American Studies
American Studies

AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

30125 • Davis, Janet
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM PAI 3.02
(also listed as HIS 315G)
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AMS 310 is an introductory course in American Studies—the interdisciplinary study of American culture and society. We will begin our journey by considering some of the critical transformations—both physical and ideological—that World War II brought to American society and culture.  Filled with televisions, cars, suburbs, malls and chain stores, the landscape that we know so well today came of age during this period.  Throughout the course, we will analyze how communities, broadly defined by differing variables like age, geography, gender, race, ethnicity, class and/or political persuasion, have wrestled with questions about identity, inclusion and exclusion in modern America. While the course will proceed chronologically, I have organized these topics around three separate themes: consumerism, youth culture, and multiculturalism.


First exam (in-class): 20%

Second exam (in-class): 30%

Final exam (cumulative, 3 hours long): 50 %.

In addition to the graded assignments, regular attendance is expected.


Possible Texts

Clara Marie Allen and Constance Bowman Reid, Slacks and Calluses: Our Summer in a Bomber Factory

Mary Brave Bird, Lakota Woman

Elva Treviño Hart, Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi

AMS 311S • American Popular Culture

30130 • Kopin, Joshua
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM BUR 436A
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Description: Through the study of popular culture in the United States, it is possible to research historical questions of race, gender, sexuality, and disability, among others. This course considers various methods of studying American popular culture, with particular attention to questions of status and approaches that emphasize the senses (including, but not limited to, touch, taste, vision, hearing, smell) and the broader issue of feeling within the humanities. In order to deal with these questions, we will consider three historical periods: during and after the Civil War, the 1910s, and the 1980s, and match primary sources to secondary sources that both provide historical context and consider popular culture in less linear ways. In addition, students will work on a semester long research project, dealing with questions and materials of their choice using the methods and approaches studied over the course of the semester.

Possible texts:

Scott Bukatmen, The Poetics of Slumberland

Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering

Deborah Gould, Moving Politics

Ramzi Fawaz, The New Mutants

Tom Gunning, D.W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film

Lawrence Levine, Highbrow, Lowbrow

Mark M. Smith, The Smell of Battle, the Taste for War


Assignments (include % of grade):

50% Semester Long Research Project

20% Weekly Writing Assignments

20% Critical Sensorium Assignments

10% Participation 

AMS 311S • Capitalism In America

30135 • Knerr, Kerry
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM BUR 436A
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This course investigates the range of ways that capitalism has influenced the development of the nation, from early contact to the present, and the cultural ideas that have shaped the daily life of capital. The course will be comprised of three units. The first will focus on how understandings of property in the trans-Atlantic world, especially human property, created a basis for the growth of modern capitalism. The second will focus on the interactions of geography and capital in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, with a focus on the ways that ideas about race and space fueled westward expansion. The final section will look at the ways that economic thinking changed in the post-war period and in the shift to post-industrialism, with the invention of economic statistics, like GDP, and the growth of neoliberalism and globalization. Overall, we will investigate both how culture shapes and is shaped by capital.

Possible texts:

Philip, M. NourbeSe. Zong!

Morgan, Edmund. American Slavery, American Freedom. 

Johnson, Walter. Soul by Soul: Life inside the Antebellum Slave Market.

Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Making of the Great West.

Raibmon, Paige. Authentic Indians:Episodes of Encounter from the Late-Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast.

Kahrl, Andrew W. The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South.

Collins, Robert M. More: The Politics of Economic Growth in Postwar America.

Gilmore, Ruth Wilson. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California.

Moreton, Bethany. To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise.


Assignments (include % of grade):

Participation: 10%

Weekly response papers: 25%

Unit papers (3 total): 30%

Final revised paper: 35%

AMS 311S • Environ Justice/Culture/Soc

30140 • Oxford, Robert
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM BUR 436A
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The term “environmental justice” denotes an ongoing civil rights struggle based
upon the fact that certain groups are marginalized by bearing the greatest social and cultural
burdens from ecological changes and circumstances based on race, gender, and class. This
discussion and reading seminar will allow students to use these lenses and develop a vocabulary
to deepen their understanding of a variety of environmental issues like climate change and
environmental racism in order to understand humans’ relationships to and definitions of nature,
modernity, and pollution, as well as to recognize those most at risk from environmental
degradation and destruction. This class will engage with a variety of cultural texts like
photography, film, ethnography, public policy, environmental justice advocacy, and testimonials.
The goal of the course is to recognize the intersectional ways in which we come to understand the
environment and how people work at different times and contexts toward a more equitable,
sustainable, and social centered approach to ecological problems.

Possible texts:
Keywords in Environmental Studies
Andrew Ross, Bird On Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City
Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything
Flow (2008)
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
William Cronon ed., Uncommon Ground
Robert Bullard, Dumping in Dixie
Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and Environmentalism of the Poor
Carl Zimring, Clean and White; Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference
Eben Kirksey, Ed., The Multispecies Salon
et al.

Assignments (include % of grade):

Participation 10%

Reading Responses 15%

Mid-Term Paper 25%

Archive Report 25%

Final paper 25%

AMS 311S • Left And Right In America

30145 • Moench, B.
Meets MWF 4:00PM-5:00PM BEN 1.124
(also listed as CTI 310)
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Is the United States a “liberal society”—why or why not? This course will examine the philosophical origins of contemporary American political culture and retrace the country’s often contradictory relationship with liberal philosophy.

