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Seminars

Course Offerings - Spring 2015

 

AMS 101
America Then and Now

Paul Frymer, Department of Politics and Program in Law and Public Affairs; Hendrik Hartog, Director, Program in American Studies and Department of History; Naomi Murakawa, Center for African American Studies

 

This course introduces a selection of signature ideas and debates that made the nation what it is today and what it is becoming.   Objects of study range across multiple media, including texts, images, works of art, music, performance, and film, and draw from the diverse fields of literature, history, political science, art history, economics, law, cultural studies, and the history of science.   The course attends to how knowledge about America has and continues to be produced, disseminated, and consumed, emphasizing the cognitive processes associated with the invention and delineation of America.

AMS 309

A History of Disability as told by Personal Narratives

Gerardine Wurzburg, Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies

This seminar will examine and compare definitive concepts and life experiences of disability derived from the personal narratives of men and women labeled autistic and because of limited speech presumed incompetent. We will explore how the narratives created by those once not heard bring a new voice to our understanding of how we define “ability” and our use of the term “disability.” Through class seminars, readings and film screenings, students will explore little heard history of disability through first person narratives.

AMS 311

Education and Inequality

Kathleen M. Nolan, Program in Teacher Preparation

 

In Education and Inequality, students examine the relationship between inequality and public schooling in the United States. Students explore the educational practices and organizational structures through which inequality is produced and reproduced inside schools and how social class, race, ethnicity, gender, and other social differences shape educational outcomes. Additionally, we consider students’ different experiences in schools and the ways in which individuals and groups respond to inequality. With a few exceptions, the focus is on K-12 public education with emphasis on urban schools in low-income communities

338/JDS 336/HIS 450

The Invention of the Promised Land: American Jewish History

Yaacob Dweck, Department of History

 

Over the past three and a half centuries, Jewish immigrants have described America both as “the promised land” and “the land of impurity.” This course examines these conflicting descriptions as it explores developments in Jewish life from the mid seventeenth century through the late twentieth century.

 
AMS 342/ HIS 442

Race, Racism and Politics in Twentieth-Century America

Kevin Kruse, Department of History

 

In this seminar, we will explore the relationship between race, racism and politics throughout twentieth-century America. Topics will include segregation; immigration and assimilation; the role of racial politics in World War II and the Cold War; the civil rights movement and white massive resistance; Black Power and the white backlash; and contemporary politics up to the election of Barack Obama.

 
AAS 345/AMS 346

Race, Labour, and the Long Civil Rights Movement

Jordan T. Camp, Center for African American Studies

 

This course explores the relationships between race and labor in the long civil rights era. Its purpose is to examine the interplay of racial and class formation, and the intersections between antiracist and labor movements through an interdisciplinary framework. The assigned texts analyze how racial differences among workers have been both produced and contested. They introduce theories and methods to analyze civil rights struggles as labor struggles, emphasizing the role of culture in movements for racial and economic justice. Along with our key texts we will also screen films and listen to musical recordings and oral testimonies.

 
Art 388/AMS 388

Photo, Urbanism and Civic Change between 1960-1980

Katherine A. Bussard, Princeton University Art Museum

 

In conjunction with the concurrent exhibition The City Lost and Found, this course focuses an extraordinary period of visual responses to the changing fabric of America’s three largest cities: New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. We explore their seismic transformations, from political protests to urban renewal projects. Students assess original artworks, films, texts, photographs, and a variety of print media (all on view in the Princeton University Art Museum) and analyze readings from disciplines as diverse as cultural geography, urban planning, urban theory, and art history.

 
EAS 338/ AMS 356

Asian Wars, American Politics, Hollywood Cinema

David Leheny, East Asian Studies

 

American cinema has long been one of the world’s most important sources of entertainment, and has been examined both at home and abroad for the political messages embedded in its films. This course investigates the presentation of American engagement in Asia over the past half-century, examining depictions of the United States and of Asian allies and opponents alike. Our focus will be on public representations of international relations – particularly through war and economic conflict – but we will also ask how changing images of the United States, as well as evolving practices in the film industry itself, shape how Asia appears on film.

 
GSS 365/AMS 365

Isn’t It Romantic? The Broadway Musical from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Sondheim

Stacy Wolf, Lewis Center for the Arts

 

Song. Dance. Man. Woman. These are the basic components of the Broadway musical theatre. How have musical theatre artists—composers, lyricists, librettists, directors, choreographers, and designers—worked with these building blocks to create this quintessentially American form of art and entertainment? This course will explore conventional and resistant performances of gender and sexuality in the Broadway musical since the 1940s. Why are musicals structured by love and romance? What happens when men and women sing and dance on stage together and separately? How do Broadway musicals converse with ideas about gender and sexuality in mainstream culture?

