. Authors read will include Black Elk/John Neihardt, Charles Eastman, James Welch, N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, Joy Harjo, Susan Power, LeAnne Howe, Leslie Marmon Silko, David Treuer, and Sherman Alexie. Topics to be discussed will include the importance of place, nature, and spiritual life; diverse representations of historical events; complexities of individual and tribal identity; and differences between fictive literature and ethnography. The course will also critique the depiction of Native Americans by Euro-Americans in popular media. English Group IV. 6 cr., AL, WinterR. Tisdale

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, Not offered in 2007-2008.

AMST 250. Getting to Know Buffalo Bill Cody An iconic figure of the American West, William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody was probably the most famous American in the world at the end of the nineteenth century. He is less well-known today. Using my new book on Buffalo Bill as a point of entry, I will conduct a kind of tour of Buffalo Bill's life and the things written about it. Class readings will range from nineteenth century dime novels to twenty-first century historiography, with detours through Hollywood and Broadway. 6 cr., HU, WinterR. Bonner

AMST 267. Utopia, Dystopia, and Myopia: The Suburbs in American Fiction 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, Not offered in 2007-2008.

AMST 310. Driving America? The Impact of the Automobile on U.S. Society Students will investigate the impact of the automobile on American society. We will use a multidisciplinary approach that will include the impact of the auto on political economy, the built landscape, our environment, music, film, literature and social capital. Students will be responsible for an interdisciplinary research paper. Seminar format. Prerequisite: American Studies 115. 6 cr., ND, Not offered in 2007-2008.

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 in the field 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. The course is 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 winter of their junior year. Prerequisite: American Studies 115. 6 cr., ND, WinterD. Appleman

AMST 396. Junior Research Seminar in American Studies An interdisciplinary course taught by a single member of the American Studies faculty, designed to introduce students to theories and methods in American Studies as they relate to a particular topic of inquiry. The course will encourage students to explore the various, sometimes conflicting ways in which a cultural or political phenomenon has been interpreted by a number of different disciplines. The course will include both primary and secondary texts, and will involve significant research work by students. Normally taken by majors in spring of the junior year. In 2007-2008 the topic of this seminar will be: Visions of California Not offered in 2007-2008.

AMST 396. Visions of California An intensive interdisciplinary exploration of the ways in which California has been imagined in literature, art, film and popular culture from pre-contact to the present. We will try to understand these works within the detailed, over-lapping contexts of history, geography, and culture. There will be a weekly film showing outside of class. Prerequisite: American Studies 345 or permission of the instructor. English Group IV. 6 cr., ND, SpringM. Kowalewski

AMST 400. Integrative Exercise - Directed Reading Students read selected works and view films in the field of American Studies and in a narrow topic area designated by the program. For integrative exercise examination students only. 6 cr., S/NC, ND, WinterStaff

AMST 400. Colloquium and Integrative Exercise The colloquium will meet as a research seminar, providing a structured environment for seniors working on approved essays or projects in American Studies. It will build upon the research experience of the junior seminar, and prepare students for the independent production of theses or performances to satisfy the college "comps" requirement. Students will be evaluated for this course upon completion of the senior integrative exercise. They will be required to give a public presentation on their research during the spring term. 6 cr., S/NC, ND, WinterN. Cho


Topical Courses:

Group I

AFAM 233 A Study of the Harlem Renaissance through Literature, Music and Dance (not offered in 2007-2008)

AMST 230 The American Sublime: Landscape, Character & National Destiny in Nineteenth Century America (not offered in 2007-2008)

AMST 238 Native American Literature

AMST 240 The Midwest and the American Imagination (not offered in 2007-2008)

AMST 345 Theory and Practice of American Studies

AMST 396 Visions of California

ARTH 160 American Art to 1940 (not offered in 2007-2008)

ARTH 222 History of Photography

ARTH 240 Art Since 1945

ARTH 245 Modern Architecture (not offered in 2007-2008)

ARTH 247 Architecture Since 1950 (not offered in 2007-2008)

ARTH 249 Object Lessons: Material Culture and American History (not offered in 2007-2008)

ARTH 310 The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (not offered in 2007-2008)

ARTS 340 Photography in Hawaii: Introduction to the Big Island

CAMS 215 American Film History (not offered in 2007-2008)

CAMS 229 Outsiders Cinema: Fiction Film (not offered in 2007-2008)

CAMS 241 History of Television and American Mass Media

CAMS 247 Deconstructing Journalism: News Forms, Values and Practices

ENGL 112 Introduction to American Literature

ENGL 117 African American Literature

ENGL 119 Introduction to U.S. Latino/a Literature (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENGL 227 Borderlands: Places and People (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENGL 230 African American Autobiography

ENGL 234 Literature of the American South

ENGL 235 Asian American Literature

ENGL 236 American Nature Writing

ENGL 239 American Best-Sellers (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENGL 241 Language Thieves: Women in American Poetry (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENGL 242 Contemporary Ethnic American Literature

ENGL 330 Literature of the American West (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENGL 331 American Transcendentalism (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENGL 332 Studies in American Literature: Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENGL 334 Studies in American Literature: The Postmodern American Novel