      American political culture produces ethical constructs—such as “the personal is political or “government is the problem, not the solution—which guide one’s perceptions of political events and historical causation. Together we will excavate the intellectual history behind the ethical frameworks of American politics and search for the causes of the country’s current political divide. In 2004, Barack Obama, then a candidate for the US Senate, proclaimed there was not “a Liberal America” and a “Conservative America” but “one United States of America.” What was Obama referring to? Are there underlying agreements in American political culture that reach across both the left and right? This course will address this debate by examining the political and ethical commitments behind the core texts of America’s past and present.     

possible texts:

A course pack will be assigned that includes short selections from John Locke, Adam Smith, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Bernard-Henri Levy, Malcolm X, and Ronald Reagan.



Attendance: 5 percent

Participation: 5 percent

Research summary papers: 15 percent

Mid-term paper: 30 percent

Final paper: 35 percent           

AMS 311S • Paranormal America

30150 • Whitewolf, Edwin
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM BUR 436A
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The United States of America is filled with strange locations, some with specifically dark and frightening histories. Our landscape is dotted with areas of legend, from the Bridgewater Triangle in Massachusetts to the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. It is home to locations that have filled our imaginations and our popular culture with dread, from Amityville and Salem, to Roswell and Snowflake. Our skies seem at times to be filled with terrifying winged creatures and UFOs, while our forests, swamps, rivers, lakes, and bays at times seem to be filled with threatening monsters. We may not be safe even in our homes, which can be invaded by spectral presences from beyond the grave or simply from someplace else. How do these stories act on both micro and macro levels, at the local and national scales? How does the generation of local legend interweave with American history? In what ways do these narratives describe, or even shape, physical landscape? And how does lore help in forming or ripping apart communities?


This course seeks to investigate famous and frightening instances of American paranormal lore and study their relationship to American history, community, and placemaking within national geography. We will begin with an analysis of the different sorts of legends that permeate American lore. Moving throughout American history, we will touch upon specific moments, such as the Salem Witchcraft Trials, the birth of the Jersey Devil, the Mothman legend, the famous haunting at Amityville, Travis Walton’s alien abduction, and others in order to analyze the ways in which these stories have affected the communities and landscapes in which they have reputedly taken place. We will also study how these and other events have been interpreted through popular American media, such as literature, television, and film, and the effect that popular media representations has had on the locations involved.


Possible Texts:

John A. Keel, The Mothman Prophecies

Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror

Whitley Streiber, Communion

Various texts on Canvas


Possible Movies/Television Shows/Podcasts

The Witch (2015), Robert Eggers

The House of the Devil (2009), Ti West

The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976), Charles B. Pierce

Poltergeist (1983), Tobe Hooper

The Amityville Horror (1979), Stuart Rosenberg

Fire in the Sky (1993), Robert Lieberman

The X-Files (series)

Supernatural (series)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (series)

American Horror Story (series)

Lore (podcast)

Astonishing Legends (podcast)


Assignments (include % of grade):

Attendance - 20%

Participation and Weekly Reading/Viewing Response - 20%

Folklore Project - 10%

Final Paper Rough Draft - 20%

Final Revised Paper - 30%

AMS 315 • Amer Jews: The Yiddish Exp

30190 • Gottesman, Itzik
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GDC 2.402
(also listed as GSD 310, J S 311, R S 316K)
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Topic 9 

Course Description: Using literature, film and critical essays this course will examine the immigrant Jewish experience namely the Jews who came to the United States from Eastern Europe beginning in the late 19th century. We will study in particular the culture of the immigrants and the influence they had on American history and popular culture (for example: tin pan alley, garment industry, worker's unions, Hollywood, television and Jewish humor). The language that these Jews brought with them was Yiddish and we will look at the Yiddish theater in American, the press, literature, Yiddish films. But no knowledge of Yiddish is required. Other topics include Jews in smaller communities (including Galveston).

Textbooks: These books will be available for purchase at the University Coop. 

  •  World of our Fathers by Irving Howe
  • Jews Without Money Michael Gold
  • Bread Givers  novel by Anzia Yezierska
  • Yekl  novel by Abraham Cahan

There will be no packet but articles assigned on Canvas.

Grading: There will be two short papers (3 - 4 pages) 30% of grade, and a longer paper (8 - 10 pages)  40% of grade, attendance and participation 30%.


AMS 315 • Ethnc Humor/Multiculturl US

30159 • Gottesman, Itzik
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 1
(also listed as AFR 317D, J S 311, MAS 319)
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What is meant by Jewish humor? African-American humor? This course will examine ethnic jokes from a variety of perspectives: sociological, psychological, folkloric and literary. We will explore racial and ethnic stereotypes in popular culture which serve as the basis for much of the humor. Among the questions we will address is: how do jokes migrate and change from one ethnic group to another?  What makes a joke funny and what makes a good joke teller, from the amateur to the professional comic? How do today's comics differ from previous generations? In addition to our readings we will screen weekly comedic material in film, TV and the web. 


