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. 8 seats per section reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Professors Brooks and Sánchez-Eppler.
AMST-274 / ENGL-274 - Native American Literature: Decolonizing Intellectual Traditions
In 2013, Amherst College acquired one of the most comprehensive collections of Native American writing in the world–nearly 1,500 books ranging from contemporary fiction and poetry to sermons, political tracts, and tribal histories from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Through this course, we will actively engage the literature of this collection, researching Native American intellectual traditions, regional contexts, political debates, creative adaptation, and movements toward decolonization. Students will have the opportunity to make an original contribution to a digital archive and interact with visiting authors. Readings will range from the 1772 sermon published by Mohegan author Samson Occom to fiction and criticism published in 2017.
Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Brooks.
AMST-305 / SOCI-305 / SWAG-305 - Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas
In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Schmalzbauer.
ANTH-238 / SWAG-238 - Culture, Race, and Reproductive Health
This course concerns the reproductive health experiences, including those focused on sexuality, birth, and motherhood, of women in the United States. It explores the relationship between these experiences and the fact of having a black female body (as was first constructed under slavery). It also explores the complex relationship between women’s reproductive experiences and their contemporary racial and socioeconomic locations in American society. The aim is to garner a thorough and sophisticated understanding of why “reproductive justice” is elusive in the contemporary United States and to consider what might be done about it.
Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor H. Cole.
ARCH-202 / ARHA-202 - Architectural Anthropology
This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class difference.
Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.
Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.
ARHA-210 - Installation, Site, and the Embodied Spectator
The history and practice of installation art is one of hybridity: drawing from sources such as minimalism, conceptual art, soft architecture, site-specificity, land and environmental art, video, performance, and feminist art. The work of installation engages the aural, spatial, visual, and environmental planes of perception. It grows out of the collapse of a work's autonomy, medium specificity, and sense of eternal and inert matter. In this course we will seek to answer a number of questions about the nature of installation: How does work get contextualized and redefined through its placement within a larger social, political, and economic sphere of meaning? Why is installation art interested in spectator participation? What is the nature of this participation? Where does it intersect with performance art and sculpture? How do immersive installations shift our bodily, sensory experience of a work—being inside of a piece as opposed to looking in? Where do we see the blurring between medium, material, and site? We will investigate options and determinants operative in both indoor and outdoor sites, installations, and environments. The term will begin by exploring a particular and fairly broad history through texts, images, and videos to situate our experiments within a context.
Limited to 12 students. Fall Semester. Visiting Artist-in-Residence Reed.
ARHA-304 - Documentary Photography
In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore the practice of documentary photography. This course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class visual exercises. We will examine the history, theory and ideological questions and complications of working with those outside of or within one’s own circle of experience. This will be complemented by a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary photographers, and slide lectures that consider the multitude of ways artists use photography within the documentary tradition.
Requisite: ARHA 218 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor Kimball.
BIOL-181 - Adaptation and the Organism
An introduction to the evolution, ecology, and behavior of organisms and how these relate to the diversity of life. Following a discussion of the core components of evolutionary theory, we'll examine how evolutionary processes have shaped morphological, anatomical, physiological, and behavioral adaptations in organisms that solve many of life's problems, ranging from how to find or acquire food and avoid being eaten, to how to attract and locate mates, and how to optimize reproduction throughout a lifetime. We'll relate and compare characteristics of animals, plants, fungi, protists, and bacteria, examining how and why these organisms have arrived at various solutions to life's problems. Laboratory exercises will complement lectures and will involve field experiments on natural selection and laboratory studies of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants. Four classroom hours and three laboratory hours per week.
Fall semester. Professors Clotfelter and Hood; Lab Coordinators Kristensen and Goodwin.
Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 221. Limited to 40 students with 20 students per discussion section. Fall semester. Professor Bishop and Visiting Assistant Professor Henderson-Stull.
BLST-144 / SWAG-155 / THDA-155 - Introduction to Dance Studies: What is Performance?
In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Brown.
