Fall 2017


AMST-111 - Global Valley

Drawing on a wide range of primary materials, and taking advantage of the ease of visiting the sites of many of the topics we study, this course offers an introduction to American Studies through an exploration of the Connecticut River Valley that stresses both the fascination of detailed local history and the economic, political, social, and cultural networks that tie this place to the world. Topics may include conflicts and accommodations between Native peoples and English settlers; changing uses of land and resources; seventeenth-century witchcraft trials; the American Revolution and Shays rebellion; religious revivalism of the Great Awakening; abolitionist and other nineteenth- century reform movements; tourism and the scenic including Thomas Cole's famous painting of the oxbow; immigration, industrialization and deindustrialization, especially in the cities of Holyoke and Springfield; educational institutions and innovations; the cold war, the reach of the "military industrial complex" into local educational institutions, and "the bunker"; the sanctuary movement; feminist and gay activism; present environmental, mass incarceration, and other social equity issues; and of course, Emily Dickinson's poetry.

Limited to 20 students per section. Admission by consent of the instructor.  Professors Brooks and Sánchez-Eppler.  If Overenrolled: Let students register and if over-enrolled preference given to majors, and first and second year students as this is an introductory course.


AMST 372 - Race and Public History/Memory

This seminar focuses on two major events in nineteenth century American history: the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the U.S.-inspired overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. We examine attitudes and actions leading to these momentous events, their impact on the target populations and American society, as well as subsequent efforts to obtain apologies from the U.S. government. Amazingly, these efforts succeeded in 2011-12 and 1993, respectively. The Congress has issued apologies only five times in its entire history–the three others were for slavery, treatment of Native Americans and forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Throughout, we analyze the memory-making involved, largely through the lens of public history venues such as museums, documentaries, historic landmarks, websites, and others. Some familiarity with Asian American history will be assumed.

Limited to 18 students.  McCloy Visiting Professor Odo.  If Overenrolled: Preference given to American Studies majors.


ANTH 325 / ANTH 325 - Protest!

From Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March, protests across the globe are questioning the social, political and economic status quo. This course explores the concept and practice of protest from sociological and anthropological perspectives. Why do people protest? What are their cultural and social forms? How does one understand the emotions involved? What is the role of technology? What relationships exist between the act of protest and social movements? Are protests always progressive? How does the study of protest help one understand power, democracy, and societal change? To explore these questions we will look at ethnography and history of collective mobilizations, from anti-colonial movements to nationalist struggles, as well as contemplate the future of protest for the U.S. and the rest of the world. While the readings will include case study research and key theoretical texts, we will also speak with organizers and participants of current uprisings to understand concerns on the ground. 

Limited to 25 students.  Professors Holleman and Chowdhury.  If Overenrolled: Priority will be given to majors in Sociology and Anthropology


ARHA 303 - Fruitful Conspiracies of Drawing and Sculpture

Drawing and sculpture have, for millennia, occasionally joined forces to create objects that rely equally on the worlds of illusion and literal three-dimensional form and its shadows.  This combination of seemingly contradictory phenomena often begets artworks both mysterious and magical because of their refusals to fit neatly into either discipline. The world of relief sculptures has a long history, and the world of tactile drawings that step out into a three-dimensional field is a burgeoning one. In this course we look at the historical lineage of relief sculpture, and at ways in which drawing has become increasingly physical and object-like in the past century.  We will then move into studio work, allowing for experimentation in a wide variety of materials, subjects, and processes, as well as in the incorporation of color.  Over the semester, each student will produce a series of related artworks that focus on merging thing and illusion.  This studio work will be supplemented with a mix of pertinent artist talks, museum visits, readings, and field trips.

