American Studies
American Studies

AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

30655 • Gutterman, Lauren
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.306
(also listed as HIS 315G)
show description

AMS 310 is designed to provide an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies, that is, the study of American history, culture, and politics. Though not a comprehensive U.S. history survey, this course will cover a broad time period, beginning at the turn of the twentieth century and extending into the present day. “Home” will serve as our central trope and organizing framework, allowing us to track changes and themes in the American past in three major ways. First, we will examine “home” in a literal sense, as a dwelling place or lack thereof, to help us uncover persistent forms of racial and economic inequality. Second, we will consider “home” in a metaphorical sense, as a powerful and enduring symbol of the nation as a whole, drawing our attention to issues of immigration and citizenship. Finally, we will consider “the home” in an ideological sense, as a site at which ideas about family, gender roles, and sexuality cohere. Throughout, this course will examine shifts in what it means to be American, the ways in which that identity has worked to bring people together and push them apart, to bestow power and privilege on some while taking them away from others. Hopefully, students will come away from this course with a firm grounding in the diverse methods of American Studies research, a richer understanding of the American past, and a deeper sense of the multiple meanings of home in the present.

AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

30660 • Cordova, Cary
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM GAR 0.102
(also listed as HIS 315G)
show description


This class introduces students to the field of American Studies. The guiding objective of the class is to use interdisciplinary lenses – such as music, dance, material culture, and urban studies – to develop a more complex understanding of American culture. In this class, we will investigate select aspects of American culture using various methodological approaches. The course outline follows a semi-linear pattern in history, but is hardly comprehensive. We will look broadly at the tensions between individual identity formation and the many social constructions that operate in American culture. The class is loosely tied around the connection, or disconnection, of individuals with mass culture (music, in particular, but also cars, corporations, television, and even fashion).


This class is organized into three sections, starting with swing culture in the 1930s and 40s, shifting to the dynamics of popular music and culture from the 1950s to the 1980s (think girl groups, salsa, disco, and rap), and finally, looking at the politics of consumerism and globalization in our everyday lives. We will use these three modules to think critically about the relationship between the past and present, to examine the relationship between individual identity formation and the larger cultural zeitgeist, and to develop an understanding of how social inequalities, particularly guised through race, class, gender, and sexuality, infiltrate all areas of American life.


While mass culture often provides a context for making sense of the world, it also simplifies and negates a variety of more complex issues. Thus, if there is an overriding theme to the class, it is the concept of visibility versus invisibility. Who becomes the representative American? What is un-American? Who feels displaced, or invisible? How do ideologies of race, class, gender, and sexuality penetrate popular culture? And how have individuals responded? The goals of the course are to develop a more nuanced understanding of American culture and American Studies, to build critical thinking skills, and to generate new paradigms for looking at the world.    



AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

30650 • Vaught, Jeannette
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BUR 116
(also listed as HIS 315G)
show description

This course is an introduction to the field of American Studies.  Our goal in this class is to use American Studies’ interdisciplinary approach – combining “traditional” disciplines like history, geography, dance, literature, visual culture, and technology studies – to develop a more complex understanding of American history and culture.  We will spend this semester examining questions of nation-building, belonging, and exclusion in American cultural history at a range of scales.  We’ll pay particular attention to the connections between felt attachments to people and place and the construction of national and global American identities.  The course is loosely chronological, but it is not designed to be comprehensive.  We’ll think critically about specific places, events, people, ideas and relationships, and we’ll work together to develop a nuanced, American Studies approach to U.S. culture and its history.


The class is organized around three crucial moments in American history.  We will start with American empire-building at the turn of the 20th century, move into the complexities of Cold War culture and civil rights from the 1950s to the 1970s, and finish with the politics of globalization, gentrification, and neoliberalism that shape our everyday lives.  We’ll examine topics like President Theodore Roosevelt, the rationalization of labor, burlesque dancing, the Woolworth sit-ins, Stonewall, punk rock, and the Disneyfication of the urban landscape.  Throughout, we will think critically about the relationship between the past and the present, examine the impact of race, class, gender, sexuality and other social differences on American life, and develop an understanding of the many ways belonging – and not belonging – shape what it means to be American.

AMS 311S • America's Reality Tv

30665 • Kantor, Julie
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM BUR 436A
show description

Reality Television is the most ubiquitous and popular programming on American Television, garnering 50 percent of prime time viewers in 2013. Though most Americans claim hatred of reality shows, the influence of the programming and its reflection of American culture is undeniable; the shows' mediated narratives reverberate with American's desires, fears, and showcase our discourses and discursive production. Through the study of reality television, we can understand ideals and forms of American citizenship, race, gender, sexuality and class. This class will use a variety of disciplines, including American studies, media studies, anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, and theoretical lenses, such as affect, performance, and Foulcauldian genealogy to unpack the narratives produced by and around these shows. The class will look at a variety of reality programs, including makeover, identity-based (i.e. The Real Housewives, Shahs of Sunset), competition, and therapeutic shows (Hoarders, Intervention, Couples Therapy) to ask questions about American social life and culture. This class will also explore realms of culture and life where we can follow the bleed over of reality television; that these reality stars' real lives are continually followed on and off the shows speaks to cultural obsessions and fixations that are a part of the reality of American lives.


Possible Texts:

Susan Lepselter, "The Disorder of Things: Hoarding Narratives in Popular Media"

David Grazian, "Neoliberalism and the Realities of Reality Television"

Neal Saye, "No "Survivors," No "American Idol," No "Road Rules" in "The Real

World" of "Big Brother": Consumer/reality, Hyper/reality, and Post/reality in

"Reality" TV"

“Reality TV, or The Secret Theater of Neoliberalism” by Nick Couldry from Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 30:1, 3-13

“Jersey Shore: Part Fantasy, Part Train Wreck, Cloaked in Neoliberalism” by Mark Sherry and Katie Martin from The Journal of Popular Culture, December, 2014. 10.1111.