  • Freud, Sigmund, The Joke and its Relation to the Unconscious
  • Watkins, Mel. On the Real Side: A History of African American Comedy. Chicago: Chicago Review Press.
  • Davies, Christie   Ethnic Humor around the World: A Comparative Analysis
  • Mahadev Apte, Humor and Laughter: An Anthropological Approach (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press

AMS 315 • Ethncty & Gender: La Chicana

30165 • Hey-Colon, Rebeca
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM GDC 4.302
(also listed as MAS 311, SOC 308D, WGS 301)
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This course centers on the experiences of Chicanas and Latinas in the United States in the late 20th and early 21st century. Through interaction with literature, film, and historical/archival material we will craft an evolving understanding of how ethnicity, gender, race, class, language, citizenship, and other variables can simultaneously create community and cause rifts within the Latina population. Special emphasis will be placed on Chicanas, Puerto Ricans, Cuban-Americans, and Dominican-Americans. By the end of the course you will have acquired an overall understanding of the particularities of each group, as well as of the common experiences they share.

 Sample Readings (subject to change)

 The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

 How to Leave Hialeah by Jeannine Capó Crucet

 Soledad by Angie Cruz

 West Side Story (film)

AMS 315 • Intro East Austin Ethnography

30172 • Adelakun, Abimbola
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM ETC 2.132
(also listed as AFR 317D, ANT 310L)
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In this course, students will study ethnographic methods including observant participation, interviewing, and oral histories by conducting fieldwork in East Austin communities. Students will apply the techniques they learn toward an investigation of Black out-migration and gentrification in Austin. This course provides students with skills in critical ethnography by foregrounding the racial politics that shape community-building and city development.


Objectives: Upon completion of this course students should be able to differentiate between qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, conduct ethnographic interviews, maintain a fieldwork notebook, create survey research, conduct oral histories, and identify the major components of critical ethnography as a methodology.



Preliminary Ethnographic Analysis          10

Fieldwork Notebook (I & II)                       20

Data Collection                                30

Ethnographic Summary                   20

2-Minute Essay (5/2 pts. each)      10

Participation                                     10

AMS 315 • Latinx Comics/Graphic Narrt

30173 • Brousseau, Marcel
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM GAR 3.116
(also listed as MAS 319)
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In this course, we will read Mexican American and Latinx comics and examine how verbal/visual texts represent and reimagine Mexican American and Latinx community and identity. Writing in The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, Frederick Luis Aldama highlights the expansive range of genres, forms, and styles exemplified in Latinx comics production. Aldama posits that comics are a “particularly good medium” for overturning “denigrating stereotypes,” and quotes another comics scholar, Derek Parker Royal, who writes that “comics are well-suited to dismantle those very assumptions that problematize ethnic representation, especially as they find form in visual language.” Students will gain a background in comics theory, and will learn how to read and analyze texts according to frameworks in the emerging field of comics studies. Students will also examine complicated dynamics cultural representation and underrepresentation by examining comics in terms of their content and their market contexts.

Required Texts


Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, 2007

Jaime, Gilbert, and Mario Hernandez—Selections from Love and Rockets, 1982-present Tony Sandoval, Rendez-vous in Phoenix, 2016

Kat Fajardo, ¡Gringa!, 2016

Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones, America, 2017

Excerpts from: Gus Arriola, Gordo, 1945-1986; Laura Molina, Cihualyaomiquiz, The Jaguar, 1996; Javier Hernandez, El Muerto: Aztec Zombie, 1998; Hector Cantu and Carlos Castellanos, Baldo, 2000-present; Wilfred Santiago, In My Darkest Hour, 2004; The Luna Brothers, Ultra, 2004

Theoretical sources include: Selections from Frederick Luis Aldama, Your Brain on Latino Comics: From Gus Arriola to Los Bros Hernandez; 2009; Aldama, “Multicultural Comics Today: A Brief Introduction” from Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle, 2010; Aldama, Latinx Comic Book Storytelling: An Odyssey by Interview, 2016; Leonard Rifas, “Racial Imagery, Racism, Individualism, and Underground Comix,” 2004


The Dead One, director Brian Cox, 2007

Grade Breakdown:

  • 10% Attendance                                                       
  • 20% Micro essays
  • 20% Participation (5% contribution to class discussion, 5% discussion questions, 5% conference, 5% oral presentation)
  • 45% Research project (10% research summary, 5% symposium, presentation, 25% essay)
  • 10% Reading quizzes

AMS 315 • Mixed Race Identities

30180 • Allen, Angelica
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM CMA 3.114
(also listed as AAS 310, AFR 317D)
show description

Flag: Cultural Diversity in the US

This course serves as an introduction to the study of ‘multiracial identity’ and the ways that it has been experienced, represented and contested in American society. We will study issues of history, culture, and activism as they relate to the multiracial community.  Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, we will examine a variety of media in the form of art, print and film. Students will be exposed to a range of voices from scholars working in disciplines including, Asian American Studies, African Diaspora Studies, anthropology, visual arts and women’s and gender studies. While the initial focus centers on the experiences of multiracials in the U.S., we will explore a range of topics which travel internationally as we examine the lived-realities of individuals, including the Amerasian community (mixed-heritage children and adult progeny of American military men and Asian women) living in various parts of Asia. Some key questions guiding this course include the following: 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? How do such issues vary from national to transnational contexts? Can one exist in two or more categories at the same time? Why do categories matter? Isn’t everyone “mixed” somehow? Where do you fit in?


