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 credit; Argument and Inquiry Seminar, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2013 · A. 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 credit; Humanities, Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Spring 2014 · S. 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 credit; Arts and Literature, Writing Requirement, Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2013 · A. 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 credit; Recognition and Affirmation of Difference Requirement, Writing Requirement, Does not fulfill a distribution requirement, Social Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter, Intercultural Domestic Studies; not offered 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 credit; Does not fulfill a distribution requirement, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 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 credit; Arts and Literature, Writing Requirement, Social Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; not offered 2013–2014 · M. Russell
  • 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 credit; Humanities, Recognition and Affirmation of Difference Requirement, Writing Requirement, Social Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; not offered 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.

    Writing Requirement, Does not fulfill a distribution requirement, Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; not offered 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?

    Prerequisites: Spanish reading fluency a plus, but not required. 6 credit; Arts and Literature, Recognition and Affirmation of Difference Requirement, Writing Requirement, Literary/Artistic Analysis, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; not offered 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 credit; Arts and Literature, Recognition and Affirmation of Difference Requirement, Writing Requirement, Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter, Intercultural Domestic Studies; not offered 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 credit; Arts and Literature, Writing Requirement, Literary/Artistic Analysis, Writing Requirement; not offered 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 credit; Recognition and Affirmation of Difference Requirement, Writing Requirement, Does not fulfill a distribution requirement, Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; not offered 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 credit; Arts and Literature, Writing Requirement, Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; not offered 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 credit; Humanities, Recognition and Affirmation of Difference Requirement, Social Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2013 · A. 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 credit; Writing Requirement, Social Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Winter 2014 · A. 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.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 115 or sophomore standing 6 credit; Social Sciences, Social Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Winter 2014 · R. 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.

    Prerequisites: Normally taken by majors in their junior year. African/African American Studies 113 or American Studies 115 or permission of instructor 6 credit; Intercultural Domestic Studies, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Winter 2014 · A. 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.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 115 or permission of the instructor. 6 credit; Social Sciences, Social Inquiry, International Studies; offered Spring 2014 · R. 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.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 396 6 credit; Does not fulfill a distribution requirement, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Winter 2014 · Staff
  • 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.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 396. 3 credit; S/NC; not offered 2013–2014
  • 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.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 396. 3 credit; S/NC; offered Winter 2014 · D. Appleman