Courses: Spring 2020

American Studies- Spring 2020 Inside Course Descriptions

AMST 30106 Gender and Popular Culture

Perin Gurel                                  M/W 11:00-12:15p.m.

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, and nationality in the United States. Approaching gender and popular culture from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives, we will consider how culture in its commodified form has helped construct gendered identities, communities, and power structures in the United States. For example, we will examine how popular media texts may influence ideas about gender and how fans may transform and use mass culture texts for different purposes. Along the way, we will consider popular culture's ideological potential in relation to gender justice. Do negative representations harm the cause of women's and/or minority rights? What do the rise of the Internet and social media activism mean for the intersections of popular culture and social justice? Assignments include mini essays, a multimedia essay, and a final creative project accompanied by an analytical paper.


AMST 30112 Witnessing the Sixties

Peter Cajka                                   T/R 11:00-12:15p.m.

The purpose of this interdisciplinary course is twofold: to examine the social context and cultural change of the sixties and to explore the various journalistic and aesthetic representations of events, movements, and transformations. We will focus on the manner in which each writer or artist witnessed the sixties and explore fresh styles of writing and cultural expression, such as the new journalism popularized by Tom Wolfe and the music/lyrics performed by Bob Dylan. Major topics for consideration include the counterculture and the movement--a combination of civil rights and anti-war protest.


AMST 30133 Buddhism in America

Thomas Tweed                            T/R 2:00-3:15p.m.

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, martial arts, how-to literature, psychology, and medicine.


AMST 30138 Advanced Reporting

Jack Colwell                              M/W 2:00-3:15p.m. (C/L w/ JED)

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/R12:30-1:45p.m.

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 activists 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 30145 Immigrant America

Jennifer Huynh                           M/W 11:00-12:15p.m.

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. This course will include a community based learning component where students will work with immigrant serving organizations. Students will have the option to teach citizenship classes or to work with immigrant children. Service will be 2-3 hours per week outside of class.


AMST 30155 Ethnography for Social Justice

Jennifer Huynh                            M/W 8:00-9:15a.m.

Ethnography is commonly known as both a set of research methods and a genre of scholarly writing about people's lives. In this course students will read ethnographies focused on racial, class, and ethnic inequalities in America. Students will learn how to conduct ethnographic research and undertake a field project. Students are required to volunteer once a week at a non-profit organization in the South Bend community (2-3 hours a week, including transportation time).


AMST 30160 America in the 20th Century

Annie Coleman                           T/R 9:30-10:45a.m.

The field of American Studies takes as its central concern the tension between the ideals and institutions that unite us as a nation, and the diversity of identities, perspectives, and experiences that make that unity so difficult to achieve. This course examines how those tensions have played out in 20 th century American history, with a focus on domestic politics and the production of culture, particularly music. The course also examines how those tensions have been reflected in the writing of American history itself. Taking a cue from the 1619 Project that re-conceptualized American history by placing the institution of slavery at its center, we will explore what 20 th century U.S. history looks like when we move traditionally marginalized voices to the fore, and focus explicitly on the relationship between racialized power and the production of culture. Through the Blues and folk music to Elvis, girl groups, Chicano rock, disco, and hip hop, this blends historical perspectives and method with approaches from American studies to rethink 20 th century history as well as the making of that history. Assignments will include extensive reading, midterm and final essay exams, and three short papers/projects. Classes will include some lectures as well as a significant amount of discussion.


AMST 30166 Magazine Writing

Jason Kelly                                 M/W 11:00-12:15a.m. (C/L w/ JED)


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                   M/W 12:30-1:45p.m. 

"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?

Rich Jones                                    M/W 9:30-10:45a.m. (C/L w/ JED)

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. Prerequisite: Fundamentals of Journalism.

AMST 30180 Native American Studies

Brian Collier                                     M/W 9:30-10:45a.m.

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 30189 Civil Rights in America

Peter Cajka                                        T/R 3:30-4:45p.m.

This course explores the Black Freedom Struggle from the Civil Rights Movement to Black Power and into Black Lives Matter. How have African Americans mobilized to secure recognition of human dignity from the American Political system? How did the Freedom Struggle shape American culture? By studying the Civil Rights Movement in America, this class opens up conversation on the central issues of American history: race, racism, rights, and freedom.AMST 30192

Sports and American Culture

Annie Coleman                                  T/R 12:30-1:45p.m.

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. 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 30197 Public Art and Memory in America

Erika Doss                                          M/W 9:30-10:35a.m.

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, museums, and national fairs. 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. Course includes field trips; students will develop their own "Wiki Public Art" pages.

American Studies- Spring 2020 Outside Course Descriptions

AMST 30272 American Literary Traditions II

Francisco Robles                               M/W 9:30-10:45a.m.