 "The Unwatched Life Is Not Worth Living: The Elevation of the Ordinary in Celebrity Culture" by Joshua Gamson in Theories and Methodologies 126.4

"The Mass Production of Celebrity: ‘Celetoids’, Reality TV and the ‘Demotic Turn’1" by Graeme Turner in International Journal of Cultural Studies, Volume 9(2): 153–165, 2006

"Reality TV and the Production of 'Ordinary Celebrity': Notes from the Field" by Laura Grindstaff, from Berkeley Journal of Sociology, Volume 56, 2012

Oct 2 – “Reality Celebrity: Branded Affect and the Emotion Economy” by Laura Grindstaff and Susan Murray from Public Culture, 01/2015, Volume 27, Number 1 75: 109-135


Assignments (include % of grade):

6 one-page (single space) responses to reading: 30%

Final paper proposal (1 page): 10%

Annotated Bibliography (5-6 sources): 10%

Participation: 10%

Contribution to Zine: 15%

Final paper (10-12 pages): 25%

AMS 311S • Borrowing And American Cul

30670 • Kopin, Joshua
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM BUR 436A
show description

We live in an age of stealing. With the advent of digital technologies and the internet, it is now easier than ever to make and share art—but it’s also easier to claim someone else’s work as your own, even to make money off of it. Still, borrowing has a long history in American culture. This course will consider that history, starting with the Declaration of Independence and continuing through to pop art, remixing, and internet memes. In order to think about these phenomena, we will investigate the past and future of American copyright law, popular and fine art forms that encourage borrowing or outright stealing, writers and poets who openly (or secretly) plagiarize the work of others, and what new possibilities exist for borrowing in the age of the internet. While acknowledging, as well as experiencing, the potential that these forms allow, we will also need to investigate the ways that borrowing may work differently for some groups than others—whom does borrowing hurt? How can we understand borrowing through the lenses of race, gender, and empire? What are the differences between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation?


Possible Texts:

Dan Clowes, Ghost World

Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Susan Scafidi, Who Owns Culture?

Cory Doctorow, Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free

Kembrew McLeod, Cutting Across Media

Joseph Schloss, Making Beats

Kenneth Goldsmith, Uncreative Writing

Eric Lott, Love and Theft

Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian

Melani McAlister, Epic Encounters


Assignments (include % of grade):

20% Participation

25% Weekly Creative and Analytical Writing Assignments

10% Comparison Paper

10% Analysis Paper

35% Final Project, including annotated bibliography, presentation, and final paper

AMS 311S • Imagining Public Education

30685 • Pinkston, Caroline
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM BUR 436A
show description


The last sixty years have been a remarkable and tumultuous period for American public education. From the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate schools to the more recent controversies over charter schools and high-stakes testing, public education has spent much of the last half-century right in the middle of national debates about equality, justice, and democracy. A recurring narrative in these debates is that our public schools are failing, and that fixing them is crucial to solving other longstanding issues of poverty and racial injustice.


Where does this narrative come from?  What stories and images contribute to the way we understand the importance of public schooling and its apparent failures? What’s at stake when we imagine a “failing” public school – or, for that matter, a successful one?


This course will examine contesting representations of public school in American culture from the 1960’s to the present day.  This will not be a course in the history American education. Our main purpose, instead, will be to investigate cultural perceptions of the state of public education, in pop culture, in the news, and beyond. What’s the relationship between the stories we tell about public education, the policy that determines what happens in schools, and broader cultural anxieties about race, childhood, and social justice? We will consider sources including film and television, policy briefs & journalism, nonfiction texts & memoir, children’s literature & school curriculum.


Potential texts (excerpts): Up the Down Staircase (Kaufman, 1964); Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools (Kozol, 1990); Bad Boys: Public Schools and the Making of Black Masculinity (Ferguson, 2000); Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America (Tough; 2009)


Potential films (excerpts): The Breakfast Club (1985), Dangerous Minds (1995); Freedom Writers (2007); Waiting for Superman: How We Can Save America’s Failing Schools (2010) 



Assignments (include % of grade):

Attendance and Participation (10%)

Reading Responses (20%)

Reflective Essay (10%)

In-Class Presentation and Short Essay (20%)

Final Project (40%)

                  Proposal – 10%

                  First Draft – 10%

                  Final Paper – 20%

AMS 311S • Mythic Indian In Amer Cul

30690 • Whitewolf, Edwin
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM BUR 436A
show description

American culture is replete with images of the “Indian.” From the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to professional sports team mascots, and from the packaging on Land ‘o’ Lakes butter to Walt Disney animated feature films, the “Indian” remains a pervasive yet enigmatic figure, but also, in the words of Vine Deloria, “unreal and ahistorical.” What exactly was Deloria saying when he wrote those words in 1969, and how are his comments relevant to the images of Native people in American culture then and now? Where do these images come from, and how are they connected to the creation of the republic of the United States of America? Further, how have these images helped in creating stereotypes that have been utilized by non-Native people, and how have these stereotypes been used? How and why have these stereotypes changed over the past 500 years? Finally, what are the broader political and cultural consequences of these stereotypes for Native people in America?


This course will interrogate the image of the mythic Indian in American popular culture, as seen through a variety of media, including American history, world’s fairs and expositions, public museum exhibits, literature, and film. In doing so, we will focus upon popular stereotypes, with specific attention paid to their genealogies. We will begin by analyzing the role of these images and their relevance to the United States of America, and how they have continued to operate throughout American history. We will also spend some time focused upon critical responses to these images from Native American people.


Possible Texts:

Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America

Phil Deloria, Playing Indian

Shari Huhndorf, Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination

Various authors, Course Reader


Assignments (include % of grade):

Attendance and Participation - 20%

Weekly Reading/Viewing Response - 20%

Final Paper Rough Draft - 20%

Final Paper Rough Draft Presentation - 10%

Final Revised Paper - 30%

AMS 315 • Building America

30695 • Bsumek, Erika
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM UTC 3.110
(also listed as HIS 317L)
show description

This course will look at roughly 100 years of building in American society from 1867-1980. It will focus on the ways in which politicians, architects, engineers, urban planners, construction workers, naturalists, environmentalists, novelists, filmmakers and the American populous approached the relationship between large-scale infrastructure projects and social development. This course will pay special attention to  the design of specific dams, highways, and urban areas and will place them in larger historical perspective by evaluating key locations before and after they were built or expanded. Hoover Dam, for instance, would provide a key case study in this class. Hoover Dam does more than hold water and generate electricity. It dramatically changed (and continues to change) the relationship that people had with technology, the surrounding area, and with each other. The closest urban area, Las Vegas, will also be evaluated when discussing Hoover Dam, but so too will Southern California. Special attention will also be paid to the engineering innovations that changed construction techniques used in large scale projects.

Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America by Henry Petroski (Oct 29, 1996)

To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design by Henry Petroski (Mar 31, 1992)

Seely, Bruce Edsall. Building the American Highway System: Engineers as Policy Makers. Technology and Urban Growth. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987.

Snyder, Logan Thomas. “The Creation of America’s Interstate Highway System.” American History 41, no. 2 (June 2006): 32–39.

Moudry, Roberta, ed. The American Skyscraper: Cultural Histories. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

McCullough, David G. The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Introduction to Engineering Nature: Water, Development, and the Global Spread of American Environmental Expertise, by Jessica Tiesch, (UNC Press, 2011). 

We will be reading short articles about specific building projects: Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Sears House, the Woolworth Building, etc.

Possible readings may include:

Schweitzer, Robert. America’s Favorite Homes: Mail-order Catalogues as a Guide to Popular Early 20th-century Houses. Great Lakes Books. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990.

Cooke, Amanda, and Avi Friedman. “Ahead of Their Time: The Sears Catalogue Prefabricated Houses.” Journal of Design History 14, no. 1 (January 1, 2001): 53–70. 

