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Seminars 2008-2009

Fall

201        Introduction to American Studies: American Places
            Elizabeth Bergman, Department of Music
            Sean Wilentz, Department of History
An introduction to the key themes of interdisciplinary work on North America, from the colonial era to the modern era. Readings and related material will focus on the study of particular American places. Topics may include the American Revolution, slavery, urbanization, the rise of mass culture, the South after the Civil War, and the computer revolution.
 
303        The Making of Modern Baseball
            William Gleason, Department of English
            Scott Bradley, Department of Athletics
Modern baseball is a complex game, an international business, and a social and cultural touchstone. Combining a close study of the game’s past with a thorough analysis of its present, this seminar will examine the hows and whys of baseball’s evolution into the sport and industry it has become today. Central topics will include race and ethnicity (the breaking of the color line), labor and economics (the advent of free agency), globalization (the international game), geography (expansion and franchise relocation), architecture and public policy (stadium design and funding), as well as community and culture (journalism, statistical analysis).
 
310 (HIS 475)     America in the Age of Reagan: From Watergate to the War on Terror
                        Sean Wilentz, Department of History
The past forty years have been a profoundly conservative era in American history. Without question, Ronald Reagan was the central figure in the conservative ascendancy of the 1970s and 1980s which fixed the terms for political debate in the 1990s and after. Yet the character and impact of the so-called Reagan Revolution – including just how conservative it really was – remain matters of intense controversy. This seminar will examine the key changes and continuities in American politics, economics, culture and society from the Watergate crisis to today’s War on Terror. With a combination of primary and secondary readings as well as selected films, we will also attempt to see how possible it is to treat the recent past and even the present historically – undertaking what the historian and critic Theodore Draper called “present history” in order to make sense of the contemporary world with the sorts of questions and reasoning that historians employ in making sense of the more distant past.
 
329/SOC 329      Immigrant America
                        Alejandro Portes, Department of Sociology
This course will review historical and contemporary evidence of U.S-bound international migration. It will examine its types and the forms of economic, political, and linguistic adaptation of immigrant groups to American Society. Other topics will be the role of religion and the character and forms of assimilation of
the second generation.
 
334/ JDS 334     Growing Up Jewish in America, 1880s-1960s
                          Jenna Weissman-Joselit, Visiting Professor of History

Ever since the late 19th century, American Jewish children have grappled with the challenges and possibilities of being heir to two traditions.  For some, growing up Jewish in America was a blessing, for others a burden and for still others it was of little consequence.  This seminar explores the nature of American Jewish childhood and adolescence between the 1880s and the 1960s and the personal, literary, religious and institutional responses it generated. Topics include the bar and bat mitzvah, summer camping, college life and romance.
 
338 (AAS 308)      Great Moments in Black Existentialism
                            Colson Whitehead, Center for African American Studies and Creative Writing

Using novels, plays, essays, and occasional forays into film and music, we’ll examine shifting concepts of black male identity in 20th century pop culture. The people in these texts are outlaws, exiles and iconoclasts, gangsters, hipsters and reluctant heroes. How do these different versions of the outsider tackle ideas of North and South, the City, the role of the artist in society? How does the face of rebellion change in the 1920s, the 50s and the 90s?
 
350 (WWS 325)    Civil Society and Public Policy
                           Stanley N. Katz, Woodrow Wilson School
 
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.
 
359 (AAS 309)    From Negro to Black: African Americans and the 1970s
                        Noliwe Rooks, Center for African American Studies
 
Using film, primary documents, literature, art, and secondary sources, this course explores the ten-year period between the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 and 1978, when the Supreme Court case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action. This decade marks one of the most turbulent periods in American history and radical changes impacting the political, religious, artistic, legal and educational cultures of Black people occurred.
 
400 (ENG 400)/WOM 403            Latina/o Sexualities
                                                Ricardo Montez, Society of Fellows
 
This course examines the study of sexuality as it pertains to the production and representation of Latina/o identities. Through an analysis of Latina/o literature and scholarship, students will critically engage the ways in which Latina/o sexuality has been taken up as an exotic and radical departure from foundation work on gender and sexuality. Sexuality will be studied in its plurality, examining multiple imaginings of Latina/o sexuality through fiction, performance theory, queer Latina/o critiques, and studies on emerging Latino masculinities.

