Course Descriptions

Course Catalog for AMERICAN STUDIES
AMST 203
Conflicts and Cultures in American Society
Focusing on a key decade in American life—the 1890s, for example, or the 1850s—this course will examine the dynamics of race, class, gender, and ethnicity as forces that have shaped, and been shaped by, American culture. How did various groups define themselves at particular historical moments? How did they interact with each other and with American society? Why did some groups achieve hegemony and not others, and what were—and are—the implications of these dynamics for our understanding of American culture? By examining both interpretive and primary documents—novels, autobiographies, works of art, and popular culture—we will consider these and other questions concerning the production of American culture.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 210
Doing Culture: Methods in Cultural Analysis
Culture is not something we simply consume, inhabit or even create. Culture is serious business: pun both intended and upended. We have a dynamic relationship with the world around us and in this class we will use culture, both elite and popular, to help bridge the gap between what we do here in the “ivory tower” and how we live out there in the “real world,” hopefully changing both in the process. Here we will not take culture for granted but engage culture as a method, a tool by which to engage, analyze and critique both historical narratives and contemporary events. In this course, street life, advertisements, popular media, and clothing are interrogated as archives of dynamic meaning, arenas of social interaction, acts of personal pleasure, and sites of struggle. We will also explore what happens when a diversity of forces converge at the intersection of commerce and culture. Present day notions of popular culture, and topics such as authenticity and selling out, will be interrogated both socially and historically.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 212
Introduction to Disability Studies: Theory and History
This course offers a rigorous interdisciplinary introduction to Disability Studies. We will look at the history of disability studies as it emerged in relation to the Civil Rights movement. We will consider how the efforts of disability activists and scholars have shaped disability studies and how this field informs and is also informed by other disciplines, such as Performance and Trauma Studies. We will examine how disability has been defined over time and how particular definitions of disability intersect with other aspects of identity, such as socio-economic class, race and/or ethnicity, sexuality and gender. In addition to reading and critiquing history and theory, we will also look at a variety of “disability texts” that will include various genres, such as fiction, memoir, film, and drama.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 220
The Child in American Culture
We will examine representations of "the Child" in American culture from the Puritan period to the present. How have conceptions of childhood changed over time? How do economic status and labor influence depictions of children? What are some symbolic roles of the Child in our culture? Our course will focus on literary texts, archival materials, and visual culture, including art, photographs, and other media.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 254
Ellison’s Invisible Man and the Black Modern Experience
This class interrogates the text and contexts of Ralph Ellison’s iconic novel Invisible Man. Specifically, bringing historical and cultural analysis to bear on a single work of fiction, this course surveys key themes in the Black modern experience from 1899 to 1950 including migration, urbanization, the black modern aesthetic, black radicalism, and black nationalism. Ultimately, Ellison crafted a text of profound social commentary through experimentation with archival evidence and literary form. This class reconstructs the intellectual, aesthetic, and historical production of an American classic.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 263
The Struggle for Civil Rights
African Americans and their allies have long struggled to win equal rights and equal opportunities in America. We will examine the course of that struggle in the twentieth century, focusing primarily on the period 1950-1968. We will consider questions of urbanization, employment, racism, politics, violence, non-violence, Black Power and the notion of “race blindness.” The end of the course will be spent considering the present day. What has been resolved, and what issues remain? Are there new challenges to achieving racial equality in the U.S? Have we become “post-racial” yet, and do we want to be?
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 264
Representations of Autism(s)
With increased visibility and diagnosis rates (1 in 50), autism spectrum disorders constitute a vital part of our nation’s fabric. Because it crosses boundaries, regardless of ethnicity, race, or socioeconomic status and because of its pervasiveness, a critical study of autism representations provides an instructive site for exploring overlapping commonalities and differences in U.S. culture. We will consider how shifting definitions of disability/ability contribute to our understanding of central values/beliefs, such as normalcy, success, humanity, and progress. How do representations and lived experiences frame our society’s understanding of identity, community, citizenship, agency, equality and humanity? Texts include fiction, memoir, film, poetry, print news, periodicals, legal documents, theoretical articles, television, internet media. Some titles include, Rainman and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 284
Food and American Culture
What we eat and how we eat reflect more than basic physical needs, and food has long played influential roles in defining and representing American culture, identities, and nationalism. Our course will begin by examining the history of the Thanksgiving feast and conclude with contemporary movements in organic and farm-to-table eating. As we explore foods' implications for Americanism, gender, class, and age, our topics of study will include defining edibles and non-edibles, immigrant influences, food and technology, American farming, diet fads, school lunches and gardens, hunger in America and food regulations. Our class will work with the nearby Billings Forge community to learn more about food's roles in family life and social reforms, including urban renewal.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 285
Born in Blood: Violence and the Making of America
This course explains how violence has made modern America and belongs alongside liberty, democracy, freedom, and equality in the pantheon of American political and cultural ideals. Using figures such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Dwight Eisenhower, and events from the American Revolution to the era of Civil Rights, "Born in Blood" situates state sanctioned violence against American citizens as a definitive force in American life.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 289
Culture of Sports: Politics, Economics, Sociology
Through critical examination of various sports, unique eras, and individual athletes, Culture of Sports: Politics, Economics, and Sociology will dissect the reciprocal role of sport within the societal and historical context in which it arose and evolved. Using individual eras, teams, players, and managerial positions, we will explore the dynamic of the greater socio-economic paradigms at work. Issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, politics, and economics will be thoroughly explored as students are provided the skill set necessary to analyze society throughout our rich and dynamic history. Particular attention will be paid to contemporary American sport; students are expected to draw meaningful comparisons to current events.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 290
Hip Hop in Film
Through the lens of the six unique films that embody the aesthetic of Hip Hop culture, this course examines Hip Hop’s cinematic representation over the span of the past thirty years. Engaging critical analysis of Hip Hop on the silver screen, students explore how the entertainment industry has framed the public’s understanding of Hip Hop. At the same time, students are taught to reflect upon the role Hip Hop has played in the culture in which they came of age. Particular emphasis is placed upon the way in which Hip Hop culture has served to redefine issues of race, gender, sexuality, ownership, commodification, and public space.
