Fall 2021 Courses in American Studies

Courses are listed by campus.  Please note that due to COVID, students may be eligible to take classes virtually, and thus more easily enroll in classes at multiple campuses.

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

MWF 11:15-12:05, AMST class #6952

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.   Note: topics examined during the semester will include the period known as “the nadir of race relations in the United States, 1890s-1940s,” major league baseball, college athletics, and private detective novels.

Professor: Richard Testa

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

TuTh 2:00-3:15pm,  AMST class #11143

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). 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. Primary readings are drawn from recorded Indigenous mythic and historic texts, travel accounts originally written in various European languages (e.g., French, Spanish, Dutch, German, and English), works centered on indigenous-Euro-American contact and conflict, social history documents of literary value, key political documents, and poetry, early fiction and autobiography. Reaction papers on major texts plus a midterm and a reading journal on the final two texts will be required.

Professor:  Wayne Franklin

AMST / ENGL 2274W     Disability in American Literature and Culture

Th 5:00-6:15pm, AMST class #9740

An interdisciplinary examination of the symbolic roles of disability and the social implications of those roles.  CA 1.  CA4.

Professor: Anna Mae Duane

AMST / ENGL 2276W    American Utopias and Dystopias

MoWeFr  9:05-9:55, AMST class #13066

This course focuses mostly on recent dystopian novels but also includes short selections from The Utopia Reader (second edition, edited by Claeys and Sargeant) to provide some understanding of the long history of the utopian tradition. Then we dig into stories, often terrifying, 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); the experience of a sole human survivor tormented by memories while surrounded by posthumans (Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake); a zombie novel set in an America where capitalism has run amuck (Colson Whitehead’s Zone One); a cautionary tale about landing the perfect Silicon Valley job (Dave Eggers’s The Circle); and an “ambiguous utopia” contrasting capitalist and anarchist societies (Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed). The reading runs around 200 pages per week, and additional requirements are based on its timely completion: four one-page position papers (20% of final grade), midterm (20%), final (20%), regular quizzes at the start of class (20%), and discussion (20%).

Professor:  Clare Eby

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

MW  9:05-10:20am, AMST class #13375

McKenzie’s section of AMST 1201 analyzes the different ways coastal southern New England has been “constructed” through time.  Starting with geology and ecology, the course tasks student with exploring how different economic, racial, political, ethnic, and cultural forces define the region to the present day.

Professor: Matthew McKenzie

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

MWF  1:25-2:15pmAMST class #14384

An examination of the early written and oral culture of the area that eventually became the United States.  Readings will hopefully be coordinated with events and performances at Hartford-area cultural institutions. Ideally, in this hybrid course, Monday and Wednesday classes will be in-person, and Friday class will be online.  Assessments will include two short papers, one longer paper, and informed class participation.

Professor: Gregory Kneidel

AMST / HIST 2810:  Crime, Policing, and Punishment in the United States

MWF  1:25-2:15pmAMST class #14384

How do we police and punish crime in a democratic society? This course will explore how the answer to that question has changed over time, and how historians have understood the growth and impact of a carceral system that made the United States the global leader in incarceration. This course traces three interwoven narratives throughout the semester: political development of criminal justice institutions, how American culture and contexts shapes and influence understandings of criminalization, and the lived experience of carcerality. Through a critical exploration of histories of crime, policing, and imprisonment from Reconstruction to the present, topics of study will include police tactics and technologies, convict leasing, prisoner rights movements, juvenile delinquency, drug wars, mass incarceration, and reform and abolition movements and how these topics connect to broader histories of progressivism, urbanization, inequality, and the growth of the American state.

Professor:  Melanie Newport

AMST / ENGL 3265W:  American Studies Methods

TuTh  2:00-3:15pmAMST class #14350

In-depth study of an event, historical period, or cultural production from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Professor:  Jacob Horn

AMST 1201 / ENGL 1201 / HIST 1503

MW 9:05-10:20am, AMST class #2616

What is an American? A multi-disciplinary inquiry into the diversity of American societies and cultures.

Professor:  TBA

AMST/ AASI 2201:  Introduction to Asian American Studies

W 3:35-6:05pm,  AMST class #2571

Multidisciplinary in approach, this course will introduce students to the major themes and historical events that help define the Asian American experience. Students will be exposed to a variety of resources including lectures, readings (scholarly analysis, historical documents, memoir, and fiction), and film. Although the course will focus primarily on the experience of Chinese, Japanese and South Asian Americans, students will also explore the experiences of other Asian American immigrants (including those from the Philippines, Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) and investigate the resurgence of and growing visibility of anti-Asian prejudice and violence in contemporary American society.

Professor:  Christina Reardon

AMST/ ENGL / HIST 2207:  Empire and U.S. Culture

TuTh 11:00-12:15pm,  AMST class #2592

Throughout its history, America’s cultural, economic, and political ambitions have significantly impacted people both outside and within its borders. The effects of American actions and the resulting cross-border influences can be seen by exploring the examples of the United States’ involvement in the Pacific and Asia. This course will focus on Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, and Vietnam and an investigation of transnationalism as it relates to these nations. A variety of sources will be used including scholarly texts, historical records, fiction, memoir, and film.

Professor:  Christina Reardon

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

Tu 3:30-6:00pm, AMST class#12884

An interdisciplinary examination of the symbolic roles of disability and the social implications of those roles.  CA 1.  CA4.

Professor:  Brenda Brueggemann

AMST / URBN 2400:   City and Community in Film

Dates and Times TBA,  AMST class #2569

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