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American Studies (AMST)

Director: Professor Melinda Russell

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, Gregory G. Hewett, Anna Rachel Igra, Baird E. Jarman, Mark T. Kanazawa, Richard Keiser, 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 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 Social History, 1607-1865

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

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

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

HIST 125 African American History I (not offered in 2011-2012)

HIST 221 African American History II (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 271 Constitutional Law I

POSC 272 Constitutional Law II


One-term survey courses:

ARTH 160 American Art to 1940 (not offered in 2011-2012)

ECON 232 American Economic History: A Cliometric Approach (not offered in 2011-2012)

ENGL 212 Nineteenth-Century American Literature

POSC 122 Politics in America: Liberty and Equality

RELG 140 Religion and American Culture (not offered in 2011-2012)


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. Imagining America This course surveys twentieth century literature, film, and music in the U.S. to consider how newcomers first imagine this country and how, in turn, "America" sees them. We'll trace how ideas of Americaness shift over time, reflecting on how understandings of citizenship, freedom, and rights depend on the variable meanings of race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality. We will have the opportunity to attend the Imagining America conference in Minneapolis to see how scholars and artists work through these questions. 6 cr., AI, WR1, IDS, FallA. Estill

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, WR, RAD; HI, WR2, 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

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 2011-2012.

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, 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., AL, WR, RAD; LA, WR2, IDS, WinterA. Estill

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 2011-2012.

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 2011-2012.

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. 6 cr., AL; NE, Not offered in 2011-2012.

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 2011-2012.

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, SpringE. McKinsey

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; NE, Not offered in 2011-2012.

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, WR; SI, WR2, Not offered in 2011-2012.

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 their junior year. Prerequisite: American Studies 115. 6 cr., ND; NE, IDS, WinterD. Appleman

AMST 396. Suburbanization in America: Causes and Consequences The process of suburbanization transformed the United States in a revolutionary way, yet this was a quiet revolution. Both the causes and consequences of suburbanization can be found in the country's politics, race relations, economy, literature and popular imagery, architecture and design, technology, and our definition of community. This course will take an explicitly interdisciplinary approach to these topics. Prerequisite: American Studies 115 and 345. 6 cr., SS; SI, IDS, 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, WinterE. 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, ND, WinterM. Russell

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, ND, WinterM. Russell


Topical Courses:

Group I

AMST 226 Latinas in Hollywood

AMST 230 The American Sublime: Landscape, Character & National Destiny in Nineteenth Century America (not offered in 2011-2012)

AMST 238 Native American Literature (not offered in 2011-2012)

AMST 240 The Midwest and the American Imagination

ARTH 160 American Art to 1940 (not offered in 2011-2012)

ARTH 222 History of Photography (not offered in 2011-2012)

ARTH 240 Art Since 1945

ARTH 245 Modern Architecture

ARTH 247 Architecture Since 1950

ARTS 340 Advanced Film and Digital Photography

CAMS 188 Rock 'n' Roll in Cinema

CAMS 224 Classical American Film Comedy

CAMS 225 Film Noir: The Dark Side of the American Dream (not offered in 2011-2012)

ENGL 117 African American Literature

ENGL 119 Introduction to U.S. Latino/a Literature (not offered in 2011-2012)

ENGL 215 Modern American Literature

ENGL 227 Borderlands: Places and People (not offered in 2011-2012)

ENGL 234 Literature of the American South (not offered in 2011-2012)

ENGL 235 Asian American Literature

ENGL 236 American Nature Writing

ENGL 239 American Best-Sellers (not offered in 2011-2012)

ENGL 247 The American West (not offered in 2011-2012)

ENGL 248 Visions of California (not offered in 2011-2012)

ENGL 258 Contemporary American Playwrights of Color

ENGL 272 Truth vs. Power: A Journey in Journalism (not offered in 2011-2012)

ENGL 332 Studies in American Literature: Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald

MUSC 115 Music and Film (not offered in 2011-2012)

MUSC 130 The History of Jazz

MUSC 131 The Blues From the Delta to Chicago (not offered in 2011-2012)

MUSC 136 History of Rock

MUSC 137 Spiritual Hymns and Gospel Music: Aspects of African-American Music Traditions (not offered in 2011-2012)

MUSC 247 The 1960s Folk Music Revival

MUSC 330 Jazz History Seminar (not offered in 2011-2012)

THEA 242 Twentieth Century American Drama

THEA 252 African-American Theater (not offered in 2011-2012)

