Skip To Content Skip To Menu Skip To Footer

American Studies Current Courses

Fall 2024

Course Code Title/Instructor Meets
AMST 101-01 Prisons and Policing in American Culture
Instructor: Amy Farrell, Anna Neumann
Course Description:
Prison and policing have long been a special point of focus and tension in American culture, with notable responses to organized state violence including calls for abolition and reform. In this class, we will ask after the carceral texture of U.S. life in and beyond its borders, especially as articulated through the categories of class, race, gender, sexuality, and disability. What do the institutions of prison and police represent in American life and what work is performed through those representations? We will attune ourselves to organizational and community efforts to engage with prison and police. We will pay special attention to how American culture depicts disciplinary regimes by way of arts and activism in the genres of journalism, visual media, poetry, theory, and memoir. Possible texts we will consider include work by Stuart Hall, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Angela Davis, Mike Davis, Eric Foner, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Assata Shakur, Brett Story, Barbara Harlow, George Jackson, Michel Foucault, Mariame Kaba, Alison Mountz and Jenna M. Loyd. We will potentially discuss local, national, and international organizations and campaigns such as Critical Resistance, Survived and Punished, No More Deaths, Decarcerate PA, and the Campaign to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Key areas of study addressed include Representation and Structures & Institutions.
03:00 PM-04:15 PM, TF
DENNY 203
AMST 101-02 Gender, Race and Pop Culture
Instructor: Charity Fox
Course Description:
Cross-listed with WGSS 101-03. This course investigates the influence of popular culture on our perceptions of gender, sexuality, race, and class, emphasizing their interconnected nature. Students will engage with a diverse range of theories and methodologies from the interdisciplinary fields of American Studies and Womens, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and apply them to popular culture content such as advertising, music and music videos, television, film, toys, and social media. The course posits that popular culture is never simply entertainment. Instead, it functions as a platform for constructing and communicating narratives and imagery that reflect and shape our understanding of race, ethnicity, femininities, masculinities, and sexualities as well as the broader social dynamics of these overlapping identities. These cultural representations exert influence on various aspects of everyday life, including consumer choices and our shifting perceptions of what we consider normal, acceptable, or aspirational. By honing critical thinking skills, students will learn to independently analyze and deconstruct layers of meaning in popular cultural products. Class meetings will be a mixture of lectures, group discussions, individual and group exercises, and films. Assignments will include active class participation, informal and formal writing and research assignments, class presentations, and an individual project exploring a popular culture topic of your choice.
09:30 AM-10:20 AM, MWF
DENNY 204
AMST 200-03 Latinx Studies
Instructor: Amy Farrell, Andy Aguilera
Course Description:
Cross-listed with LALC 123-01. Who are Latinxs? At nearly 20% of the population (and growing), Latinxs comprise the largest minority group in the United States. Despite this large number, however, U.S. popular discourse about Latinxs continues to be plagued by assumptions, stereotypes, and misunderstandings. For instance, not all Latinxs speak Spanish, not all Latinxs are immigrants, and not all Latinxs like or would even use the term "Latinx." Through an interdisciplinary approach to Latinx histories, cultures, and politics, this course introduces students to the breadth and diversity of Latinx experiences in the United States as well as to Latinx Studies as a site of scholarly inquiry. While Latinx presence in the United States is a story of im/migration, it is also a story of overlapping histories of colonization, U.S. imperial expansion, and U.S. intervention into Latin America. Major topics in this course may include the politics of labeling; race, racialization, and ethnicity; borders and borderlands, including recent events at the U.S.-Mexico border; cultural change, assimilation, and resilience; gender and sexuality; and popular culture and representation. In addition to helping us better understand the experiences of Latinxs in the United States, this course asks how Latinx experiences and Latinx Studies can help us better understand America.
03:00 PM-04:15 PM, MR
DENNY 303
AMST 200-04 Settler Colonialism in Comparative Perspective
Instructor: John Truden
Course Description:
