American Studies
American Studies

AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

31005 • Gutterman, Lauren
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM GAR 0.102
(also listed as HIS 315G)
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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

31010 • Gaughen, Brendan
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM ART 1.102
(also listed as HIS 315G)
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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. Using a variety of sources and methods, this course takes as its focal point American attitudes regarding place, landscape, community, nature, and the physical environment as demonstrative of social values both historic and current, dominant and resistant. This course examines three major conceptual categories connecting the North American continent and the people who have inhabited it--landscape and the physical environment, people and place, and community and place-making--demonstrating great transformations in American society, culture, and everyday life, while also showing main currents and trajectories over time.

AMS 311S • American Catastrophes

31015 • Bloom, Nick
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM BUR 436A
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The history of the United States, both internally and internationally, has been defined and circumscribed by violent catastrophes.  Genocides, wars, exploitation of workers, violent manipulation of the land, and a centuries-long system of racial chattel slavery are all integral features of US history, and continue to shape the society we live in today. This course will consider a range of ways that artists, intellectuals, and activists have attempted to understand and articulate these legacies of violence and catastrophe, and have tried to imagine alternative ways of living and organizing society in response. The ultimate purpose of the course is to expose students to the rich history of radical thought in the United States, in the literal sense of the word “radical”:  to get to the root of something.

The course will be divided into three units.  The first unit will consider foundational catastrophes in the genesis of the United States, including indigenous genocide and African slavery, and the ways in which black and indigenous artists, thinkers, and activists—then as well as later—have understood and imagined this foundational violence and its historical and contemporary consequences.  The second unit will consider the movements and imaginaries that emerged out of the violent catastrophes that defined the first half of the 20th century:  two massive world wars and the development of unprecedented technologies of destruction; anti-colonial struggles abroad; and the persistence of a nation violently and unequally segregated by racial categories at home.  The third unit will consider contemporary instances of violent catastrophe, including the burgeoning American mass incarceration system and global climate change, and will also examine contemporary thinkers and movements that are attempting to understand these catastrophes radically in an attempt to transform them.  Students’ final project will require students to situate a contemporary social movement or thinker in the context of a particular element of the USA’s catastrophic history, as well as its rich tradition of radical thinkers, artists, and movements.

AMS 311S • Eating Right In America

31020 • Knerr, Kerry
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM BUR 436A
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The Eating in American culture has always been a fraught prospect. Each stage in the food chain—how food is grown, how it is prepared, and who eats it—is highly contentious on their own; these are then further complicated by pressure to eat correctly. This course will investigate how it is that people in America have attempted to adhere to or push back against societal ideas about health, etiquette, and culture. The course will be comprised of three units. The first will start with the colonial period and the first encounters between Native people and Europeans, where food could serve as offering of thanks or a biological weapon, and end with the food regimes within plantation agriculture. The second unit will look at the radical changes that took place in the first half of the twentieth century, ranging from the invention of vitamins to mass food rationing in WWII. The third unit will look at more recent interventions in American food culture: the countercuisine and the growth of “organic” food, body diversity movements, and anti-capitalist freegans. Overall, we will use the lenses of race, gender, ability, and class to understand what it means to eat right in America.

AMS 311S • The Selfie Stick: Art In US

31025 • Zelt, Natalie
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM BUR 436A
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Self-portraits changed the way we see in the United States as millions of people have chosen to turn the camera around and picture themselves. What are the stakes and histories of rotating the camera lens?  How have artists used the camera and photographs to highlight and challenge the politics of identity in US culture during the last four decades? Are selfies anything new? 


In this undergraduate seminar we will consider self-portraiture and the photograph from a different cultural vantage point each week.  Paying close attention to the politics of the camera in relationship to representation, students will examine the myriad ways artists in the United States have used the camera and pictures in an effort to depict and sometimes to define themselves. This class is not a comprehensive history, rather a litany of jumping off points and positions from which students might begin to grapple with the intersections of self-making, identity formation, art and culture of the United States. Students will consider artwork concerning a range of themes such as the construction of race and gender, nationalism, intersectionality, narcissism, documentary practice, feminism and performance.  Artists studied will include, Laura Aguilar, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Nikki S. Lee, James Luna, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, Carrie Mae Weems, Hannah Wilke, and Kim Kardashian. 