0.50 units, Seminar
AMST 298
Introduction to Hip Hop Music and Culture
This course will examine the evolution of hip hop music and culture (Graffiti art, B-boying [break-dancing], DJ-ing, and MC-ing) from its birth in 1970s New York to its global and commercial explosion during the late 1990s. Students learn to think critically about both hip hop culture, and about the historical, commercial, and political contexts in which hip hop culture took, and continues to take, shape. Particular attention is paid to questions of race, masculinity, authenticity, consumption, commodification, globalization, and good, old-fashioned funkiness.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 301
Junior Seminar: American Texts
This course, required for the American studies major and ordinarily taken in the fall of the junior year, examines central texts in American history and culture. Through intensive discussion and writing, the class will explore the contexts of these works as well as the works themselves, paying particular attention to the interrelated issues of race, class, gender, and other similarly pivotal social constructs. Course is open only to American studies majors.
Prerequisite: C- or better in American Studies 203 or AMST 210 or concurrent enrollment.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 311
Data Driven Cultures
From the algorithms that time traffic lights to those that filter search criteria and record thoughts and ideas, human existence is increasingly defined by code. This course explores the possibilities, limitations, and implications of using digital tools and methods to understand the issues that affect our everyday lives. What does data reveal to us about the world? What does it hide? Which data-based policy interventions should be made on behalf of the common good? To answer these questions students will learn to apply a critical lens for understanding and evaluating what technology can and cannot bring to the study of American life.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 329
Viewing The Wire Through a Critical Lens
Through analysis and dissection of David Simon's The Wire, this course seeks to equip students with the tools necessary to examine our postmodern society. The Wire seamlessly juxtaposes aesthetics with socio-economic issues, offering up a powerful lens for investigating our surroundings. Whether issues of unregulated free market capitalism, the bureaucracy of our school systems, politics of the media, false notions of equal opportunity, devaluation of human life, or a failed war on drugs, The Wire addresses the complexities of American urban life. Through a socio-political and cultural reading of the five individual seasons, students will be able to explore a multitude of contemporary problems.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 332
Credit and Crisis
This course explores the concepts of credit and crisis amid the global expansion of U.S. capitalism. From intimate struggles with indebtedness to grand projects of nation building, we will interrogate how discourses of debt have informed our commonplace social categories across scales. Readings will trace the historical and geographical transformation of the U.S., from its role as a debtor to its emergence as a creditor nation. It will consider how the vexed notion of American “inheritance” has related to the expansion of credit and deepening of economic crises. Through film, literature, and scholarly analysis it will trace how economic crisis and the concept of “failure” can be seen through the lens of personal identities; separating those who could assume risk from those deemed "at risk."
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 333
Women of Color in the United States
Focusing primarily on African American, Native American, Latin American, and Asian American women, this course will examine the cultural, economic, and political histories of women of color in the United States. Major themes will include immigration, labor, family, education, social movements, and civil rights.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 336
Globalization(s): "America" in the Modern World
Our current moment of global crisis forces us to reckon with the contradictions of globalization. What does globalization mean? How can we trace its history? This course examines the roots of globalization through the twentieth century: from liberal democracy and communist internationalism to Bandung humanism, fascism, and global capitalism. It explores U.S. social movements, their organization and interpretations, as a site to uncover how America was depicted and understood throughout the world. These movements developed and subsequently imagined visions of freedom, governance, justice, and progress that could themselves be globalized. Through literature, film, poetry, and more, this course examines the transnational interaction of social movements within a global sphere.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 340
The Body in 19th Century American Culture
We will explore representations of the body in relation to American identities, including controlling ethnic bodies through slavery and exotic exhibits, as well as defining gender ideals by conflating the female body with corsets and hysteria and the male with the "strong man" aesthetic. Although anxious about ill bodies in the tenements and disfigured ones in factories, Americans were also fascinated by the extremes of the human body as indicated by the popularity of sideshows, magicians, and miracle cures. Our materials will include literary texts, art studies, and popular media. We will discuss such writers and artists as Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Catherine Beecher, William Sydney Mount, John Gadsby Chapman, and Lily Martin Spencer.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 341
Spectacle of Disability in American Culture
This course examines how people with disabilities are represented in American literature and culture. Whether it is the exceptional savant who is heralded as a hero because of her "special" abilities or the critically injured person whose disability relegates him to the sidelines of society even though his ability to overcome everyday challenges is applauded from a distance, definitions of disabilities (both generally and explicitly) tell us a great deal about the concept of normalcy and the expectations that we attach to this term. In addition, the various narratives associated with different disabilities and their origins are shaped by other aspects of identity, such as socio-economic class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. We will look at a variety of mediums including fiction, non-fiction, film, television, and memoirs in order to examine how these representations, along with the material realities of disabled people, frame our society's understanding of disability and the consequences of these formulations. We look at texts and cases such as Million Dollar Baby, the Terry Sciavo case, Born on a Blue Day, Forrest Gump, the American Disabilites Act, the Christopher Reeves story, and Radio.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 346
Sexuality, Nation, Race, and Gender
This course examines how cultural production generates and sustains “normalcy” and abnormality in a variety of representational arenas in the U.S., such as sites of cultural production (literature, drama, film, television, music, etc.), medical and educational institutions, and familial structures. It also considers how individual and intersecting diversities, such as sex, race, gender, and class, inform both representations and lived experience. To do this is to destabilize the line that separates normalcy from abnormalcy. In doing so we will denaturalize and critique the often invisible processes that determine who and what gets classified as “normal.” Where is the line drawn between inclusion and exclusion? Texts include: Helen Oyeyemi's Boy, Snow, Bird and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson's Staring: How We Look.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 357
Race and Urban Space
Scholars and now even the larger public have conceded that race is a social construct. However, many are just beginning to fully explore how the specific dimensions and use of space is mediated by the politics of racial difference and racial identification. Therefore, this course seeks to explore how racism and race relations shape urban spatial relations, city politics, and the built environment and how the historical development of cities has shaped racial identity as lived experience. Covering the 20th century, the course examines three critical junctures: Ghettoization (1890s-1940s); Metropolitan Formation (1940s-1990s); and Neo-Liberal Gentrification (present).
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 380
The Vietnam War and American Culture
The Domino Theory. Ho Chi Minh. Grunts. Hippies. Protesters. The Tet Offensive. Muhammad Ali. LBJ. Nixon. My Lai. POW/MIA. Apocalypse Now. Full Metal Jacket. Perhaps no modern war has impacted American culture and identity as broadly and deeply as the Vietnam War (or the American War, as the Vietnamese call it). We will use primary-source cultural texts – memoirs, images, songs, films, documents – to make sense of this history. We will examine the larger forces that played out through the war – global decolonization, the Cold War, the “sixties” protest movements, racial politics, the meaning of patriotism, and more – as well as how the struggle to define the war’s legacies ensued afterwards in films, cultural memory, and politics.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 399
Independent Study
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar's Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment.
