American Studies
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Amherst College American Studies for 2014-15

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; 17th century witchcraft trials; the American Revolution and Shays rebellion; religious revivalism of the Great Awakening; abolitionist and other 19th 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.  Fall semester.  Professors Brooks, Couvares, and Hayashi.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

112 The City: New York

This course will explore the imagined and conflicted experience of urban life in the United States through study of the country’s first metropolis: New York. Drawing on primary materials—maps, memoirs, film, poetry, fiction, census data, the natural and the built environment—and a selection of secondary sources, we will encounter moments in the life of the city from the 17th into the 21th century.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester.  Professor Clark.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012

120 Writing Ourselves into Existence: Politics, Culture, and Rhetoric

Using the process of writing to uncover the relationship between literary study and history, and as a means for self-discovery, students will read a variety of texts, such as: Meridian by Alice Walker, Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. They will then write and revise their responses to these readings through a series of weekly writing assignments, peer-workshops, and informal presentations. Additionally, our discussions and writing assignments will be driven by three essential questions: First, how do we uncover and reveal ourselves through the act of writing? Second, how might we also conceal something about ourselves through our rhetorical choices? And third, how might research and non-fiction academic writing relate to the construction of fictional narratives? These questions, among others related to the study of genre, narrative, and language, will be generated and examined in this seminar in an attempt to bring craft (form) into conversation with research (content).

This is a Writing Intensive course and also discussion based. We will focus on the creation of complex, analytic, well-supported arguments that matter in academic contexts. Students will work closely with their peers, the instructor, and the Writing Center at Amherst, to develop their written prose. Also, because our approaches to writing will be driven by methodologies used by American Studies scholars, primary and secondary readings will be drawn from a wide-variety of genres and academic disciplines including English and History, as well as Ethnic Studies.

Limited to 12 students.  Omitted 2014-15.  Professor Vigil.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013

201 Native American Life: Past and Present

Through a focus on Native American traditional lifeways and the contemporary efforts by Native Peoples to revitalize these practices, students will learn to think critically about decolonization, the complexities of contemporary tribal economies and politics, and the complex ways that indigenous peoples globally are working to create sustainable futures for their communities. These key themes will be built upon and reinforced each week as students explore multiple aspects of Native American life, including food ways and plant medicines, residential/boarding schools, traditional spiritual practices, repatriation, and protection of sacred sites and heritage landscapes.

Through a series of weekly written response papers and collaborative projects students will consider how traditional ecological knowledge and other critical cultural information are transmitted through oral tradition and storytelling. They will also examine each topic through through scholarly writing from social sciences and humanities disciplines. Students will then be asked to integrate these forms of knowledge and consider how they complement each other, how and why they might differ from one another, and how best to address situations in which these diverse forms of knowledge conflict with each other. Students will demonstrate their understanding of the course material and the integration of knowledge through a mid-term and final exam. Throughout the semester, students will also learn through hands-on community engagement, including the construction of a birch bark canoe. During the last week of class we will be putting the canoe into the river -- a culmination of collaborative work and hands-on experience with revitalization of traditional knowledge and practices in a contemporary setting.

Key readings for the course include: The Island of the Anishinaabeg: Thunderers and Water Monsters in the Traditional Ojibwe Life-world by Theresa Smith, Our Knowledge is Not Primitive: Decolonizing Botanical Anishinaabe Teachings by Wendy Makoons Geniuz, and The Common Pot by Lisa Brooks. Students will also be assigned readings from a number of scholarly journals, including Ethnohistory, Canadian Journal of Native Studies, Journal of Language Teaching and Research, Transcultural Psychiatry, and the Journal of Ethnobiology.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Kimewon.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015

205 Whose Game? Sports in America

This course will examine the social and cultural history of sports in American society, focusing on the unique histories of sports such as hunting, cricket, soccer, basketball and football.  Course materials will include a range of primary and secondary materials: archival photographs, academic monographs and journal articles, documentary films, and paintings. The course is discussion-based and includes a midterm, short writing assignments, independent research, and group assignments.

