Fall 2023

Drugs in History

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-147  |  History, as HIST-147


Francis G. Couvares (Section 01)


(Offered as AMST-147 and HIST-147)  This course examines the changing ways that human beings have used psychoactive drugs and societies have controlled that use. After examining drug use in historical and cross-cultural perspectives and studying the physiological and psychological effects of different drugs, we look at the ways in which contemporary societies both encourage and repress drug use. We address the drug war, the disease model of drug addiction, the proliferation of prescription drugs, the images of drug use in popular culture, America’s complicated history of alcohol control, and international drug trafficking and its implications for American foreign policy. Readings include Huxley’s Brave New World, Kramer’s Listening to Prozac, and Reinarman and Schivelbusch, Tastes of Paradise; films include Drugstore Cowboy and Traffic. This course will be writing attentive. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester. Professor Couvares.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference given to AMST and HIST majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: The seminar will focus on the related skills of close reading, engaged discussion, and critical writing. Students will produce several short essays and a longer final research paper.

AMST 147 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM SCCE E210
Th 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM SCCE E210

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Getting Wasted: Why College Students Drink Too Much and Party So Hard New York University Press Thomas Vander Ven Amherst Books TBD
The Reckoning: Drugs, Cities, and the American Future (Hill & Wang, Elliott Currie Amherst Books TBD
Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited Harper Perennial Modern Classics 2004 Aldous Huxley Amherst Books TBD
Listening to Prozac Penguin Life Peter Kramer TBD
The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State Norton, 2016 McGirr, Lisa TBD
Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spieces, Stimulants, and Intoxicants Schivelbusch, Wolfgang Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023