Inside Course Descriptions

Department of American Studies

Spring 2018 - Inside Course Descriptions

AMST 30106 Gender and Popular Culture

Perin Gurel M/W 11:00AM-12:15PM

01 CRN 29357 Majors Only 01 CRN 30418 Open to all

03 CRN 30417 First Year Only

 

This course will explore how popular culture, constructed through as well as against folk and high cultures, operates at the intersection of gender with race, class, sexuality, religion, and nationality in the United States. Approaching gender and popular culture theoretically, historiographically, and ethnographically, we will consider how mass media in its commodified form has helped construct gendered identities, communities, and power structures in the United States since the late nineteenth century. For example, we will consider the media consumption practices of working-women at the turn of the century alongside their political activism and class consciousness. Similarly, we will discuss the popularity of the trilogy The Hunger Games and its feral heroine Katniss in relation to feminism, fandom, and genre adaptation. Along the way, we will consider popular culture's ideological and hegemonic potential in relation to gender justice. Do negative representations harm the cause of women's and/or minority rights? Can mass media spur or prevent violence? What do the rise of the Internet and social media activism mean for the intersections of popular culture and social justice? Assignments include a weekly media journal, two curated multimedia projects, and a final analytical paper.

 

AMST 30108 American Capitalism

Korey Garibaldi T/R 2:00-3:15PM

01 CRN 29921 Majors Only 02 CRN 30419 Open to all

03 CRN 30420 First Year Only

 

This course offers a broad thematic overview of American capitalism from the early nineteenth century up through the late 1980s. As a class, we will devote most of our energies to discovering, analyzing and reflecting on the cultural and social phenomena that coincided with the economic transformation of the U.S. from a newly-independent British colony, to the most influential economic power in the world. The range of historical developments we will consider in relation to the many expansions and contractions of American capitalism during the modern era include: European imperialism; massive population shifts; U.S. territorial expansion; science and technological change; prosperity; chattel slavery; architecture, infrastructure, and material culture; the economics of war, indigenous dispossession, and debt servitude; and characteristics of economic flux. Our readings and viewings will be a mix of scholarly and primary sources (including an abundance of literary and artistic ephemera, such as novels, visual art, and films). Over the course of the semester students will use this unusual combination of seminar materials to build and refine an ability to synthesize both the historical and cultural characteristics of American capitalism via extensive in-class discussions, three short writing assignments, and an 8 - 10 page final paper based on course readings.

AMST 30120 Gay and Lesbian America

Jason Ruiz T/R 3:30-4:45PM

01 CRN 29358 Majors Only 02 CRN 30421 Open to all

03 CRN 30422 First Year Only

 

This course investigates the historical, political, and cultural dimensions of gay and lesbian identities in the United States from the early twentieth century to the present, paying special attention to the historical constructedness of sexual categories. It considers such matters as the medicalization of homosexual practices, the emergence of homophile movements and "gay liberation," the ways that AIDS affected those nascent movements, and the recent movement of LGBTQ politics to the center of American public life. We will engage with a variety of sources, including oral histories, documentary films, queer theory, and popular culture, to interrogate how gay- and lesbian-identified people challenge and reinforce the idea of the American Dream.

 

AMST 30127 The Making of Irish America

Robert Schmuhl M/W 3:30-4:45PM

01 CRN 29359 Majors Only 02 CRN 30423 Open to all

 

What is Irish America and how did it develop? This class will focus on distinct periods of Irish and American interaction in the United States from early emigration times (with its emphasis on manual labor and service work) to involvement in politics (especially in large cities) and, after years of bias and bigotry, widespread participation in American business and industry. Why do we see the rapid changes within this particular ethnic group? What characteristics of Irish life contributed to those changes? What American traits were significant in the formation of Irish America? The class will approach these questions and others from a variety of perspectives: historical, political, literary, journalistic, and economic. Assigned readings will reflect the interdisciplinary orientation of the course. There will be mid-term and final examinations as well as a major research paper on a specific aspect of the Irish-American experience.

AMST 30133 Buddhism in America

Thomas Tweed T/R 2:00-3:15PM

01 CRN 29360 Majors Only 02 CRN 30425 Open to all

03 CRN 30424 First Year Only

 

This course traces the history of Buddhism in the United States since the nineteenth century. After considering the history of Asian immigrants who brought Buddhism with them and American-born converts who embraced it here, we take some steps toward a cultural history of Buddhism in the US since 1945, analyzing the tradition's influence on other faiths and on politics, activism, fiction, poetry, painting, video art, film, music, architecture, how-to literature, psychology, and medicine.