Gloria Anzaldua Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Cherrie Moraga Loving in the War Years

Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

The Latina Feminist Group Telling to Live (excerpts)

Fred Ho and Bill Mullen Afro Asia: Revolutionary Political and Cultural Connections Between African Americans and Asian Americans (excerpts).

Jayne O. Ifewunigwe Mixed Race’ Studies: A reader (excerpts).



Left by the Ship. Dir. Emma Rossi Landi and Alberto Vendemiatti. (2011), Film.

Loving. Dir. Jeff Nichols. (2016) Film.

Dear White People. (2017) TV series. (episode 1).


AMS 315 • Toni Morrison & August Wilson

30175 • Thompson, Lisa
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CLA 1.102
(also listed as AFR 317F, T D 311T, WGS 301)
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Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and the late Pulitzer award-winning playwright August Wilson are two of the most honored and prolific African American writers in history. They both make race (and particularly blackness) central to their work. Morrison, considered a “leading voice in current debates about constructions of race and gender in U.S. literature and culture . . . refuses to allow race to be relegated to the margins of literary discourse.” Similarly, Wilson cautioned against a premature, post-racial vision of the world (especially considering the cultural politics of American theatre). We will explore how notions of race and power erupt in Morrison’s “fantastic earthy realism” and Wilson’s “dramatic vision.” The class will consider their engagement with American history, trace the African American cultural influences evident in their work, and study film adaptations of their texts. Finally, by reading their essays, interviews, and speeches we will measure Morrison’s and Wilson’s influence as public intellectuals. 

AMS 315F • Native American Lit And Cul

30195 • Picherit, Elizabeth
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 101
(also listed as E 314V)
show description

E 314V  l  5-Native American Literature and Culture


Instructor:  Picherit, E

Unique #:  34375

Semester:  Spring 2018

Cross-lists:  AMS 315F

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No


Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).


Description:  “In the Great American Indian novel, when it is finally written, / all of the white people will be Indians and all of the Indians will be ghosts.”  The last line of Sherman Alexie’s poem, “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel” voices the threat that many Native American authors face: the erasure of the value of their individual work through dominant acts of cultural appropriation.  In the face of this threat, what does it mean to study Native American literature?  In this class, we will be reading texts created within many different tribal cultures, traditions, methods of storytelling, and mechanisms of survival and resistance.  Drawing from poems, essays, short stories, novels, and activist writing, we will be learning from Native authors about the relationships between language and thought, history and storytelling, culture and politics.


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:  Zitkala-Sa, American Indian Stories (1920), Louis Erdrich, Tracks (1988), Sherman Alexie, Reservation Blues (1995).


Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which must be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (70% of the final grade).  There may also be short quizzes, reaction papers, and/or discussion posts (30% of the final grade).

AMS 321 • Chicana Feminisms

30197 • Guidotti-Hernandez, Nicole
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM CMA 5.190
(also listed as MAS 374, WGS 340)
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Emerging out of the social protest movements of the 1960’s, Chicana Feminists offered an alternative mapping of feminist literary and political thought with the issues of gender, race, and sexuality as their primary concerns. In this course, we will examine what constitute advanced topics in Chicana Feminism, including the history of the movement, in its multiple incarnations, and its epistemological interventions into the contemporary period. Tracing Chicana feminist theory as it broke off from Chicano nationalist politics of the 1960’s, to a politics that is concerned with practices of communal feminism that encompasses men and women of the working classes, we will examine how it has shifted and changed over time.  We will also look at how Chicana feminist thought breaks with and intersects with Euro-American or European models of feminism. In addition, we will examine the ways in which contemporary Chicana Feminists have moved towards a more third-world and/or transnational model of feminism that takes into account the inequities that exist between first and third world subjects.  Through the study of essays, testimonios, film, and literatures that engage feminism, we will discuss how material conditions, spirituality, gender inequality, class inequality, racial inequality, and questions of sexuality allow Chicana women to engage in activities that we might understand as feminist. Students will undertake a final research paper for the course



Arredondo, et. all                Chicana Feminisms

Blackwell, Maylei                Chicana Power

García, Alma, Ed.                  Chicana Feminist Thought: the Basic Historical Writings

Cisneros, Sandra                  Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

Hurtado, Aida                                   Voicing Chicana Feminisms

Moraga, Cherríe.                   Loving in the War Years: lo que nunca pasó por sus labios

Pardo                                      Mexican American Women Activists

Viramontes, Helena                       The Moths and Other Stories




Class Participation (discussions, attendance, and twitter feed)         25%

Oral Presentation                                                                                        10%

Essay 1 and 2                                                                                                30%

Prospectus and Bibliography for Final Essay                                         10%

Final Paper                                                                                                   25%

AMS 321 • Cultrl Heritage On Display

30200 • 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. 

download syllabus

AMS 321 • Debt/Colonialism Caribbean

30204 • Jimenez, Monica
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM SAC 5.102
(also listed as AFR 374E, HIS 363K, LAS 366)
show description


In this course we will examine the role that debt has played in the formation of colonial and neocolonial practices in the Caribbean region. In particular we will look at debt as justification and in furtherance of colonialism throughout the Caribbean region. The course will begin with historical examinations of the United States colonial projects and military invasions in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua during the early 20th century. These early interventions acted as testing grounds for US policies in the region that were premised on extractive economics and debt fueled dependence. The latter half of the course will take a close examination at the deep crisis in the US’ island territory of Puerto Rico and the emergent crisis in the US Virgin Islands. Our aim is first to take a historical view of colonial practices in the 20th century and next to evaluate how those practices have evolved into the contemporary debt fueled colonial practice.