Midterm: 100 points

Paper: 50 points

Final exam: 100 points

Book Review: 25 points

Reading quizzes: 10 points each

In class participation: 25 points.

AMS 315 • Germany And Globalization

30709 • Hoberman, John
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM BIO 301
(also listed as EUS 308, GSD 310)
show description


Globalization is a historical process of worldwide integration that has both economic and cultural dimensions. As Europe's largest economy and labor market, Germany has experienced both economic and cultural globalization in ways that have transformed a society long associated with mythic ideas about German nationhood and identity. The new economic order of the European Union, characterized by multinational corporations and the free flow of capital and labor, has changed German society by internationalizing the products, services, travel opportunities, and mass media that are now available to all Germans. One aspect of this process has been the arrival of foreign workers that began during the 1950s. In recent decades the presence of 8,000,000 foreign residents, including 3,000,000 Turks, has forced the German myth of national identity to change toward a more multiethnic model. This model is now in crisis following the arrival in Germany of huge numbers of non-European refugees. The racial view of nationality based on bloodlines rather than a liberal, republican view of citizenship is, after a long postwar decline, now making a comeback on the German political right. The influence of xenophobia in Germany is currently one aspect of a “new normal.” At the same time, the postwar transformation of Germany's role in the world is evident in the fact that the prime movers of the European Union have been the politically conservative German Chancellors Helmut Kohl (1982-98) and Angela Merkel (2005-). German leadership within an unstable European Union confirms its international orientation in today’s world.

Cultural globalization during the postwar period has been driven primarily by an American "cultural imperialism" that includes the sheer power of the English language to infiltrate virtually all aspects of modern experience. Popular music, television programming, and Hollywood films exemplify the appeal of American cultural models in Germany and in other modern societies. The German language is absorbing American vocabulary ("Team," "Insider," "Know-How," "Power," etc.) at a breathtaking rate, a cultural process that has been accelerated in recent years by the ubiquity of a computer technology of American origin. All of these trends make German society an important case study in the epochal contest between cultural self-preservation and globalization that is taking place around the world.



Manfred B. Steger, Globalization: A Very Short Introduction (2009)

Readings posted on Canvas



Four 2-page papers and one 8-10-page paper 40%

midterm 20%

final 40%

AMS 315 • Hist Of Religion In The US

30724 • Doran, Justin
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM JES A303A
(also listed as HIS 317L, R S 316U)
show description


This course explores religious creativity in the United States as a contact point in the American hemisphere. We will look at how Americans made sense of different religions that they came into contact with over the course of Greater America’s five-hundred-year history of cultural cross-pollination. From a broad reading of thesecontact points, we will develop an understanding of how the systems of U.S. secularism and denominationalism structured contact between
religious groups and how new religious movements emerged in response to that contact. With a focus on their religious practices, we will consider the traditions of African diasporic religion, Native American religion, charismatic Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Zen Buddhism, and American folk spiritualties.



  • Malinche: A Novel by Laura Esquivel
  • Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions by Richard Erdoes and John (Fire) Lame Deer
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac


  • Unit exams
  • Wikipedia articles
  • Final essay

AMS 315 • Hist Of Religion In The US

30720 • Amoruso, Michael
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.216
(also listed as HIS 317L, R S 316U)
show description
This class introduces students to the history of religions in the United States. With a strong emphasis on religious diversity, this course explores the variety of religious traditions that have flourished in the United States—not only Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism, but also ones like Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American religions, and New Age and “metaphysical traditions.” We also consider the challenges practitioners of these numerically smaller religions have faced as they confronted the religious norms set by the dominant style of Protestant Christianity. Beginning with the pre-colonial period and ending in the present day, this course will give students a broad overview of American religious life, and will address themes like gender, war, politics, economy, science, and immigration. Students will also develop the conceptual tools to analyze the ongoing dynamics of religious dominance and diversity—as well as to think critically about the way religious history is narrated—in this country.
  • Catharine Albanese, America: Religions & Religion.
  • Exams
  • Attendance
  • Class participation
  • Weekly intellectual journals

AMS 315 • Mixed Race Identities

30715 • Chattopadhyay, Tupur
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CLA 0.106
(also listed as AAS 310)
show description

Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

What is “race,” and what does it mean to be “mixed”? What is the historical situation and tension of “mixing” in the United States, and why is it significant? What is the role of media in channeling fears, desires, and anxieties about “mixed” bodies? Why are “mixed race” bodies suddenly desirable and chic? This course is designed to provide students with language and critical tools to understand and discuss racial and ethnic representation in the United States. We will survey the history and evolving representations of race and ethnicity, with particular attention to the category of ‘mixedness’.  While a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches will be reviewed, critical and cultural studies approaches will be central. The course focuses on Asian American populations, with substantial attention to African American and Latino representations. In addition, there is significant emphasis on intersections of class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship with “mixedness” in racial formations. It carries the Cultural Diversity Flag.


Grade Breakdown

25%   Participation

20%   First research paper

15%   Quizzes

25%   Final research paper

15%   Blog posts and comments:


AMS 315 • Performing Blackness

30710 • Thompson, Lisa
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CLA 1.104
(also listed as AFR 317F, T D 311T, WGS 301)
show description


This course will consider contemporary performance of blackness in film, art, theatre, literature, television, and music. We will discuss how performances of black life, black identity and black culture are created, consumed and sometimes contradicted by artists and non-artists alike. We will explore themes such as the criteria for black art, the Black aesthetic, racial passing, performances of black masculinity/femininity, and cultural appropriation. The class will culminate in student presentations about black performance based upon individual research.



Evie Shockley, The New Black

George C. Wolfe, The Colored Museum

Jay-Z, Decoded

Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play and Other Works

Spike Lee, Bamboozled

Awkward Black Girl (webseries)

Kiese Laymon, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

Mark Anthony Neal, Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities

Nicole Fleetwood, Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness.

AMS 315F • Native American Lit And Cul

30730 • Stewart, Anne
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ 1.212
(also listed as E 314V)
show description

E 314V  l  5-Native American Literature and Culture


Instructor:  Steward, A

Unique #:  34840

Semester:  Spring 2017

Cross-lists:  AMS 315F

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  Yes


Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A.


Description:  This course will explore the worlds of Native American literature ranging across tribal affiliations, regions, and histories.  While this literature teaches us about Native American cultures, the novels that we will read also explore cities, technology, ecology, and the challenges of living in our hypermodern world.  We will engage with essays that discuss the connections between oral and written narratives, language and thought, ideas and places, and other concepts key to understanding Native American literature, and literary studies.


The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines.  They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities.  Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.


This course contains a writing flag.  The writing assignments in this course are arranged procedurally with a focus on invention, development through instructor and peer feedback, and revision; they will comprise a major part of the final grade.


