AMST - American Studies

AMST 101 Introduction to American Studies

An interdisciplinary examination of some of the varieties of American experience, aimed at developing a functional vocabulary for further work in American Studies or related fields. After a brief review of American history, the course will direct its focus towards important moments in that history, investigating each of them in relation to selected cultural, historical, artistic, and political events, figures, institutions, and texts. Course topics include ethnic and gender studies, consumption and popular culture, urban and suburban life, and contemporary American literature.

Instructor

Jeffries

Prerequisites

This course is required of American Studies majors and should be completed before the end of the junior year.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

HS

AMST 120 Sport and Society

Commonplace understandings of sport tend to assign either an entertainment or recreational value to participation and attention paid to such activities. A closer look at competitive athletics reveals that its meaning and significance stretches far beyond entertainment and recreation. Sport studies tell us about ourselves and our society, as sport's impact extends to the business world, to community building and child socialization, to race, gender, and sexual politics. This course introduces the academic study of sport, touching on a wide range of topics primarily through a sociological lens. Students are encouraged to think critically about their own experiences and to follow current events and pop cultural debates about sports, in order to apply methods and theory from the readings to their everyday sports lives.

Instructor

Jeffries

Prerequisites

None

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

SBA

AMST 151 The Asian American Experience

An interdisciplinary introduction to the study of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing ethnic group in North America. Critical examination of different stages of their experience from "coolie labor" and the "yellow peril" to the "model minority" and struggles for identity; roots of Asian stereotypes; myth and reality of Asian women; prejudice against, among, and by Asians; and Asian contributions to a more pluralistic, tolerant, and just American society. Readings, films, lectures, and discussions.

Instructor

Lee (English)

Prerequisites

None

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

REP, HS

AMST 152 Race, Ethnicity, and Politics in America

The  politics of race and ethnicity in America are constantly shifting, due to demographic, political, and economic transformations. However, fundamental questions about the nature of racial and ethnic divisions in America help frame the investigation of race and ethnicity across historical contexts. Some of the questions that will guide our discussions are: Are racial and ethnic hierarchies built into American political life? Are episodes and regimes of racial injustice the result of economic structure or a shameful absence of political will? How do gender and class influence our understandings of racial and ethnic categorization and inequality? To what extent is racial and ethnic identification a matter of personal choice?

Instructor

Jeffries

Prerequisites

None

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

SBA

AMST 211 Contemporary Asian American Immigration and Food

Asian food is everywhere in America. But with its popularity, it has inevitably become commodified and adjusted for American taste. A cult of  "authenticity" fuels an industry that hawks $179 All-Clad woks and "Asian-style" recipes for anything with a soy sauce/ginger/sesame seed combination. This course uses food to examine the social, political, and economic forces of contemporary Asian-American immigration. How do national cuisines become popular? How do regional cuisines end up representing nations? Who defines Asian-American cuisine? Students will see that in particular cuisines and even within single dishes, the historical forces that shape immigration have a hand in our food.

Instructor

Orquiza

Prerequisites

None

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

SBA

AMST 212 Korean American Literature and Culture

This course introduces a group of mainly fictional writings by Korean-American writers. These are our main focus, but most class assignments will also include an article on some aspect of Korean-American experience. Videos will constitute another facet of the course. Not all videos are directly about Korean-Americans; if not, they represent the work of Korean-American producers, authors, and artists. Together, the three streams—literary writing, descriptive writing, and videos—aim to concoct a picture of the Korean-American experience since the beginning of the twentieth century, but with primary emphasis on the past two decades.

Instructor

Widmer (East Asian Languages and Literatures)

Prerequisites

None

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

LL

AMST 220 Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan

In what is often called American cinema’s “golden age”, the late 1960s through the 1970s, commercialism and creativity joined forces to produce artistically innovative, socially engaged works that revitalized Hollywood. We’ll study films that interpreted the decades’ contested topical issues (the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, feminism, Watergate, LGBT liberation) by considering the aesthetic trends, cultural influences, economic factors, and industrial and technological determinants that combined to make possible this period’s vital filmmaking. Screenings will likely include All the President’s Men, Annie Hall, Bonnie & Clyde, The Conversation, Girlfriends, Killer of Sheep, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Midnight Cowboy, Shampoo, and Taxi Driver.

