American Studies
American Studies

Lauren Gutterman

Core FacultyPh.D, New York University

Assistant Professor
Lauren Gutterman



Modern U.S. History; History of Women, Gender and Sexuality; LGBT/Queer Studies; Marriage and the Family; Popular Culture; Public History; Oral History; Digital Humanities


AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

30655 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.306
(also listed as HIS 315G)

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 370 • Sexual Deviance 20th Cen Us

30705 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 436A
(also listed as WGS 335)


Americans have created and maintained hierarchies of power by casting certain people and sexual behaviors as unnatural and immoral. At various historical moments “mannish” women, Filipino migrant workers, and black men on the “down low” were all cast as sexual deviants who threatened the nation’s welfare. At the same time, however, public discussions about sexual deviance have alerted Americans to the possibility of alternative sexual relationships and communities. This course will examine why Americans’ definitions of sexual deviance have changed, and how “sexual deviants” have contested their stigmatization.  We will explore topics including Progressive Era anti-miscegenation law, psychoanalytic understandings of incest in the 1950s, and the modern asexuality rights movement. Studying sexual deviance will reveal that our conceptions of sexual normalcy are more complex and less stable than we might expect.

Possible Texts:

Excerpts from:

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (1990)

Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality (2007)

Nayan Shah, Stranger Intimacy (2011)

Lisa Duggan, Sapphic Slashers (2000)


Robert Hill, “We Share a Sacred Secret’: Gender, Domesticity, and Containment in

Transvestia's Histories and Letters from Crossdressers and Their Wives,” Journal of Social History 44.3 (2011): 729-750.

Sandra Eder, “The Volatility of Sex: Intersexuality, Gender and Clinical Practice in the       1950s,” Gender & History, 22.3 (November 2010): 692–707.

Ana Raquel Minian “’Indiscriminate and Shameless Sex’: The Strategic Use of Sexuality    by the United Farm Workers,” American Quarterly, 65.1 (March 2013): 63-90.

Thaddeus Russell, “The Color of Discipline: Civil Rights and Black Sexuality,”      American Quarterly 60.1 (2008): 101-128.


Films: Coming Out Under Fire (1994)


Assignments (include % of grade):

Attendance, class participation, discussion questions – 20%

Deviance Diary (5 assignments 500 words each)– 30%

Short Papers (3 papers each 1,000-1,5000 words) – 30%

AMS 390 • Sexual Mdrnties Trnsntl Per

30750 • Fall 2016
Meets TH 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 436B
(also listed as WGS 393)

Course Description:
Many historians of sexuality in modern America have seen the emergence of the hetero/homo binary in the late 19th century as one of the defining features of sexual modernity. Recent historical scholarship, however, has thrown this assumption into question. By looking at different regions (the South and the West), as well as particular populations within the nation (incarcerated people, Filipino immigrants), recent scholarship has revealed that the acts-to-identities model of homosexuality has been less complete within the United States than previously imagined. Moreover, scholars working in a range of disciplines have pointed out the racist and imperialist mentality underlying the acts-to-identities argument, which, by comparison, characterizes cultures that do not adhere to a strict gender and sexual binary as pre-modern. Beginning with twentieth-century American history and expanding geographically and methodologically  from there, this course will re-consider the significance of the hetero/homo binary and place it in relationship to other conceptions of same-sex sexuality within a broad transnational context.
Course Requirements:
- Each week students will be required to write a 1-2 page response paper.
- Every student will be responsible for leading one class discussion, gathering and organizing other student’s questions and comments, and creating a handout for class.
- Students will also design an undergraduate sexuality history course that is transnational in perspective.
- Students will write a final 20 page paper on any theme that we have discussed in the course. The paper should use the readings we have discussed as a starting place for additional secondary research.

AMS 370 • Queer Study In Low Culture

29890 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 436A
(also listed as WGS 335)

Why and how have representations of sexual and gender non-conformity repeatedly emerged in cultural forms often considered “unsophisticated” or merely “trash”? What economic, racial, and sexual meanings are embedded in such cultural valuations? From cheap paperback novels and TV talk shows, to tabloid magazines and drag performances, “low” culture has served a vital role in transforming Americans’ sexual norms and values and bringing queer communities together since the middle of the twentieth century. In this class we will not only read scholarship in queer theory, LGBTQ studies, and the history of sexuality, we will also watch queer cult films and analyze lesbian pulp novels for ourselves. Together we will explore both the transformative potential and the inherent political limitations of these “guilty” pleasures.

Curriculum Vitae

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