1.00 units min / 2.00 units max, Independent Study
AMST 402
Senior Project
Students undertake projects on American studies topics of their own choosing. The projects will be supervised by a faculty member in an American studies-related field. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the project adviser and director, are required for enrollment.
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 409
Senior Seminar: The Spectacle of Disability
This course examines how people with disabilities are represented in American literature and culture. Whether it is the exceptional savant who is heralded as a hero because of her "special" abilities or the critically injured person whose disability relegates him to the sidelines of society even though his ability to overcome everyday challenges is applauded from a distance, definitions of disabilities (both generally and explicitly) tell us a great deal about the concept of normalcy and the expectations that we attach to this term. In addition, the various narratives associated with different disabilities and their origins are shaped by other aspects of identity, such as socio-economic class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. We will look at a variety of mediums including fiction, non-fiction, film, television, and memoirs in order to examine how these representations, along with the material realities of disabled people, frame our society's understanding of disability and the consequences of these formulations. We look at texts and cases such as Million Dollar Baby, the Terry Schiavo case, Born on a Blue Day, Forrest Gump, the American Disabilities Act, the Christopher Reeves story, and Radio.
This course is open only to American Studies majors, or by permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 409
Senior Seminar: Critiquing America
An examination of the varied experiences of poverty in American history and the intersection of poverty and democracy. The course considers both the limits on democracy faced by the poor and their efforts to challenge those limits.
This course is open only to American Studies majors, or by permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 409
Senior Seminar: Democracy and the Poor in America
An examination of the varied experiences of poverty in American history and the intersection of poverty and democracy. The course considers both the limits on democracy faced by the poor and their efforts to challenges those limits.
This course is open only to senior American Studies majors, or by permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 409
Senior Seminar: Technology and American Culture
Mark Twain was among the first to install a home phone in Hartford and he was amused by others' uncertain handling of new devices. He approached technology with great interest, skepticism, and of course, humor. Many Americans shared Twain’s responses, and in this course we will examine the social impacts, cultural representations, and political significance of select technological developments. We will begin with the nineteenth century as clocks and bells came to govern lives and we will conclude with our relationships with technology today. Each unit will focus on technology and an aspect of American life, such as domesticity, work, war, production, literature, health, and communication.
This course is open only to American Studies majors, or by permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 409
Senior Seminar: American Empire
Thomas Jefferson once boldly described the United States as an “empire of liberty.” But whether or not America has ever taken on the identity, ever functioned, as an empire has been one of the most hotly debated topics of our current global times. In this senior seminar we want to take both a historical and contemporary look at what happens when the foreign policy of the United States converges with the general practices of military engagement, occupation, nation-building, commercial market control, and/or annexation of “foreign lands.” Do such foreign relations constitute an empire? In this course we will examine a number of critical moments including the internal U.S. expansion into native American and Mexican lands, “Manifest Destiny” projects in the turn-of-the-twentieth century Caribbean and Asian Pacific, Marshall Plan policies in Cold War Europe, and “War on Terror” initiatives in the present day Middle East. What have been the aspirations of U.S. foreign policy, what have been the consequences, how do they affect the policies and practices “back home.” Have any of these experiences constituted an American Empire?
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 409
Senior Seminar: Race, Gender, and Global Security
Recent events have focused attention on questions of race, gender, social justice, and the militarization of police. This course will consider how notions of race and security that evolved in the late 20th and early 21st century U.S., have shaped political discourse, and how in turn, those ideas have circulated around the world. Through analyses of American Studies texts, documentaries, and popular culture, we will consider both emerging and prevailing definitions of security. By examining case studies in major global cities, including Los Angeles, we will explore how space has been organized around the logics of racialized threats and gendered notions of safety. For a cumulative paper, students will select a global city and offer history, context, and analysis of the production of insecure spaces.
This course is open only to American Studies majors, or by permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 409
Senior Seminar: Equality and its Discontents
From its initial formulation into the 21st Century, the self-evident truth that all men are created equal has been bitterly contested and routinely denied, including by the author of this foundational phrase (Thomas Jefferson). This course will explore America’s ambiguous relationship with the concept of human equality in cultural, intellectual, political, and legal terms. Beginning with the Declaration of Independence and moving through the numerous battles for civil rights as well as the contrary constructions by Social Darwinists and adherents of Ayn Rand, we will examine the ideas and actions of both those who insisted on the necessity and justice of equality, and those who rejected the validity and utility of this ideal.
This course is open only to American Studies majors, or by permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 409
The Digital Image of the City
With half the world’s population now in cities, policymakers and activists are focused on the promise of smart urbanism. Smart urbanism deploys technology and data to tackle issues from gentrification and pollution to access to public spaces and improved walkability. How does this focus affect the growth of equal and just cities? Focused on US cities, namely Hartford and New York, this course connects global and national issues to the intimate experiences of everyday urban life. It pairs specific technical skills such as social science data collection and geographic information systems (GIS) mapping with urban theory and urban studies. The course project will bring together the theory, literature, and your own research, data analysis, and maps into a smart city recommendation for the city.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 409
Queer America
Drawing on interdisciplinary work in lgbtq studies, Queer America uses key spaces and scales as lenses and sites in this research seminar. From bars and community centers, neighborhoods and cruising grounds, to cities and rural Walmarts, websites and social media, students will employ queer theory to broaden their understandings of lgbtq spaces in the nation. The application of classic and cutting-edge work in geographies of lgbtq culture will challenge the seemingly normal histories and geographies of American life.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 413
The Past in America
The course will explore how Americans from the colonial period to the present day have appropriated and deployed images of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. We will ask the following questions: How have Americans expressed their own contemporary values and aspirations through the representation and interpretation of the past? Why do these worlds—so profoundly alien to the American context—remain fundamental parts of our contemporary culture? In addition to primary source readings from literature, art, politics, and history, we will take advantage of many Hartford institutions such as the Watkinson Library, Trinity College, the Athenaeum, the Walpole museum, and the Strong-Howard House to trace the origins and development of American reactions to the ancient, medieval and Renaissance worlds. By doing so we will learn not just about the evolution of historical ideas but about the nature of American identity.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 419
The Digital World of New England Artifacts, 1600-1900
This seminar offers students engagement in primary research in historical, literary, and material culture studies and current methods of visualizing data generated by that research to produce new modes of interpretation. Students will develop skills through a series of exercises based on the rich holdings of printed books, ephemera, maps, manuscripts and artifacts related to New England in the 17th -19th centuries in the Watkinson Library. They will work with a clearly defined body of material while studying visualization methodologies currently utilized in digital humanities projects; the final exercise is a portfolio, which will include a process journal, a reflection paper, and a "grant proposal" for a real-world project..