Instructor

San Fillipo

Prerequisites

None

Cross Listed Courses

CAMS 211

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

ARS

AMST 240 The Rise of an American Empire: Wealth and Conflict in the Gilded Age

An interdisciplinary exploration of the so-called Gilded Age and the Progressive era in the United States between the Civil War and World War I, emphasizing both the conflicts and achievements of the period. Topics will include Reconstruction and African American experience in the South; technological development and industrial expansion; the exploitation of the West and resistance by Native Americans and Latinos; feminism, "New Women", and divorce; tycoons, workers, and the rich-poor divide; immigration from Europe, Asia, and new American overseas possessions; as well as a vibrant period of American art, architecture, literature, music, and material culture, to be studied by means of the rich cultural resources of the Boston area.

Instructor

Fisher

Prerequisites

None

Cross Listed Courses

ENG 266-01-S

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

LL, HS

AMST 249 Celebrity, Fame, and Fortune

A critical examination of the concept of status in sociological and social-scientific thinking. Focus on the historical rise of fame and its transformation into celebrity in the modern era. The relationship of status and violence. The meaning of sudden changes in good and bad fortune as attributes of status, including contemporary examples such as lottery winners, disgraced politicians, and media-driven attention to the powerful and pathetic. Fame and celebrity among women and minorities. The psychopathologies of leadership and conformity in political, religious, and educational institutions.

Prerequisites

One 100-level unit or permission of instructor.

Cross Listed Courses

SOC 249

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

SBA

AMST 274 Rainbow Cowboys (and Girls): Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality in Westerns

Westerns, a complex category that includes not only films but also novels, photographs, paintings, and many forms of popular culture, have articulated crucial mythologies of American culture from the nineteenth century to the present. From Theodore Roosevelt to the Lone Ranger, myths of the trans-Mississippi West have asserted iconic definitions of American masculinity and rugged individualism. Yet as a flexible, ever-changing genre, Westerns have challenged, revised, and subverted American concepts of gender and sexuality. Westerns have also struggled to explain a dynamic and conflictive "borderlands" among Native Americans, Anglos, Latinos, Blacks, and Asians. This team-taught, interdisciplinary course will investigate Westerns in multiple forms, studying their representations of the diverse spaces and places of the American West and its rich, complicated, and debated history.

Instructor

Creef, Fisher

Prerequisites

None

Cross Listed Courses

WGST 274

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

SBA

AMST 286 New Literatures

Topic for 2012-13: Lesbian and Gay Writing from Sappho to Stonewall

This course will explore significant lesbian and gay literature from classical times to the present, including contemporary transformations of society, politics, and consciousness.  The course will introduce elements of "queer theory" and gender theory; it will address issues of sexual orientation and sexual identification in works of poetry, autobiography, and fiction. Readings will include such writers as Sappho, Plato, William Shakespeare, Thomas Mann, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, David Leavitt, Leslie Feinberg, Shyam Selvadurai, and Jeanette Winterson.

Instructor

Fisher

Prerequisites

None

Cross Listed Courses

ENG 286

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

LL

AMST 315 Beats, Rhymes, and Life: Hip-Hop Studies

This course offers an intensive exploration of hip-hop studies where students learn about the history of hip-hop as a social movement and art form comprised of the following four elements: DJing, MCing, break dancing, and graffiti art. Once a common understanding of hip-hop's genesis and history is established, attention is turned to how hip-hop is studied in the academy. This section of the course features a wide range of interdisciplinary studies of hip-hop music and culture in order to demonstrate the different methodological and theoretical frames used in hip-hop scholarship. In the final section of the course, we focus on hip-hop-related debates and discussions in popular culture, such as racial authenticity, global consumption of hip-hop, sampling and musical technologies, and sexism and gender scripts within hip-hop culture.

Instructor

Jeffries

Prerequisites

Permission of the instructor. Preference given to American Studies majors and juniors and seniors.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

SBA

AMST 317 Seminar. Advanced Topics in American Studies

Topic for 2012-13: The Real Barack Obama

This course examines Barack Obama, first, as a viable public intellectual who intervenes on discussions of race, religion, and other hot-button topics, and second, as a cultural phenomenon and symbol of significant social import. Students will critically engage Obama's writings and speaking, including his biography, sense of identity, and political philosophy. We will move to the events of his presidential campaign to understand his electoral victory, examining the representation of Obama during and after the election. Instead of only situating President Obama in American history, or giving his supporters a platform to celebrate his ascendance, this seminar will ask students to unpack that ascendancy over the past four years and to engage the broader discourses that make him a political and cultural lightning rod.

Instructor

Jeffries

Prerequisites

Permission of the instructor. Enrollment is limited and preference is given to American Studies majors.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

SBA, HS

AMST 320 Seminar. Blackness in the American Literary Imagination

An examination of how blackness has been represented in the American and Caribbean imagination and how it shaped some of the seminal texts in American and Caribbean literature. Implicitly, the course will also examine the obverse of the question posed by Toni Morrison: "What parts do the invention and development of whiteness play in the construction of what is loosely described as 'American' literature?"