Requisite: One of the following three studio courses--ARHA 111, 102, 214, or permission of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Professor Keller. If Overenrolled: Priority given to ARHA majors, and to those attending the first class


BLST 212 / ENGL 278 - Digital Africas

This course will examine how African writers incorporate digital technologies into their work when they publish traditional print texts, experiment with digital formats, or use the internet to redefine their relationship to local and international audiences. We will reflect on how words and values shift in response to new forms of mediation; on the limits these forms place on the bodies they represent, and on the protections they occasionally offer. Students will read fictional works in print, serialized narratives on blogs, as well as other literary products that circulate via social media. Students also will be introduced to a selection of digital humanities tools that will assist them in accessing, analyzing and responding to these works. Course materials include print, digital and hybrid publications by Oyono, Farah, Adichie, Cole, Maphoto, and Wainaina, among others.

Limited to 25 students. Professor R. Cobham-Sander.  If Overenrolled: Preference given to sophomores and English majors. After that, permission granted on a first come, first served basis.


CHEM 330 / BIOL 330 - Biochemical Principles of Life at the Molecular Level

What are the molecular underpinnings of processes central to life?  We will explore the chemical and structural properties of biological molecules and learn the logic used by the cell to build complex structures from a few basic raw materials. Some of these complex structures have evolved to catalyze chemical reactions with enormous degree of selectivity and specificity, and we seek to discover these enzymatic strategies. We will consider the detailed balance sheet that shows how living things harvest energy from their environment to fuel metabolic processes and to reproduce and grow.  Examples of the exquisite control that permits a cell to be responsive and adapt its responses based on input from the environment will be considered.  We will also consider some of the means by which cells respond to change and to stress.  A student may not receive credit for both CHEM 330 and BCBP/BIOL/CHEM 331.

Requisite:  BIOL 191 and CHEM  221.  Limited to 40 students with 20 students per discussion section.  Professor O'Hara and Dean Aronson.  If Overenrolled: Over-enrollment will be handled by permission of instructor; preference will be given to seniority.


FYSE 123 – Reading, Writing Teaching

This course considers from many perspectives what it means to read and write and learn and teach both for ourselves and for others.  As part of the work of this course, in addition to the usual class hours, students will serve as weekly tutors and classroom assistants in adult basic education centers in nearby towns.  Thus this course consciously engages with the obstacles to and the power of education through course readings, through self-reflexive writing about our own varied educational experiences, and through weekly work in the community.  Although this course presses participants to reflect a great deal about teaching, this course does not teach how to teach. Instead it offers an exploration of the contexts and processes of education, and of the politics and desires that suffuse learning.  Course readings range across literary genres including essays, poems, autobiographies, and novels in which education and teaching figure centrally, as well as readings in ethnography, sociology, psychology, and philosophy.  The writing assignments cross many genres as well.

Professor K. Sánchez-Eppler.


FAMS 345 / THDA 353 - Performance Studio

In this advanced course in the techniques of creating performance, each student will create and rehearse a performance piece that develops and incorporates original choreography, text, music, sounds and / or video. Improvisational and collaborative structures and approaches among and within different media will be investigated.  The final performance pieces will be presented in the Holden Theater. 

Two ninety-minute class sessions per week.  There will be weekly mandatory showings.  These showings are a working document of the important and  necessary vicissitudes within a creative process.   

Requisite: THDA 252 or the equivalent and consent of the instructor. Professor Woodson.


POSC 136 - Regulating Citizenship

[IL] This course considers a fundamental issue that faces all democratic societies: How do we decide when and whether to include or exclude individuals from the rights and privileges of citizenship? In the context of immigration policy, this is an issue of state power to control boundaries and preserve national identity. The state also exercises penal power that justifies segregating and/or denying privileges to individuals faced with criminal sanctions. Citizenship is regulated not only through the direct exercise of force by the state, but also by educational systems, social norms, and private organizations. Exclusion is also the result of poverty, disability, and discrimination based on gender, race, age, and ethnic identity. This course will describe and examine the many forms of exclusion and inclusion that occur in contemporary democracies and raise questions about the purpose and justice of these processes. We will also explore models of social change that would promote more inclusive societies. This course will be conducted inside a correctional facility and enroll an equal number of Amherst students and residents of the facility. Permission to enroll will be granted on the basis of a questionnaire and interview with the instructor. Preference will be given to political science majors. If space is available, first-year students will be admitted during the add/drop period.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 Amherst students.  Professor Bumiller.  If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to political science majors and to students who attend all class meetings before the end of the Add/Drop period