BLST-335 - Schooling Bodies, Schooling Blackness: Pedagogies, Politics, and Possibilities
This course examines the interplay of Blackness, embodiment, and schooling. Conceptualizing schooling as a hierarchical organizing and socializing process, the course examines how schooling sculpts, appraises, and understands Black bodies, behavior, and performance of identity in and beyond formal educational spaces. Course participants examine distinctions between schooling and education as well as investigate the behind-the-scene politics of lived educational experiences. Framing the Black body as a contested and potential-filled site, the course also explores how different pedagogical forms can serve as interventions to schooling and expand possibilities for understanding and assigning meaning to Blackness, bodies, and Black embodiment.
Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Hill.
ECON-453 - Economics of Entrepreneurship
his course explores the economic importance of entrepreneurship, with a focus on recent empirical findings. We will study the roles entrepreneurs play in innovation, economic growth, and rising living standards, as well as determinants of entrepreneurial success such as finance, geography, and entrepreneur characteristics. The course will also cover implications for policy and explore recent patterns in entrepreneurial activity in the United States. Students will become familiar with key research findings on entrepreneurship, conduct research utilizing publicly available data on firms and workers, and identify real-world examples of course concepts.
Requisite: ECON 360/361. Limited to 15 students. Professor Blackwood. Fall semester.
ENGL-444 - Emily Dickinson
“Experience is the Angled Road / Preferred against the Mind / By–Paradox–the Mind itself–” Emily Dickinson explained in one poem and in this course we will make use of the resources of the town of Amherst to play experience and mind off each other in our efforts to come to terms with her elusive poetry. The course will meet in the Dickinson Homestead, visit the Evergreens (her brother Austen’s house, and a veritable time capsule), make use of Dickinson manuscripts in the Amherst College archives, and set her work in the context of other nineteenth-century writers such as Helen Hunt Jackson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, and Harriet Jacobs. But as we explore how Dickinson’s poetry responds to her world we will also ask how it can speak to our present. One major project of the course will be to develop exhibits and activities for the Homestead that will help visitors engage with her poems.
Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor K. Sánchez-Eppler.
ENST-330 - Environmental Justice
From climate change to water and air pollution, environmental degradation harms some groups of people more than others. Today, communities of color in the global North are disproportionately harmed by environmental contamination. The global South writ large faces far more environmental health issues than the global North. And women face unique harms from environmental degradation across the world. Why do these disparities exist? Should everyone have equal access to the same environmental quality, and whose responsibility is it to ensure this in the United States and globally? In this seminar, we will explore how and why factors like race, gender, colonial histories, and contemporary poverty shape the impacts of environmental problems on different communities. We will critically examine the theories and issues of environmental justice and political ecology. Beginning with a review of the history of the U.S. environmental justice movement, we will examine the social and environmental justice dimensions of U.S. and international case studies of fossil fuel extraction, tropical deforestation, urban industrial production, and agricultural intensification. The course will require students to write position papers, facilitate discussions, and produce a final case study analysis of a contemporary environmental justice issue of choice with recommendations for action.
Requisite: ENST 120 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Ravikumar.
FYSE-106 - Language Crossing and Living in Translation
When did you start dreaming in a second language? Which translation of the Bible counts as the Word of God? Was Mary a virgin or a maiden? What happens to the immigrant children who need to the be interpreters in the life of their family? How much more tangled or how much more nimble is the wiring of the bilingual brain? What are we doing to our languages when we immerse in a new academic discipline? We will tackle these and other questions like these as we engage in the following units of study: (1) Babel and language differentiation and diffusion. (2) European translators from early modern humanism and the Reformation. (3) Case studies: Squanto, Malinche and the Navajo Code talkers. (4) Language in contemporary empires and resistance, migrations and globalization. (5) Language issues in gay and lesbian diasporas. (6) Bi- or multi-lingual education. (7) Literary practitioners of living in and out of translation: Luis de León, Vladimir Nabokov, Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
The seminar will work with the same texts, issues and exercise for about two-thirds of our time together. The other third we will concentrate on projects that emerge from the students’ own linguistic condition. Students will be required to delve into their own family archives looking for ancestors’ letters written in languages they cannot yet read. They will be encouraged to document/fictionalize the stakes of marrying into another language, or to study and report on the language crossings of their particular diaspora.