Cross-listed with HIST 215-01. This course will use a comparative framework to explore settler colonialism. Both an antropological theory and a historical process subject to contingency, settler colonialism is an imortant but relatively new scholarly tool. In this class, students will first study settler colonial theory and then examine specific relationships between indigenous peoples and settlers in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The majority of the class will follow a rough chronology from the eighteenth centruy to the present day, focusing on specific topics each week to compare and contrast how settler colonialism has played out in those four English-speaking settler colonies. Specific topics covered might include First Contact mythologies, resistance, genocidal violence, the creation and interpretation of treaties, boarding and residential schools, child welfare and adoption, transnational exchanges between settler communities, environmental change and exploitation, land claims, historical memory, a global indigenous resurgence in the 1970s, truth and reconciliation, and the unresolved present. In some instances, the course may also explore failed settler colonies such as Rhodesia and Manchukuo or draw comparisons with other examples of settler colonialism outside of the English-speaking world, including Palestinem Fiji, and Korea.
09:00 AM-10:15 AM, TR
DENNY 317
AMST 200-05 Comparative Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.
Instructor: Andy Aguilera
Course Description:
This course introduces students to the historical, social, and cultural construction of race and ethnicity (R&E) in the United States. Students will consider major theories and issues in race and ethnicity with a focus on Native peoples, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latines. These groups will be explored through a comparative and relational lens to consider their linked experiences within the processes of racial formation and racialization. Students will answer questions such as: How is R&E a social construction? In what ways do these categories dictate the terms of inclusion? How is R&E constructed in relation to other intersectional categories (i.e. gender, sexuality, class, labor, etc.) How do notions of whiteness inform these constructions? By the end of the course, students will be able to articulate an interdisciplinary understanding of race to discuss other challenging questions in United States culture and society.
09:00 AM-10:15 AM, TR
DENNY 112
AMST 201-01 Introduction to American Studies
Instructor: Darren Lone Fight
Course Description:
Introduces students to basic theories and methods used for the interdisciplinary analysis of United States and hemispheric cultural materials and to the multiplicity of texts used for cultural analysis (mass media, music, film, fiction and memoir, sports, advertising, and popular rituals and practices). Particular attention is paid to the interplay between systems of representation and social, political, and economic institutions, and to the production, dissemination, and reception of cultural materials. Students will explore the shaping power of culture as well as the possibilities of human agency.
09:30 AM-10:20 AM, MWF
DENNY 103
AMST 202-01 Workshop in Cultural Analysis
Instructor: Anna Neumann, Amy Farrell
Course Description:
This intensive writing workshop focuses on theoretical approaches to the interpretation of social and cultural materials. The course provides an early exposure to theories and methods that will be returned to in upper level departmental courses. Intended to develop independent skills in analysis of primary texts and documents.Prerequisite: Any AMST course or permission of instructor.
10:30 AM-11:45 AM, TR
DENNY 204
AMST 303-01 Hyper-Objects: Culture, Climate, and Capitalism
Instructor: Darren Lone Fight
Course Description:
Hyper-Objects: Climate, Capitalism, and Culture" is an advanced course designed for upper-level American Studies undergraduates and students from related fields. This course explores the intersections of environmental theory, economic critique, and cultural dynamics through the concept of "hyper-objects," as introduced by philosopher Timothy Morton. Hyper-objects, vast in time and space, challenge our traditional understandings and compel us to think beyond human-centric views, engaging with the non-human elements that significantly shape our culture and environment. Students will engage with object-oriented ontology (OOO), a fresh perspective in cultural analysis that pushes beyond the theories of Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Walter Benjamin, and Stuart Hall. This course encourages a deep dive into how hyper-objects influence our society, culture, and the environment, offering a critical examination of contemporary culture's complexities. This vibrant and intellectually stimulating course invites students to critically analyze and rethink the role of climate change, global capitalism, and non-human actors in shaping cultural narratives and societal structures. It's an opportunity to expand theoretical horizons and contribute to meaningful discussions on the pressing issues of our time.
11:30 AM-12:20 PM, MWF
DENNY 110
AMST 401-01 Research and Methods in American Studies
Instructor: Amy Farrell
Course Description:
This integrative seminar focuses on the theory and methods of cultural analysis and interdisciplinary study. Students examine the origins, history, and current state of American studies, discuss relevant questions, and, in research projects, apply techniques of interdisciplinary study to a topic of their choosing. Prerequisite: 303, Senior American studies major, or permission of the instructor.
01:30 PM-04:30 PM, W
DENNY 303