Limited to 25 students.  Preference given to American Studies majors.  Fall semester.  Professor Hayashi.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016

215 The Embodied Self in American Culture and Society

(Offered as AMST 215 and ANTH 111) "The Embodied Self" in American Culture and Society is an interdisciplinary, historically organized study of American perceptions of and attitudes towards the human body in a variety of media, ranging from medical and legal documents to poetry and novels, the visual arts , film, and dance. Among the topics to be discussed are the physical performance of gender; the social construction of the ideal male and female body; health reform movements; athletic achievement as an instrumentalization of the body; commercialization of physical beauty in the fitness and fashion industries; eating disorders as cultural phenomena; the interminable abortion controversy; the equally interminable conflict over pornography and the limits of free speech; and adaptations to the possibility of serious illness and to the certainty of death.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester.  Professor Couvares. 

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012

221 Building Community

This course investigates the practice and ideal of community in America both on a national and a local level, asking students to engage in specific projects aimed at strengthening the public sphere and fostering community life. We will consider the nature and limits of democracy, the meaning of belonging, the experience of stigma and exclusion, the concepts of civic responsibility and public discourse, and the conflict and compromises inherent in political advocacy. This course will pay particular attention to the struggles of often-marginalized groups to build healthy and just communities. Coursework will include contemporary and historical case studies, literary depictions, and more theoretical readings, as well as a substantial commitment to the development and fulfillment of projects that assess or respond to contemporary concerns. Projects may range from youth work, to cultural events, to work on local policy goals, environmental, poverty and rights initiatives, or electoral politics.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Schmalzbauer and Ms. Mead, Director of the Center for Community Engagement.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

224 The Neo-Western

From the advertising copy and backdrop of truck ads to the democratic rhetoric of politicians, the West as a place of national mythology still permeates American culture. In this course, we will analyze the evolution of the West as a prominent site of American myth and the contemporary representations of it in literature and film, the Neo-Westerns. Students will read works by authors such as Annie Proulx, Cormac McCarthy, Sherman Alexi and Percival Everett, as well as view recent popular films by Ang Lee, Clint Eastwood, and John Sayles. The course will also include readings in history, as well as other disciplines, to contextualize the creative works and to gauge how the myth of the West compares to its reality and how truly revisionist its most current representations are.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Hayashi.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011

226 Isles of Asian America

This course focuses on discrete locations, both real and imaginary, of the Asian American experience. Using an interdisciplinary praxis, we will explore the evolution of Asian American places—from Hawaii, Angel Island, Chinatowns, and Relocation Centers to suburbia, Internet sites and the cinema.  This course is intended as a mid-level Asian American Studies course and course readings will focus on recent scholarship in Asian American Studies. The course is discussion-based and includes short writing assignments, independent research, and group assignments.

 Limited to 20 students. Preference given to American Studies majors and Five College APA certificate students.  Spring semester.  Professor Hayashi.

2014-15: Not offered

232 Racialization in the U.S.: The Asian/Pacific/American Experience

This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to Asian/Pacific/American Studies. We will begin by looking at the founding of the field through the student-led social movements of the 1960s and ask ourselves how relevant these origins have been to the subsequent development of the field. We will then use questions that arise from this material to guide our overview of the histories, cultures, and communities that make up the multiplicity of Asian/Pacific America. Topics will include, but not be limited to, the racialization of Asian Americans through immigrant exclusion and immigration law; the role of U.S. imperialism and global geo-politics in shaping migration from Asia to the U.S., the problems and possibilities in a pan-ethnic label like A/P/A, interracial conflict and cooperation, cultural and media representations by and about Asian Americans, diaspora, and homeland politics. In addition, throughout the semester we will practice focusing on the relationships between race, gender, class, sexuality, and nation. The ultimate goal of the course is to develop a set of analytic tools that students can then use for further research and inquiry.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Five College Professor Reddy.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

235 Racialization in the U.S.: Immigration Nation

This interdisciplinary course defines, analyzes and interrogates processes of U.S. racial formation with a particular focus on immigration, immigrant communities and the question of immigrant rights. We will begin by examining both race and racism as elements in the historical process of “racialization,” and proceed by positing racialization as the key to understanding the political, economic, social and cultural dynamics of the United States. Our focus on immigration will begin in the late nineteenth century and follow through to the present day. It will include an outline of the basic patterns of migration to the United States; the role that empire has played in creating these flows; the relationship between immigration, racialization and nation-state formation; questions of naturalization, citizenship and family reunification; immigrant labor; “illegal” immigrants; nativism and anti-immigration movements; the relationships between gender, sexuality, race, class and nation; and diaspora/transnationalism. Throughout we will pay specific attention to the shape of contemporary debates about immigration and their relationship to the histories we consider.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2014-15. Five College Professor Reddy.