ENGL 336 Romance to Novel: Poe, Hawthorne, James

ENGL 339 Contemporary American Playwrights of Color (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENGL 341 Contemporary Poetry (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENGL 395 Toni Morrison: Nobel Laureate

MUSC 115 Music and Film

MUSC 130 The History of Jazz

MUSC 131 From the Delta to Memphis

MUSC 137 Spiritual Hymns and Gospel Music: Aspects of African-American Music Traditions

MUSC 247 The U.S. Folk Music Revival

MUSC 330 Jazz History Seminar (not offered in 2007-2008)

THEA 242 Twentieth Century American Drama (not offered in 2007-2008)


Group II

AMST 127 Introduction to U.S. Latino/a Studies

AMST 250 Getting to Know Buffalo Bill Cody

CLAS 126 America and the Classics (not offered in 2007-2008)

ENTS 305 Topics in Environmental History: The World's Water (not offered in 2007-2008)

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

HIST 121 Rethinking the American Experience: American Social History, 1865-1945

HIST 195 American Environmental History

HIST 200 U. S. Material Culture Studies: The Zen of Asian and Western Woodworking

HIST 212 The Era of the American Revolution

HIST 214 The Era of Civil War and Reconstruction

HIST 217 From Ragtime to Football: U.S. History in the 1890s (not offered in 2007-2008)

HIST 220 African American History I

HIST 221 African American History II

HIST 222 U.S. Women's History to 1877 (not offered in 2007-2008)

HIST 223 U.S. Women's History Since 1877 (not offered in 2007-2008)

HIST 226 U.S. Consumer Culture

HIST 227 History of the American West

HIST 228 American Indian History (not offered in 2007-2008)

HIST 229 Gender and Work in U.S. History (not offered in 2007-2008)

HIST 322 The Civil Rights Movement in America

RELG 124 Jews and the American Experience (not offered in 2007-2008)

RELG 130 Native American Religions

RELG 135 Introduction to African American Religion (not offered in 2007-2008)

RELG 140 Religion and American Culture

RELG 243 Native American Religious Freedom

RELG 249 Religion and American Public Life (not offered in 2007-2008)

RELG 322 Gender and God-Talk: Christian Feminist Theologies

RELG 344 Lived Religion in America


Group III

AMST 267 Utopia, Dystopia, and Myopia: The Suburbs in American Fiction (not offered in 2007-2008)

AMST 310 Driving America? The Impact of the Automobile on U.S. Society (not offered in 2007-2008)

ECON 232 American Economic History: A Cliometric Approach

ECON 262 The Economics of Sports (not offered in 2007-2008)

ECON 271 Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment

ECON 273 Water and Western Economic Development (not offered in 2007-2008)

ECON 275 Law and Economics (not offered in 2007-2008)

EDUC 225 Issues in Urban Education (not offered in 2007-2008)

EDUC 238 Multicultural Education (not offered in 2007-2008)

EDUC 336 History of African American Education (not offered in 2007-2008)

EDUC 344 Teenage Wasteland: Adolescence and the American High School (not offered in 2007-2008)

EDUC 353 Schooling and Opportunity in American Society

POSC 122 Politics in America: Liberty and Equality

POSC 201 National Policymaking (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 202 Parties, Interest Groups and Elections (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 204 Media and American Politics: Special Election Edition (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 206 The American Courts (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 213 Labor Politics in a Global Age

POSC 216 The Initiative, Referendum and Public Policy (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 219 Protest, Power & Grassroots Organizing: American Social Movements & Advocacy from a Comparative Pers

POSC 220 Politics and Political History in Film

POSC 224 Migration Politics: Asian American and Latino Experiences (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 231 American Foreign Policy (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 252 American Political Thought (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 257 American Environmental Thought (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 262 Environmental Policy and Politics* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 271 Constitutional Law I

POSC 272 Constitutional Law II

POSC 305 Issues in American Democracy*

POSC 306 Racial and Ethnic Politics* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 308 Poverty and Public Policy* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 309 The American Presidency* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 311 Topics in Constitutional Law* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 313 Labor Politics in a Global Age*

POSC 316 The Initiative, Referendum and Public Policy* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 319 Protest, Power, & Grassroots Organizing: American Social Movements & Advocacy from a Comparative Pe*

POSC 329 Vietnam, Iraq and American Policy*

POSC 346 Spies, Rogues and Statesmen: Intelligence and the Formation of Foreign Policy* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 351 Political Theory of Martin Luther King, Jr.* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 352 Political Theory of Alexis de Tocqueville* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 353 Feminist and American Separatist Movements* (not offered in 2007-2008)

POSC 355 Contemporary Feminist Thought: Identity, Culture and Rights* (not offered in 2007-2008)

PSYC 384 Psychology of Prejudice

SOAN 220 Class, Power, and Inequality in America

SOAN 221 Law and Society (not offered in 2007-2008)

SOAN 222 Working in the New Economy (not offered in 2007-2008)

SOAN 259 Comparative Issues in Native North America (not offered in 2007-2008)

SOAN 302 Anthropology and Indigenous Rights (not offered in 2007-2008)

SOAN 303 Criminology: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives (not offered in 2007-2008)

WGST 111 American "Queer": An Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies