AMS 323 / JDS 323 America in Judaism
Rabbi Lance Sussman, Department of Religion
Although the idea of an “American Judaism” emerged in the early decades of the nineteenth century, scholars have yet to define this concept in precise terms and explain how it differs from a simpler historical understanding of “Judaism in America.” Our seminar will examine the Americanization of Judaism beginning with the earliest transplanted Iberian concepts of Judaism in the “new world” to the transformation of Jewish religious life in the United States. Special attention will be paid to Jewish theology, the rabbinate, gender, denominationalism, and the polity of the American synagogue.
AMS 339/AAS 333/ Religion and Culture: Muslims in America
ANT 389/REL 333
Aly Kassam-Remtulla, Associate Director for Academic Planning and Institutional Diversity, Office of the Provost
This course is an introduction to Muslim cultures in the United States. Each week we will draw upon texts from anthropology, sociology, history, and other fields to develop an understanding of the historical and present diversity of Muslim communities in America. The first half of the course provides a survey of Muslim communities in this country from the 17th to the 21st centuries. The second half features a thematic approach to a variety of topics: 9/11, women and gender, religious conversion, interfaith relations, youth, mosques as institutions, and Islamophobia.
AMS 345/GSS 347 Women’s Leadership in Modern America
Karen Jackson-Weaver, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Diversity, Office of the Dean of the Graduate School
This course examines issues related to gender, race, and class as substructures which shape the leadership of women in modern America. One of the focuses of the course will be to critique meanings of leadership particularly as we study the meaning of freedom in American society within the context of the civil rights and women’s movements. Drawing upon a myriad of primary sources including speeches, autobiographic accounts, newspapers, television and film programs, we will highlight how several contemporary American historiographies situate women as activists versus leaders and the significance of this projection.
AMS 367 Hard-Boiled to Noir: American Crime Fiction and Film
Lee Clark Mitchell, Department of English
A study of the emergence during the high modernist period of two genres that might be considered at once eminently American, distinctively modernist, and brazenly vulgar. The subject matter may be louche, but writers thereby more directly engaged issues of social inequality (racial, sexual, and economic), along with changing images of gender construction. As well they registered the impact of Freudian psychoanalysis on literary form, and in formal terms engaged the belatedness of narrative to event. Such fiction had tremendous appeal for cinema, and we will focus on the ways in which adaptation modified popular formulas.
AMS 380 Some Critics of American Society, 1880-1960
Alan Ryan, Department of Politics
Many commentators during the 1950s gave the impression that postwar liberal-democracy was the 'natural' state of the USA. This obscured the work of many interesting, non-mainstream critics of modern industrial America, ranging from insurrectionary socialists to melancholy conservatives, few of them writing from the academy, and including novelists, journalists, and activists. This course aims to give students the chance to read these writers and decide for themselves whether they deserved to have more influence than they did, or perhaps even less.
AMS 399/HIS 399 In the Groove: Technology and Music in American History, From Edison to the iPod
Emily Thompson, Department of History
When Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, no one, including Edison, knew what to do with the device. Over the next century Americans would engage in an ongoing dialogue with this talking machine, defining and redefining its purpose. This course will track that trajectory, from business tool to scientific instrument to music recorder to musical instrument. By listening to the history of the phonograph, and by examining the desires and experiences of phonograph users, students will perceive more generally the complex relationships that exist between a technology and the people who produce, consume, and transform it.
THR 313/AMS 343/ Dramaturgy Workshop: HOODWINKED
Jill Dolan, Department of English; Lewis Center for the Arts; Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies
This workshop explores the basic precepts of American theatre dramaturgy, using playwright/director Emily Mann’s play-in-progress, Hoodwinked, as its example. We’ll review the literature about dramaturgy as a production and literary method in American theatre, and apply those strategies to help develop the Hoodwinked text. The play addresses the massacre at Ft. Hood Army base in Killeen, Texas, in 2009, and investigates the political complications of terrorism and jihad. The course culminates in a staged reading of Hoodwinked and a one-day public symposium about its issues with invited guests.
ENV 346/AMS 347 The Environment Can Be Funny
Jenny Price, Visiting Lecturer, Environmental Studies
Why isn’t it?—and what if it were? While we’ll examine the first question (why does environmentalism tend to be so pious and self-serious?), this course will focus on the second, and on the creation of original work. How might we deploy the powers of humor to persuade, to cajole, to break down defenses—but also to expose hypocrisy and to challenge our own assumptions? Students will put their own powers of comedy to work—in op-eds, cartoons, skits—to address climate change, water pollution, environmental justice, and other critical issues.
REL 377/AAS 376/ Race and Religion in America
Judith L. Weisenfeld, Department of Religion
This seminar examines the tangled and changing relationship between religion and constructions of race in American history. We will consider such topics as American interpretations of race in the Bible, religion and racial slavery, race and missions, religious resistance to the idea of race, and popular culture representations of racialized religion.
AAS 380/AMS 382 Public Policy and the American Racial State
Naomi Murakawa, 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.
WWS 387/AMS 387 Education Policy in the United States
Nathan B. Scovronick, Woodrow Wilson School of 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 choic e and school reform.