Spring 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

Distant Learning.  MWF 11:15-12:05, AMST class #8536
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 for this semester will be racism in post-Civil War America, private detective novels, and baseball.
Professor: Richard Testa

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

Online.   AMST class #10210
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 and a reading journal on the final two texts will be required.
Professor:  Wayne Franklin

AMST / CLCS / HEJS 2204     Jewish Culture in American Film

Distance Learning.  Tu 3:30-6:30pm,  AMST class #11116
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 2207   Empire and U.S. Culture

Online.  AMST class #13935
How the frontier and overseas ambitions have shaped U.S. institutions and culture. The impact of U.S. expansion on people outside its borders. These topics are explored through literary narratives and historical documents. CA 1. CA 4.
Professor:  Jerry Phillips

AMST / POLS 3082   Critical Race Theory as Political Theory

Distance Learning.  TuTh 3:30-4:45pm,  AMST class #13933

“Critical race theory” for our purposes is the study of how racial identities are socially defined and politically used. Narrowly construed, the term refers to left-leaning legal scholarship on race. More broadly, critical race theory is practiced by scholars outside the legal academy, social movement activists, and media producers. This course concerns critical race theory about North America by scholars in North America. Part one is about North American social movements. Here Glen Coulthard, Alfonso Gonzales, and Claire Kim will explore the promise and perils of movements mobilized around cultural and racial identities. Part two is about the U.S. legal construction of race. Here Ian Haney López and Michelle Alexander will argue that the U.S. legal system plays a central role in the creation and perception of racial identities.


Professor:  Fred Lee

AMST / ENGL 3265W:  American Studies Methods: Making Americans, Making Monsters: Reproductive Terror from the Colonial Moment until Today 

Distance Learning.  TuTh 11:00-12:15,  AMST class #8204
This class will examine the fear of the future that has recurred in American literature and culture from the colonial era until the present. Beginning with an analysis of archival material connected to the Salem Witch Trials, this interdisciplinary course will examine how science and fiction have often converged in Americans’ fraught relationship with reproducing itself. Texts will likely include, but are not restricted to, archival materials pertaining to the Salem Witch Trials, the eugenics movement, and posthumanism. We will also engage fictional texts and films by Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick and others.
Professor: Anna Mae Duane

AMST / POLS 3807: Constitutional Rights and Liberties

Distance Learning.  TuTh 9:30-10:45am, AMST class #9584

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

In Person.  MW 9:05-10:20am, AMST class #12095
McKenzie’s section of AMST 1201 focuses upon the social, cultural, ecological, and ideological construction of Coastal Southern New England. Viewing the coast from Provincetown to Peconic Bay as a distinct place, students will explore the region’s development from a workspace to wasteland to wilderness, and how the region came to be shaped Native American, European, and American tropes.
Professor: Matthew McKenzie

AMST/ENGL 2276W:  American Utopias and Dystopias 

Online.  AMST class #15123
The very notion of “America” is, arguably, bound up in utopian impulses. This course explores the importance of utopia in understanding America by asking several questions: What is utopia? What do we gain by understanding utopia as an impulse, a philosophical orientation, a literary or popular genre? What is the relationship of utopia to dystopia? To what degree do utopian and dystopian literature shape our thinking about the past, present, and future? We’ll read eight novels: one utopia—Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward; one dystopia—Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451; three novels that are hard to categorize—Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood (a trilogy), M.T. Anderson’s Feed, and Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One; and one post-apocalyptic novel—Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. We’ll look at several kinds of scholarship on these novels, including peer-reviewed articles, book and movie reviews, and a podcast. This is an asynchronous online class, so will include video lectures, open-book online reading quizzes that will point you to the key passages in each novel, and online discussion boards. It’s a W course, so will require three five-page papers and an open-book final exam. There will be short podcasts about writing, short informal writing assignments to prepare for the formal papers, and lots of opportunity to interact with your professor by email, phone, text-chat, or video-chat. This is a general education course that fulfills the CA1 requirement. It also counts towards the American Studies and English majors. I see it as a great course for anyone who is interested in understanding why dystopian and apocalyptic novels, films, and TV shows are so popular in the 21st century while utopian texts have all but disappeared.
Professor: Pam Bedore

AMST/ENGL 3265W:  American Studies Methods 

In Person.  TuTh 9:30-10:45am  AMST class#11952
This writing-intensive seminar introduces students to the field of Public History through studying the process by which decisions are made as to whether or not an artifact should be preserved at a museum. The final projects for the course will benefit from the skills and knowledge base from those discipline tracks that comprise the American Studies major and the Maritime Studies major (Anthropology; Economics; English; Geography; History; Political Science). Students will gain an overview of public history plus an experience in museum studies. This course includes development of skills including research, oral presentation, writing in several genres relevant to the discipline of Public History, revision of writing, and sensitivity to different audiences.
Professor: Mary Bercaw-Edwards
No AMST classes taught by Hartford campus faculty this semester.
No AMST courses taught by Waterbury campus faculty this semester