AMS 315 • Ethncty & Gender: La Chicana

31030 • Allison, Alexandrea
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM JGB 2.202
(also listed as MAS 311, SOC 308D, WGS 301)
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The term “Chicana” has its roots in the 1960’s-70’s Civil Rights Era and the Chicano Movement. Beginning with this rich activist heritage and ending at our current political moment, in this class we will deconstruct the term “Chicana,” discovering and celebrating the plurality of meanings and identities that make up the word. We will do this work through a survey of multiple genres—poetry, film, testimonio, and more—and we will have the opportunity to see how Chicanas have interrogated and manipulated different forms in order to best express their hybridized selves.


Readings will come from authors such as Sandra Cisneros, Gloria Anzaldua, Ana Castillo, and Norma Cantu. 

AMS 315 • Hist Of Religion In The US

31045 • Graber, Jennifer
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM RLP 0.126
(also listed as HIS 317L, R S 316U)
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This class explores how religious people and communities in the United States affirm their worldviews, understand the ethical life, engage in ritual acts, and organize their communal relations. It also looks at the way the American social environment has shaped these practitioners and their communities. In particular, this class explores an ongoing tension: the dominance achieved by majority religious groups and the religious diversity that marks the population and is protected by law. We will observe how this particularly American dynamic shapes religious communities. We will explore this tension through a historically organized survey of majority and minority religious groups. We begin with the continent’s original diversity in its hundreds of Native American traditions. We then move to dominant varieties of Protestant Christianity in relation to smaller groups, including colonial-era Jews, upstart Mormons, newly immigrated Catholics, African-American believers, and more recently arrived immigrants who practice Hinduism and Islam. While the class cannot cover the entire history of religion in United States history, it offers students greater historical understanding and tools for analyzing the ongoing dynamics of religious dominance and religious diversity in this country.



4 short exams (15% each for 60%)short paper (10%)mapping assignment (10%)final short essay (20%)



Daniel K. Richter, “War and Culture: The Iroquois Experience, ” The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Oct., 1983), 528-559.Jonathan Sarna, “Colonial Beginnings” from American Judaism: A HistoryJames Homer Williams, “An Atlantic Perspective on the Jewish Struggle for Rights and Opportunities in Brazil, New Netherland, and New York,” from The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West.S. Scott Rohrer, “An American Exodus: Mormons and the Westward Trek,” from Wandering Souls: Protestant Migrations in America, 1630-1865. Paul Harvey, “Day of Jubilee: Black Churches from Emancipation to the Era of Jim Crow,” from Through the Storm, Through the Night: A History of African American ChristianitySylvester Johnson, “The Rise of Black Ethnics: The Ethnic Turn in African American Religions,” from Religion and American Culture, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Summer 2010), 125-163Vasudha Narayanan, “Hinduism in Pittsburgh: Creating the South Indian ‘Hindu’ Experience in the United States,” from The Life of HinduismSusan Slyomovics, “The Muslim World Day Parade and ‘Storefront’ Mosques of New York City,” from Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe

AMS 315 • Intro To Amer Indian History

31035 • Dixon, Bradley
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM RLP 0.126
(also listed as HIS 317L)
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In this course we will investigate the histories of the Native peoples of North America from the beginning to the present day. Students will learn about the unique and specific histories of indigenous nations in North America, deepening their knowledge of Native cultures, languages, religions, political and economic systems, gender relations, astronomies, cartographies, as well as the internal dynamics that helped propel each nation’s history. The course will also consider commonalities in the experiences of Native peoples. In particular, we will examine the effects of colonialism in great detail, connecting students with a wide array of Native American perspectives on colonial and United States history. You will become familiar with the development of Native American rights in North America and with the many Native leaders who led the struggles to secure them.

