Fall 2019 Courses in American Studies

Courses are listed by campus.

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

TuTh  2:00-3:15pm, AMST class #13157
As a basic introduction to the key issues of the field of American Studies, this course will explore such topics as: the role of space in American history; the role of immigration across history; the interplay of the arts with social and political ideas; the place of race, gender, class, and ethnicity now and in the past; patterns of everyday life; and architecture and material culture generally.  Authors will include Frederick Douglass, Sarah Orne Jewett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Leslie M. Silko.
Professor: Wayne Franklin

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

MWF  11:15-12:05,  AMST class #6366
What does it mean to be American? This section introduces ways of examining the United States while investigating popular literature and television. How has this country imagined itself in fiction? Students will be introduced to the practice of American Studies; the course is designed to teach students how to critically analyze United States culture and society.
Professor: Richard Testa

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

TuTh 3:30-4:45,  AMST class #19091
This course will examine the early written and oral record of what eventually became the United States. Our readings will be drawn from a variety of sources: 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. Secondary readings on Husky CT will serve to illuminate the cultural contexts within which the primary texts were created. We also will consider 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 rich 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 / AASI 2201:  Introduction to Asian American Studies

TuTh 12:30-1:45pm, AMST class #13610
According to recent U.S. Census figures, Asian Americans, including long-time residents and newcomers, are the fastest growing racial minority population in the United States. Asian immigrants and refugees now make up about half of the people immigrating to the United States. Their histories, cultures, and experiences are crucial to understanding both historical and contemporary formations of American citizenship, identities, and values.  This course is an introduction to the field of Asian American Studies, an interdisciplinary field of inquiry that uses histories, films, memoirs, and other texts to study how the history of immigration, exclusion, and naturalization laws has visibly shaped existing Asian American communities and identities, and how “Asian America” is central to a more general understanding of American culture and public life.
Professor:  Na-Rae Kim

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

TuTh  11:00-12:15, AMST class #13254
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 / ENGL 2274W:  Disability in American Literature and Culture

TuTh  5:00-6:15pm, AMST class #10696
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.” 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  3570:  History and Theory of Digital Art

TuTh 12:30-1:45pm, AMST class#10699
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

TuTh 8:00-9:15am, AMST class #10586

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

TuTh 9:30-10:45am, AMST class #10587

This course is an exploration of the myriad relationships between law and popular culture, where popular culture is treated simultaneously as a reflection, a distortion, and a shaper of law and legal practice.

Professor: Jeffrey Dudas

AMST/ENGL 2276W  American Utopias and Dystopias

TuTh  9:30-10:45am,  AMST class #16231
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 today about the past and the future?  This is a W course, so we’ll be doing lots of writing, peer reviewing, and revising. There will be an optional creative piece as well. Novels will include Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood, M.T. Anderson’s Feed, and Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.
Professor: Pamela Bedore

AMST/ENGL 3502:  Colonial America: Native Americans, Slaves, and Settlers, 1492-1760

MW 10:10-11:25am,  AMST class #13701
This course explores from different perspectives the transformation of North American communities following European contact and invasion. Weaving together social, cultural, political, and environmental history methods, we will analyze how competing motives, goals, and ambitions of Native American societies, European empires, and settler communities interacted to create a whole new world—for Native Americans and Europeans alike—in the lands we call North America..
Professor:  Matthew McKenzie

AMST 1700 (Honors):  American Landscapes

Wed 1:25-4:00pm, AMST class #13098
The Connecticut River is the main artery and psychological lifeblood of New England. Four hundred ten miles from its source on the United States/Canadian border to its merger with the Atlantic Ocean in the Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River Watershed Council has characterized it as a great Main Street, that " runs through the lives and livelihoods of the people and communities of the Connecticut RiverValley. New England’s mightiest river, the Connecticut stands at the heart of this region’s human settlement and commerce; it is at the core of its history and culture; and it represents the essence of its environmental quality and economic vitality.” In this course, we examine different ways of thinking about this foundational natural landmark: geologically; historically; environmentally; as an economic resource; a transportation network; a focus of literature and artistic expression; as a recreational and tourism resource; and as a source of water and power.  We seek, ultimately, to fully answer just one question: WHAT IS THE CONNECTICUT RIVER?
Professor: Walter Woodward

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

MW 9:05-10:20am, AMST class #12237
What is an American? A multi-disciplinary inquiry into the diversity of American societies and cultures.
Professor:  Patrick Russell

AMST/AASI 2201:  Introduction to Asian American Studies

W 3:35-6:05pm, AMST class #13755
A multidisciplinary introduction to major themes in Asian American Studies. Concepts of identity and community, migration and labor histories, Asians and the law, representations of Asians in visual and popular culture, gender issues, interracial and interethnic relations, and human rights. CA 1. CA 4.
Professor:  Christina Reardon

AMST/URBN 2400:  City and Community in Film

Online course.  AMST class #13730
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

AMST/ENGL 3265W:  American Studies Methods (U.S. Culture in the 1960s)

M 6:30-9:00pm,  AMST class #13712
In the 1960s, life in the United States turned. The decade began with an aging war hero occupying the White House, and two young, articulate presidential candidates, whose respective fortunes would rise and fall in reverse order. It was a decade that entertained many “truths” so-called at the start, a button down world in clothing and culture, and a counterculture at the end.  This seminar will examine the significant changes that took place in the 1960s, from the enthusiasm at the beginning, with a new President, a space program, and the Peace Corps, to the civil rights demonstrations, and rioting at the end. Throughout most of the decade, the pall of war hung over the country. The matters we will explore include the politics of the time, the war in Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis, civil rights, the women’s movement, the Warren court and television.  We will examine these topics against the backdrop of U.S. history, the Constitution, political science, speech, journalism, novels and culture.
Professor:  Thomas Hogan