Proposed reading list (subject to change):

  • Julie Greene. The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal. (New York: Penguin Press, 2009.)
  • Mary Renda. Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915-1940. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.)
  • Jana K. Lipman. Guantánamo: a Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.)
  • Ellen Tillman, Dollar Diplomacy by Force: Nation-Building and Resistance in the Dominican Republic. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2016.
  • Peter James Hudson, Bankers and Empire: How Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2017).
  • Alan McPherson, A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean (Malden, MA: Wiley, 2016).
  • Noel Maurer, The Empire Trap: The Rise and Fall of U.S. Intervention to Protect American Property Overseas, 1893-2013, (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2013)
  • Lara Merling, Kevin Cashman, Jake Johnston, and Mark Weisbrot “Life After Debt in Puerto Rico: How Many More Lost Decades?” Washington DC: Center for Economic and Policy Research, July 2017).
  • Agustín Rodríguez, “The Last Caribbean Colony, Harvard International Review; Cambridge 37.4 (Summer 2016): 14-15.
  • Linda Backiel. “Puerto Rico: The Crisis Is About Colonialism, Not Debt” Monthly Review; Oct 2015; 67, 5.
  • Diane Lourdes Dick, “U.S. Tax Imperialism,” American University Law Review, 65:1 (2015).


Proposed grading rubric (subject to change based on number of students and course level):

Attendance and Class Participation (20%)

Reading Responses (40%): Four, three-page reading responses

Lead Class Discussion (20%)

Final Paper (20%) – 10-12 page final paper 

AMS 321 • Indigenous Film/Television

30205 • Tahmahkera, Dustin
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GWB 1.130
(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.


AMS 321 • Politics Of Memory: Ger/US

30210 • Laubenthal, Barbara
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GEA 114
(also listed as EUS 348, GOV 365N, GSD 360)
show description

What role do narratives of the past play in current politics and policies in Germany and the United States? This course addresses this question by engaging with key theoretical and empirical debates from the burgeoning research field of politics of the past. We will look at the role that memories play in German and US politics today from a comparative perspective, and with several case studies, we will ask questions such as:  how are transnational political events like the Second World War, the Cold War and historical immigration movements articulated and used in current political debates? How do narratives of the past reproduce or challenge contemporary power relations? To what extent do political actors and institutions construct particular historical narratives that serve their current interests? In answering these questions, the course will put a specific focus on the role of memory in German and US immigration politics.

The course aims to enable students to understand central theories and concepts of memory studies, and to apply them in an empirical case study. At the end of the course, students will have a thorough theoretical and empirical understanding on the ways in which memory and politics intersect both as research fields and as political practices in contemporary societies.



Assmann, Aleida/Conrad, Sebastian (eds.) (2010): Memory in a Global Age. Discourses, Practices and Trajectories. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Halbwachs, Maurice (1980): The Collective Memory. New York: Harper and Row.

Kleist, Olaf/Glynn, Irial (eds.) (2012): History, Memory and Migration. Perceptions of the Past and the Politics of Incorporation, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nebow, Richard N./Kansteiner, Wulf/Fogu, Claudio (2006) (eds.): The Politics of Memory in Post-war Europe. Durham: Duke University Press.

Olick, Jeffrey (2007): The Politics of Regret. On Collective Memory and Historical Responsibility. London/New York: Routledge.

Torpey, John. 2006. Making Whole What Has Been Smashed: On Reparations Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 

Wittlinger, Ruth (2011): The Merkel’s Government Politics of the Past, German Politics and Society 26 (4), 9-27.



Participation (10 %)

Two response papers (30 %)

Oral presentation (30 %)

Final paper (30 %)

AMS 321 • Race And Place

30220 • Thompson, Shirley
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM SZB 330
(also listed as AFR 372C, GRG 356T)
show description


When Harriet Tubman struck out for her own freedom and for that of countless others, she knew that her success depended on an intimate knowledge of the geographic boundaries of slave and free territory and the network of safe(r) spaces known as the Underground Railroad. When segregationists advocated for laws and policies that reinforced the color line, they spoke from an interest in “keeping blacks in their place.” When current day media executives attempt to market their programming to African American audiences they often frame them in terms of an “urban” market.  As these examples show, social constructions of race and status in the United States have always intersected with social constructions of place.

This course explores these intersecting themes of race and place by considering a range of topics beginning with the formulation of an exclusively white national space from the conquest of indigenous land and the transportation of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic. We will also consider various challenges to this white supremacist national logic, from the presence of the Haitian Republic to expressions of black nationalism, diasporic imaginings and exilic critique. We will discuss geographies of plantation slavery and Jim Crow segregation and black resistance to these geographies as individuals and groups such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Marcus Garvey, Anna Julia Cooper, Rosa Parks, and the Freedom Riders forced a reconfiguration of public and private space. We will focus on such iconic black urban and rural spaces such as Harlem, Chicago, New Orleans, the Sea Islands, and more to keep track of the varied and complex politics of race and belonging. This course will provide a theoretical foundation in critical race studies and cultural geography and it will engage a wide variety of media, including speeches, memoir, poetry, music, visual culture, performance culture, film, and television. 

