Fall 2020 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 #5832
In this particular section, we will use American Studies methods the study major 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.  We will look at movements on the left and the right in order to understand our contemporary political environment.  On the left, we will study the Popular Front of the 1930s, civil rights, the various movements of the late 1960s, AIDS activism in the 1980s, and finally, antifa.  On the right, we will study the Ku Klux Klan, Father Coughlin’s “Christian Front” in the 1930s, George Wallace’s third party presidential campaign in 1968, neoliberalism, and the alt-right.  As we do so, we will be mindful of how these U.S.-based political movements were shaped by global political currents, including fascism in Europe, anticolonial struggles in the global south, or communism in Asia and the USSR.  We will also study how economic structures frame the lived experiences out of which social movements emerge. .
Professor: Chris Vials

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

MWF 10:10-11:00,  AMST class #10902
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 / AASI 2201     Introduction to Asian American Studies

TuTh 11:00-12:15,  AMST class #10256
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. The course is organized chronologically. We will first begin with an introduction to the field of Asian American Studies by asking the questions: What is Asian America? What is Asian American Studies? We will then begin exploring the rich history of Asian migration to the United States beginning in the 19th century and the unprecedented debates over race, immigration, and citizenship that resulted, to contemporary issues such as Asian American activism, stereotypes, and popular culture. Throughout the semester, we will interrogate all of these issues by incorporating exercises that emphasize critical reading, thinking, and writing.
Professor:  Na-Rae Kim

AMST / ENGL 2276:   American Utopias and Dystopias

TuTh 8:00-9:15am, AMST class #13039
This course focuses mostly on recent dystopian novels but includes a number of short selections from The Utopia Reader (edited by Claeys and Sargeant) to provide some understanding of the long history of the utopian tradition. The contemporary novels will probably showcase the following harrowing stories:  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); an urban satire of social media, income inequality, and rampaging narcissism (Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story); a sole human survivor tormented by memories of life before the end, tasked with educating a gentle race of posthumans (Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake); and a haunting but 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%).  Because discussion is 20% of the final grade, this course is not a good fit for the silent types.
Professor: Clare Eby

AMST / ENGL 2274   Disability in American Literature and Culture

TuTh 5:00-6:15pm,  AMST class #8960

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

TuTh 2:00-3:15,  AMST class #13023
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 / ARTH 3570: History and Theory of Digital Art

Mon 4:00-6:30pm, AMST class #8962

At what point does information begin to mean?  Beginning in 2012, the Museum of Modern Art began “collecting” video games and emojis. Most recently, it acquired the “@” sign. What is digital art? Who decides? This online class investigates forms of digital and Internet art and the forgotten histories of the technologies behind them. Forms of digital and Internet art to be explored include games/gaming, surveillance art, cyberfeminism, data visualization, and crowd sourced art, among others.

 Professor:  Kelly Dennis

AMST / POLS 3807: Constitutional Rights and Liberties

TuTh 8:00-9:15am, AMST class #8903

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 11:00-12:15, AMST class #8904
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:  Jeff Dudas


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

MWF 1:25-2:15, AMST class #13400
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: the major topic for this semester will be Election Day, November 3, 2020; we will examine issues, advertisements, polling, and candidates’ and voters’ views of what it means to be an American in this age.
Professor: Rich Testa

AMST-ENGL 1201/HIST 1503   Introduction to American Studies

MW 9:05-10:20am,  AMST class #12809
What is America? What does it mean to be American? This course will approach these questions through an examination of both canonical and contemporary work in American Studies. We will explore critical key terms in the field, centering our investigation on the concept of citizenship by interrogating processes of nation-building and identity-formation in the United States. To this end, we will examine a multi-disciplinary and generically-diverse set of texts, from historical documents to popular music, film, and literature. Together, we will trace the topic of citizenship through American history, landing in points of rupture in our contemporary moment. This course will include a consideration of the rhetoric surrounding nation, citizenship, and diversity in the 2020 presidential race.
Professor:  Amy Fehr

AMST / AASI 2201     Introduction to Asian American Studies

TuTh 2:00-3:15pm,  AMST class #12939
Multidisciplinary in approach, the course will introduce students to the major themes and historical events in Asian American Studies using a variety of resources/media.  These will include 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 explore the experiences of other Asian American immigrants (including those from the Philippines, Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) through in-class work and individual research projects.
Professor:  Christina Reardon

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

W 3:35-6:05pm,  AMST class #13428
Throughout its history, America’s cultural, economic, and political ambitions have significantly impacted people both outside and within its borders.  The effects of American interaction and the resulting cross-border influence 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.    Over the course of 15 weeks, students will be led through an investigation of transnationalism as it relates to these nations and the exchanges of influence between these cultures and the United States.  A variety of sources will be used including scholarly texts, historical records, fiction, memoir, and film. Taught in a hybrid/blended format, students will meet with the instructor in a traditional, in-person classroom setting a number of  times over the course of the semester.  The rest of the course work will be conducted online using HuskyCT.
Professor:  Christina Reardon