Tentative Texts:  Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony (1977); Erdrich, Louise. Tracks (1988); Robinson, Eden. Monkey Beach (2000); Never Alone (2014).


Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which may be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (75% of the final grade).  There will also be graded short assignments, and in-class presentations (25% of the final grade).

AMS 321 • Black Freedom Movement

30734 • Makalani, Minkah
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 101
(also listed as AFR 372C, LAS 322)
show description


It can be said that Black people have engaged in a centuries-long, global struggle for freedom. Some might consider the high tide of this struggle as having occurred in the United States, extending from the 1950s into the 1970s. Others might look to the national independence movements in Africa and the Caribbean, which created a series of autonomous Black nations, as the watermark of black freedom. But the global currency of Black Lives Matter suggests that the quest for freedom continues. This course explores the history of Black people’s twentieth century struggles for freedom, taking as its focus the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, African and Caribbean anticolonial movements, and the more recent Black Lives Matter movement. This course will ask and seek to answer several questions, including: What is freedom? How have Black people thought about freedom? Is there a difference between liberation and freedom? How has this differed from or challenged dominant western notions of the liberal individual? Is it fair to view Black Lives Matter as suggesting black people are not free? This course will examine key historical events and figures in the U.S., Africa, and Caribbean, with particular attention to intellectual currents, organizational formations, and mass political movements. We will also consider how culture, religion, and social deviance inform how we might think about Black political conceptions of freedom.


Sample Texts: 

  • Eric Duke, Building a Nation: Caribbean Federation in the Black Diaspora
  • Françoise Hamlin, Crossroads at Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta after World War II
  • Chimamanda Negozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun.
  • Kimberly Springer, Living for the Revolution: Black Feminist Organizations
  • Kenanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

AMS 321 • Black Middle Class

30735 • Thompson, Lisa
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 201
(also listed as AFR 372C, WGS 340)
show description

During this term we will embark on an interdisciplinary exploration of the African American middle class in the US from 1900 to the present, with a particular emphasis on post-Civil Rights era developments. We will use literature, film, history, theatre, cultural studies, music, television, and sociology to examine how the black middle class has been imagined, defined and represented. By examining the debates within and about the black middle class, we will complicate constructions of race in America. The course is particularly interested in investigating the following: the concept of racial uplift; the construction of the “race man” and “race woman;” the idea of class privilege for a racially marginalized group; conflicts between the black middle class and the working class; the role of the black middle class in policing black sexuality; the notion of middle class rage; the rise of the black nerd; assertions of racial authenticity; the new black aesthetic; and the politics of affirmative action.

AMS 321 • Cultrl Heritage On Display

30740 • Seriff, Suzanne
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM SAC 4.118
(also listed as ANT 325L)
show description

This course is designed to take you behind the scenes in the public construction, negotiation, and display of “American culture” by focusing on a number of cultural heritage sites in the public sphere. In particular, the course will examine fairs, festivals, theme parks, history sites, and museum exhibitions as contested sites of heritage production in American history—focusing especially on those moments when defining and displaying an image or event in American history becomes an active agent in the process of nation building and ideological construction. We will focus closely on the histories and agencies of specific “exhibitionary complexes,” paying close attention to what one critic calls ‘the problematic relationship of their objects to the instruments of their display.” (Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett). Each student will have the opportunity to participate directly in creating and/or critiquing a cultural heritage site (including its methods of production, documentation, and display). Students will have an opportunity to conduct original field research, plan, design and critique a mock exhibit, heritage site or theme park, and critically analyze an historic example of cultural heritage production. 

AMS 321 • Indigenous Film/Television

30745 • Tahmahkera, Dustin
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WEL 3.260
(also listed as MAS 374)
show description


This course critically and creatively engages indigenous representations in cinematic and televisual texts from the 20th and 21st centuries, and engages indigenous critique of those representations through visual studies. Teaching critical thinking and writing skills for interpreting diverse cultural, social, and ideological functions of indigenous representations and media, the course involves critically deconstructing/analyzing and reconstructing/reimagining images and discourses related to how indigenous identities have been historically and contemporarily represented in media.



Week 1: Contemporary Indian Country

  • Wilkins and Stark “A Tour of Native Peoples and Native Lands” and “…” American Indian Politics and the American Political System, 2nd ed. Routledge,
  • Screening: Reel Injun (2009), dir. Neil Diamond (Cree)

Week 2: Contemporary Indigenous Critique

  • Chaat Smith, Paul.  Everything You Know about Indians is Wrong. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2010.
  • Screening: Daughter of Dawn (1920), dir. Norbert Myles

Week 3: Indigenous Reviews

  • Howe, LeAnne, ed. Seeing Red—Hollywood's Pixeled Skins: American Indians and Film. Lansing: Michigan State UP, 2013.
  • Screening: Selected scenes from reviewed films in Seeing Red

Week 4: Methods: Decolonized Viewing, Visual Continuity

  • Tahmahkera, Dustin. “Preface” and “Introduction: Decolonized Viewing, Decolonizing Views.” Tribal Television: Viewing Native People in Sitcoms. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2014.
  • Hearne “Repatriation and Visual Continuity in Imaginging Indians” from Native Recognition
  • Screening: Harold of Orange (1979), dir. Richard Weise.
  • Screening: Imagining Indian (1992), dir. Victor Masayesva (Hopi)

Week 5: Televisual Neo-Indianness

  • Tahmahkera, Dustin. “The Neo-Indian in King of the Hill." Tribal Television: Viewing Native People in Sitcoms. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2014.
  • Jojola, Theodore. “Moo Mesa: Some Thoughts on Stereotypes and Image Appropriation.” Dressing in Feathers: The Construction of the Indian in American Popular Culture, ed. S. Elizabeth Bird. Westview P, 1996.
  • Screening: King of the Hill, with Jonathan Joss (White Mountain Apache/Mexican American)
  • Screening: Wild West Cowboys of Moo Mesa (1992)

Week 6: Genealogies of Native Cinema

  • Singer, Beverly. Wiping the War Paint Off the Lens: Native American Film and Video. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2001.
  • Screening: Selected scenes from films in Wiping the War Paint Off the Lens.

Week 7: Indigenous Borderlands: Navajo Film Culture

  • Lewis, Randolph. Navajo Talking Picture: Cinema on Native Ground. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2012.
  • Screening: Navajo Talking Picture (1985), dir. Arlene Bowman (Navajo)

Week 8: Virtual Reservations

  • Raheja, Michelle. Reservation Reelism: Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2011.
  • Screening: Imprint

Week 9: Anti-Western

  • Rosenbaum, Jonathan. Dead Man. British Film Institute, 2000.
  • Hall, Mary Katherine. "Now You Are a Killer of White Men: Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man and Traditions of Revisionism in the Western." Journal of Film and Video (2001): 3-14.
  • Screening: Dead Man (1995), dir. Jim Jarmusch.

