Spring 2023 Undergraduate Courses in American Studies

Courses are listed by campus.

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

MWF, 12:20-1:10pm,  AMST class # 7347

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. Quizzes on major readings plus a midterm and a paper on the final two texts will be required.

Instructor:  Wayne Franklin

AMST / CLCS / HEJS 2204   Jewish Culture in American Film

Tu 3:30-6:60pm, AMST class # 7955

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.

Instructor: Grae Sibelman

AMST / ENGL 2207     Empire and U.S. Culture

MWF 10:10-11:00am,  AMST class # 14944

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.

Instructor: Jerry Phillips

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

Tu Th 11:00-12:15,  AMST class # 14946

This course has been designed around three guiding principles. First, disabled people have voice and agency. Both speaking and non-speaking disabled people have a great deal to say and have the desire and ability to shape their own lives. We will start the semester with disability narratives (e.g. Disability Visability edited by Alice Wong; El Deafo by CeCe Bell) that reinforce this concept and spend time on Disability Twitter to explore the activism there. This will include following activists and issues on Twitter as well as creating Twitter threads based on what you have learned. Second, disability is a socially constructed concept. In other words, the meaning of disability is neither stable nor self-evident. We will explore readings from Disability Studies that explore and excavate these observations. Third and finally, expertise is meant to be shared. While many students understand their professor to be the only audience for their work, this class will provide opportunities to invite other students and the general public to benefit from what you have learned. Our 15 pages of revised writing may include a personal reflection on disability narrative as a genre, an annotated bibliography on a disability related topic of your choice, and a researched essay based in our work on Twitter.  CA1, CA4.

Instructor:  Tolonda Henderson

AMST / ENGL 2276W  American Utopias and Dystopias

Tu 5:00-6:15pm, AMST class # 14955

Interdisciplinary approaches to American utopian and dystopian literature of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.  CA 1.

Instructor:  Leigh Grossman

AMST / POLS 3082     Critical Race Theory as Political Theory

Tu Th 2:00-3:15pm,  AMST class # 

“Critical race theory” is a body of scholarship that contests predominant understandings and usages of racial identities and institutions. Narrowly construed, the term refers to left-leaning legal scholarship on race. Broadly construed, “critical race theory” is practiced by thinkers outside law schools, social movement activists, and media producers. This course concerns critical race theory about North America by scholars in North America: Glen Coulthard, Alfonso Gonzales, Claire Kim, Ruth Gilmore, and Ian Haney López.

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 (e.g. Dené, Mexican American, Chinese American). Part two is about the U.S. legal construction of race. Here Ian Haney López and Ruth Gilmore will argue that the U.S. legal system plays a central role in the creation and perception of racial identities (e.g. “white citizenship” and “black criminality”).

Professor: Fred Lee


AMST 3265W:  Methods in American Studies

Tu Th 9:30-10:15, AMST class # 10567

AMST 3265 takes students through the research process. Students will select a topic of their own interest, develop a research prospectus, and then complete and present their findings at the close of term. A mixture of class meetings and one-on-one tutorials support students throughout the term.

Instructor:  Matthew McKenzie

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

Tu Th 2:00-3:15pm, AMST class # 15944

“Disability in American Literature and Culture” will provide an overview of how disability studies have shifted the landscape and narrative surrounding representations of disability. We will read several texts about disability representation and will explore novels, memoirs, photography, and film in our attempt to better grasp the ways in which disability appears as a narrative that commonly erases disabled people and their experiences. The course will involve two substantial papers, a short multimodal project, and regular participation.

Instructor: Jacob Horn

AMST 3265W:  Methods in American Studies (“Memoirs of Migration and Diaspora”)

Tu Th 11:00-12:15, AMST class # 12084

This course will investigate methods for studying first-person accounts of migration and diaspora (including forced migration) from the 18th-century to the 21st. We will consider how stories of movement, encounter, and “a world elsewhere” challenge and reframe our understanding of America and the field of American Studies. Texts will include long-form autobiography, graphic memoir, film, radio stories, and one comedy special by writers and creators moving to and within the United States from Europe, Central America, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, and Argentina. Course texts are available here https://uconn.bncollege.com/course-material-listing-page?bypassCustomerAdoptions=true.

Instructor:  Sam Sommers


AMST / AASI / HIST 3531    Japanese Americans and World War II

Wed 3:30-6:00pm, AMST class # 12093

This course examines the events leading to martial law and Executive Order 9066, the wartime experiences of Japanese Americans, and the consequences of this important (but often forgotten) episode of American history.  Using a multidisciplinary approach, students will be exposed to and make use of a variety of resources including traditional texts, documentary films, memoir, government documents and other primary sources, as well as fiction.  Students will not only become familiar with the internment period but will explore and analyze various questions, including those of racism and justice, related to the treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII.  CA1, CA4.

Instructor: Tina Reardon