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 421
Nature and Health in American Culture
Since the industrial revolution, Americans have debated the proper balance of nature and health in an increasingly polluted country. This debate has been charged with competing discourses of nature and the environment, changing views of health and embodiment, and fraught notions of profit, interests, rights, and social justice in capitalist society. This course will explore that nexus, using such examples as nature cures, social Darwinist and nativist fear of contagion from immigrants and the poor, and contested standards of industrial and environmental health in twentieth- and twenty-first-century America.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 423
The History of American Sports
This course will examine American sports from their beginnings in Puritan-era games to the multi-billion-dollar industries of today. We will begin by looking at the relationship between work, play, and religion in the colonies. We will trace the beginnings of horseracing, baseball, and boxing, and their connections to saloons, gambling, and the bachelor subculture of the Victorian underworld. We will study the rise of respectable sports in the mid- and late 19th century; follow baseball as it became the national pastime; see how college football took over higher education; and account for the rise of basketball. We will look at sports and war, sports and moral uplift, and sports and the culture of consumption. Finally, we will examine the rise of mass leisure, the impact of radio and television, racial segregation and integration, the rise of women’s sports, battles between players and owners in the last 25 years, and the entrance of truly big money into professional sports. Readings in primary and secondary sources will emphasize the historical experience of sports in the United States so that students can develop a framework for understanding current events, including the NHL lockout, the Kobe Bryant affair, and the controversies over steroids.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 424
Comic Art in America 1895-Present
This course provides an introduction to Comic Art in North America, from the beginnings of the newspaper comic strip through the development of comic books, the growth of graphic novels, and current developments in electronic media. It focuses on the history and aesthetics of the medium, comparison between developments in the United States, Mexico, and French Canada, and the social and cultural contexts in which comic art is created and consumed. The first half of the semester concentrates on early and 20th-century comic strips and the development of the comic book form through the 1940s; the second on the social changes affecting comic art in the 1950s and 1960s, the development of a comic book subculture from the 1970s to the 21st century, the growth of independently published graphic novels and the independent comics, and contemporary electronic media developments.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 425
Museums, Visual Culture, and Critical Theory
This course aims to examine the issues brought up in key theoretical readings by applying their insights to case studies, particularly cases of museum exhibitions and programs. Issues to be addressed include: reproduction and spectacle; gender and display; ethnicity, 'primitivism,' and race; and sexuality, sexual practice, and censorship. Case studies will vary each year and will range from exhibitions focusing on consumption, to ethnicity and race (such as the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Pequot Museum), and sexuality (The Museum of Sex; the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibitions). Each class will combine theoretical readings with considerations of museum practice. By the end of the semester, students shall be able to analyze exhibitions using both the tools of postmodern theory and practical observation and history.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 426
Nuclear America
In this course we will explore large- and small-scale cultural landscapes as they have been shaped by nuclear power, weapons, transportation, and waste. Among these landscapes are towns created for making nuclear weapons; open-air testing sites; military complexes, such as ports, bases, airfields, and silos; the West’s uranium mines, and the land, water, and Native American territory polluted by radioactive tailings; nuclear reactor sites, from New England’s regional power plants to those in metropolitan areas; and land and offshore storage sites for nuclear waste. Besides the physical changes to the American landscape, nuclear sites involve extensive secrecy, exclusion, and policing, and they are invested with fraught meanings. We will explore nuclear America through history, geography, art, literature, and film.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 428
New England and the Black Atlantic
This course will explore the trans-Atlantic cultural, economic, and political constellation that has linked Africa, Europe, and the Americas from the 15th century to the present. In particular, we will investigate some key aspects of New England’s part in the Black Atlantic, including slavery and the slave trade; literature, public speaking, and the arts; commerce and industry; and travel and migration. We will ground this study in past and present geographic sites of diaspora, racialization, and contestation, including ships and ports, the home, church, workplace, market, and performance spaces.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 435
Museum Exhibition
One of the most engaging ways to promote collections and explore a subject or theme is to create an exhibition, which is a genre in and of itself—telling a story with artifacts. Through critical readings students will explore the cultural and educational goals of exhibits, visitor needs and accessibility, design elements (including technology), and audience evaluation methods utilized at libraries, historic houses and historical sites, and history and cultural museums. Drawing from the extensive and wide-ranging collections in the Watkinson Library, students will conceive, write, and install an exhibition, design and publish a catalogue, and plan and implement an opening event to take place at the end of the semester in the Watkinson.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 438
America Collects Itself
Collecting American history is as alive and well in America today as it was soon after the republic was constituted. In the late 18th-century Americans became enamored of “writing” the new nation’s history, both in the literal sense of creating narratives, and the figurative sense of collecting the books and documents which would inform and underpin those narratives. The first institution created specifically to collect and preserve American history was the Massachusetts Historical Society, founded in 1791, during George Washington’s presidency. This course will trace the conscious collecting (by both individuals and institutions) of documents and artifacts from the 18th century to the present day relating to "America," as that term was variously defined over time.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 439
Nationalizing America, 1932-1960
This course examines the Depression and New Deal, World War II, and the Cold War. During this period, an activist welfare state/national security state, and a national mass culture took form, shaped by responses to economic crisis and economic opportunity, the gathering power of popular-culture media and advertising, and wars hot and cold. Both political topics (e.g., New Deal labor or civil rights policies, McCarthyism) and social and cultural topics (e.g., The World War II home front, changing gender roles, suburbanization) will be investigated. Course materials include fiction, movies, and other documents from the period, as well as outstanding works of historical analysis and synthesis.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 443
Spectacle, Social Control, and the Spaces of Display
This course will analyze a range of built spaces, elite ones like museums and vernacular ones like shopping malls and casinos, to see how they reflect and shape our changing ideas of spectacle and display. Beginning with an examination of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the 1939 World’s Fair, we will examine how buildings exercise authority and shape our behavior. We will consider how displays of culture and commerce encode the agendas of capitalism, both literal and cultural, by looking at the packaging of commodities and of the materials within museums; retail entertainment architecture like those of Las Vegas and Disney and its fusion with the museum; and memorial museums and structures, particularly the Holocaust Museum.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 449
The Culture of Americanism in the 20th Century
In 1894, Teddy Roosevelt published "True Americanism" in Forum Magazine, declaring the absolute necessity of applying a "fervid Americanism" to the solution of every problem and evil facing the country, including "Americanizing" newcomers to our shore. Nearly 50 years later, the rhetoric of Americanism proposed by Time publisher Henry Luce in his February 1941 editorial in Life Magazine, "The American Century," aimed to persuade Americans that the country's involvement in World War II and in the post-war world were not only necessary but inevitable. The Luce publications after the war publicized the culture of Americanism that was an essential part of the anti-communism that supported the Cold War for over half a century. Leaving aside the idea of American exceptionalism—"the notion that the United States has had a special mission and virtue that makes it unique among nations"—our focus will be on the culture of Americanism as it was promulgated in the Luce publications and other media outlets during and after World War II, and the extent to which it encouraged postwar homogeneity while discouraging the expression of dissent and non-conformist ideas.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 451
The World of Rare Books
The “world” of rare books encompasses a basic knowledge of the history of the book as object, the history and practice of printing since Gutenberg, book collecting in the West since the Renaissance (including bibliophilic clubs and societies), the trade (dealers, book auctions and book fairs), rare book libraries and librarians, and bibliographic scholarship. We will spend a week or two on each of these themes, which will include lecture and discussion, sources for further reading, exercises and projects, and a few activities to give a flavor of the topic (e.g., field trips, hand-setting type, or a mock auction). All classes will take place in the Watkinson library, the rare book and special collections department of the Trinity College Library.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 458
Creating the New Right: The Conservative Movement in Post-World War II America
This seminar will examine the political and cultural environment that supported and sustained the New Right political movement that emerged after World War II and became fully formed during the Reagan years and more recently in the Tea Party Movement supported by non-profit political action committees. The key to conservative success lay in their hopes to replace the narrative of American liberalism—now progressivism—with its emphasis on democratic-egalitarian concepts, with a narrative more in keeping with conservative thinking that stresses the self-governing individual, minimum government activity, and entrepreneurial and market freedom. We want to focus our discussion and research on cultural change in America and the responses to those changes by the American people as well as by the two major political parties.