 

AMST 30135 Off the Wall

Erika Doss M/W 9:30-10:45PM

01 CRN 29361 Majors Only 02 CRN 30426 Open to all

03 CRN 30427 First Year Only

 

The 1950s, we're told, were America's "best" years: an idyllic era of suburban family togetherness, television shows like Leave it to Beaver, Disneyland (which opened in Anaheim in 1955), and really big cars. Magazine publisher Henry Luce and other mid-century American power-brokers promoted the postwar US on hegemonic terms: as a unified nation defined by a liberal political economy and by the expectations and desires of middle-class citizens united by the shared goals of upward social mobility and consumerism (white collar jobs, home ownership), college educations, family/suburban lifestyles, etc. This was called the "consensus model" of American identity. Not surprisingly, this ideal of America and these normative expectations about "being" American created a number of tensions in post-World War II America. First, the goals themselves were unattainable for some Americans due to the nation's persistent habits of racism, sexism, class preference, and homophobia. Second, some Americans felt restricted and restrained by expectations of middle-class conformity, among other things. This led to a number of counter-hegemonic cultural expressions: from art that came off the wall to artists who went on the road. This course examines those American artists and their rebellions, from artists like Jackson Pollock, who took his paintings off the wall and made them on the floor, to writers like Jack Kerouac, whose novel On the Road was published in 1957. It surveys American art from the Great Depression of the 1930s through the early 1970s, looking at art styles and movements including Regionalism, Abstract Expressionism, Beat, Funk, Pop, Minimalism, Conceptual art, Psychedelia, Earthworks, Feminist art, and the Black Art Movement. Themes include the "triumph of American painting" after World War II, links between art and politics, the development of postwar art theory, and intersections between the avant-garde, popular culture, and consumer culture. A special "Elvis Day" examines post-World War II youth culture and counter-hegemonic rebellion.

 

AMST 30138 Advanced Reporting

Jack Colwell M/W 2:00-3:15PM

01 CRN 30428 Majors Only

 

This is an advanced course in journalistic reporting and writing devoted to learning how to prepare, in a professional manner, in-depth articles for national and local publications and on-line.  Emphasis will be on going out to get the news, through record searches, interviews and covering events.  Stress also will be on the ethics and responsibilities of journalists in obtaining and presenting information.

 

AMST 30141 Native American Literature

Robert Walls T/R 12:30-1:45PM

01 CRN 24113 Majors Only 02 CRN 24114 Open to all

03 CRN 24947 First Year Only

 

Native Americans have long been trapped in a betwixt and between state, caught by the forces of past and present, tradition and assimilation, romanticization and caricature. Yet through it all, Native voices have continued to speak of the Indian experience with great power and eloquence. This course will introduce Native American literature as a distinctive contribution to American and world literature. We will examine a wide range of expressive culture from the last century, including novels, poetry, graphic stories, children's literature, film, digital media, autobiographies, performances of oral literature, and music. Through the passion, creativity, and humor of Indian authors, we will learn something of the historical experience of Native men and women, and how they have reacted to massacres and mascots, racism and reservations, poverty and political oppression. Above all, we will try to understand how indigenous authors have used literature to engage crucial issues of race and culture in the United States that continue to influence their lives: identity, self-discovery, the centrality of place, cultural survival, and the healing power of language and spirituality. Class discussions will incorporate literary, historical, and ethnographic perspectives of Native expressive culture and the agency of authors as artists and activist’s vis-à-vis the wider American literary tradition. Authors include Sherman Alexie, Nicholas Black Elk, Louise Erdrich, D'Arcy McNickle, N. Scott Momaday, Linda Hogan, Winona LaDuke, and Leonard Peltier.

 

AMST 30143 Fashioning American Identities

Sophie White M/W 11:00AM-12:15PM

01 CRN 25729 Majors Only 02 CRN 26100 Open to all

03 CRN 26348 First Year Only

 

Did Puritans really only wear black and white, or did they wear fashionable lace, silk ribbons and bright colors? Did early settlers wash their bodies to get clean? What role did fashion play in the making of the American Revolution? And how did slaves and Native Americans adorn their bodies? This course will address such questions by focusing on dress and material culture. We will consider the role of dress in the construction of colonial identities, and examine the ways that bodies operated as sites for negotiating class and ethnic encounters.



