AMS 101

America Then and Now


Ali Adam Valenzuela, William Albert Gleason, Patricia Fernández-Kelly

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.

AAS 306 / AMS 305

Topics in Race and Public Policy


This seminar uses and interrogates social science methodologies in examining the condition of the American state and American institutions and practices. With an analysis of race and ethnicity at the center, students will examine the development of institutions and practices, with the growth and formation of racial and ethnic identities, including changing perceptions, measures, and reproduction of inequality.

MUS 260 / AMS 309

Music Traditions in North America


Mari Jo Velasco

This course will delve into the many historical themes, social issues, and musical aspects that arise from surveying and comparing the diverse musical traditions of Mexico, the U.S., and Canada.

DAN 321 / AMS 328

Special Topics in Dance History, Criticism, and Aesthetics


This course focuses on the history, criticism, and aesthetics of dance as a theatrical art form and/or a social practice. Topics might include an examination of dance through personal, aesthetic, religious, social, and/or political lenses. Classes will be augmented by film, videos, music, guest speakers, occasional demonstrations, and studio work. One three-hour seminar.

ENG 368 / AMS 340

American Literature: 1930-Present


Lee Clark Mitchell

A study of modern American writings, from Faulkner to Diaz, that emphasize the interplay between formal experimentation and thematic diversity. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

CWR 345 / AMS 345 / GSS 383

Special Topics in Creative Writing


Students gain special access to the critical understanding of literature through their involvement in the creative process. Topics include autobiography, prosody, non-fiction, revision and point of view. Students are expected to prepare a manuscript at least every other week. Specific topics and prerequisites will vary. By application.

SPI 385 / AMS 350

Civil Society and Public Policy


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. One three-hour seminar.

ENG 356 / AMS 359 / JDS 377

Topics in American Literature


Esther Helen Schor, Deborah Epstein Nord, Maria A. DiBattista

An investigation of issues outside the scope of traditional surveys of American literature. Topics may include: definitions of "America," literature of the South, contemporary poetry, New Historicism, America on film, the Harlem Renaissance, the Vietnam War, the sentimental novel, colonial encounters, literature of the Americas, fictions of empire, Jewish American writers. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

HIS 374 / AMS 360

History of the American West


Martha A. Sandweiss

The history of the place we now know as the U. S. West, from European contact to the mid-twentieth century. Primary focus on the struggles over access to land, resources, and power in old and new Wests, with particular attention given to the role of visual and popular culture in shaping the national imagination of the region. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

REL 360 / GSS 360 / AMS 369

Women and American Religion


Judith Weisenfeld

An exploration of women's roles and experiences, and constructions of gender in diverse settings within North American religion. The seminar will examine female religious leaders and participants in such subcultures as Puritanism, evangelicalism, Catholicism, Judaism, African American Protestantism, native traditions, and American Islam. Emphasis on the dilemmas faced by women in religious institutions as well as the creative uses women have made of their social and religious "place." One three-hour seminar.

AAS 372 / ART 374 / AMS 372

Postblack - Contemporary African American Art


Chika O. Okeke-Agulu

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. Postblack suggests 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 involves critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art, and will provide an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade.

REL 377 / AAS 376 / AMS 378

Race and Religion in America


Judith Weisenfeld

This course examines the ways in which constructions of race have shaped how varied Americans have constructed religious identities and fostered religious experience, as well as made meaning of the religions of others. Topics addressed include American intrepretations of race in the Bible, religion and racial slavery, religious constuctions of whiteness, and religious resistance to notions of race. Readings are drawn from a range of primary and secondary sources.

HIS 388 / URB 388 / AMS 380 / AAS 388

Unrest and Renewal in Urban America


Alison Ellen Isenberg

From the colonial era to the present, this course weaves together a comprehensive history of American cities and suburbs, cutting across social life, politics, economics, culture, and the built environment. Topics include urban planning and design, public and private spaces, social experience, urban investment and disinvestment, the metropolitan economy, politics and policy, arts and culture, city leadership, and the participation of ordinary people in shaping urban and suburban life.

REL 257 / AMS 397

Religion and American Film


Judith Weisenfeld

The controversy over Mel Gibson's [The Passion of the Christ] sits in a long history of complex interactions between religious Americans and popular movies. In this course we explore the politics of representing religion at key moments in American film and religious history. We consider how movies provide unique insight into aspects of American religious life and how representations of religion reveal the shifting contours of constructions of American identity. Topics include: censorship; representations of religious, ethnic, and racial minorities; gender, sexuality, and religion; recent filmmaking strategies of religious groups.

ENG 401 / AMS 400

Forms of Literature


Lee Clark Mitchell

Each term course will be offered in special topics of English and American literature. One three-hour seminar.

AMS 403

Advanced Seminar in American Studies


Anne Cheng, Hendrik Arnold Hartog

This is an experimental and collaborative seminar that will explore selected sites and episodes in the history of property relations in America. We are as interested in hoarding as in wealth production, blood as well as land, cultural identities as well as corporations. The focus is relentlessly interdisciplinary, bringing together legal cases, ethnographies, novels, poems, films, buildings, maps, and other cultural products. The seminar will offer several opportunities for students to "do" American Studies through the lens of property law and property conflicts.

AMS 404 / ASA 404 / LAO 404 / THR 404

Advanced Seminar in American Studies


Brian Eugenio Herrera

This course offers an intensive introduction to the particular tools, methods and interpretations employed in developing original historical research and writing about race and ethnicity in twentieth century popular performance (film, television, theater). Through collaborative, in-depth excavations of several genre-straddling cultural works, course participants will rehearse relevant methods and theories (of cultural history, of race and ethnicity, of popular culture/performance) and will undertake an independent research project elaborating the course's guiding premise and principles of practice.

AMS 406 / THR 447 / DAN 406

Advanced Seminar in American Studies


Judith Hamera

Performance studies offers creative interdisciplinary methods to American Studies. This capstone seminar uses foundational and recent performance studies scholarship in American, Asian American, and Latinx Studies as models for archival, oral history, and ethnographic research and analysis. We will also investigate performance as a mode of academic production. Students will apply performance studies methods to their own areas of interest. No performance experience necessary.

ENG 411 / AMS 411 / AAS 413

Major Author(s)


Eduardo Lujan Cadava, R. N. Sandberg

A close study of the works of one or two authors. May include Austen, Dickinson, Wordsworth, George Eliot, Dickens, Melville, Faulkner, James, Stevens, or Woolf, among others. Two 90-minute seminars.