Training in Native History

This semester will prepare you for further study in the field of Native American history. Your training will include delving weekly into various archives, both in-person and online, to explore a range of primary sources and discuss them in class. Weekly “Flashback Friday” discussions will help you sharpen your analytical skills.


You will also hone your advanced reading skills, learning how to evaluate works of historical scholarship by their arguments, the evidence they employ, their methodology, and place in the literature. To test your skills in reading, you will complete five “Challenge Statements,” one roughly every two weeks, in which you will summarize the main idea of a work of historical scholarship in 50 words or less.


You will choose for analysis one primary document of particular interest to you. The document can be from any time or place covered in this course. This assignment will be due near the end of the semester. Detailed guidelines will be available in the syllabus.


Online Magazine Project
Working with editorial advisors from UT-Austin’s history department, you will collaboratively write, design, edit, and publish the May 2019 issue (the work will be complete before the semester ends) of a new online magazine that explores unique topics in Native North American history. Detailed guidelines will be available in the syllabus on the first day of class.


Reading for Background, Discussion, and Primary Sources
Textbook for Background Reading: Calloway, Colin G. First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History. 5th Edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016.

Primary Sources, including links to archives, and Discussion Readings will be available each week as assigned. The syllabus will include links to online databases available through UT Libraries and elsewhere on the web.


Cerego Map Exercises:                  5%

Challenge Statements:                   10% 

Primary Document Analysis:         15%

Midterm:                                            20%

Online Magazine                             20%

Final Examination                            30%   

AMS 315 • Intro To Asian Amer Studies

31040 • Tang, Eric
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM GSB 2.126
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AMS 321 • Black Freedom Movement

31055 • Makalani, Minkah
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM MEZ 1.120
(also listed as AFR 372C, LAS 322)
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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

31060 • Thompson, Lisa
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM CMA 3.114
(also listed as AFR 372C, WGS 340)
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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 • Chicana Feminisms

31066 • Guidotti-Hernandez, Nicole
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM ECJ 1.308
(also listed as MAS 374, WGS 340)
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AMS 321 • Cultrl Heritage On Display

31070 • Seriff, Suzanne
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM SAC 4.118
(also listed as ANT 325L)
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This course is designed to take you behind the scenes in the public construction,

negotiation, and display of “traditional American culture” by focusing on a number of

cultural heritage sites in the public sphere. In particular, the course will examine the

political economy of fairs, festivals, theme parks, history sites, and museum exhibitions

as contested sites of heritage production in American history—focusing especially on

those moments when an almost crusade-like obsession with defining and displaying the

“true American” 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 the process of cultural heritage production, documentation, and

display—including conducting original field research, planning and designing a specific

mode of display, or providing a critical analysis of an historic example of cultural

heritage production.


AMS 321 • Race/Internet/Social Media

31095 • Nault, Curran
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM GDC 4.304
(also listed as AAS 320)
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AMS 321 • Rethinking Blackness

31080 • Thompson, Lisa
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM RLP 0.128
(also listed as AFR 372C, E 376M, WGS 340)
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Cultural critic Wahneema Lubiano argues that “postmodernism offers a site for African American cultural critics and producers to utilize a discursive space that foregrounds the possibility of rethinking history, political positionality in the cultural domain, the relationship between cultural politics and subjectivity, and the politics of narrative aesthetics.” Other scholars such as Cornel West conclude that the black experience in America is fundamentally absurd. Henry Louis Gates Jr. suggests that, “only a black person alienated from black language-use could fail to understand that we have been deconstructing white people's languages and discourses since that dreadful day in 1619 when we were marched off the boat in Virginia. Derrida did not invent deconstruction, we did!” If postmodernism is characterized by a de-centered human subjectivity then the black condition in the Americas is fundamentally postmodern. Although many writers render the outsider status of African Americans with somberness this course examines texts that re-imagine black subjectivity beyond traditional narratives of suffering and oppression. The authors that we will read present topics sacred to many African Americans such as the Civil Rights movement, slavery, family and blackness, but do so outside traditional African American literary paradigms. We will consider how their treatment of such sensitive issues expands notions of black identity and re-writes assumptions about the African American experience. During the term we will explore texts—some non-canonical others more familiar—from the late 20th century to the present. Class participants will become acquainted with artists working in a variety of genres such as literary satire, rock musical, faux documentary and speculative fiction.