 

AMST 30145 Immigrant America

Jennifer Huynh M/W 5:05-6:20PM

01 CRN 29922 Majors Only 02 CRN 29922 Open to all

03 CRN 30429 First Year Only

 

This course offers a critical examination of what it means to be an immigrant or child of immigrants through scholarly works, memoirs, blogs, and popular journalism. Since the liberalization of immigration policy in 1965, immigrants from Latin America and Asia are becoming an increasing and emergent demographic of American society. In major American cities such as Los Angeles and New York, they comprise over 50% of the population. This course focuses on how immigrants and the children of immigrants experience the United States. How are immigrants changing the US racial and ethnic structure? How do their experiences differ given varying legal statuses? How is the second generation becoming American? We will explore these questions through readings that focus on family, religion, education, dating and sexuality.

AMST 30160 America in the 20th Century

Annie Coleman T/R 12:30-1:45PM

01 CRN 26809 Majors Only 02 CRN 27519 Open to all

03 CRN 27518 First Year Only

 

In February of 1941 Time editor Henry Luce urged Americans to defend democratic values, assert influence upon the world, and make the 20th century the "American Century." This term is now so widely embraced that even gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson subtitled his memoir (Kingdom of Fear) Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century. This course will trace the rise of America's political, economic, and cultural power from the 1890s through the 1990s, along with the conflicts surrounding labor, race, gender, war, and the environment that accompanied that rise. How has this dynamic historical context, we will ask, served as both the backdrop for and the product of American culture? From muckraking journalism and automobile ads to Cold War films, Hip Hop, and Walmart from Progressive to Neoliberal Eras we will examine how 20th century politics, society, and culture mutually informed one another to create the American Century. Assignments will include midterm and final essay exams, as well as shorter written and multimedia assignments on a variety of topics.       

AMST 30166 Magazine Writing

Jason Kelly M/W 3:30-4:45PM

01 CRN 25861 Majors Only

 

This course will examine various forms of magazine journalism, from the direct presentation of information to narrative journalism to the art of the first-person essay. The class, requiring students to complete a variety of written assignments while performing in a workshop setting, will emphasize those storytelling techniques essential to writing for publication.

 

AMST 30167 Faith and Feminism

Kathleen Cummings T/R 12:30-1:45PM

01 CRN 29923 Majors Only 02 CRN 30432 Open to all

03 CRN 30431 First Year Only

 

"Faith and Feminism in America" examines the relationship between religious beliefs and practices and the feminist movement in the United States from the publication of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible (1895-1898) until the present day. Topics explored include: the role of religious belief and practice in shaping understandings of gender difference; women's leadership in American churches; feminist critiques of organized religion; religious critiques of feminism; and feminist spirituality. To reflect the professor's expertise and Notre Dame's institutional context, many of readings and class sessions will focus on Christianity and in particular Catholicism. There will be ample opportunities to explore the intersection of faith and feminism in the lives of American Jewish and Muslim women.

AMST 30171 The Digital Newsroom

Richard Jones/Victoria St. Martin M/W 2:00-3:15PM

01 CRN 29924 Majors Only

 

Building on the skills acquired in Fundamentals of Journalism, this practicum course is centered around students preparing stories, photos and videos for The Observer, the university's independent, student-run newspaper. Students will acquire real-world experience in reporting, writing, and using their digital journalism skills by covering live news events on campus and in the surrounding community. Pre-requisite: Fundamentals of Journalism.

AMST 30180 Native American Studies

Brian Collier M/W 9:30-10:45AM

01 CRN 29363 Majors Only 02 CRN 30434 Open to all

03 CRN 30433 First Year Only

 

America is Indian Country! Our identity is tied to both real American Indian people and romanticized ideas about them. Anglo Americans liked to play Indian but they also claimed a right to places, land, and water. All of this presented a variety of problems for Native Americans over time. This course examines Native Americans and their constant adaptation and survival from European contact through the 20th century, as well as Anglo America's cooption of Native resources, traditions, and images. It explores themes of Native American creation, treaties, education, sovereignty, culture, literature, humor, art, and activism. We will address national issues but also recognize there are over 500 distinct cultural and linguistic groups who are the indigenous people of the modern United States. Questions we will explore include why Native people are sovereign but also U.S. Citizens, why Indian mascots are such a hot issue, and how Native people have come to run so many Casinos. This course is the history and culture course that brings the first Americans together with the rest of America.