AMS 321 • Race, Internet, & Soc Media

30225 • Nault, Curran
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM CLA 0.122
(also listed as AAS 320, RTF 359S)
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 • Race/Rights Latin America

30224 • Jimenez, Monica
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 208
(also listed as AFR 374E, HIS 363K, LAS 366)
show description


This course is concerned with the role that race has played in the construction and development of human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean. It takes a historical approach to rights development in order to understand the growth of human rights discourse and policy in the 20th and 21st centuries. Human rights practitioners and activists in the region have critiqued the project of rights building as steeped in the old logics of colonialism and have pointed to the problem of racism that lies at the core of contemporary human rights thinking and rhetoric. Ultimately, certain groups’ rights are privileged over those of others and this course is concerned with why.

We will first examine how the logic of rights was constructed during the early republican period as excluding black and indigenous peoples. Historically the question of who was a citizen and thus who could claim rights before the state has been a fraught one in the region. 19th and 20th century debates to that effect and the laws that resulted continue to have reverberations in the contemporary moment, especially in discussions about the rights of women, and indigenous and afro-descended groups and individuals. The course is thus concerned with understanding how that logic has come to define and inhibit the possibility of rights for those communities throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Concurrently, the course will also examine how those communities have pushed against discrimination and legal boundaries to carve out rights for themselves. 

We will examine particular cases in order to understand how individual nations have treated the rights of historically marginalized groups. Case studies will include the struggle for recognition and rights of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, the current Garifuna struggle for land rights in Honduras, the case of the Awas Tigni in Nicaragua, as well as the impacts of Cold War era dirty war policies on the development of rights in the region.


Proposed reading list (subject to change):

  • Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala under General Efraín Ríos Montt, 1982-1983. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.)
  • Joan Didion, Salvador. (New York: Vintage, 1983).
  • Diana Taylor, Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina's “Dirty War,” (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997).
  • Antony Anghie. Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004)
  • Poalo G. Carozza. “From Conquest to Constitutions: Retrieving a Latin American Tradition of the Idea of Human Rights.” Human Rights Quarterly 25, pp. 282- 313 (2003)
  • Aime Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism. (New York: Month Review Press, 2000).
  • Marti Koskenniemi, “Colonization of the ‘Indies’: The Origins of International Law?” in: Gamarra Chopo, Y., ed., La Idea de América en el Pensamiento ius Internacionalista del Siglo XXI. (Zaragoza, Universidad de Zaragoza: 2010), pp. 43-64.
  • Julia Suárez-Krabbe, “Race, Social Struggles, and ‘Human’ Rights: Contributions from the Global South.” Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies, Issue 6 (2013), 78-102.

Proposed grading rubric

  • Attendance and Class Participation (20%)
  • Reading Responses (20%): Students will turn in three, three-page reading responses.  The responses should fully discuss the work or works read for that week. Your discussions should include a brief summary of the work or works (including the author(s) arguments and reasons for writing); as well as the work’s connections to other readings from the class and the larger discussions we are engaged in. For weeks in which several works are assigned you should discuss each readings connection to the others assigned (i.e. why are you reading them as a group? How are they in conversation with each other?) You can also discuss the author’s methods and approach and how that leads to strengths/weaknesses of the work. Finally, your responses should pose questions (What did you not understand? What was left unanswered for you?).
  • Lead Class Discussion (20%) – In groups of two students will present the week’s readings to their classmates and the instructor. Presentations should begin with an introduction to the authors for each week (Who are they? What are their backgrounds? What are their scholarly interests?), the presenters should then give a brief introduction to the works giving the major themes, ideas, arguments and questions presented by each. Why did the author write the work, etc? Think of this is as an extended and oral reading response. The students should also bring questions and themes that will direct class discussion. Students should feel free to consult outside sources to prepare presentations as well as provide any background information and materials as needed. 
  • Final Paper (25%) – 10-12 page research paper on a topic related to the course. Students will develop a suitable topic for investigation in consultation with the instructor, they will create a research plan, select a variety of suitable primary and secondary sources for analysis, and convey their findings in clear prose. At every stage students will work with the instructor to develop their topics and ideas. Students will also exchange work with their classmates in small groups for peer-review and work shopping of drafts.
  • Presentation of research (15%) – formal 10-12-minute presentation of your research to the class that is a substantive talk organized and rehearsed beforehand and not informal comments about the paper or reading passages from the text. It should address your research goals, methodology, thesis, evidence, argument, and conclusions.

AMS 321 • US In The Civil Rights Era

30235 • Green, Laurie
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM UTC 3.124
(also listed as AFR 374D, HIS 356P)
show description

A half century after the high point of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., most American students learn about the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, the 1957 Little Rock conflict over school desegregation, the 1963 March on Washington, and the fire hoses in Birmingham. Far fewer encounter the less-televised moments of civil rights history, the meanings of freedom that included but went beyond desegregation, and the breadth of participation by local people. It is even less common to consider other movements that paralleled the black freedom movement among, for example, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. Taking a comparative perspective, this upper division lecture course explores these aspects of the civil rights era. It also examines their larger historical context within American culture from the Second World War to the present. Finally, we consider questions about the writing of history: What does it mean to look back at such historic events with the benefit of hindsight?  How did they come about?  What changed?  What did not?  