2014-15: Not offered

236 From Civil Rights to Immigrant Rights: The Politics of Race, Nation and Migration Since World War II

This course centers on ongoing struggles for social justice and liberation as a means for investigating the landscape of U.S. social formation in what many term the "post-civil rights" era.  Our inquiry will begin with the youth-led movements of the late 1960s and 1970s and move through to the present day.  Topics will include questions of empire, the criminalization of radical movements, the prison industrial complex, the "war on drugs," the diversification of immigration to the United States, struggles over citizenship, migrant labor, and immigrant detention and deportation. Throughout we will pay attention to the relationships between hierarchies of gender, sexuality, race, class and nation and specific attention to the shape of contemporary debates about the issues we examine.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2014-15 Five College Professor Reddy.

2014-15: Not offered

237 Inside-Out:  A People's History of Immigration

What does immigration to the United States look like from the perspectives of migrants themselves?  How do hierarchies of race, citizenship, gender, class and sexuality shape immigrant inclusion and exclusion from the space of the nation-state?  How does attention to these differences reveal the boundaries of the United States as a “nation of immigrants”?  How do they open up avenues for conceptualizing the global, imperial dimensions of migration and the formation of the United States?  This course explores these questions by focusing on a series of primary and secondary sources told from the “bottom up.”  These will be drawn from literature, autobiography, film, music, oral history, performance art, history, and works that attempt to combine these. We will analyze these materials in relation to the broad sweep of U.S. immigration history from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Throughout we will focus on the relationship between “official” history and migrant subjectivities and the politics of cultural and historical production. 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 personal interview with the instructor. 

Franklin County Jail:

Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program:

Admission by consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students.  Omitted 2014-15. Five College Professor Reddy.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014

240 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American Studies

From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American Studies, engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film and literary texts in particular will provide primary grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narrative in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with indigenous peoples? And, how has the creation of a national American literary tradition often defined itself as both apart from and yet indebted to Native American cultural traditions? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have contributed to discussions of citizenship and identity, and changed over time with particular attention to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project that may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Vigil.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013

260 Latino Migration:  Labor, Lifestyle and Legality

(Offered as AMST 260 and SOCI 260.)  Whereas capital, culture, and commerce flow freely in contemporary capitalism, labor does not.  Walls--physical, legal and cultural--aim to keep certain people in and “others” out.  In this course we explore the sociological forces behind cross-border labor flows and the parallel reality of immigrant life.  We focus specifically on the experience of Latinos in the United States.  We pay special attention to the linkages between the demand and supply of Latino immigrant labor, social constructions of (il)legality, and the oft-overlooked privileged lifestyles that immigration supports.  While this course has a deep theoretical rooting, we use daily immigrant life as the lens through which to explore migration. 

Limited to 25 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Schmalzbauer.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016

274 Native American Literature:  Decolonizing Intellectual Traditions

(Offered as ENGL 274 and  AMST 274.)  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. We will begin with oral traditions and the 1772 sermon published by Mohegan author Samson Occom and end with a novel published in 2014.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Brooks.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

280 When Corn Mother Meets King Corn:  Cultural Studies of the Americas

(Offered as AMST 280 and ENGL 273.)  In Penobscot author Joseph Nicolar’s 1893 narrative, the Corn Mother proclaims, “I am young in age and I am tender, yet my strength is great and I shall be felt all over the world, because I owe my existence to the beautiful plant of the earth.” In contrast, according to one Iowa farmer, from the 2007 documentary “King Corn,” “We aren’t growing quality. We’re growing crap.” This course aims to unpack depictions like these in order to probe the ways that corn has changed in its significance within the Americas. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, students will be introduced to critical theories and methodologies from American Studies as they study corn’s shifting role, across distinct times and places, as a nourishing provider, cultural transformer, commodity, icon, and symbol.

