Director: Professor Richard A. Keiser
Professor Emeritus: Robert Bonner
Professor: Elizabeth McKinsey
Assistant Professor: Adriana Estill
Visiting Scholar: Willy Stern
Committee Members: Sharon Atsuko Akimoto, Barbara
Allen, Deborah Appleman, Peter Balaam, Laurel Bradley, Lawrence E.
Burnett, Nancy J. Cho, Clifford E. Clark, Jr., Carol Donelan, Gregory
G. Hewett, Anna Rachel Igra, Baird E. Jarman, Kirk Jeffrey, Mark T.
Kanazawa, Stephen K. Kelly, Michael J. Kowalewski, Jerome M. Levi,
Lance T. McCready, Michael McNally, Beverly Nagel, Annette Nierobisz,
Kofi Owusu, Ronald W. Rodman, Melinda Russell, John F. Schott, Kimberly
K. Smith, William Terriquez, Ruth Weiner, Harry McKinley Williams,
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.
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 in the American Studies office in Goodsell
Observatory. 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
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
HIST 223 U.S. Women's History Since 1877
POSC 271 Constitutional Law I
(not offered in 2006-2007)
POSC 272 Constitutional Law II
(not offered in 2006-2007)
One-term survey courses:
ARTH 160 American Art to 1940
CAMS 215 American Film History
ECON 232 American Economic History
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:
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.
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., ND, 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., ND, FallA. Estill, R. Keiser
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, Not offered in 2006-2007.
AMST 203. Investigative Reporting for the Incurably Curious
This course presents a hands-on introduction to the techniques and tools used by investigative reporters. Taught by a no-nonsense, veteran investigative journalist, this course will show students that no matter what their lawyer, doctor or mother promised, virtually no document is off-limits and no secret secure from a journalist who knows how to dig up the dirt-and all in a supposedly ethical fashion. The real-world course will take a critical look at the ethics of investigative reporters, the role these media bigwigs play in shaping the public dialogue in American society and the costs to American democracy. Prerequisite: American Studies 115.
6 cr., ND, FallW. Stern
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. Not open to students who have taken American Studies 396, Sublime in America.
6 cr., AL, Not offered in 2006-2007.
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, FallE. McKinsey
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, SpringR. Keiser
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 2006-2007.
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, WinterE. McKinsey
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 2006-2007 the topic of this seminar will be:
Not offered in 2006-2007.
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.
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, WinterB. Nagel