 
HIS 270/AMS 370

Asian American History

Beth Lew-Williams, Department of History

 

This course introduces students to the multiple and varied experiences of people of Asian heritage in the United States from the 19th century to the present day. It focuses on three major questions: (1) What brought Asians to the United States? (2) How did Asian Americans come to be viewed as a race? (3) How does Asian American experience transform our understanding of U.S. history? Using newspapers, novels, government reports, and films, this course will cover major topics in Asian American history, including Chinese Exclusion, Japanese internment, transnational adoption, and the model minority stereotype.

 
HIS 301/AMS 301

Queer Utopias: Culture, Fantasy, and the Formation of Sexual Identities

David L. Minto, Department of History

 

This course explores the role of culture and fantasy in the construction of lesbian, gay, transsexual, and other queer individual and group identities. What material conditions allow queer utopias to be conceived and by whom? How have queer men and women read dominant cultures against the grain? In what ways have dominant cultures imposed themselves on queer fantasy lives? How has queer world-making blurred the boundary between the real and the ideal, the social and the imaginary, the personal and the political? To tackle these questions, each week we will focus on one or more period texts – whether diaries, photos, stories, songs, or plays.

 

Course Offerings Fall 2014

AMS 351

Liberation Photography/The Engaged Photographer

Richard Street, Program in American Studies

 

This is a hybrid course that focuses on a powerful and important facet of modern visual culture – those photographers who embrace the human condition and use the camera as a tool to explore the world; fight poverty, injustice, and exploitation; shape public policy; and advance human rights. This course is not about technologies, cameras, darkroom techniques, or Photoshop. Writing is essential. The course is project-oriented. While studying exemplars of still picture communication, students will create and present a modest photo essay and supply meaning through the right words, intelligent sequencing, and creative captioning

 
AMS 358 / ENG 355 / HUM 358

Electronic Lit: Lineage, Theory, and Contemporary Practice

Judy Malloy, Clifford Wulfman, Library Digital Initiatives

 

Electronic Literature: Lineage, Theory, and Contemporary Practice will explore electronic literature, including print antecedents, generative literature, interactive fiction, hypertext literature, social media-based literature, electronic manuscripts and digital visual poetry. Lectures, dialog, discussion, and student presentations on theoretical, critical, and historical aspects of electronic and avant-garde literature will alternate and intertwine with lectures, dialog, and student traversals/projects that investigate the creative practice of writing electronic literature.

 
AMS 376 / ART 376

American Images

Rachael DeLue, Art and Archaeology

 

This course examines America through the lens of its images. Pictures created by Americans of all stripes in all periods have been integral to the shaping of American history, culture, and identity. By examining a wide range of image types – from the fine arts and photography to the built environment, scientific illustration, film, and digital media – and by considering these images in terms of their historical, political, social, intellectual, and global contexts, “American Images” will offer both a sweeping and a detailed portrait of America through the rich, sometimes strange history of its art and visual culture.

 
AAS 323 / AMS 321

Diversity in Black America

Imani Perry, African American Studies

 

As the demographics of Blacks in America change, we are compelled to rethink the dominant stories of who African Americans are, and from whence they come. In this seminar, we will explore the deep cultural, genealogical, national origin, regional, and class-based diversity of people of African descent in the United States. Materials for the course will include scholarly writings as well as memoirs and fiction. In addition to reading assignments, students will be expected to complete an ethnographic or oral history project based upon research conducted within a Black community in the U.S., and a music or visual art based presentation of work.

 
AAS 372 / ART 374 / AMS 372

Postblack – Contemporary African American Art

Chika Okeke-Agulu, Art and Archaeology and African American Studies

 

As articulated by Thelma Golden, postblack refers to the work of African American artists who emerged in the 1990s with ambitious, irreverent, and sassy work. Though hard to define, postblack suggested the emergence of a generation of artists removed from the long tradition of black affirmation of the Harlem Renaissance, black empowerment of the Black Arts movement, and identity politics of the 1980s and early 90s. This seminar provides an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade. It will involve critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art.