Week 10: Indigenous Pop Culture

  • Hearne, Joanna. Smoke Signals: Native Cinema Rising. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2012.
  • Alexie, Sherman. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (selected stories).
  • Screening: Smoke Signals (1998), dir. Chris Eyre.

Week 11: Indigenous Borderlands: Spokane Reservation/Seattle

  • Rader, Dean. “Celluloid Alexie: Postindianism in Smoke Signals and The Business of Fancydancing.” Engaged Resistance: American Indian Art, Literature, and Film from Alcatraz to the NMAI. Austin: U of Texas P, 2011
  • Van Alst, Theodore. "Working with and without Reservation(s) in The Business of Fancydancing." Visualities: Perspectives on American Indian Film and Art. Lansing: Michgan State UP, 2011.
  • Screening: The Business of Fancydancing (2002), dir. Sherman Alexie.

Week 12: Workshops

  • Reconstruction Script Workshops/Table Readings
  • Screening: Winter in the Blood

Week 13: Indigenous Borderlands: Mohawk Territory

  • Rickard, Jolene. "Visualizing Sovereignty in the Time of Biometric Sensors." South Atlantic Quarterly 110.2 (2011): 465-486.
  • Dodds, Klaus. “‘I'm Still Not Crossing That’: Borders, Dispossession, and Sovereignty in Frozen River.” Geopolitics 18.3 (2013): 560-583.
  • Raussert, Wilfred. “Inter-American Border Discourses, Heterotopia, And Translocal Communities In Courtney Hunt's Film Frozen River.” Norteamérica 6.1 (2011): 15-33.
  • Screening: Frozen River (2008), dir. Courtney Hunt.

Week 14: Inuit Filmmaking

  • Evans, Michael. The Fast Runner: Filming the Legend of Atarnarjuat. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2010.
  • Screening: Atarnarjuat, The Fast Runner (2001), dir. Zacharias Kunuk.

Week 15: Maori Media

  • Hokowhitu, Brendan. Fourth Eye: M Ori Media in Aotearoa New Zealand. University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
  • Screening: Maori Television
  • Screening: Boy (2010), dir. Taika Waititi.



In addition to Screening Engagements (i.e., homework writing assignments engaging course readings and film/television texts) during the semester, students will complete a series of writing tasks for their final research paper of 15-20 complete pages, citing and conversing with at least 10 scholarly sources, on an approved topic concerning Indigenous film and television. Assignments for this major research project include the Project Proposal, Literature Review, Workshop Draft, written Peer Reviews (of draft), and Research Paper (final draft).

Sonic Engagements I               10%                

Sonic Engagements II            15%                

Project Proposal                      5%

Literature Review                     10%                

Workshop Draft                      10%                            

Peer Reviews                           5%

Research Paper                        25%                            

Presentation                             10%                            

Attendance                               10%

AMS 321 • Race, Internet, & Soc Media

30750 • Nault, Curran
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GAR 0.132
(also listed as AAS 320, RTF 359)
show description

Flags: Cultural Diversity in the U.S. and Writing

From its earliest incarnations, the Internet has been celebrated as a place where corporeal concerns such as race “don’t matter.” A sizable body of research and recent popular online trends have since proven otherwise. This course gives students the vocabulary to critically articulate the relationships between Internet technologies and embodied cultural practices of use that affiliate around “race.” Topics range from early text-‐based Internet identity tourism to the phenomenon of Asian American YouTube stars to the cultural discourses of “Black Twitter.” The course adopts an intersectional politics and includes attention to gender, sexuality and (dis)ability. Finally, this course, like new media more generally, is participatory by design and will encourage students to explore course topics through both critical thought and practical experience.

Grade Breakdown:

30%     Course blog
20%     Midterm Essay/Post
20%     YouTube Assignment
20%     Group Creative Project
10%     Attendance/Participation


AMS 321 • Women And Socl Mvmnts In US

30755 • Green, Laurie
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM UTC 3.102
(also listed as AFR 372C, HIS 365G, WGS 340)
show description

This upper-division history course examines women’s participation in both well-known and lesser-known social movements during the twentieth century, more deeply than is possible in a U.S. history survey course. Throughout, we explore women’s activism in movements that specifically targeted women’s rights, such as the woman suffrage movement. However, we also consider women’s participation in movements that do not outwardly appear to be movements about women’s rights, such as the Civil Rights Movement.

In addition to exploring the scope and contours of women’s activism, the course will place particular emphasis on four key themes: 1) how cultural understandings of gender may have shaped these movements, 2) tensions between ideas of women’s rights that emphasized equality of the sexes and those that emphasized difference; 3) the question of whether you can write a universal history of women or need to write separate histories along lines such as race, class, region and/or sexual preference; 4) power relations not only between men and women but among women.

SHORT READINGS will be available on Canvas.


Crow Dog, Mary. Lakota Woman.  Reprint edition, Grove Press, 2011.

Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi. 1968; reprint edition, Delta, 2004.

Orleck, Annelise. Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965. University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Ruth Rosen. The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America. Revised edition. Penguin, 2006.

Marjorie Spruill Wheeler, One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Women’s Suffrage Movement. NewSage Press, 1995.

Attendance                                                   5%

On-time submission of assignments                    5%

5 Lecture/Reading quizzes                                   4% each (20% total)

5 In-class essays                                         10% each (50% total)

Final exam                                                    20%

AMS 321F • African Amer Hist Since 1860

30760 • Walker, Juliet
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GAR 3.116
(also listed as AFR 357D, HIS 357D, URB 353)
show description

Assessments of the historic experience of African Americans from the Civil War and Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Era and the Second Reconstruction, i.e., the post-Civil Rights Era from the 1970s through 2014, provide the focus of this course.  Emphasis will be placed on the political, economic, including the business activities, as well as social and cultural activities of African Americans. The course begins with assessing the Black American experience during the Civil War and Reconstruction.  In the immediate first post-Reconstruction, the Exodus of 1879 is considered along with the founding and building of Black Towns. Also, legal and extralegal means, including violence, disfranchisement and segregation of Blacks, that is, the rise of Jim Crow, at the turn of the century and the Great Migration of the WWI era are examined. Ideologies of black leaders during that period, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells and Marcus Garvey are compared.

The rise of the black urban ghetto and impact of African American working class as it relates to African American culture provide the focus for examining the twentieth century Black Experience. The Harlem Renaissance and the conditions of blacks in the Great Depression and WWII to the 1954 Brown decision provide an introduction to the Black Freedom Movement of the 1960s. Assessments are made of the riots in the 1960s, ideologies of Black leaders and black organizations, CORE, SNCC, and Black Panthers. Agendas of post-Civil rights era black social, political and business leaders are examined, such as Houston’s Case Lawal, hip hop entrepreneurs and the first two black billionaires, Robert Johnson (BET) and Oprah Winfrey..