 

AMST 30181 American Political and Media Culture

Robert Schmuhl M/W 12:30-1:45PM

01 CRN 29364 Majors Only 02 CRN 30435 Open to all

03 CRN 30436 First Year Only

 

This course is an introductory and interdisciplinary examination of American political and media culture, particularly contemporary political thinking and behavior. Although we will examine the roots and development of U.S. political culture from the nation's founding into the 21st century, a principal concern of this class will be the involvement of the mass media (journalism, broadcasting, advertising, etc.) in our political life since the 1930s. In considering politics, government, and the media, we will attempt to come to terms with the role and influence of different forms of popular communications in modern political culture. Are traditional media forms fading in significance with the rise of social media? What methods of media assessment work most effectively in analyzing political and governmental issues? Does emphasis on a public figure's personality or image--as transmitted by the media--become more important than policy positions in the citizenry's assessment? Students will read several books and individual articles throughout the semester. Grading will be based on a mid-term and a final examination as well as a short paper and a more comprehensive, detailed essay.

 

 

AMST 30192 Sports and American Culture

Annie Coleman T/R 9:30-10:45AM\

01 CRN 24810 Majors Only 02 CRN 24950 A&L Juniors only

03 CRN 24949 A&L Sophs Only 04 CRN 24948 First Year Only

 

Sports play a big role in American culture. From pick up soccer and the Baraka Bouts to fantasy football and the Olympics, sports articulate American identities, priorities, aspirations, and concerns. They reflect our dominant values but also highlight our divisions and serve as a means to question those values. Athletes, organizers, spectators, fans, and the media all have a stake. This course will examine sport's role in American society and culture thematically, covering the late 19th century to present and paying special attention to sport as a physical performance (including issues of danger, drugs, disability, spectatorship, and fandom), sport as an expression of identity (the construction of race, gender, class, community, and nation), sport as a form of labor (with issues of power and control, safety, and amateurism), and sport as a cultural narrative (how do writers, historians, and the media attach meaning to it?). We will examine history, journalism, documentary film, and television coverage; topics will range from Victorian bicyclists and early college football to Muhammad Ali and Olympic snowboarding. Requirements include reading and regular discussion, a variety of short analytical papers, and a culminating project in which students will choose one course theme to analyze through a topic of their own choice.


 

AMST 30194 Transnational America

Perin Gurel M/W 2:00-3:15PM

01 CRN 24811 Majors Only 02 CRN 24951 Open to all

03 CRN 24952 First Year Only

 

What does American Studies have to do with the rest of the world? A lot. The movement of people, ideas, and products across our national borders have influenced both the United States and the world around us. (Think immigration, commerce, study abroad programs, cultural fads like belly dance and gangnam style, but also, imperialism, terrorism, and drones.) In this course, we will explore both the presence of the world in the United States and the presence of the United States in the world, with a focus on the politics of culture. How have Americans imagined the world and how have non-Americans imagined the United States? Is there such a thing as "cultural imperialism" or "Americanization" and how does it work? How has culture influenced U.S. foreign policy and how have U.S. foreign policy makers and non-governmental groups sought to influence culture, both within the United States and elsewhere? The course has a chronological emphasis, beginning with the Spanish-Cuban-American war (1898) and U.S. imperialism in the Pacific, going on to the post-WWI "Wilsonian Moment", WWII, "the American Century" and the Cold War, and the War on Terror. Even more important, however, is its thematic emphasis on the connections between culture and policy. Requirements include discussion, reading responses, and a final research-based paper.

 

AMST 30197 Public Art and Memory in America

Erika Doss M/W 12:30-1:45PM

01 CRN 29365 Majors Only 02 CRN 30438 Open to all

03 CRN 30437 First Year Only

 

Public art is a major facet of modern and contemporary American culture and is often controversial: in the 1980s, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was criticized by some for being "anti-American," in the 1990s, the Smithsonian cancelled an exhibit on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima after certain members of Congress said it was not "patriotically correct," in the 2000s, the design and construction of the National September 11 Memorial (dedicated in New York in 2011) was beset by protests. This course examines the politics and aesthetics of public art in America from the perspectives of its producers and audiences. What is public art? Why is it made? Who is it for? How and why does it embody tensions in American culture and society regarding identity, authority, and taste? Specific topics to be explored include American memorials and remembrance rituals, the development of the public art "industry," community art projects (such as murals), national arts programs and policies, landscape architecture, tourism, and museums. Our objectives are to recognize how public art shapes and directs local and national understandings of history and memory, self and society, in the United States.