This course is open only to senior American Studies majors, or by permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 466
Teaching Assistantship
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
AMST 468
American Labor and Cultural Politics
This course will address the importance of the American labor movement in producing, contesting, and amplifying meaning within larger contexts of class, knowledge, and power. Although many such meanings arise within the expected domains of work, pay, and workers, and serve as crucial resources for communities and unions, they also are closely related to projects of achieving justice for larger imagined communities (e.g., “the people”). Readings will provide a broad overview of labor movements since the Civil War as well as close study of selected cultural work, such as challenging class subordination, shaping and contesting racialization, engendering and valorizing work, interrogating the wage relation, pursuing contradictory visions of authority and modernization, and seeking reform within today’s increasingly hostile political climates and structures.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 470
Native American Art and Storytelling
This seminar examines Native American Indian narrative artistic, pictorial, and literary traditions from North and Central America.Such traditions are inseparable from culture and performance, community and nation, human life and the physical world. The visual and tactile media considered include pictorial manuscripts, ceramics, bead- and shellwork, textiles, photographs, and paintings. The seminar will be interdisciplinary, with each unit including analyses of texts and visual materials and readings on aesthetics, translation, memory, and appropriation.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 473
American Animation and Society
Animation has played a significant role in American culture. This course will consider the development of animation from the 1920s to today in its social, economic and cultural contexts. Special attention will be given to the perception of animation as a medium for children, to the growing acceptance of mature themes in shorts and feature films, and the power of imagery derived from animation in advertising, merchandising, and even political propaganda. We will look primarily at American feature films, which have dominated the international animation market since the groundbreaking Snow White (1939), the change from cel animation to CGI, and the innovations of studios that compete with still-dominant Disney, including Connecticut’s own Blue Sky. The course will include guest animators such as Bob Camp, co-creator of Ren and Stimpy.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 474
From Poe to Game of Thrones: Fantasy and American Culture
While modern American fantasy literature experienced sudden growth after the enormous popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in the 1960s, American fantasy fiction has an extensive and separate tradition beginning in the nineteenth century with the works of Edgar Alan Poe. Moreover, it engaged social and environmental issues, from Henry George’s Looking Backward to Andre Norton’s Beastmaster. Women writers of fantasy since the 1930s, including C. L. Moore and Leigh Brackett, engaged issues of gender and equality. American traditions of humor and irreverence derived from Twain and Ade and folk traditions inform mid-century fantasy, while the social realism of Dos Passos finds rebirth in the darker stories of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 475
Made in New England
Commodities—things produced, exchanged, and consumed—link places to the larger world. In this course, we will examine how natural resources and material goods have become marketable commodities through social, economic, political, technological, environmental, and cultural processes. Looking especially at things grown and made in past and present New England for capitalist exchange, we will explore how they have shaped and signified local communities while connecting them to global geographies of markets, power, and meaning.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 480
New England Landscapes
This course concerns historical geographies of New England, or the meeting of nature and human agency in “developing” the land and waters of the region. It explores such iconic landscapes as Native American fields and villages; New England’s villages and commons; farms, fields, factories, and forests; free-flowing and dammed rivers; seaports; cities; and tourist destinations. We will attempt to understand both how this region has been imagined and how its changing, often contested landscapes have been related to the political economy, social identities (such as class, race, and gender), and cultural values, metrics, and desires.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 490
Research Assistantship
No Course Description Available.
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 497
Senior Thesis
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar's Office, and the approval of the thesis adviser and the director are required for enrollment.
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 498
Senior Thesis Part 1
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the thesis adviser and the director are required for enrollment. The registration form is required for each semester of this year-long thesis. (The two course credits are considered pending in Part I of the thesis; they will be awarded with the completion of Part II.)
2.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 499
Senior Thesis Part 2
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar's Office, and the approval of the thesis adviser and the director, are required for each semester of this year-long thesis. (The two course credits are considered pending in Part I of the thesis; they will be awarded with the completion of Part II.)
