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Course Offerings -- Fall 2015

AMS 312     Kids and the City
Anastasia Mann, Program in American Studies

Growing up in an urban context presents distinct opportunities and poses unique risks. From the first Guilded Age to today, this course examines the experience of children and youth on the economic margins.  We cast our net wide to include parks, playgrounds, neighborhoods, kinship, summer camp, as well as overcrowding, disease, poverty and segregation. We weigh the relative influence of individuals, institutions, government policies and popular movements. Scholarly work plus fiction, film, audio, and primary documents will guide our exploration of the most powerful forces--past and present--that have shaped the lives of urban youth.

AMS 334     The CIA in Fact and Fiction
Timothy Weiner, Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies

This course undertakes a close study of the factual history of the CIA and the depiction of the agency in novels, films, and television.

AMS 360 / ENG 387   Afro-Asian Masculinities
Kinohi Nishikawa, English and African American Studies

The course undertakes a comparative, cross-cultural analysis of African American and Asian American social formations.  In doing so, it aims to highlight when and how seemingly distinct racial and ethnic experiences have come together on matters of labor, citizenship, international politics, and especially gender and sexual ideology.  It attends to cross-cultural dialogue as well:  for example, in the martial arts (Bruce Lee) and hip-hop (Wu-Tang Clan).  The course offers a unique opportunity to bring ethnic studies, black studies, and gender studies into dynamic conversation.

AAS  380 / AMS 382     Public Policy in the American Racial State
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Center for 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.     

GSS 316 / THR 358 / AMS 366     Queer Boyhoods
Brian Herrera, Program in Theater

This course examines enactments of youthful masculinity in U.S. popular performance with a particular eye toward accounts of variant or queer boyhoods. As we scrutinize the regimentation and valorization of specific boyish behaviors, we will explore the cultural impact of non-normative youthful masculinities (i.e., sissies, tomboys, bois, punks, transguys, etc.) as we also assess the place of queer boyhoods in American life. Course readings will be historical, literary and theoretical, with play scripts, films, memoirs, and literature for young readers functioning as primary objects for the course’s analytic project.

GSS 336 / ENG 384 / AMS 436     Crime, Gender, and American Culture
Alfred Bendixen, Department of English

An exploration of the ways in which gender and crime are intertwined in some of the most significant and popular works of American fiction.  Our analysis of the aesthetic, cultural, and psychological dimensions of narratives based on crime and detection will focus on texts by both women and men with an emphasis on the capacity of gender studies to illuminate crime fiction’s recurring concern with questions of race and class, justice and power, violence and victimhood.

REL 257 / AMS 397     Religion and American Film
Judith L. Weisenfeld, Department of Religion

This course explores representations of religious beliefs, practices, and communities in American film, including documentary, independent, and commercial features. We consider how cinematic images have contributed to shared understandings of the nature of religion and its place in American life and what conflicts over representation reveal about the broader American religious landscape. Topics include religion and censorship, representing ethnicity, race, gender, and sexuality, new religious movements, and religion and politics.

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.