Required Texts:

1. Octavia Butler, Kindred (1979)

2. Katori Hall, The Mountaintop (2011)

3. Andrea Lee, Sarah Phillips (1984)

4. Robert O'Hara, Insurrection: Holding History (1999)

5. Stew, Passing Strange (2008)

6. Lisa B. Thompson, Single Black Female (2012)

7. Baratunde Thurston, How to Be Black (2012)

8. Touré, Whose Afraid of Post Blackness? (2011)

Grading breakdown (percentages):

Essay One (5-7 pages) 15%

Midterm Exam 25%

Group Presentation 10%

Presentation 10%

Essay Two (7-10 pages) 30%

Participation 10%


AMS 321 • US In The Civil Rights Era

31085 • Green, Laurie
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM UTC 3.124
(also listed as AFR 374D, HIS 356P)
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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 • Vietnam Wars

31090 • Lawrence, Mark
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM JGB 2.216
(also listed as HIS 365G)
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This course introduces undergraduates to the complex and controversial history of the wars fought in Vietnam from 1941 to the 1980s.  It will focus especially on American intervention, but students should be aware that the course will devote careful attention to Vietnamese history as well as the history of French, Japanese, British, and Chinese interventions in Indochina.  In this way, the course will attempt to place the American war in the broad context of colonialism, nationalism, communism, and cold war.  

The class will begin by considering the development of Vietnamese nationalism and communism during the period of French colonialism.  It will then examine the profound impact of the Second World War, which brought about, in succession, Japanese, Chinese, and British intervention before the country fell once again under French domination.  The French war (1946 to 1954) will receive careful attention before the class shifts its focus to the United States for the second half of the semester.  Lectures and readings will consider many of the major controversies associated with the American war:  Why did the United States intervene despite the lack of tangible American interests in Vietnam?  To what extent and why did American policymakers misunderstand the nature of the war?  Was the war “winnable” in any meaningful sense?  If so, why did the United States fail to achieve its objectives?  What social, cultural, and political legacies has the war produced in the United States and Vietnam?

Class time will consist of lecture, film clips, and discussion.  Students will be expected to read approximately 150 pages a week.
Possible readings include:
Mark Philip Bradley, The Vietnamese War
Christian Appy, Working Class War
Robert S. McNamara, In Retrospect
George Herring, America’s Longest War
William Lederer and Eugene Burdick, The Ugly American

Requirements will likely include a few reading quizzes (25%), a paper of approximately 5-6 pages (25 %), a midterm examination (25 %), and a final (25%).  Students will have the opportunity to improve their grades through class participation but not through extra credit assignments.

AMS 325 • American Music

31105 • Lewis, Hannah
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM MRH 2.634
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AMS 325 • Information Society/Beyond

31110 • Strover, Sharon
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BMC 4.204
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AMS 325 • Painting In America To 1860

31123 • Rather, Susan
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM DFA 2.506
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AMS 325 • Screening Race

31115 • McClearen, Jennifer
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM CMA 3.116
(also listed as AFR 372E)
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AMS 325 • US Painting: 1860-1913

31124 • Rather, Susan
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM DFA 2.204
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AMS 327 • Science/Magic/Religion

31130 • Crosson, Jonathan
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM UTC 1.130
(also listed as AFR 372G, ANT 324C, R S 373L)
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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 327 • Views Of Islam In The US

31135 • Hillmann, Michael
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ 1.204
(also listed as ISL 372, R S 346)
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AMS 330 • Mdrnsm In Am Design/Arch

31140 • Meikle, Jeffrey
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM SAC 5.102
(also listed as ARH 339Q, URB 352)
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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. 

