Fall 2018 Courses in American Studies

Courses are listed by campus.

AMST 1201: Introduction to American Studies

MWF  11:15-12:05, #7260

What does it mean to be American? This course introduces ways of examining the United States while investigating significant historical and contemporary events and popular culture. How has America imagined itself through its history and culture? How does America imagine itself today? Students will also be introduced to the practice of American Studies; the course is designed to teach students to critically analyze United States culture and society.  A major theme for this semester will be the 2018 mid-term elections; we will examine commercials, interviews, polling, and candidates’ views of what it means to be an American in this age.

Professor: Richard Testa


AMST / MUSI 1002:  Sing and Shout!  The History of the United States in Song

Th  9:00-9:50am and 10:00-10:50am

Develop an understanding of American people, history and culture through the study and singing of American folk songs. CA 1. CA 4.

Professor: Mary Junda


AMST/ENGL 2274W:  Disability in American Literature and Culture

Tu Th  3:30-4:45pm

The term “freaks,” like so many other derogatory epithets, has come to have a two-fold meaning. Originally meant pejoratively, the word freak has been reclaimed by many within the disabled community as a badge of difference, as a mark of one’s identity, and as an indication of being extraordinary. In this course we will explore the ways in which the extraordinary body has been used culturally to help reinforce ideas of normality. We will ask how disability has been enfolded in depictions of various “others,” including African Americans, women and children. We will also consider how ideas of disability continue to evolve, and how our quest for perfection shapes everyone’s future.  In the process we will also be engaging a variety of theoretical questions that have material consequences on social policy, and the lives of people affected by those policies.

Professor: Anna Mae Duane


AMST / ARTH 3440W: Nineteenth Century American Art

Oak 267, Tu Th  11:00-12:15

This class examines the art of the long-nineteenth century with particular emphasis in how the visual culture of the period constructed concepts of nation, power, identity, citizenship, capitalism, and religion. This upper-level art history course investigates how ideas such as the United States, enslavement, the President, marriage, the Civil War, family, freedom, citizen, the West, native, and immigrant, formed through the paintings, prints, housewares, clothes, architecture, and photographs of the period. Finally, as a class we will question what exactly is “American” about “American Art” and whether the frame of “American Art” works as an artistic, intellectual, and ideological category.

Professor: Alexis Boylan


AMST / ARTH 3570:  History and Theory of Digital Art

Tu Th: 12:30-1:30pm

Most of the digital communications technologies in use today had their beginnings in Cold War era American military. But even in the earliest days at Bell Laboratories, programmers and inventors sought to make art with computers. This upper-division art history course investigates the role played by digital and electronic technologies in art and art making and the attendant impact on received modes of art’s production and reception.  How does art that utilizes or produces forms that are alterable, copied, or obsoletized by hard- and soft-ware upgrades affect longstanding ideals about authenticity, uniqueness, and materiality? How do we understand the public sphere for digital and Internet art’s reception? How have artists internationally responded to or adapted these technologies to confront and negotiate U.S. imperialism? Finally, how might artists maintain a critical stance while utilizing military, corporate, and consumer technologies to produce their art?

Professor: Kelly Dennis


AMST / POLS 3807: Constitutional Rights and Liberties

Tu Th 9:30-10:45am

The role of the Supreme Court in interpreting the Bill of Rights. Topics include freedoms of speech and religion, criminal due process, and equal protection.

Professor:  Virginia Hettinger


AMST / POLS 3822: Law and Popular Culture

MWF 11:15-12:05

Exploration of themes in the study of law and courts by contrasting scholarly work against representations of such themes in movies, television, and other media of popular culture.

Professor: Kimberly Bergendahl

AMST 1201: Introduction to American Studies

MWF 9:05-9:55am, ACD 311, #12717

McKenzie’s section of AMST 1201 focuses upon the construction of place and identity within the American experience. Using coastal southern New England as a focus, this course takes students through how the region has been constructed—physically, ethnographically, racially, economically, politically, and culturally—from the arrival of the first humans, through European invasion and settlement, to industrialization and the advent of the tourism industry. Using archaeology, art, writings, poetry, and the natural sciences students will create for themselves a multivalent, interdisciplinary understanding of the complexity embedded in our own back yards.

Professor: Matthew McKenzie


AMST 3542 / HIST 3542:  New England Environmental History

MWF 10:10-1:00am, ACD 309, #13995 (HIST)

New England Environmental History explores this region's relationships between people and the non-human world over the past millennium. Students explore the dialog between human land use and natural systems’ recolonization of abandoned fields; the couple economic systems New Englanders developed to accommodate the region’s limitations, and why New England enjoys a very different relationship today to natural resources and open spaces.

Professor: Matthew McKenzie

No courses in AMST for fall 2018.

AMST 1201: Introduction to American Studies

MW 9:05-10:20am, WTBY 218, #11498

What is an American? American Studies addresses this question but examines the American Experience from a variety of academic disciplines. While we cannot examine the whole of U.S. History in one semester, what we can do is look at several aspects of our nation’s journey, and study our country’s development from different perspectives. We will examine against the backdrop of the U.S. Constitution, History, Ethics, Political Science, Political Speech, Art, Literature, Film, Law and Journalism.

Professor: Thomas Hogan


AMST / URBN 2400: City and Community in Film


Aesthetics, history, and contemporary relevance of American films that feature the urban, suburban, and/or small town landscape as a major “character” shaping plot and story. Films read closely as texts that make meaning through a range of tools, including narrative, mise-en-scene, editing, camera work, and genre conventions. CA 1..

Professor: Ruth Glasser