Courses

Fall 2017

  • AMST 115: Introduction to American Studies

    This overview of the "interdisciplinary discipline" of American Studies will focus on the ways American Studies engages with and departs from other scholarly fields of inquiry. A particular emphasis will be placed on the stories of individuals who have been marginalized in the social, political, cultural, and economic life of the United States due to their class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, citizenship, and level of ability. Students will engage with a variety of media, including academic scholarship, works of fiction, journalism, film, poetry, art, material culture, advertising, and music as they practice reading and writing about cultural artifacts from a critical perspective. Texts will include work by Diane Arbus, James Baldwin, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Kendrick Lamar, Spike Lee, Jackson Pollock, Mae Ngai, and Bruce Springsteen.

    6 credit; offered Fall 2017 · C. Elias
  • AMST 265: Scandal!: Gossip and Misinformation in American Politics from Yellow Journalism to Fake News

    This course explores the relationship between gossip, the news media, and American politics. How have falsehoods and misinformation influenced American politics? How has gossip journalism impacted political journalism, and vice-versa? What is the relationship between the mass media and the “truth”? How has propaganda circulated in the United States and played a role in public discourse? Just how free and fair is the American press? Our chronological examination will address topics and events such as yellow journalism, the birth of celebrity culture, the rise of gossip magazines, McCarthyism, the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, the role of the 24-hour news cycle, the Clinton impeachment, Steven Colbert’s concept of “truthiness,” and the rise of “fake news.” Though our focus will be on the long twentieth century, we will also look more deeply into the American past to help contextualize recent developments. We will investigate the underbelly of the American news media, trace the circulation of information (especially information that some would prefer to keep secret), and scrutinize the creation of political personas. The course will prioritize classroom discussion and writing assignments. Students will also perform a critical analysis of how current supermarket tabloids and gossip blogs report on American politics.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry; offered Fall 2017 · C. Elias
  • 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.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 396 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2017 · E. McKinsey

Winter 2018

  • 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. Normally taken by majors in their junior year.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 115 or instructor permission 6 credit; offered Winter 2018 · S. Zabin
  • AMST 400: Integrative Exercise: Exam and Essay

    Exam: 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.

    Essay: 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. Students will be required to give a public presentation on their papers or projects during the spring term.

    Prerequisites: American Studies 396 6 credit; S/NC; offered Winter 2018

Spring 2018

  • AMST 115: Introduction to American Studies: Immigration and American Culture

    This course is an introduction to the field of American Studies--its pleasures, challenges, and central questions--through the lens of immigration and migration. Using interdisciplinary readings and assignments, we will explore the richness and complexity of American culture by placing immigration and migration at the center of our investigations. Throughout the term, our study of diverse topics (Borders and Boundaries, World War II, and Sound) will model different ways of making connections and analyzing relationships between immigration, identity, and culture in the United States.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Spring 2018 · N. Cho
  • AMST 396: "Invisible Domain": Religion and American Studies

    Though evidently a crucial organizer of “American” experience and identities, religion remains paradoxical within U.S. culture and, for some recent scholars, an undertheorized “invisible domain” in American Studies. Shoving off from familiar religious narratives of U.S. origins, meaning, and destiny, we will consider alternatives grounded in three themes recurrent in historical experience and popular culture: captivity, violence, and prophetic authority. Early attention to major trends of American Studies scholarship will lead in the course’s second half to students’ production and public sharing of an extended research essay. Required for juniors in the American Studies major.

    Prerequisites: American Studies major or instructor permission 6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Spring 2018 · P. Balaam