AMS 355 • Main Curr Of Amer Cul To 1865

31145 • Smith, Mark
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM BUR 130
(also listed as HIS 355N)
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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

31150 • Gaughen, Brendan
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM BUR 220
(also listed as HIS 356K)
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This course explores how different communities organized around identifiers such as race, ethnicity, national origin, class, gender, and ideology have negotiated with and contributed to changing conceptions of American identity. This course follows a rough chronology of the past 150 years, demonstrating changes and consistencies in social attitudes regarding individual, communal, and national identities, revealing a century and a half of political and social conflicts that complicate narratives of national consensus.

AMS 370 • American Utopias

31155 • Gaughen, Brendan
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 436A
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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.

AMS 370 • Energy And US Capitalism

31157 • Beasley, Betsy
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BUR 436A
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Does economic growth depend on production of cheap energy? Are the interests of the environment necessarily contrary to the interests of making money? Do jobs in the energy industry sustain communities or destroy workers’ bodies? These are the questions at the heart of much contemporary discussion about climate change in the United States and beyond. From promoting “green jobs” to debating “clean energy,” Americans are constantly grappling with the relationship between energy and the economy. 


This course explores the multiple intersections between the history of energy and the history of capitalism in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on the period since 1945. Using secondary texts as well as primary documents, film, photographs, and fiction, this course will interrogate the relationship between energy – oil, coal, natural gas, solar and wind energy – and the American economy. We will focus on four primary questions: How has the production of energy shaped American economic growth? How have energy companies shaped social and cultural life at home and abroad? How do workers in the energy industry understand the costs and benefits of their jobs? And how have American consumers thought about their consumption of energy? Throughout, we will pay careful attention to how race, gender, and sexuality have intersected with the politics and the culture of energy. 

AMS 370 • Fem Intervnt Borderland His

31180 • Guidotti-Hernandez, Nicole
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM BUR 436B
(also listed as MAS 374, WGS 340)
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This seminar will provide undergraduates with an in- depth understanding of the social, economic, and spatial transformations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries U.S.-Mexico borderlands. In particular, we will examine how Indian removal, the Texas wars for Independence, the Mexican American war of 1848, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo continue to influence how ideas of nation, space and citizenship (or lack thereof) are articulated in these regions today. Lastly, this course operates from a feminist scholarly perspective, demonstrating the role of both transnational analysis and the pivotal role of the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality in forming this distinct regional history. In addition, students will engage in their own archival research projects during the semester. Juxtaposed with contextual historical and methodological essays, we will examine the concerns, anxieties and preoccupations with the contested nature of gender, race, subjectivity and sexuality in the nineteenth and early twentieth century U.S./Mexico Borderlands.

AMS 370 • Global Cities In The U.s.

31159 • Beasley, Betsy
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BUR 436A
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What is a “global city”? Journalists and social scientists alike argue that the global city is a recent invention of the 1990s, brought into being by new technologies, the end of the Cold War, and new immigration legislation. Characterized by transnational residents, dramatic socioeconomic stratification, economic connections between international marketplaces, and high levels of tourism and real estate speculation, the global city is, according to these commentators, a radically new form of urbanism. In this course, we will complicate this narrative by taking a longer view of the global city. In addition, we will seek to examine how placing global cities at the center of our analysis changes our understanding of both urban history and the history of U.S. global power. 


Our readings in this course seek to understand the relationships between the local and the global from the mid-nineteenth century through the present. To examine these relationships, we will concentrate on four distinct but overlapping questions: How have the structure and culture of workin the United States been influenced by transnational developments, including war, immigration, and the relocation of jobs? How have cities served as centralized sites for the movement of money, and how can we read these business functions in the landscape? How has U.S. global power been represented culturallyin urban space? 