Despite the apparent advantage of having more than one language to engage in our work, this course has no prerequisites and its does not exclude monolinguals. When we talk about the cultural contributions, the headiness and the struggles of bi- or multi-lingual individuals, it will be invaluable to have interlocutors who think they live only in one language.
Fall semester. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.
FYSE-119 - Coexistence: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Spain
A vital question in today’s multicultural societies is how individuals with different identities—religious, racial, ethnic, etc.—can live and prosper together. Participants in this seminar will explore the literature, culture, and history of Spain, where Christians, Muslims and Jews lived side-by-side for centuries. Through readings and class discussion, we will examine how varied relations between Christians, Muslims, and Jews developed and how writers from the three cultures treated questions of acculturation and assimilation, tolerance/intolerance, religion, and gender. Examining the context of medieval Spain will also serve as a means to help us think through issues of diversity in our world today. Primary sources will include literary texts, historical accounts, films, legal documents, and maps and will be supplemented by secondary critical texts. This is a discussion-based course and students will be expected to be active participants in class discussions. The course will also give special attention to writing, offering students a number of opportunities to edit and improve their written expression.
Fall semester. Professor Infante.
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.
Fall semester. Professor Frank.
MATH-150 - Voting and Elections: A Mathematical Perspective
The outcomes of many elections, whether to elect the next United States president or to rank college football teams, can displease many of the voters. How can perfectly fair elections produce results that nobody likes? We will analyze different voting systems, including majority rule, plurality rule, Borda count, and approval voting, and assess a voter’s power to influence the election under each system, for example, by calculating the Banzhaf power index. We will prove Arrow’s Theorem and discuss its implications. After exploring the pitfalls of various voting systems through both theoretical analysis and case studies, we will try to answer some pressing questions: Which voting system best reflects the will of the voters? Which is least susceptible to manipulation? What properties should we seek in a voting system, and how can we best attain them?
Limited to 24 students. Fall semester. Professor Leise.
MUSI-238 / FAMS 313 - Pioneer Valley Soundscapes
This course is about exploring, participating in, and documenting the musical communities and acoustic terrain of the Pioneer Valley. The first part of the course will focus on local histories and music scenes, ethnographic methods and technologies, and different techniques of representation. The second part of the course will involve intensive, sustained engagement with musicians and sounds in the Pioneer Valley. Course participants will give weekly updates about their fieldwork projects and are expected to become well-versed in the musics they are studying. There will be a significant amount of work and travel outside of class meetings. The course will culminate in contributions to a web-based documentary archive of Pioneer Valley soundscapes. We will also benefit from visits and interaction with local musicians. Two class meetings per week. Visit http://www.pioneervalleysoundscapes.org/ for more information.
Requisite: MUSI 111, 112, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor Engelhardt.
PHYS-112 – Electronics
The aim of the course is to foster an understanding of and intuition for the modern-day electronic devices and circuits that are central to many aspects of our research, work, and play. A practical hands-on approach serves this aim well. After investigating the electrical characteristics of electronic components, including discrete semiconductor devices and integrated circuits (ICs), we go on to build and analyze both analog and digital circuits in order to gain insight into electronic control devices, data acquisition systems, and computers. Brief introductory lecture/discussion periods will be followed by experiments to help students understand new concepts. While the course is elementary, experienced students will be able to explore more complex circuitry and will be encouraged to apply some of their newly developed electronics knowledge and creativity to ongoing research projects in other fields. Two eighty-minute meetings per week of Lecture/Discussion/Laboratory.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Carter.
POSC-135 – Justice
This course will explore the meaning of justice and its realization in everyday life. We will consider individuals’ perceptions of justice and the significance of the concept in the relationship between citizens and government. We will examine how social movements attempt to seek justice and how this quest for justice defines their strategies and goals. And finally we consider how efforts to seek justice are realized, delayed, or blocked in institutional settings, such as in workplace organizations, prisons, state bureaucracies, and the courts. 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. Fall semester. Professor Bumiller.