Spring 2020 Courses in American Studies

Courses are listed by campus.

AMST-ENGL 1201 / HIST 1503: Introduction to American Studies

TuTh  12:30-1:45pm, AMST class #9344
This course serves as an introduction to American Studies, a method of studying U.S. culture that brings together techniques and materials from across a wide range of disciplines and interdisciplines such as history, literature, political science, political economy, ethnic studies, art history, gender studies, and media studies. In this particular section, we will apply this method to the study of social movements in 20th century U.S. history, and how these movements, often beginning on the fringes, have transformed beliefs, policies, and institutions in the American mainstream. Specifically, we will focus on movements of the political left and the political right that have helped to create the present historical moment. If we look at movements of the last century, we can better understand a present moment marked by Trumpism and the alt-right that co-exists in the same culture as values of diversity, racial equality, and even socialism (the appeal of the latter, as we will explore, is not new in the United States). Some of your assignments will ask you to examine the pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, and (later) websites that these movements produced in order to get an overall sense of their programs, their appeals to their memberships, and their places in history.
Professor: Chris Vials

AMST / ENGL 2200:  Literature and Culture of North America before 1800

MWF 10:10-11:00,  AMST class #13634
This course examines the early written and oral record of the area that eventually became the United States. It does so within the context of various non-textual analogues (e.g., architecture, art, landscape, material culture, and social, economic, and political institutions) that will be introduced during weekly discussions and mini-lectures. The goal is to achieve a holistic understanding of the ways in which peoples of many varied backgrounds, from the Asian-derived indigenous inhabitants of North America to the various immigrant populations from continental Europe and the British Isles and the enslaved Africans they introduced to the Western hemisphere, came to express their views of the land and their experiences on it and with each other.
Professor:  Wayne Franklin

AMST 2204:  Jewish Culture in American Film

Tu 3:30-6:30pm,  AMST class #17019
In this course we will examine how Jewish culture has been represented in American films. We will take a closer look at the social factors that contributed to choices that were made in depictions of Jews and Jewish life, and the way in which these films/characters portray the diversity of Jewish culture in its historical, religious, and secular facets. We will explore not only how societal viewpoints shaped Jewish representation on the screen, but also the ways in which Jewish representation on the screen might have attempted to shape societal views. The course is arranged topically and will address issues such as anti-Semitism, assimilation, Jewish comedy, the Holocaust, Zionism, Israel, Jewish identity, representation of women, and the American Jewish experience.
Professor: Grae Sibelman

AMST / ENGL 2276:   American Utopias and Dystopias

TuTh 2:00-3:15pm, AMST class #13635
This course focuses mostly on recent dystopian novels but begins with a series of short selections from The Utopia Reader (edited by Claeys and Sargeant) to provide some understanding of the long history of the utopian tradition. Then we dig into terrifying stories about a young Native American woman’s pregnancy during a time of escalating efforts to control reproduction (Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God), a zombie novel set in an America where capitalism has run amuck (Colson Whitehead’s Zone One), a Nazi takeover of America (Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America), a satire of social media, income inequality, and rampaging narcissism (Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story), a cautionary tale about landing the perfect job (Dave Eggers’s The Circle), and a haunting but surprisingly inspiring story about a man and boy walking through postapocalyptic America (Cormac McCarthy’s The Road). Requirements: four one-page position papers (20% of final grade), midterm (20%), final (20%), regular quizzes (20%), and discussion (20%).
Professor: Clare Eby

AMST / ENGL 3265W:  American Studies Methods: Fascism and Antifascism in the United States

TuTh 2:00-3:15,  AMST class #8951
his course aims to introduce you to American Studies research methods and to develop interdisciplinary writing skills by approaching a specific theme in US history and culture. In this section, we will explore the theme of fascism and antifascism, particularly how it has impacted the United States. Some questions we will explore are: what is fascism? How has it appeared in US history, and what impact has it had on this side of the Atlantic? Also, what is antifascism, and more broadly, what forces have checked the rise of fascism in the past?  After reviewing the historical fascisms of Germany, Italy, and Japan, we will turn to the United States.
Professor: Chris Vials


AMST / HIST 3568:  Hip-Hop, Politics, and Youth Culture in America 

TuTh 3:30-4:45pm,  AMST class #13636
This course examines the development of hip-hop and its manifestations in the realm of music, visual art, politics, and language in the United States. The course starts with the development of American popular culture in the 19th century and the centrality of race to its meaning. Through the emergence of blues, jazz, rock and roll, the course examines the development of African American musical traditions. The literary structure of hip-hop will be examined, as well as the social and political implications of the art. The course also studies the emergence of rap music in New York City in the mid-1970s through its evolution into a multi-billion dollar industry with wide-reaching influence. The dynamics of race, gender, youth, class and provincialism will be studied as well. The course will utilize various sources for analysis and information including videos, commercials, movies, songs and other multimedia.
Professor: Jeffrey Ogbar

AMST / POLS 3807: Constitutional Rights and Liberties

TuTh 9:30-10:45am, AMST class #10972

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: David Yalof

AMST/ENGL 1201, HIST 1503:  Introduction to American Studies

MW 9:05-10:20am,  AMST class #14745
What is an American? A multi-disciplinary inquiry into the diversity of American societies and cultures.
Professor:  Matthew McKenzie
No classes listed at the Hartford campus for Spring 2020