Beginning with the earliest travels of corn and her stories in the Americas, students will learn about the rich histories, traditions, narratives, and uses of “maize” from indigenous communities and nations, as well as its subsequent proliferation and adaptation throughout the world. In addition to literary and historical sources students will engage with a wide variety of texts (from material culture to popular entertainment, public policy and genetics) in order to deepen their understanding of cultural, political, environmental, and economic changes that have characterized life in the Americas.

Limited to 25 students.  Omitted 2014-15.  Professors Brooks and Vigil.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013

302 Globalization, Inequality and Social Change

(Offered as AMST 302 and SOCI 302.)  This course is an in-depth exploration of the increasing global interconnectedness of economic, political, and social processes, what many have come to call “globalization.” We begin by developing a sociological critique of the relationship between inequality, post-World War II global capitalism, and the neoliberal ideology that underlies it.  We do this through study of the major institutions and actors that endorse and perpetuate global capitalism. We then explore case studies which critically examine how contemporary globalization is playing out in daily life via experiences of labor, consumption, family and community.  We dedicate the last part of the course to investigating diverse examples of grassroots resistance to the current capitalist order.  As we strive to achieve a complex analysis of globalization, we will be challenged to grapple seriously with issues of power and social justice and to reflect on our own social positions within an increasingly intricate global web.  In accordance, we will focus throughout the course on how intersections of race, class, gender and citizenship influence the human experience of globalization. 

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Schmalzbauer.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

305 Gender, Migration and Power:  Latinos in the Americas

(Offered as AMST 305 and SOCI 305.)  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.  Spring semester.  Professor Schmalzbauer.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015

310 Spanish Caribbean Diasporas

Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, known as the “Spanish Caribbean,” share a history of slavery, colonialism, and migration. In this course, we examine the twentieth-century history of the islands and island nations, their relationship to the United States as empire since 1898, and the founding of their respective diasporas. We begin with a brief survey of the economic and political history of the nineteenth century, comparing each place's local, regional, and international relationships with the Caribbean and the Atlantic. The nineteenth-century history generated similar, yet divergent, paths for each Caribbean island in the twentieth century, paths deeply marked by the emergence of the United States as a modern empire. By the mid-twentieth century, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic had developed different nation-building processes that were connected with Latin American and U.S. historical cycles. We examine the trajectories of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican migrations to the United States, the founding of diaspora communities, and their relationships with each other and the home islands. Our goal is to employ a local, regional, and Atlantic lens to the study of Spanish Caribbean diasporas and Latinos in the United States.

Limited to 20 students.  Omitted 2014-15.  Professor del Moral.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013

315 The War of 1898:  U.S. Empire in the Caribbean and Pacific

Despite the dominant historical narrative of American “exceptionalism,” imperial practices are at the heart of United States history and the formation of an American colonial state. In this course, we survey the emergence of the United States as an empire in the Caribbean and Pacific at the turn of the century (1890s-1910s). First, we examine imperial transitions during the mid-nineteenth century, when the United States was emerging as an empire, the traditional Spanish Empire was contracting, and the British Empire was expanding. The formation of the American empire, therefore, was shaped by competing international actors and great historical change. Second, we examine the history of four United States colonies in the Caribbean and Pacific: Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Class readings and lectures privilege the perspective of Caribbean and Pacific peoples. We highlight the multiple ways colonial societies responded to the United States, including radical nationalism, autonomism, and annexation. Throughout the course, we pay particular attention to how racial ideologies informed colonial practices.