2.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 801
Approaches to American Studies
This seminar, which is required of all American studies graduate students, examines a variety of approaches to the field. Readings may include several “classic” texts of 18th- and 19th-century American culture and several key works of American studies scholarship from the formative period of the field after World War II, as well as more recent contributions to the study of the United States. Topics will include changing ideas about the content, production, and consumption of American culture; patterns of ethnic identification and definition; the construction of categories like “race” and “gender”; and the bearing of class, race, gender, and sexuality on individuals’ participation in American society and culture. Undergraduates who wish to enroll in this course must obtain permission of their adviser and the instructor.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 802
Primary Research Materials
This seminar is designed to enable students to identify, evaluate, and use a range of primary sources, from personal letters, vital records, and the census to photographs, oral history, and newspapers. Students will critically read secondary literature to explore how other scholars have used primary sources, and will develop research projects on topics of their own choosing, based on primary sources available in local archives and repositories. Course not open to undergraduates.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 803
Historiography and Historical Research
New England has had a sense of its boundaries, identity, and larger purposes since the mid-17th century and it began producing historical literature about itself earlier than other regions of what would become the United States. This course has a dual agenda—to study the evolution of historical consciousness in and about New England and to use the region’s rich and varied historical literature to prepare students for their own historical research on the region.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 806
Globalizing America
Long before the present age of "globalization," the United States was a nation with global political, economic, and cultural aspirations. It has variously claimed for itself, or had thrust upon it, the missions of embracing, decolonizing, colonizing, and transforming the world. This seminar will explore the universalist ideology of the revolutionary founders; of America as an immigrant "nation of nations;" multiculturalism; the international effects of American economic power, military power, pop culture, and mass media; and the dynamics and prospects of the capitalist/digital revolution that is today said to be Americanizing the planet. Texts will include titles by Paine, Tocqueville, Melville, Bourne, Kallen, Wildie, Lind, Hollinger, Greider, and others.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 807
Identifying and Applying for Grants for Individuals and Institutions
The course will introduce a variety of resources for identifying and applying for grants for individual research and study, and for support for research and education projects at nonprofit institutions. The course will focus on New England based or oriented foundations and institutions that offer support. We will examine open and subscription databases for grant support, explore the options for research on grants available in libraries, public service, and nonprofit organizations in our area, and the best strategies for preparing grant applications of individual and institutional projects. A particular focus will be individual research grants for work in New England libraries and research centers such as the American Antiquarian Society, John Carter Brown Library, etc. We will also look at state-based granting agencies in New York and New England.
0.50 units, Seminar
AMST 809
Research Boot Camp
Researching any topic might involve a wide range of information sources—scholarly books writings, newspaper and magazine articles, data and statistical sources, government information, primary sources, and social media. In this course, you will learn how to find, understand, organize and evaluate the rich diversity of information resources used by scholars to conduct research. Regular attendance and access to a computer, e-mail, and the internet are expected.
0.50 units, Seminar
AMST 809
The Digital Image of the City
With half the world’s population now in cities, policymakers and activists are focused on the promise of smart urbanism. Smart urbanism deploys technology and data to tackle issues from gentrification and pollution to access to public spaces and improved walkability. How does this focus affect the growth of equal and just cities? Focused on US cities, namely Hartford and New York, this course connects global and national issues to the intimate experiences of everyday urban life. It pairs specific technical skills such as social science data collection and geographic information systems (GIS) mapping with urban theory and urban studies. The course project will bring together the theory, literature, and your own research, data analysis, and maps into a smart city recommendation for the city.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 809
Senior Seminar: Race, Gender, and Global Security
Recent events have focused attention on questions of race, gender, social justice, and the militarization of police. This course will consider how notions of race and security that evolved in the late 20th and early 21st century U.S., have shaped political discourse, and how in turn, those ideas have circulated around the world. Through analyses of American Studies texts, documentaries, and popular culture, we will consider both emerging and prevailing definitions of security. By examining case studies in major global cities, including Los Angeles, we will explore how space has been organized around the logics of racialized threats and gendered notions of safety. For a cumulative paper, students will select a global city and offer history, context, and analysis of the production of insecure spaces.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 809
Queer America
Drawing on interdisciplinary work in lgbtq studies, Queer America uses key spaces and scales as lenses and sites in this research seminar. From bars and community centers, neighborhoods and cruising grounds, to cities and rural Walmarts, websites and social media, students will employ queer theory to broaden their understandings of lgbtq spaces in the nation. The application of classic and cutting-edge work in geographies of lgbtq culture will challenge the seemingly normal histories and geographies of American life.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 810
Reading for Advanced Research
This course will explore a number of reading strategies for students who are conducting advanced research in the humanities or interdisciplinary projects (e.g., a master’s essay, a publishable article, community or organizational planning, etc.). Such strategies are aimed at coming to terms with a literature and its concepts, meanings, and arguments, comparing disparate texts, and evaluating truth claims. They may include pre-reading and hermeneutic, syntopical, deconstructive, and symptomatic reading. Part of the course will be devoted to a practicum in exemplary reading strategies.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 813
The Past in America
The course will explore how Americans from the colonial period to the present day have appropriated and deployed images of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. We will ask the following questions: How have Americans expressed their own contemporary values and aspirations through the representation and interpretation of the past? Why do these worlds—so profoundly alien to the American context—remain fundamental parts of our contemporary culture? In addition to primary source readings from literature, art, politics, and history, we will take advantage of many Hartford institutions such as the Watkinson Library, Trinity College, the Athenaeum, the Walpole museum, and the Strong-Howard House to trace the origins and development of American reactions to the ancient, medieval and Renaissance worlds. By doing so we will learn not just about the evolution of historical ideas but about the nature of American identity.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 819
The Digital World of New England Artifacts, 1600-1900
This seminar offers students engagement in primary research in historical, literary, and material culture studies and current methods of visualizing data generated by that research to produce new modes of interpretation. Students will develop skills through a series of exercises based on the rich holdings of printed books, ephemera, maps, manuscripts and artifacts related to New England in the 17th -19th centuries in the Watkinson Library. They will work with a clearly defined body of material while studying visualization methodologies currently utilized in digital humanities projects; the final exercise is a portfolio, which will include a process journal, a reflection paper, and a "grant proposal" for a real-world project..