Instructor

Cudjoe (Africana Studies)

Prerequisites

Permission of instructor.

Cross Listed Courses

AFR 320

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

LL

AMST 340 Seminar. Disneyland and American Culture

One of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, subject of thousands of books and articles, adored by millions, yet reviled by many intellectuals, Disneyland has occupied a prominent place in American culture since it opened in 1955. This seminar will examine Disneyland as an expression of middle-class American values, as a locus of corporatism and consumerism, as a postmodern venue, as a utopia, and as an influence upon architecture and urban design. In a broader sense, we will use Disney to explore the ideals, the desires, and the anxieties that have shaped post-World War II American culture.

Instructor

Bedell (Art)

Prerequisites

AMST 101 or ARTH 101 and a 200-level course in American or Modern culture (history, art, literature, economics, etc). Permission of the instructor required.

Cross Listed Courses

ARTH 340

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

ARS, HS

AMST 342 Sexualities in Whitman's America

Along with the social revolutions of the 1970s, the most dramatic transformation of gender and sexual roles in the United States took place between the 1860s and the 1920s, when urbanization, women's activism, and emerging homosexual subculture radically altered American society. Literature imagined, enacted, and recorded such changes, and, with Walt Whitman as a bold early voice for sexual liberation, feminist and queer writers such as Emma Goldman, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, Willa Cather, and Langston Hughes paved the way for sexual modernity. This advanced course will provide students with feminist and queer theory and social history in order to pursue in-depth interpretations of key literary figures and to document American contributions to the wider international transformation of gender and sexual roles during this period.

Instructor

Fisher

Prerequisites

Permission of the instructor required. AMST 101, or at least one 200-level course in American Studies or English.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

LL

AMST 344 Greed in America

A sociologically grounded examination of acquisitiveness in American society, examining the history of social thought on the "sin" of avarice and the "virtues" of thrift and self-control, as a backdrop for understanding the ongoing tension between morality and acquisition of material wealth in the United States from its earliest history to the present. Focus on the moral critique of greed; the representation of greed in popular culture; and the cultural contradictions of American capitalist society in which the profit motive competes with values and norms of restraint and temperance. Students will read classical and contemporary theoretical social science texts—Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Thorstein Veblen, R.H. Tawney—and apply the insights to the interpretation of acquisitiveness in American life, past and present. Special attention will be given to the examination of the critique of greed and the mobilization of class resentment in the 2012 presidential campaign and in the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

Instructor

Cushman (Sociology)

Prerequisites

Open to juniors and seniors only. Permission of the instructor required. Enrollment is limited and preference is given to American Studies and Sociology majors.

Cross Listed Courses

SOC 344

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Spring

Degree Requirements

SBA, HS

AMST 348 Conservatism in America

An examination of conservative movements and ideas in terms of class, gender, and race. Historical survey and social analysis of such major conservative movements and ideas as paleoconservatism, neoconservatism, and compassionate conservatism. The emergence of conservative stances among women, minorities, and media figures. The conservative critique of American life and its shaping of contemporary national discourse on morality, politics, and culture.

Instructor

Imber (Sociology)

Prerequisites

A 100-level sociology course or permission of the instructor. Open to juniors and seniors only.

Cross Listed Courses

SOC 348

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Not Offered

Degree Requirements

SBA

AMST 350 Research or Individual Study

Prerequisites

Open by the permission of the director to juniors and seniors.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None

AMST 360 Senior Thesis Research

Prerequisites

Permission of the director.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None

AMST 363 Advanced Studies in American Literature

Topic for 2012-13: Visions of the American City

This course examines how American cities have been represented in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and photography. We'll examine how descriptions of the city's public spaces and private enclosures—its crowds, streets, shops, apartments, and grand buildings—return us to crucial questions of perspective, identity, and ownership. Our literary readings include works by Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ralph Ellison, Ann Petry, Hart Crane, Langston Hughes, Frank O'Hara, Chang-rae Lee, and Colum McCann. We'll also look at collections of urban photography by Arnold Genthe, Berenice Abbott, Helen Levitt, Bruce Davidson, and others. Assignments include critical writing and a project in creative nonfiction or photojournalism.

Instructor

Brogan (English)

Prerequisites

Permission of the instructor.

Cross Listed Courses

ENG 363

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall

Degree Requirements

LL

AMST 370 Senior Thesis

Prerequisites

AMST 360 and permission of the department.

Unit(s)

1.0

Semesters Offered

Fall, Spring

Degree Requirements

None
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