Limited to 30 students.  Omitted 2014-15.  Professor del Moral.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014

317 History of Puerto Rico:  Colony, Nation, Diaspora

The island of Puerto Rico is only 35 miles wide by 100 miles long. Despite its small size, the island is at the center of multiple histories. A Spanish colony for 400 years, the island became an unincorporated territory of the United States at the turn of the century (1898), a military prize strategically located in the Caribbean. Once valued for its agricultural production of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, since the 1950s the island has undergone intense industrialization. This economic change was accompanied by internal rural to urban migration, as well as the emigration of laborers to the United States. The great migration of Puerto Ricans to United States led to the founding of the mainland diaspora. Puerto Ricans today, split between the island and the mainland, have adjusted to these historical circumstances. Along the way, they have redefined and negotiated the parameters of “authentic” Puerto Rican identities. Although not an independent nation, Puerto Ricans have developed a unique form of cultural nationalism.

This course will investigate the economic, political, and cultural history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Puerto Rico. This includes the history of the island as a colony of Spain and the United States, the relationship between economic modernization and cultural nationalism, and an analysis of the cycles of Puerto Rican migration. One of the broader questions we address is: in what ways are the island and Puerto Ricans crucial to historical narratives of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States? Puerto Rico sits at the center of multiple historical conversations. Together we will explore these connections, historical constructions, and debates.

Limited to 30 students.  Omitted 2014-15.  Professor del Moral.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2015

320 Red/Black Literature:  At the Crossroads of Native American and African American Literary Histories

“One might choose to follow only one path, either African or Native American, turning one’s back on a tradition that lies across the way. Yet one might instead choose to linger at the crossroads, sitting down for a drink brimming with the salt water of the Middle Passage and the Trail of Tears, pouring a libation and offering tobacco, and listening carefully to the interwoven strands of storytelling from African and Native American literary traditions.”

Throughout this class we will consider the crossroads Brennan articulates. The crossroads, marked by an X, offers a visual and symbolic point of intersection with undefined meaning and the potential for fateful outcomes. Reading literary and historical texts students will consider how the crossroads carries specific meanings for an Afro-Native literary tradition. Students will bring Scott Lyons’ theorization of the X mark, as the signature Native people placed on treaties, to issues of coercion and consent in African American literature and history. By considering these traditions together this class focuses on texts that speak in a triple voice, inflected by echoes of a Native American oral tradition, flashes of African American vernacular culture, and forms and techniques adapted from various models of modern Western literature. Students will read literary works as well as primary and secondary historical sources that point us to the sometimes powerful and also fraught intersections of Black and Indian histories in the United States from the nineteenth century to the decades following the Civil Rights and Black and Red Power movements. Topics of particular attention include land and politics, history and identity, and gender and sexuality, and focus on themes of race, place, family, and belonging. Some of the authors featured in this course are Vine Deloria Jr., Michael Dorris, Leslie Marmon Silko, Kaylynn Two Trees, Alice Walker, Frances Washburn, and Craig Womack. In addition to active participation in seminar discussions students will write a series of short papers in response to the readings and conduct short research assignments.

Limited to 20 Students. Omitted 2014-15.  Professor Vigil.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

322 A History of the Native Book

This course examines the exciting intersection of critical fields of inquiry, including Native American History, American History, Book History, and Literary Studies. Students will immerse themselves in materials written by Native American authors from the seventeenth century to the present by doing archival research in the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg Collection at the College. Working in small groups and individually, students will be able to practice and hone research and writing skills. In particular, students will be expected to complete a semester-long research project based on books from the collection to produce new understandings about the significance of Native authorship, publishing, and writing practices as framed by their specific historical circumstances. In addition to producing a final research paper, students will work in research groups to create entries to curate their own digital exhibition as a class. This exhibition will also be accessible to the public to showcase what the class learned about Native book history. Students will spend an additional half hour each week in a required weekly meeting in the archives.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Vigil.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015

336 South Asians in the United States

This course focuses on the political, economic, ideological, social, and cultural dimensions of migration from South Asia to the United States, to be understood within the larger context of South Asian diaspora histories.  Our approach will be interdisciplinary, working with social theory and history as well as literature, film, and music.  We will identify different notions of diaspora and migration and how these notions give meaning to "home" and displacement.  The semester begins with Indian labor migration under the system of British colonial indenture, proceeds through the "free" labor migration of workers in the colonial and post-colonial period, and concludes with our contemporary moment.