Possible texts-
Cone, James H . Martin and Malcolm and America: A Dream or a Nightmare            :
Mankiller, Wilma. Mankiller: A Chief and Her People.
Garcia, Mario T. Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice
Martin, Waldo E.  Brown v. Board of Education: A Brief History with Documents
Sellers, Cleveland.  The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC          
Strum, Philippa. Mendez v. Westminster: School Desegregation and Mexican American Civil Rights.
Takaki, Ronald.  Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II

Three reading handouts  (5% each, 15% total)
Three in-class exams  (20% each, 60% total)
Five-page essay  (25%)
Regular class attendance (5%)

AMS 321 • Writing For Black Performance

30230 • Thompson, Lisa
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM CLA 0.106
(also listed as AFR 372E, E 376M, T D 357T)
show description

Course Description

This course will require students to write theatrical pieces as well as critical essays about the performance of black identity in America. Participants will also give oral presentations and perform readings of their work using various African-American performance styles. Students will read texts that examine African-American performance, contemporary black identity, and expressive culture. During the semester, we will explore what Lajos Egri describes as “the art of dramatic writing” or, depending on your style and interests, the art of comedic writing. We will consider the magic of theater and learn ways to use words to shape action on the stage. The main objectives of this course are finding or refining your voice, learning how to write a play or performance text and presenting it to an audience. The term will be spent reading theatre, writing plays and talking about plays–and if we are lucky, maybe even seeing a show or two. This class will introduce students to different theatrical formats such as solo performance, the choreopoem, one-acts, and the full-length traditional play. We will discuss character development, dialogue, monologue, conflict and setting. In acknowledgement of some of the difficulties writers face, we will also consider topics such as inspiration, technique and discipline as well as do a variety of writing exercises. We will also devote time performing assigned texts as well as what we write during class. The course will culminate with staged readings of excerpts from your final projects. 

AMS 321F • African Amer Hist Since 1860

30240 • Walker, Juliet
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM GAR 1.126
(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)                 30

AMS 330 • Mdrnsm In Am Design/Arch

30275 • 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

30280 • 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

30285 • Andersen, Carrie
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BUR 108
(also listed as HIS 356K)
show description

This course examines the cultural history of America, 1865 to the present, focusing on Americans' uses and encounters with technology. Topics of discussion will include the railroad and modernity, the rise of mass culture through the radio, the growth of suburbia, the space race, the birth of Silicon Valley, and activism on social media, among other areas.


AMS 370 • Arts/Artifacts In Americas

30290 • Kamil, Neil
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM BUR 128
(also listed as HIS 350R)
show description

Material culture is a term borrowed by a number of disciplines from archaeology that refers to all categories of historical artifacts—things from artistic masterpieces to the lowly stool; from architectural monuments to hedge rows—that are studied by historians in the hope of revealing their use as overlooked evidence of past lives that reach beyond the written text.

This course will survey the changing material culture of the western hemisphere from pre-Columbian times to the beginning of the industrial revolution. We will view artifacts from an Atlantic perspective on all levels of society while sampling a cross-section of written work from a number of disciplines and geographies in the Americas. We will keep a keen eye on our central problem of telling the connected stories of both the artisans (makers) and their societies (consumers).


Robert Blair St. George, Material Life in Early America.


2 page book review due weekly; 50%

Final 5 page project; 20%

Class Participation; 30%

AMS 370 • Digital Media/Amer Culture

30295 • Andersen, Carrie
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 436A
show description

From videogames to smartphones, from “fake news” to digital activism, digital media have been inextricably entwined with culture and politics in America and beyond. This course examines the culture of digital media from the 19th century into the present, and students will explore a variety of questions and themes aimed at excavating how digital media has shaped—or has been shaped by—culture and society. What defines “digital media”? How have these media historically engaged with our notions of the self, culture, and the state? How have digital media afforded new spaces for expressions of power, citizenship, and activism? To what extent is social change driven by digital media—or vice versa? And to what extent have humans become digital creatures? The course will begin with a theoretical and historical exploration of what constitutes “digital media,” reaching back into the earliest forms of computers in the 19th century. From there, we will examine a variety of interrelated digital technologies (computers, videogames, the internet, social media, and digital art) as they relate to key cultural themes, such as identity, power, security, and resistance.

This course has four principal goals. First, students will learn to draw connections between significant cultural and political ideas and digital media that they may encounter every day. Next, students will examine how these media engage with our everyday lives in America through written and creative assignments, some of which will involve the use and analysis of digital media. Third, students will connect the emergence of these digital forms with their broader cultural and historical contexts. Finally, we will all think through the ethical and cultural possibilities of what we want the future to look like, and what the role of digital media should be in that future. Students will leave the course with a new appreciation for the social, historical, and cultural complexities of a variety of digital media technologies, from Donkey Kong to Facebook.