AMS 370 • Latinx Sexualities

31158 • Rosas, Lilia
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM PAR 103
(also listed as AFR 372C, MAS 374, WGS 335)
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The publishing of Compañeras: Latina Lesbians in 1987 represents a pathbreaking disruption, which works to humanize, demystify, and complicate the narratives of Latina sexualities at the height of the AIDS pandemic. Told from multiple perspectives by intermingling the voices of scholars, writers, poets, and truth-tellers, this text is still a testament to the stories we must continue to research and analyze to underscore the nuances of Latin@/x racialized sexual formations. In this course, students will chart and examine Latinx Sexualities from a historical perspective to comprehend the social, cultural, political, and economic factors, which have shaped these experiences. We also will challenge the simplistic and monolithic notions of sexualities that have plagued dominant discourses about Latinx sexuality. Finally, we will evaluate and reflect upon how Latin@/x communities (across sexualities, queerness, and heternormativity) have defined themselves, resisted repression(s), and participated in their own emancipation of identities, expressions, and desires from their perspectives as indigenous, Afrolatin@/x, and (me)Xican@/x peoples.

Readings (Selections):

  • Asencio, Marysol, ed. Latina/o Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2010.
  • Escobedo, Elizabeth Rachel. From Coveralls to Zoot Suits: The Lives of Mexican American Women on the World War II Home Front. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015.
  • Findlay, Eileen J. Suárez. Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1920. Durham: Duke University Press, 1999.
  • Glave, Thomas, ed. Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.

Course Requirements:

  • Attendance and Participation 15%
  • Reading Journal 10%
  • Reflection Essay 10%
  • Research Proposal and Bibliography 5%
  • Oral Presentation 20%
  • Rough Draft of Final Paper/Project 10%
  • Final Paper/Project 30%

AMS 370 • Race, Law, And US Society

31160 • Thompson, Shirley
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BUR 224
(also listed as AFR 360, HIS 365G)
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Please check back for updates.

AMS 370 • The Beats/Amer Cul, 1945-90

31165 • Meikle, Jeffrey
Meets W 6:30PM-9:30PM BUR 436A
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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.

AMS 370 • Vienna: Memory/The City-Aut

31175 • Hoelscher, Steven
(also listed as EUS 346, GRG 356T, GSD 360, HIS 362G)
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AMS 370 • Women In Postwar America

31170 • Green, Laurie
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM GAR 2.128
(also listed as HIS 350R, WGS 345)
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This upper division history seminar examines U.S. women's history in the mid-twentieth century, roughly from World War II to the 1970s. Students have the opportunity to explore important themes far more deeply than is possible in a lecture course covering a longer period. While looking at what women did, the course explores historical understandings of womanhood, manhood and sexuality that became central to the cultural politics and social conflicts of the postwar period. This approach raises fresh questions about well-known episodes of U.S. history. Why, for example, do most Americans remember Rosa Parks only as a demure seamstress who initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott because she was too tired to give up her seat to a white? Why do many imagine the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s as one of white middle-class bra burners? We explore how various groups (e.g., suburban girls, women of color, working-class women, immigrants, queer women and others) differently negotiated ideas of family, work, and sexuality. The goal is not to arrive at a universal or normative history of women, gender, and sexuality, but to explore how race, place, citizenship, and class shaped them. In doing so, we examine roots of issues that continue to have political purchase today. Weekly classes include discussion of readings, short lectures, films, and writing workshops.



As a course with Writing and Independent Inquiry flags, this seminar is designed to help students develop historical writing, research, and analytical skills needed to pursue their own intellectual voyages of discovery in the history of women, gender and sexuality in mid-twentieth-century American culture. Graded assignments include three short projects: 1) a media research essay focused on 1945-1960; 2) an oral history conducted by students with woman who were activists at University of Texas in the 1960s/70s; 3) a 5-6-page essay about the most important material from the oral history. These oral histories will become part of the Austin Women Activists Oral History Collection at the Briscoe Library, which began in Fall 2017 with contributions from students who took this course.