Not open to first-year students.  Limited to 15 students.  Preference given to American Studies majors. Spring semester. Five College Professor Reddy.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009

358 Indigenous American Epics

(Offered as ENGL 458 and AMST 358.)  [before 1800]  This course will delve deeply into the literature and history of “Turtle Island,” or North America.  The Quiché Maya Popol Vuh (Council Book), the Iroquois Great Law, and the Wabanaki creation cycle are rooted in longstanding, complex oral narratives of emergence and transformation, which were recorded by Native authors and scribes.  We will close read these epics (in English) as works of “ancient American” literature, as narratives of tribal history, and as living constitutions of tribal governance.  We will study the tribally and regionally-specific contexts of these epic narratives as well as the “intellectual trade routes” that link them together.  The course will conclude with an epic narrative of more recent colonial history, composed by the nineteenth-century Pequot author William Apess, born in the Connecticut River valley.  Following an interdisciplinary American studies approach, our reading will be enriched by guest speakers and artistic media.

Open to juniors and seniors.  Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2014-15.  Professor Brooks.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2016

360 Public Art and Collective Memory in the United States

(Offered as AMST 360 and ARHA 360.)  What is public art and what role does it play in public life and collective memory in the United States? In this course we will study art that is commissioned, paid for, and owned by the state as well as private works scaled to public encounter.  A focus of our study will be the evolution of public art in Washington, D.C. (19th-21st centuries), but we will range from New York harbor to the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Great Salt Lake, and we will discuss the fate of works that, like Richard Serra's Tilted Arc, exist today only in photographic record and documented debate. Asking whether and how public art mediates between private and public life will guide us to consider when and how it defines national or local values and why so many public art projects have aroused controversy. The course is organized around class discussion and student presentations, and it includes short papers and a paper/presentation of an independent research project.  Two meetings per week.

Requisite: One course in American Studies, History, or the History of Art.  Limited to 20 students. Permission required for first-year students.  Omitted 2014-15.  Professor Clark.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

390, 490 Special Topics

Fall and spring semesters.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

468 Research Methods in American Culture

This course aims to provide a “how to” of American Studies from an integrative, multiracial, and socio-cultural perspective. It also takes on the (impossible) task of surveying the development of American Studies as an interdisciplinary field, while paying attention to the theoretical concerns and bodies of work that have influenced American Studies scholars over the last half century, including but not limited to Marxism, post-structuralism, feminism, cultural studies, race, class, gender, and sexuality studies, whiteness studies, regional studies, indigenous studies, ethnic studies, as well as material, visual and popular cultural studies. Taking American culture as a site for testing classic and contemporary theories about how cultures work, this advanced research and writing seminar introduces students to resources and techniques for interdisciplinary research. Students will be exposed to and experiment with a wide range of current theoretical and methodological approaches. In the process, they will gain a working competence in debates and approaches from American Studies.

The goal of the course is not only for students to develop knowledge of main currents in the field, but to become practitioners through a series of assignments that will permit them to exercise their newfound skills. Thus, students will study a range of materials—visual, literary, print, digital, audio—via a traditionally interdisciplinary American Studies praxis. In the process they will develop rhetorical analyses, gather ethnographic data, and do close readings of assorted texts, spaces, and buildings, as the class explores problems or topics such as national narratives, ethnoracial formations, the American prison system, and the circulation of commodities. Taking four “model” monographs as the main texts for the course, students will investigate central themes in studies of American culture and history and will be able to identify how these current works rely on and respond to the history of and debates within American Studies. Class sessions will entail instruction in library training, archival research, legal research, and other skills, as well as discussions of research methods and course materials. Students will choose a research topic as the basis for a final presentation as part of a mini-conference event, annotated bibliography, and a research prospectus.

Limited to 20 students.  Open to juniors and seniors as a research seminar; underclassmen admitted under special circumstances. Spring semester.  Professor Vigil.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

496 Capstone Project

A one-semester project--either a shorter essay or some other form of independent interdisciplinary research and production. The capstone project serves as the grounds for a comprehensive evaluation of each student's achievement in the major.

Fall and spring semesters. The department.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Fall semester.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015