PSYC 224 - Intergroup Dialogue on Race

This highly interactive course brings together students to examine the roles race and other intersecting identities play in their lives. Course work includes an interdisciplinary blend of scholarly readings, in-class dialogue, experiential learning activities, reflective writing, and an intergroup collaborative action project aimed at bettering relationships and communication patterns outside the class itself. The course readings link students’ personal experiences with race to a socio-historical understanding of individual, institutional, and structural discrimination, and to the ways social inequality is embedded in social institutions and individual consciousness, constraining life chances. The readings address power imbalances within and between racial groups, and the ways privilege is allocated and social inequalities are sustained. Students will engage in sustained and respectful dialogue around racial divisions, learning to build skills in intergroup communication, collaboration, and relationships. Students will bring their own experiences with race into the classroom as a legitimate process of learning. Class members will explore similarities and differences between their experiences with race and privilege within and across racial identity groups, with the goal of coming to understand the underlying conditions that account for these different experiences and perceptions.

Requisite: PSYC 100 and consent of the instructor.  Limited to 14 students.  Professors Aries and Hart.  If Overenrolled: Priority given to sophomores and juniors.


PSYC 262 - Psychology of Play

This course will explore how children learn through play. The first part of the course will focus on defining play and exploring researchers’ differing perspectives on whether children can learn by playing. The second part of the course will involve visits to the Beneski Museum and the Holyoke Children’s Museum to explore the role of museums in studying and advancing children’s playful learning. Students will learn about the unique strengths and weaknesses of museum-based research and how socio-economic, educational, ethnic, and racial factors affect how children and families interact with museum exhibits. The third part of the course will be devoted to designing interventions that will encourage playful learning goals established in cooperation with the director and administrators at the Holyoke Children’s Museum. These interventions will be designed in small groups and implemented in the museum; therefore, there will be a significant amount of work and travel outside of class meetings.

Requisite: PSYC 100. Limited to 15 students.  Professor Palmquist.  If Overenrolled: Priority given to psychology majors and students who have taken Developmental Psychology


SOCI 226 / ENST 226 – Unequal Footprints on the Earth: Understanding the Social Drivers of Ecological Crises and Environmental Inequality

Creating a more sustainable relationship between human society and the rest of nature requires changing the way we relate to one another as humans. This course will explain why, while answering a number of associated questions and introducing the exciting and engaged field of environmental sociology. We study the anthropogenic drivers of environmental change from an interdisciplinary and historical perspective to make sense of pressing socio-ecological issues, including climate change, sustainability and justice in global food production, the disproportionate location of toxic waste disposal in communities of color, biodiversity loss, desertification, freshwater pollution and unequal access, the accumulation and trade in electronic waste, the ecological footprint of the Internet, and more. We examine how these issues are linked to broad inequalities within society, which are reflected in, and exacerbated by, persistent problems with environmental racism, the unaddressed legacies of colonialism, and other contributors to environmental injustice worldwide. Industrialization and the expansionary tendencies of the modern economic system receive particular attention, as these continue to be central factors promoting ecological change. Throughout the course a hopeful perspective in the face of such interrelated challenges is encouraged as we study promising efforts and movements that emphasize both ecological restoration and achievement of a more just, democratic world.

Course readings include foundational texts in environmental sociology, as well as the most current research on course topics. Writing and research assignments allow for the development of in-depth analyses of social and environmental issues relevant to students' community, everyday life, personal experience, and concerns.

Limited to 25 students.  Professor Holleman.  If Overenrolled: Priority will be given to students in Anthropology and Sociology and Environmental Studies, with space reserved for undeclared freshmen and sophomores.