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 821
Nature and Health in American Culture
Since the industrial revolution, Americans have debated the proper balance of nature and health in an increasingly polluted country. This debate has been charged with competing discourses of nature and the environment, changing views of health and embodiment, and fraught notions of profit, interests, rights, and social justice in capitalist society. This course will explore that nexus, using such examples as nature cures, social Darwinist and nativist fear of contagion from immigrants and the poor, and contested standards of industrial and environmental health in twentieth- and twenty-first-century America.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 823
The History of American Sports
This course will examine American sports from their beginnings in Puritan-era games to the multi-billion-dollar industries of today. We will begin by looking at the relationship between work, play, and religion in the colonies. We will trace the beginnings of horseracing, baseball, and boxing, and their connections to saloons, gambling, and the bachelor subculture of the Victorian underworld. We will study the rise of respectable sports in the mid- and late 19th century; follow baseball as it became the national pastime; see how college football took over higher education; and account for the rise of basketball. We will look at sports and war, sports and moral uplift, and sports and the culture of consumption. Finally, we will examine the rise of mass leisure, the impact of radio and television, racial segregation and integration, the rise of women’s sports, battles between players and owners in the last 25 years, and the entrance of truly big money into professional sports. Readings in primary and secondary sources will emphasize the historical experience of sports in the United States so that students can develop a framework for understanding current events, including the NHL lockout, the Kobe Bryant affair, and the controversies over steroids.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 825
Museums, Visual Culture, and Critical Theory
This course aims to examine the issues brought up in key theoretical readings by applying their insights to case studies, particularly cases of museum exhibitions and programs. Issues to be addressed include: reproduction and spectacle; gender and display; ethnicity, 'primitivism,' and race; and sexuality, sexual practice, and censorship. Case studies will vary each year and will range from exhibitions focusing on consumption, to ethnicity and race (such as the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Pequot Museum), and sexuality (The Museum of Sex; the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibitions). Each class will combine theoretical readings with considerations of museum practice. By the end of the semester, students shall be able to analyze exhibitions using both the tools of postmodern theory and practical observation and history.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 826
Nuclear America
In this course we will explore large- and small-scale cultural landscapes as they have been shaped by nuclear power, weapons, transportation, and waste. Among these landscapes are towns created for making nuclear weapons; open-air testing sites; military complexes, such as ports, bases, airfields, and silos; the West’s uranium mines, and the land, water, and Native American territory polluted by radioactive tailings; nuclear reactor sites, from New England’s regional power plants to those in metropolitan areas; and land and offshore storage sites for nuclear waste. Besides the physical changes to the American landscape, nuclear sites involve extensive secrecy, exclusion, and policing, and they are invested with fraught meanings. We will explore nuclear America through history, geography, art, literature, and film.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 828
New England and the Black Atlantic
This course will explore the trans-Atlantic cultural, economic, and political constellation that has linked Africa, Europe, and the Americas from the 15th century to the present. In particular, we will investigate some key aspects of New England’s part in the Black Atlantic, including slavery and the slave trade; literature, public speaking, and the arts; commerce and industry; and travel and migration. We will ground this study in past and present geographic sites of diaspora, racialization, and contestation, including ships and ports, the home, church, workplace, market, and performance spaces.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 832
American Economic History and Public Policy
This course attempts to provide the student with a basic yet thorough understanding of the growth and development of the American economy. At the outset of the course, we will discuss the role and importance of economic history and the methodology of economic historians. We will then study the colonial economy, the early national and antebellum years, the reunification era, the emergence of a modern U.S. economy, and the development of the post-WWII economy up to the present. The analysis will focus on key economic sectors - agriculture, commerce, money and banking, labor, government - and their growth and development.
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 835
Museum Exhibition
One of the most engaging ways to promote collections and explore a subject or theme is to create an exhibition, which is a genre in and of itself—telling a story with artifacts. Through critical readings students will explore the cultural and educational goals of exhibits, visitor needs and accessibility, design elements (including technology), and audience evaluation methods utilized at libraries, historic houses and historical sites, and history and cultural museums. Drawing from the extensive and wide-ranging collections in the Watkinson Library, students will conceive, write, and install an exhibition, design and publish a catalogue, and plan and implement an opening event to take place at the end of the semester in the Watkinson.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 837
Women and the American Preservation Movement
In the 19th and 20th centuries, wilderness preservation was a principal aim of environmental thought and action. Women led many of the foundational organizations and campaigns. They also documented wildlife and wildflowers, taught nature studies, and wrote about the preservationist cause. As women of class and racial privilege, many also evidenced anti-urban, anti-immigrant biases, including in their discourses of nature. This course will combine secondary sources with such primary sources as natural histories, garden writing, novels, and children’s books; we also will visit Birdcraft Sanctuary in Fairfield (started by Mabel Osgood Wright, founder of the Connecticut Audubon Society). We will situate women’s preservationism in relation to broader social and cultural trends, and question the meanings and lasting associations of “nature” depicted as “wild” and “native.”
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 838
America Collects Itself
Collecting American history is as alive and well in America today as it was soon after the republic was constituted. In the late 18th-century Americans became enamored of “writing” the new nation’s history, both in the literal sense of creating narratives, and the figurative sense of collecting the books and documents which would inform and underpin those narratives. The first institution created specifically to collect and preserve American history was the Massachusetts Historical Society, founded in 1791, during George Washington’s presidency. This course will trace the conscious collecting (by both individuals and institutions) of documents and artifacts from the 18th century to the present day relating to "America," as that term was variously defined over time.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 839
Nationalizing America, 1932-1960
This course examines the Depression and New Deal, World War II, and the Cold War. During this period, an activist welfare state/national security state, and a national mass culture took form, shaped by responses to economic crisis and economic opportunity, the gathering power of popular-culture media and advertising, and wars hot and cold. Both political topics (e.g., New Deal labor or civil rights policies, McCarthyism) and social and cultural topics (e.g., The World War II home front, changing gender roles, suburbanization) will be investigated. Course materials include fiction, movies, and other documents from the period, as well as outstanding works of historical analysis and synthesis.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 841
Narrating America in New England
Long before the republic was constituted, New Englanders became enamored of “writing” its history, both in the literal sense of creating written narratives, and the figurative sense of selecting and collecting the books and documents which would inform those narratives. The first “American” to write its history was Cotton Mather, in his 1702 work, Magnalia Christi Americana. Thomas Prince started what he called his “New England Library” when he entered Harvard College in 1703. The first institution created specifically to collect American history was the Massachusetts Historical Society, founded in 1791. This course will trace how New Englanders dominated not only the writing but also the collecting of American history—which still impacts the course of scholarship today.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 843
Spectacle, Social Control, and the Spaces of Display
This course will analyze a range of built spaces, elite ones like museums and vernacular ones like shopping malls and casinos, to see how they reflect and shape our changing ideas of spectacle and display. Beginning with an examination of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the 1939 World’s Fair, we will examine how buildings exercise authority and shape our behavior. We will consider how displays of culture and commerce encode the agendas of capitalism, both literal and cultural, by looking at the packaging of commodities and of the materials within museums; retail entertainment architecture like those of Las Vegas and Disney and its fusion with the museum; and memorial museums and structures, particularly the Holocaust Museum.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 844
