Courses

Fall 2013

  • 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: 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 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

Winter 2014

  • 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 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

    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

Spring 2014

  • 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 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