Significantly, the course begins with a Civil War, marking an end of slavery and the beginning of black political participation. It ends with the historical phenomenon of the election of Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States. What does this say about race/racism in America? What about Katrina and Black Reconstruction in New Orleans in 2009 as well as “the $40 Million Dollar slave” 149 years after the 13th Amendment? The course ends with commentaries on retrenchment in affirmative action, commodification of African American culture, and assessments of America’s changing racial demographics on African Americans in the 21st century.

Franklin, John H. and Evelyn Higginbotham,  From Slavery to Freedom,9th ed, paper

Henry, Charles P, Allen, R , and Chrisma, R. The Obama Phenomenon: Toward a Multiracial Democracy

Holt Thomas and Barkley-Brown, E., Major Problems, African American History vol 2 

Rhoden, William C., Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall,  Redemption of the Black Athlete

Smith-Shomade, Beretta,   Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy: Selling Black Entertainment Television

Walker, Juliet E. K. The History of Black Business in America -course packet

Exam 1  (Take home)                    30

History Research Paper                 30

Student Panel Presentation           10

Exam  2(Take Home) m                 30

AMS 327 • Religion/Social Justice U.s.

30775 • Seales, Chad
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM GAR 2.128
(also listed as R S 346)
show description

Course Description:


This course takes as its topic the grand questions of religious practice and social change: Why is the world the way it is? And how has religion helped make it so? How can we change the world for the better? And does religion help us, or hinder us, in that pursuit? To answer those questions, we will pay particular attention to disruptive religious practices. That is, religions as practiced by those often deemed on the edge of society, outside the mainstream, or in the minority. These will include religious practices constitutive of social movements addressing Organized Labor, Civil Rights, Environmentalism, Sustainable Food Systems, and Racial and Economic Justice. Surveying these movements, we will examine the material relationships between religion and social justice in the United States. We will compare the ways modern religion carries within itself the material possibility of liberated consciousness, radical democracy, and social equality, even as it often postpones these promises to the next life, or the next millennium, and ultimately reinforces the status quo.



  • Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette, ed. Religion and Social Justice for Immigrants. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2007.


  • Carmichael, Stokely, Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, and John Edgar Wideman. Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichel. Reprint edition. Scribner, 2005.


  • Carter, Heath W. Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago. Oxford University Press, 2015.


  • Fones-Wolf, Elizabeth, and Ken Fones-Wolf. Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South: White Evangelical Protestants and Operations Dixie. University of Illinois Press, 2015.


  • King, Jr., Martin Luther and Cornel West. The Radical King. Beacon Press, 2016.


  • Taylor, Dorceta. Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility. NYU Press, 2014.


  • Johnson, Lucas F. Religion and Sustainability: Social Movements and the Politics of the Environment. Routledge, 2014.


  • Dubois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folks. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1903.




  • Class Preparation Participation Exercises (30%)
  • Reading Journal (30%)
  • Two In-class Essays (40%)

AMS 327 • Science/Magic/Religion

30780 • Crosson, Jonathan
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM WEL 2.312
(also listed as AFR 372G, ANT 324L, R S 373)
show description


In this course, we will interrogate the concepts of magic, science, and religion as culturally and historically constructed categories.  We will critically examine how the construction of science and religion, as well as the opposition of empirical knowledge and belief, were central to both the Enlightenment and the formation of the social and natural sciences.  Drawing on recent critiques of these foundational distinctions, we will question common-sense understandings of these categories and their relations, exploring the following questions:

  • How did the experimental sciences emerge out practices of “natural magic” or evidence law?
  • How do our notions of religion and science reflect certain assumptions?  What are other ways of categorizing practices we might deem as religion or science?
  • How have the divisions between science, magic and religion, or between rationality and superstition, undergirded projects of modernity, colonization, and development?



  • Danny Burton and David Grandy.  Magic, Mystery, and Science.
  • George Saliba.  Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance.
  • Helen Verran.  Science and an African Logic.
  • Karol Weaver.  Medical Revolutionaries:  The Enslaved Healers of Eighteenth Century Saint Domingue.
  • Harry West.  Ethnographic Sorcery.



  • Eight Reading Quizzes (35%)
  • Topic, Research Question, and Thesis Statement (5%)
  • Revised Thesis Statement + Draft of Introduction + Outline of Paper (10 %)
  • Final Paper (30%)
  • Participation in Class Discussions (10%)
  • Oral Presentation (10%)

AMS 329 • Envir Hist Of North Amer

30785 • Bsumek, Erika
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM GAR 0.120
(also listed as HIS 350R, URB 353)
show description

This one-semester introduction to the environmental history of the United States will examine some of the recent literature of environmental history. As with the field itself, this course will focus on human interaction with the natural world, chart how nature has influenced the development of human life and technologies, and discuss the various political, intellectual, cultural, economic, global and social meanings that people have attached to the environment at different moments in American history.  The course will start with an assessment of how indigenous peoples’ idea about the environment, how it was to be used, and how they approached interactions with land, water, and food sources. It will then examine the ways the colonial populations thought about land, resources, and the indigenous peoples. Moving forward in time, the class considers how American values evolved around the idea of the environment, especially what it was and how it should be treated and examines various historical moments such as the industrial revolution, the progressive era, the Great Depression and New Deal, and the Cold War.  Interactions between different groups and their different environmental ideals – from preservation to Wise Use – will be covered.

AMS 330 • Mdrnsm In Am Design & Arch

30790 • Meikle, Jeffrey
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM ART 1.110
show description

Upper-division standing required. Fulfills the core requirement for “Visual and Performing Arts”



This lecture course is intended to provide a broad knowledge of major issues in the history of American design and architecture from about 1880 to the present.  The central assumption of the course is that our environments both shape us and reflect what manner of people we are.  The term design is understood to include all elements of the built environment ranging from the smallest artifacts and products through buildings (whether vernacular or elite) to the shape of suburban and urban landscapes.  Students are encouraged to consider design in the context of social and cultural history.  Among topics to be considered are methods of cultural analysis of material artifacts; the rise, triumph, and fall of functionalism and the International Style; the emergence of uniquely American varieties of commercial design in a consumer society; the interactions of technology, economics, and design; the impact of the automobile on all levels of design; the rise of postmodern design and deconstructive architecture as counters to the modernist tradition; and design for the information age.  Among problems to be considered are tensions between tradition and novelty, between functional and expressive theories of design, between elite ideologies and popular desires, and between European and American design. 



Although lectures will be illustrated with slides, this is not an image memorization course.  Grades will be based on:

Two in-class exams (the first counting 15%; the second 25%)

5-7 page paper based on original observation (30%)

Final exam (30%).