The Gilded Age: 1865-1900
The transformation of the United States into an urban industrial nation, with special attention to the social and cultural effects of industrialization. The course will begin by examining Reconstruction, but will concentrate on the years after 1877. Extensive readings in original source materials, including several novels, as well as in analytic histories.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 849
The Culture of Americanism in the 20th Century
In 1894, Teddy Roosevelt published "True Americanism" in Forum Magazine, declaring the absolute necessity of applying a "fervid Americanism" to the solution of every problem and evil facing the country, including "Americanizing" newcomers to our shore. Nearly 50 years later, the rhetoric of Americanism proposed by Time publisher Henry Luce in his February 1941 editorial in Life Magazine, "The American Century," aimed to persuade Americans that the country's involvement in World War II and in the post-war world were not only necessary but inevitable. The Luce publications after the war publicized the culture of Americanism that was an essential part of the anti-communism that supported the Cold War for over half a century. Leaving aside the idea of American exceptionalism—"the notion that the United States has had a special mission and virtue that makes it unique among nations"—our focus will be on the culture of Americanism as it was promulgated in the Luce publications and other media outlets during and after World War II, and the extent to which it encouraged postwar homogeneity while discouraging the expression of dissent and non-conformist ideas.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 851
The World of Rare Books
The “world” of rare books encompasses a basic knowledge of the history of the book as object, the history and practice of printing since Gutenberg, book collecting in the West since the Renaissance (including bibliophilic clubs and societies), the trade (dealers, book auctions and book fairs), rare book libraries and librarians, and bibliographic scholarship. We will spend a week or two on each of these themes, which will include lecture and discussion, sources for further reading, exercises and projects, and a few activities to give a flavor of the topic (e.g., field trips, hand-setting type, or a mock auction). All classes will take place in the Watkinson library, the rare book and special collections department of the Trinity College Library.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 858
Creating the New Right: The Conservative Movement in Post-World War II America
This seminar will examine the political and cultural environment that supported and sustained the New Right political movement that emerged after World War II and became fully formed during the Reagan years and more recently in the Tea Party Movement supported by non-profit political action committees. The key to conservative success lay in their hopes to replace the narrative of American liberalism—now progressivism—with its emphasis on democratic-egalitarian concepts, with a narrative more in keeping with conservative thinking that stresses the self-governing individual, minimum government activity, and entrepreneurial and market freedom. We want to focus our discussion and research on cultural change in America and the responses to those changes by the American people as well as by the two major political parties.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 863
America's Musical Landscape
This course examines music composed and performed in the United States from the end of the seventeenth century through the beginning of the twenty-first century. As such, we will consider, among other topics, the flowering of sacred music in New England's churches in the 1700's; the fusion of slave and planter musical traditions in Virginai, South Carolina, and Lousiana; black and blackface minstrelsy in the middle and late nineteenth century; songs of the Civil War; the rise of Tin Pan Alley in New York City int he early twentieth centruy; blusgrass music of Kentucky and tennessee; the music of Charles Ives, a modernist composer born in Danbury, Connecticut; and the music of America's urban ghettoes from the bronx to Detroit.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 868
American Labor and Cultural Politics
This course will address the importance of the American labor movement in producing, contesting, and amplifying meaning within larger contexts of class, knowledge, and power. Although many such meanings arise within the expected domains of work, pay, and workers, and serve as crucial resources for communities and unions, they also are closely related to projects of achieving justice for larger imagined communities (e.g., “the people”). Readings will provide a broad overview of labor movements since the Civil War as well as close study of selected cultural work, such as challenging class subordination, shaping and contesting racialization, engendering and valorizing work, interrogating the wage relation, pursuing contradictory visions of authority and modernization, and seeking reform within today’s increasingly hostile political climates and structures.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 870
Native American Art and Storytelling
This seminar examines Native American Indian narrative artistic, pictorial, and literary traditions from North and Central America.Such traditions are inseparable from culture and performance, community and nation, human life and the physical world. The visual and tactile media considered include pictorial manuscripts, ceramics, bead- and shellwork, textiles, photographs, and paintings. The seminar will be interdisciplinary, with each unit including analyses of texts and visual materials and readings on aesthetics, translation, memory, and appropriation.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 873
American Animation and Society
Animation has played a significant role in American culture. This course will consider the development of animation from the 1920s to today in its social, economic and cultural contexts. Special attention will be given to the perception of animation as a medium for children, to the growing acceptance of mature themes in shorts and feature films, and the power of imagery derived from animation in advertising, merchandising, and even political propaganda. We will look primarily at American feature films, which have dominated the international animation market since the groundbreaking Snow White (1939), the change from cel animation to CGI, and the innovations of studios that compete with still-dominant Disney, including Connecticut’s own Blue Sky. The course will include guest animators such as Bob Camp, co-creator of Ren and Stimpy.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 874
From Poe to Game of Thrones: Fantasy and American Culture
While modern American fantasy literature experienced sudden growth after the enormous popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in the 1960s, American fantasy fiction has an extensive and separate tradition beginning in the nineteenth century with the works of Edgar Alan Poe. Moreover, it engaged social and environmental issues, from Henry George’s Looking Backward to Andre Norton’s Beastmaster. Women writers of fantasy since the 1930s, including C. L. Moore and Leigh Brackett, engaged issues of gender and equality. American traditions of humor and irreverence derived from Twain and Ade and folk traditions inform mid-century fantasy, while the social realism of Dos Passos finds rebirth in the darker stories of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 875
Made in New England
Commodities—things produced, exchanged, and consumed—link places to the larger world. In this course, we will examine how natural resources and material goods have become marketable commodities through social, economic, political, technological, environmental, and cultural processes. Looking especially at things grown and made in past and present New England for capitalist exchange, we will explore how they have shaped and signified local communities while connecting them to global geographies of markets, power, and meaning.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 880
New England Landscapes
This course concerns historical geographies of New England, or the meeting of nature and human agency in “developing” the land and waters of the region. It explores such iconic landscapes as Native American fields and villages; New England’s villages and commons; farms, fields, factories, and forests; free-flowing and dammed rivers; seaports; cities; and tourist destinations. We will attempt to understand both how this region has been imagined and how its changing, often contested landscapes have been related to the political economy, social identities (such as class, race, and gender), and cultural values, metrics, and desires.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 894
Museums and Communities Internship
Matriculated American studies students have the opportunity to engage in an academic internship at an area museum or archive for credit toward the American studies degree. Interested students should contact the Office of Graduate Studies for more information.
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 940
Independent Study
Selected topics in special areas are available by arrangement with the instructor and written approval of the graduate adviser and program director. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for the special approval form.
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 953
Research Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, graduate students may do an independent research project on a topic in American studies. Written approval of the graduate adviser and the program director are required. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for the special approval form.
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 954
Thesis Part I
(The two course credits are considered pending in Part I of the thesis; they will be awarded with the completion of Part II.)
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 955
Thesis Part II
(Continuation of American Studies 954.)
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 956
Thesis
(Completion of two course credits in one semester).
2.00 units, Independent Study