Spring

320 (JDS 316)/CHV 316          The Ten Commandments in Modern America
                                                Jenna Weissman Joselit, Visiting Professor of History
 
In contemporary America, few issues are as hotly debated as religion, especially when it comes to the Ten Commandments. Drawing on literature and the media (both old and new), the arts and the law, this course contextualizes and historicizes the current debate, which has reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It explores the variety of ways in which this ancient text has left its mark on American of the 20th and 21st centuries.
 
330/AAS 331  Roll Over Beethoven: Black Rock and Cultural Revolt
                                    Kandia Crazy Horse, Anschutz Distinguished Fellow
This course will cover the major black artists who contributed to rock & roll from Ike Turner to the Afro-Punk movement. A survey of these contributors will engage students in discovery of the genre’s often-overlooked history, via the development and application of critical skills to interpret Africana music culture and aesthetics. Examination of recorded works, music criticism texts, films and other assorted media and guest lecturers will augment traditional scholarship about the evolution of this subculture from its explosion in segregated 1950s America to its current 21st century revival.
 
344       Suburban Nation: The Rise and Sprawl of Modern American Suburbs
            Kevin Kruse, Department of History
This seminar will explore the many meanings of suburbia in modern American history. First, we will examine the onset of the urban crisis and the attendant rise of suburbia as an attractive alternative for many. We will then focus on the ways in which the movement to suburbs intersected with the civil rights movement. Finally, we will examine how a diverse array of social and political movements of the postwar era – from liberal causes like feminism and environmentalism to the mobilization of modern conservatism – sprang from suburbia.
 
345/WOM 347        Women’s Leadership in Modern America
          Karen Y. Jackson-Weaver, Associate 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 contexts of the civil rights and women's movements. Drawing upon a myriad of primary sources including speeches, autobiographical 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.
 
346/SOC 341/LAS 336            Latinos in American Life and Culture
                                                Marta Tienda, Woodrow Wilson School
 
This seminar will consider how Latinos are transforming the United States even as they evolve as a people. We will discuss Hispanicity as a hybrid ethno-racial identity, debate the ethical dilemmas posed by undocumented immigration, evaluate the social implications of Hispanics’ unprecedented geographic dispersal, and explore what the burgeoning second generation portends for the future contours of social and economic inequality, future political influence, and the cultural imprints through music, literature and bilingualism.
 
365 (ENG 365)/JDS 365         American Jewish Writers
                                                Esther Schor, Department of English
Reading fiction, poetry, and essays from the 18th to the 21st centuries, we will examine how American Jewish writers have left a mark both on American letters and on Jewish literature. Topics include immigration and assimilation; city Jews; Jewish feminism; secularity vs. religious observance; and the Jew in multicultural America. Texts include films, video, and song lyrics as well as Yiddish-language poetry in English translation.
 
375/ ART 375               Defining Moments in American Culture
                                   John Wilmerding, Department of Art and Archaeology, Emeritus
A focused look at three key turning points in American history: 1800, 1850, and 1900. The course will study selected expressions in art, politics, literature, and science or technology to see how they embody national aspirations or anxieties of each period. Two continuing themes will receive special attention: the consciousness of self and of nature in American culture.
 
381 (AAS 381)         Social Change and the City: Education, Environmental Justice and         Social Entrepreneurship
                              Noliwe Rooks and Andrew Seligsohn, Center for African American Studies
 
This seminar examines entrepreneurial approaches to addressing urban inequality, with a special emphasis on Trenton. Focusing on education and environmental justice, we consider innovative responses that seek to effect social change. Drawing on theoretical and historical scholarship, along with case studies, students will explore organizations and experiments such as the Black Panther Party, the SNCC Freedom Schools, the Algebra Project, the Industrial Areas Foundation, and Sustainable South Bronx. In collaboration with the Community Based Learning Initiative, the seminar will also offer students the opportunity to conduct hands-on research assessing the feasibility of various approaches to solving urban problems. Our central purpose will be to understand the conditions under which attempts to move from critique to sustainable solutions succeed and fail.
 
397 (AAS 397) Colonialism and the Third World
                                     Jose Emmanuel Raymundo, Center for African American Studies
 
This course will investigate the influence of colonialism in the emergence of the "Third World" or the political alliance by African and Asian countries who sought an alternative to American liberal capitalism and Soviet communist dictatorship. This course will examine the relationship between newly decolonized countries and their former colonial masters to understand how colonial relationships were reconfigured in the mid-20th century. What did these new relationships mean for race, class and gender relations along regional, national and global scales?