Grade Breakdown:

Participation: 20%

Weekly blog posts and comments: 20%

Self-reflection: 15%

Video game analysis: 15%

Final paper: 30%


Possible Texts/Excerpts:

  • Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age
  • Corey Mead, War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict
  • Dave Eggers, The Circle
  • Gabriella Coleman, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous
  • Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the rise of Digital Utopianism
  • Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet
  • Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
  • Carly Kocurek, Coin-Operated Americans: Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)

Possible films:

  • WarGames
  • Catfish
  • We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks
  • The King of Kong
  • Citizenfour
  • Eye in the Sky

AMS 370 • Hist Black Entrepren In US

30300 • Walker, Juliet
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM GAR 2.128
(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%

AMS 370 • Latina/O Pop

30329 • Guidotti-Hernandez, Nicole
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM BUR 436B
(also listed as MAS 374)
show description

In this course, we will examine what constitutes advanced topics in Chicana Feminism's multiple incarnations. Tracing Chicana feminist theory as it broke off from Chicano nationalist politics of the 1960’s, we will examine how the discourse intersects with or rejects Euro-American or European models of feminism. In addition, we will examine the ways in which contemporary Chicana Feminists have moved towards a more third-world and/or transnational model of feminism that takes into account the inequities that exist between first and third world subjects. Previous enrollment in La Chicana recommended.

AMS 370 • Tech/Security In Am Culture

30309 • Andersen, Carrie
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM BUR 436B
show description

From sniper rifles to drones, the consequences of technologies deployed in the service of war and national security have never stayed confined to the battlefield. Rather, these technologies have impinged upon political, cultural, and psychosocial life in America since the nation’s inception. Alongside investigations of the functions of security technologies in state conflicts over the course of American history, this course emphasizes the intricate relationship between such technologies and American culture from the 18th century to the present. We will grapple with the possibilities and limitations of technology for engaging with and complicating the cornerstones of key debates in cultural studies and political theory: security and privacy, visibility and invisibility, identity politics and embodiment, subversion and dissent, militarization, and state and individual power. 

The course is organized as a history of individual security technologies: sniper rifles and Gatling guns of the Civil War era; chemical warfare, tanks, and aircraft of the WWI era; atomic bombs of WWII; satellites like Sputnik and covert CIA “mind control” chemicals of the Cold War era, like LSD; Agent Orange and napalm during the Vietnam War; and unmanned aerial vehicles, digital surveillance technologies, and hacking/cybersecurity technologies of the post-9/11 era. In each of these cases, we will first investigate the functions of these weapons and security technologies in the theaters of war or in the service of security on the home front. The bulk of the class, however, emphasizes how visions and narratives about these weapons circulated through media and popular culture in America, how anxieties and hopes about what became almost mythic weapons impinged upon everyday life in unexpected ways, and how narratives about such weapons exacerbated or smoothed over divisions within American culture and transnationally along the lines of class, race, gender, religion, and sexuality. Ultimately, our overall goal is to investigate the contours of militarization in America born of the technologies of war and security that have long leaked into everyday life.

This class has four principal objectives. First, we will explore how narratives about security technology emerge from specific political and historical contexts. Second, we will examine both common threads and points of difference across debates about technology over time. Third, we will examine the political valences of these technologies through the lens of identity politics. Finally, we will explore how technologies have been celebrated and critiqued in political theory texts, speeches, works of journalism, film, literature, television, video games, art, and other cultural works. 


Possible Texts: 

Paul Boyer, By the Bomb’s Early Light

Torin Monahan and John Gilliom, SuperVision: An Introduction to the Surveillance Society

Patrick Wright, Tank

Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering

Michael Sherry, The Rise of American Air Power: The Creation of Armageddon

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire

Julia Keller, Mr. Gatling’s Terrible Marvel



The Twilight Zone

Good Kill


Dr. Strangelove


Possible assignments:

Participation (20%)

Historical newspaper analysis (10%)

Media artifact analysis (15%)

Research paper proposal (5%)

Research paper annotated bibliography (10%)

Research paper final draft (30%)

Research presentation (10%)

AMS 370 • The Beats/Amer Cul, 1945-90

30315 • 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

AMS 370 • Wall Street Vs Main Street

30308 • Zumello, Christine
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BUR 436A
show description


The course will start by exploring the love and hate relationship between Wall Street and Main Street. Through a historical and conceptual approach we will address the polysemy of the two expressions and their meaning in contemporary America. The Great Recession will provide a context to map out the construction of the consumer society through the development of credit at all costs since World War II (including student debt). This has led to the development of a fringe, marginal, and growing population of unbanked or underbanked who rely on alternative lending practices. Public or private institutions, in turn, are responding either by trying to map out public policies, such as financial literacy initiatives, or, like financial institutions, by tapping into the money making opportunities provided by  regulatory gaps or financial engineering.

The goal of the course is to expose some aspects of economic individual (micro) and institutional (macro)  dimensions of American democracy which have direct consequences on the social and political fabric of the country. The learning outcome will also strengthen the ability to read across different media (primary sources, secondary sources, films, documentaries, scholarly and journalistic articles).

Possible texts (sample)


Clark, Kim; Rosato, Donna, 2015, “7 Steps to total Financial Fitness”, Money, 44(2), 50-61, March

Traub, Amy & Catherine Ruetschlin, 2012, “The Plastic Safety Net”,

“Abusive Debt Collection Practices”, Harvard Law Review, 2014.



Margin Call, JC Chandor, 2011

Inside Job, CH Ferguson, 2010

The Big Short, A McKay, 2015

Wall Street, Oliver Stone, 1987 (and sequel : Wall Street, Oliver Stone, 2010)


Assignments (include % of grade)

Oral presentation of two readings with poster 20%

Self reflection/precis (short paper) 20%

Attendance/Class Participation 20%

Final Research paper 40%