THEA 352 African-American Theater (not offered in 2011-2012)


Group II

AFAM 113 Introduction to African/African American Studies

AMST 127 Introduction to U.S. Latino/a Studies (not offered in 2011-2012)

AMST 215 Diverse Bodies, One Nation

AMST 227 Beyond the Border: Latinos Across America (not offered in 2011-2012)

AMST 250 Getting to Know Buffalo Bill Cody (not offered in 2011-2012)

CAMS 216 American Cinema of the 1970s (not offered in 2011-2012)

CAMS 310 Moviegoing and Film Exhibition in America (not offered in 2011-2012)

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

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

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

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

HIST 125 African American History I (not offered in 2011-2012)

HIST 205 American Environmental History

HIST 212 The Era of the American Revolution (not offered in 2011-2012)

HIST 213 The Age of Jefferson (not offered in 2011-2012)

HIST 217 From Ragtime to Football: U.S. History in the 1890s (not offered in 2011-2012)

HIST 221 African American History II (not offered in 2011-2012)

HIST 226 U.S. Consumer Culture

HIST 227 The American West (not offered in 2011-2012)

HIST 229 Working with Gender in U.S. History

HIST 279 American Intellectual History (not offered in 2011-2012)

HIST 306 American Wilderness

HIST 322 Civil Rights and Black Power (not offered in 2011-2012)

HIST 324 The Concord Intellectuals (not offered in 2011-2012)

RELG 124 Jews and the American Experience (not offered in 2011-2012)

RELG 130 Native American Religions (not offered in 2011-2012)

RELG 140 Religion and American Culture (not offered in 2011-2012)

RELG 243 Native American Religious Freedom (not offered in 2011-2012)

RELG 246 Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle (not offered in 2011-2012)

RELG 249 Religion and American Public Life (not offered in 2011-2012)

RELG 289 Global Religions in Minnesota

RELG 330 Radical Pacifism (not offered in 2011-2012)

RELG 344 Lived Religion in America (not offered in 2011-2012)


Group III

AMST 267 Utopia, Dystopia, and Myopia: The Suburbs in American Fiction (not offered in 2011-2012)

ECON 232 American Economic History: A Cliometric Approach (not offered in 2011-2012)

ECON 262 The Economics of Sports (not offered in 2011-2012)

ECON 271 Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment

ECON 273 Water and Western Economic Development (not offered in 2011-2012)

ECON 275 Law and Economics

EDUC 225 Issues in Urban Education (not offered in 2011-2012)

EDUC 238 Multicultural Education: Race, Gender and Education

EDUC 242 Developing Education Policy for Access & Equity (not offered in 2011-2012)

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 2011-2012)

EDUC 365 Democracy, Diversity, and Education (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 122 Politics in America: Liberty and Equality

POSC 201 National Policymaking

POSC 204 Media and Electoral Politics: 2010 United States Election (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 205 Issues in American Democracy

POSC 206 The American Courts (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 207 Urban Politics in a Global Era (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 216 The Initiative, Referendum and Public Policy (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 219 Protest, Power & Grassroots Organizing: American Social Movements (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 220 Politics and Political History in Film (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 231 American Foreign Policy

POSC 271 Constitutional Law I

POSC 272 Constitutional Law II

POSC 273 Citizen and Immigration Politics (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 275 Identity Politics in America: Ethnicity, Gender, Religion (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 305 Issues in American Democracy*

POSC 306 How Race Matters in American Politics*

POSC 308 Poverty and Public Policy* (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 309 The American Presidency* (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 311 Topics in Constitutional Law* (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 316 The Initiative, Referendum and Public Policy* (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 319 Protest, Power and Grassroots Organizing: American Social Movements (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 329 Vietnam and American Policy*

POSC 346 Spies, Rogues and Statesmen: Intelligence and the Formation of Foreign Policy* (not offered in 2011-2012)

POSC 352 Political Theory of Alexis de Tocqueville*

POSC 355 Identity, Culture and Rights* (not offered in 2011-2012)

PSYC 384 Psychology of Prejudice

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

SOAN 220 Class, Power, and Inequality in America (not offered in 2011-2012)

SOAN 221 Law and Society (not offered in 2011-2012)

SOAN 225 Social Movements (not offered in 2011-2012)

SOAN 259 Comparative Issues in Native North America (not offered in 2011-2012)

SOAN 302 Anthropology and Indigenous Rights

WGST 250 Women's Health Activism