Evaluation based on:

Participation and attendance

Media research essay

Oral history for Austin Women Activists project

Essay about student’s oral history

Submission of brief assignments


Boyd, Nan Alamilla, Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965

Douglas, Susan J. Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media

Meyerowitz, Joanne, ed. Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960

Orleck, Annelise, Rethinking American Women’s Activism (Routledge). Shakur, Assata. Assata: An Autobiography

Dreyer, Thorne, Alice Embree, and Richard Croxdale. Celebrating the Rag: Austin’s Iconic Underground Newspaper

AMS 386 • Cultural Hist Of US Since 1865

31195 • Davis, Janet
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 436B
(also listed as WGS 393)
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This is a required graduate seminar for first-year American Studies graduate students in the second semester of study. It is a survey of recent and classic interdisciplinary scholarship in the field of American cultural (and some social) history from the Civil War era to the present. This course will familiarize you with key “main”  historiographical, methodological, and thematic currents in the field. My approach to cultural history is interdisciplinary, intersectional, environmental and transnational: in other words, I treat “culture” as a social, material, and labor process in which gender, race, and class are interconnected and symbiotic categories of analysis in transnational, environmental, and comparative frames. 

AMS 390 • 20th-Cen US Social Movements

31205 • Davis, Janet
Meets TH 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 436B
(also listed as HIS 389)
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This graduate seminar will explore how people have collectively rallied for social change in the United States with a special focus on the post-World War II era to the present. Approaching the concept of “social movement” both topically and theoretically, we will consider how technology, popular culture, and broader economic and political factors have shaped the landscape of social change.   We will also be mindful of the transnational context of various movements: the African American Civil Rights Movement, for example, had a profound influence on the formation of India’s Dalit Panthers—a social movement of Maharashtrian ex-Untouchables.   Topics of examination will include feminism, labor, civil rights, the American Indian Movement, environmentalism, the United Farm Workers, Black Power, antiwar activism, the gay and lesbian movement,  animal rights, the New Right, and antiglobalization. Throughout the course, we will link these movements to previous periods of activism in U.S. history, and will, furthermore, analyze  how these movements shape each other.

AMS 390 • Landmarks In Ethnic Studies

31200 • Cordova, Cary
Meets W 1:00PM-4:00PM BUR 436B
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This class plays with the meaning of landmarks as commemorations of physical places and as canonical expressions of achievement in the field of Ethnic Studies. What qualities define a landmark book in the field of Ethnic Studies? And how have scholars used place and space as parameters for understanding ethnicity and race?

This class will examine convergences, overlap, and disjunctures in the fields of Ethnic Studies, Cultural Geography, Public History, and American Studies. Students will study conflicts over place, memory, and preservation and how these conflicts take shape in relation to race, gender, and class. We will draw on scholarship that uses particular places, spaces, physical structures, and institutions, from border zones and city limits, to historical sites and prisons.

We also will be examining the evolution of Ethnic Studies and the transference of methodologies and approaches across American Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Native American Studies.

AMS 391 • Crit Appr To Ya Fictions

31210 • Perez, Domino
Meets M 12:00PM-3:00PM CAL 323
(also listed as E 395M, MAS 392, WGS 393)
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Critical Approaches to Young Adult Fictions

This course will focus on what critics, writers, and publishers refer to as the “second golden age” of young-adult fiction, a period ushered in by the Harry Potter series. We will consider the literature, as well as the literary and cultural criticism, that emerged in the wake of these popular books to examine the broader issues being addressed in contemporary young adult fictions. One major goal is to consider how the literature intervenes in social and political concerns, while at the same time maintaining broad popular appeal. Disciplinary perspectives will include, but are not limited to, feminist, gender and sexuality, genre, literary, ethnic, cultural, and film studies.


AMS 391 • Media, Memory And The Archive

31211 • Frick, Caroline
Meets W 9:00AM-12:00PM CMA 3.130
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Graduate standing required. Permission from instructor required.

AMS 391 • Race/Immigration/Citizenshp

31212 • Dorn, Edwin
Meets T 9:00AM-12:00PM SRH 3.360
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Graduate standing required. Permission from instructor required.

AMS 391 • Visualizing Slavery

31215 • Chambers, Edward
Meets W 9:00AM-12:00PM ART 3.432
(also listed as WGS 393)
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Graduate standing required. Permission from instructor required.

AMS 392 • Conference Course In Amer Stds

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Graduate standing required. Permission from instructor required.

AMS 398T • Supv Teaching In American Stds

31240 • Marshall, Stephen
Meets M 12:00PM-3:00PM BUR 436B
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Graduate standing required. Permission from instructor required.