Courses

Fall 2014

  • 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 2014 · 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; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2014 · N. Cho, A. Russek
  • 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.  1 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2014, Spring 2015 · W. Stern
  • 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 2014 · E. McKinsey

Winter 2015

  • AMST 241: American Food?

    Is there such a thing as American cuisine? Can it exist outside of the United States? Who defines, creates, and eats it? This course examines perceptions of American food within historical and global contexts. We will look at the relationship between evolving definitions of American food and immigration patterns, global food distribution networks, travel and tourism, foreign policy and war, and labor and public health. Topics range from U.S. military commissaries and ethnic groceries to Parisian soul food restaurants and the adaptation of SPAM into Filipino cuisine. Reading proficiency in a language other than English welcomed. 6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Winter 2015 · A. Russek
  • AMST 242: Unseen Evidence: Images and the Archive in American Studies

    How are we socially conditioned to see? In an age of self documentation, how do images construct individual and collective identities? This course is a study in visual culture and a practice in "unseeing," or rethinking the way we look at images as artifacts of historical, political, and social discourse. It traces the cultural work of images throughout nineteenth- and twentieth century U.S. history by focusing on three types: postcards, photographs, and cartoons. Working with the Carleton archives, this course introduces students to interdisciplinary research by exploring how American studies scholars use and redefine visual archives in the twenty-first century. 6 credit; Writing Requirement, Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Winter 2015 · A. Russek
  • 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 2015 · A. Estill
  • 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. Students 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; offered Winter 2015 · 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 2015 · Staff

Spring 2015

  • 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; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Spring 2015 · A. Estill, E. McKinsey
  • 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.  1 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2014, Spring 2015 · W. Stern
  • 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. 6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Spring 2015 · A. Estill
  • AMST 396: Gated Communities and Slums: Globalizing the American City

    Beyond white flight and suburbanization, the U.S. 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 Inquiry, International Studies; offered Spring 2015 · R. Keiser