Possible Texts

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Carma Gorman, The Industrial Design Reader

Jeffrey Meikle, Design in the USA

John Kasson, Amusing the Million

Karal Ann Marling, As Seen on TV

Michael Sorkin, Variations on a Theme Park

AMS 355 • Main Curr Of Amer Cul To 1865

30795 • Smith, Mark
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM BUR 130
(also listed as HIS 355N)
show description

In many ways, what we now call the United States began as a national entity as a blank slate.  As late as two hundred years ago, there was no conception of what it meant to be American.  Yet, within seventy-five years, this entity would fight its most bloody and vicious war ever over insistence upon this very identity.

This course traces the concept of the American identity in cultural terms from the time of first settlements up until the Civil War.  We will study not politics per se but political ideas and institutions as well as such subjects as religion, work, gender roles, race, painting, literature, philosophy, the law, and social reform.  Throughout the course and especially in the assigned reading the emphasis will be upon the interaction of the lives of ordinary people including women, Native Americans, ethnic immigrants, and African Americans and the newly developing ideas and institutions that helped create this new American identity.  The books, indeed, will all be about very specific ordinary people—except for the very extraordinary Frederick Douglass—and the impact of a rapidly changing society upon their lives.

AMS 356 • Main Curr Amer Cul Since 1865

30800 • Lewis, Randolph
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM BUR 224
(also listed as HIS 356K)
show description



Stretching chronologically from the Civil War to the contemporary anxieties of postmodern America, this course will touch upon a wide variety of questions: What is the American dream? What keeps us from achieving it? What is the nature of dissent? What are our responsibilities to one another? Underneath all of these concerns is a basic question: What should America be? We will delve into this by exploring the ways in which writers, artists, politicians, and intellectuals have provided both confident visions and devastating critiques of American society, in the form of artful essays, bold manifestos, innovative fiction, and powerful cinema. By focusing on social thought broadly defined, I hope to share with you the challenge and excitement of thinking critically about what American democracy has been as well as what it could be. As we move from the utopian novels of the late 19th century to the contemporary “war on terror,” I hope you will gain a sense not only of the historic struggle over the soul of America, but also a sense of how that struggle continues today, indelibly marked by the rhetoric and reality of the past.            



Students are expected to attend class regularly, participate in classroom discussion in a civil and constructive manner, and complete assigned readings in a timely fashion. In addition to unannounced quizzes on the readings to ensure that we are all keeping up with the readings, there will be three major exams.

AMS 370 • Amer Cul Hist Alchl/Drugs

30815 • Smith, Mark
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BUR 436A
(also listed as HIS 350R)
show description


Most scholars of alcohol and drug use have concentrated upon its physiological aspects.  It is clear that addiction and craving have a physical and, in many cases, even a genetic basis.  Yet, as many anthropologists and sociologists have pointed out, cultures directly affect the types of drugs used, how they are used, and for what purposes.  In addition, one can examine a culture's drug use and attitude toward it and often discover a great deal about its functioning and values.  Thus, drug use is not only a cultural product but also a key social and historical descriptor.  In this course, we will study both how American culture affected the use of drugs and attitudes toward them and how these serve as keys to the changing American intellectual, social, and political landscape.  We will especially concentrate on alcohol, the opiates, marijuana, metamphetamines, and crack cocaine. We will note that the War on Drugs has been taking place for many years.

Topics to be considered include proliferation of alcohol abuse in the early Republic, the fight over cigarettes, the Prohibition movement, criminalization of drugs, Alcoholics Anonymous and treatment, medical response to addiction, and the drug war and the issue of legalization.

AMS 370 • American Utopias

30803 • Gaughen, Brendan
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM BUR 436A
show description


What do utopian socialist communities of 150 years ago have to do with the gated suburbs of today? What salacious things were going on in the Oneida Community in the second half of the nineteenth century? Why is the City on a Hill metaphor so persistent?

Part geography and part intellectual and social history, this course explores some of the most lasting cultural forces in American thought and practice from the colonial era through the present – belief that America is an ideal place and the recurring impulse to form separate societies by those who have believed America to be an irreparably flawed place.

Paying close attention to historic attempts (and failures) to create “perfect” social, spiritual, and physical communities both real and imagined, this course investigates ideas about society, inclusion and exclusion, and American exceptionalism, finding that these communities tell us as much about the beliefs of their adherents as they do about prevailing attitudes and values at various points in American history.


Two sentence description for course schedule:

This course examines historical imaginations about America as a utopia as well as the recurring impulse to form separate communities by groups who have believed American society and culture to be irreparably flawed.


Possible texts:

Edward Bellamy – Looking Backward 2000-1887

Dolores Hayden – Seven American Utopias

Andrew Ross – The Celebration Chronicles

Various short chapters / articles in course reader


Assignments (include % of grade):

Reading responses (5)                   30%

Discussion questions                     20%

Final paper proposal                      10%

Final paper                           30%

Attendance/participation  10%

AMS 370 • Civil War/American Culture

30804 • Vaught, Jeannette
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 436A
show description


This upper-division seminar will not take a traditional historical approach to the American Civil War.  Confederate/Union rivalries will take a back seat, and we will instead focus on conflicted human experiences of the war.  This course will also consider the relationship between history and our own present day.  We are regularly encountering the legacies of the Civil War on our own campus, where Confederate monuments are contested sites of memory, and across our tense nation, where past efforts to recognize Civil War history chafe under current cultural pressures. 

For the first half of the course, we will dwell in the nineteenth century, paying particular attention to the fraying edges of slavery in the context of westward expansion. We will spend a significant amount of time along the Texas-Mexico border, where the Civil War was not the only ongoing conflict in need of resolution between nations. 

The destruction and control of human bodies – not only those of slaves and soldiers, but of many Americans at the margins of the war – will be central to our analysis.  The Civil War, often called a “wound” in the nation, occasioned a revolution in medicine.  We will focus on how protecting health became a national unification project that built racial and gender marginalization into the workings of twentieth-century America.

For the second half of the course, we will trace out the lasting legacies of slavery, emancipation, and Reconstruction across the 20th century, maintaining our focus on bodily and national health.  We will visit historical sites, look at family records, consider the enduring popularity battlefield parks and of battle reenactment, and analyze media and news coverage of recent tensions in order to better understand why the Civil War is so present in our own lifetimes. 