 
AAS  380 / AMS 382

Public Policy in the American Racial State

Naomi Murakawa, African American Studies

 

In the context of de facto equality but persistent racial inequality, how do we identify race’s role in public policy? This course addresses this question by drawing on a range of interdisciplinary texts. We begin by exploring different theoretical perspectives of race, seeking to define “the racial state” in historical and comparative terms. We then consider how race interacts with a variety of American political institutions, including the welfare state, immigration regulation, and the criminal justice state. We give particular attention to the complexities of racial construction and race’s intersection with other forms of hierarchy.

 
ENV 347 / AMS 352

Arts & Humanities: Essential Tools for Environmentalists

Jenny Price, Princeton Environmental Institute

 

Is the climate blazing? Our cities have food deserts? Your groundwater supplies are contaminated with toxins? Historians, literary scholars, and artists to the rescue! This course explores how to deploy the humanities and arts to grapple with our most urgent environmental challenges – and is affiliated with a fall 2014 What Arts & Humanities Are Good For PEI series of panel events. The course asks how, exactly, we can put the indispensable methods and insights of the arts and humanities to work to create more sustainable places and to enact more equitable and effective environmental policies.

 
GSS 319 / AMS 320

U.S. Women Writers

Alfred Bendixen, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies

 

An exploration of the literary works of women writers in the United States with an emphasis on the role gender has played and continues to play in the development of literary movements and genres. Our examination of both canonical and non-canonical writings will focus on the formation of feminist literary conventions in the 19th century and their transformations in the 20th and 21st centuries. Our reading will include romantic tales, ghost stories, realistic stories, novels of immigration, thrillers, works for children, autobiographical mythmaking, poetry, and graphic novels.

 
HIS 402 / AAS 402 /AMS 412

Princeton and Slavery

Craig Hollander, Department of History

 

Research seminar focused on Princeton University’s historical connections to the institution of slavery. The class will work toward creating a report that details the slave-holding practices of Princeton faculty and students, examines campus debates about slavery, and investigates whether money derived from slave labor contributed to the early growth of the school.

 
HIS 481 / AMS 481

History of the American Workplace

Margot Canaday, History, and Jonathan Levy, History

 

This seminar introduces students to the history of work by focusing upon the history of the American workplace. Whether farm or factory, office or kitchen, assembly line or computer screen, the course explores the historical transformation of work through the examination of different kinds of workplaces. The seminar covers industrialization to the present, focusing upon such themes as the relationship between home and work, work and politics, work and identity, work and technology, and work and power.

 
HUM 470 / AMS 470

Revisiting Nature’s Nation: An Ecocritical History of American Art

Karl Kusserow, Art Museum, and Alan Braddock, Humanities Council

 

This course critically explores the interface of American art and environmental history while laying the basis for a groundbreaking traveling exhibition on the subject being organized by the Princeton University Art Museum. Using emerging interpretive strategies of “ecocriticism”, we will approach American art as creative material that has imagined and embodied environmental issues concerning land use, species extinction, pollution, climate change, sustainability, and justice in a variety of historical contexts since the 18th century – when the foundations of “ecology” as an idea first began to materialize.

 
THR 303 / AMS 330

Ethnographic Playwriting

Aaron Landsman, Theater

 

This course delves into a collaborative, ethnographic approach to making theater. In class, we will read, watch and discuss the work of subculture theorists, theater-makers and other artists and thinkers, all of whom use staged conversations as the basis for characters, scenes and entire works. We will hash out ethics and responsibilities for those of us who engage communities outside our own. What does it mean to take responsibility for someone else’s words? What is it like to put the words of a stranger in your mouth? Finally, we will make theatrical material using this approach, culminating in an end of semester showing.

 
WWS 387 / AMS 387

Education Policy in the United States

Nathan Scovronick, Public and International Affairs

 

This course will consider some of the major issues in education policy, with particular focus on attempts to secure equal educational opportunity. It will include discussions of desegregation and resource equity, education for immigrants and the handicapped, school choice and school reform

 

WWS 385 / AMS 350

Civil Society and Public Policy

Stanley Katz, Lecturer with rank of Professor in Public and International Affairs, WWS

 

Civil society is the arena of voluntary organizations (churches, social welfare organizations, sporting clubs) and communal activity. Scholars now tell us that such voluntary and cooperative activities create "social capital" -- a stock of mutual trust that forms the glue that holds society together. The course will be devoted to the study of the history of these concepts, and to the analysis of their application to the United States and other societies. This will be an interdisciplinary effort, embracing history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and other disciplines.