Possible texts:

Primary source material:

Fiction, correspondence, journalism, travel accounts, and hospital diaries

Civil War photography collections housed in the Harry Ransom Center

Sites of cultural memory on campus and in Texas

Texas family history records


Scholarship: Recent cultural histories from scholars such as Drew Gilpin Faust, Tiya Miles, John Stauffer, Walter Johnson, Ursula LeGuin (yep!), Tony Horwitz, and others


Film and television media:  Ranging from the sobering (Ken Burns) and the sadly comical (Sherman’s March), to the absurd (Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies), and the cutting (Drunk History)


Assignments (include % of grade):


Historical Marker Redux: 20%

Harry Ransom Center Photography Project: 20%

Research Paper: 50%

Attendance/Participation: 10%


AMS 370 • Hist Black Entrepren In US

30805 • Walker, Juliet
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM GAR 1.122
(also listed as AFR 374D, HIS 350R)
show description

Within the construct of African American Business history, race, contemporary American popular culture and global capitalism, this course will focus on an important aspect in the contemporary political economy of black Americans. Specifically, the commodification (sale) of black culture provides the conceptual frame for an examination of the phenomenon of both the superstar black athlete as an entrepreneur and the Hip Hop Superstar as an entrepreneur in post-Civil Rights America. The emphasis in this course, then, is to critically examine and analyze the impact of a multiplicity of societal, cultural and economic factors in the post-modern information age, propelled by new technologies in the New Economy of Global Capitalism.  Also, consideration will be given to the new diversity as it impacts on the political economy of African Americans.

Proceeding from an interdisciplinary perspective, the course considers both the financial successes of superstar black athletes and hip hop entrepreneurs as well as their emergence as cultural icons, contrasted with the comparatively overall poor performance of Black Business not only within the intersection of race, gender, class, but also within the context of transnationalism in the globalization sale of African American Culture in post-Civil Rights America. But who profits?

Most important, why is it that business receipts for African Americans, who comprise almost thirteen percent of this nation's population, amounted in 2007 to only .5%, that is, less than one (1) percent of the nation's total business receipts? In addition, why is it that among the various occupational categories in which blacks participate in the nation's economy, especially as businesspeople, that black entertainers and sports figures are the highest paid? What does this say about race, class, gender and hegemonic masculinities in America at the turn of the new century?

Anderson, Maggie, Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy


Jones, Marvin D. Fear of a Hip Hop Planet: America’s New  Dilemma


Marable, Manning, How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America: Problems Race, Political Economy, and  Society  


Rhoden, William C. Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete


Smith-Shomade, Beretta,   Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy: Selling Black Entertainment Television


Stoute, Steve, The Tanning of America:  How Hip Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of a  New Economy

Walker, Juliet E. K. “History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship”            

      Course Packet chapters 6-11 from The History of Black Business in America:  Capitalism, Race,

                      Entrepreneurship (New York/London:  Macmillan/Prentice Hall International, 1998) 

Critical Book Review Analysis                           25%

    (5 reviews, 2-3 pages 5 points each)

Class Discussion/participation                             25%

Oral Summary of Research Paper                         5%

Seminar Research Paper (15 pages)                    45%


HIS 350R - 39510 - 39-HAMILTON/JEFFERSON IN CNTXT Olwell, Robert

HIS 350R - Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in Context

Spring 2017                                                                              Robert A Olwell, Associate Professor

In this course, students will first read and discuss texts written about and by Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. They will then work collaboratively to design, research, write, and revise analytical essays (approximately 5000 words in length) that examine some aspect of either or both of these men or the world they lived in.


HIS 356S - 39554 - AMER PRES 1789 TO PRESENT Brands, Henry

HIS 356S - American Presidency: 1789 to the Present

Spring 2017                                                                                                      Bill Brands, Professor


For more than a century, the presidency has occupied the center of American politics. Yet the modern presidency bears faint resemblance to the institution the founders created in the 1780s. This course will examine the presidency and the individuals who have held it, with an eye toward discovering trends of historical and contemporary interest. Topics will include the presidency in the Constitution, the emergence of political parties, the role of the president as diplomat-in-chief, the presidency and the sectional crisis, the president at war, the emergence of the United States as a world power, the president as a celebrity, the family lives of presidents, and the president and the evolving media.


An essential part of the course will be the attempt to understand what goes into presidential decisions. Successful presidents differ from unsuccessful presidents chiefly in their ability to make good decisions: to do the right thing. How does a president know what is the right thing? Whose interests and opinions does he weigh? How does he enact or enforce right decisions? Students will examine case studies of crucial presidential decisions. By close reading of primary historical documents – letters, diaries, speeches, government documents, newspaper accounts – students will reconstruct the presidential decision process. They will make the arguments for and against presidential decisions. They will explain and defend the decisions they would have made in the president’s place.

Required books

George Washington, by James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn

Thomas Jefferson, by Joyce Appleby

Woodrow Wilson, by H. W. Brands

Harry S. Truman, by Robert Dallek

Richard M. Nixon, by Elizabeth Drew

Case study materials

Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase

Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation

Theodore Roosevelt and Panama

Wilson and the Lusitania

Truman and the atom bomb

Nixon and the Pentagon Papers


Daily in-class writing assignments (100 words each)

Two book reviews (500 words each)

Three case studies (1000 words each)


Daily writing assignments: 25 percent

Book reviews: 25 percent

Case studies: 50 percent

AMS 370 • The Beats/Amer Cul, 1945-90

30820 • Meikle, Jeffrey
Meets W 6:30PM-9:30PM BUR 436A
show description


Historians and literary critics have long debated the significance—both literary and cultural—of such "Beat Generation" writers as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs.  This seminar will engage that debate by examining some "classics" of Beat writing and tracing their impact on popular art and culture from the 1960s through the 1980s.  First we will assess several key Beat texts both as literary works and as documents of social and cultural history from the 1940s through the early 1960s.  Then, using an interdisciplinary approach, we will ask whether a Beat aesthetic spread from literature to other areas of cultural production.  Finally, we will examine survivals, influences, and appropriations of Beat or neo-Beat modes of expression in popular arts from the 1960s through the 1990s, including but not limited to literature, art, music, film, photography, and comics.  This course has a significant writing component, including a final paper on a single Beat or neo-Beat figure or phenomenon.  In a sense, the course is an exploration of alternative cultures during the last half of the twentieth century.



The instructor will present a brief historical overview of the period and offer a series of themes for discussion but for the most part will serve as a moderator of discussion.  Students are encouraged to act as cultural observers and critics.


Because a successful seminar depends on lively, informed discussions, students are expected to complete assigned readings, to attend regularly, and to participate actively in class.  Written work includes four 2-page essays (10% of final grade each), a final project of at least 10 pages (30%), and a take-home final exam (15%).  Each student will be responsible for a short oral report and frequent class participation (15%).  Evaluation will be based on originality and clarity of thought and expression, both written and oral.


Possible Texts

This course requires considerable reading, probably about ten books and a packet of articles.  If that worries you, then the course may not be for you.  Students may also be asked to view several films and listen to music outside of class.  Assigned texts will include works like the following:


Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Allen Ginsberg, Howl

Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

William Burroughs, Naked Lunch

Joyce Johnson, Minor Characters

Hettie Jones, How I Became Hettie Jones

Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Allen Ginsberg, The Fall of America

Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Gary Snyder, Turtle Island

Thomas Pynchon, Vineland

Kathy Acker, Essential Acker

Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1

Mac Montandon, ed., The Tom Waits Reader