This course is premised on the contested concepts of "American" and "literature." It posits and departs from the idea that a certain cultural stances were generated in the American colonial period and the earlier nineteenth century prior to the Civil War, subject always to transnational influence. Among these are Puritanism, the "Other," nature, commerce, and the category of literature itself. Such positions continued to exert a powerful - if always conflicted and contested - hold on subsequent major writers in the United States after the Civil War into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will closely examine writers such as Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, Kate Chopin, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Ralph Ellison, and John Updike to see how they practice their craft in response to and revision of this inherited American tradition. 


AMST 30326 US Sex/Sexuality/Gender to the 1880s

Gail Bederman                                  T/R 11:00-12:15p.m.

Sexuality, like other areas of social life, has a history. Yet historians have only written about the history of sex for the last 40 years or so. This course will both introduce students to a variety of current themes in the history of sexuality and invite them to consider how they themselves might research and write that history. The class will survey recent topics in the history of sexuality from first colonial settlement to the end of the Victorian era. Issues we may consider include different religions' attitudes towards sexuality (the Puritans were not anti-sex!), how different cultures' views of sex shaped relations between colonists and Indians, why sex was an important factor in establishing laws about slavery in Virginia, birth control and abortion practices, changing patterns of courtship, men who loved men and women who loved women, and why the average number of children in American families fell by 50 percent between 1790 and 1890. Over the course of the semester, students will also design a small research proposal on some aspect of the history of American sexuality prior to 1890. Written assignments will include a weekly journal, midterm and final examinations; a book review; and a small research project. 


AMST 30329 History of American Sport

John Soares                                       T/R 2:00-3:15p.m.

Sport, a major part of American entertainment and culture today, has roots that extend back to the colonial period. This course will provide an introduction to the development of American sport, from the horse racing and games of chance in the colonial period through to the rise of contemporary sport as a highly commercialized entertainment spectacle. Using a variety of primary and secondary sources, we will explore the ways that American sport has influenced and been influenced by economics, politics, popular culture, and society, including issues of race, gender and class. Given Notre Dame's tradition in athletics, we will explore the University's involvement in this historical process. 


AMST 30429 Black Chicago Politics

Dianne Pinderhughes                       T/R 3:30-4:45p.m.

This course introduces students to the vast, complex and exciting dimensions of black Chicago politics. First, institutional structures, geographic distribution and population characteristics will inform students about the sociodemographic background of the African American population in the city. Second, the course explores varying types of political expression that have developed over more than a century, including electoral politics, mass movements, and partisan politics; it will also examine the impact of the Chicago machine, and of the Washington era on the political and economic status of African Americans in the city. Third, public policy developments in housing, education and criminal justice will be discussed. Fourth, the course also compares black political standing with other racial and ethnic groups in the city. Finally, the course will introduce students to the long tradition of social science research centered on the city of Chicago. 


AMST 30460 Intro to Latino Studies

Alex Chavez                           M/W 12:30-1:45p.m.

This course will examine the Latino experience in the United States, including the historical, cultural, and political foundations of Latino life. We will approach these topics comparatively, thus attention will be given to the various experiences of a multiplicity of Latino groups in the United States. 


AMST 30463 Latinos in Future of America

Luis Fraga                             M/W 11:00-12:15p.m.

This course will examine the opportunities and challenges facing Latino communities today as they simultaneously transform and are transformed by their continuing growth in U.S. society. Through a careful examination of the biographies of leaders in Latino communities, we will examine what role they have each played in empowering Latino communities to advance in business, arts, education, community organizing, entertainment, medicine, religion, law, academia, politics, and other areas. The course will coincide with the Transformative Latino Leadership Speaker Series sponsored by the Arthur Foundation through the Institute for Latino Studies. Students in the class will have the opportunity to interact with invited leaders in several setting including the classroom, meals, receptions, and university-wide events. The primary course requirement is a research essay about the life and career of a chosen leader. 


AMST 30467 History of American Indian Education

Brian Collier                         M/W 8:00-9:15a.m.

This course blends the History of Education and American Indian History and is open (by invitation only) to students interested in action research on these two topics. The course may include an opportunity to collaborate on a project with a school that is part of the Native mission network schools and may include travel to a Native community. The course is by invitation only. 


AMST 30468 American Politics

David Campbell                    T/R 9:30-10:45a.m.

This course surveys the basic institutions and practices of American politics. The goal of the course is to gain a more systematic understanding of American politics that will help you become better informed and more articulate. The course examines the institutional and constitutional framework of American politics and identifies the key ideas needed to understand politics today. The reading and writing assignments have been designed not only to inform you, but also to help develop your analytic and research skills. The themes of the course include the logic and consequences of the separation of powers, the build-in biases of institutions and procedures, the origins and consequence of political reforms, and recent changes in American politics in the 21st century. This semester we will emphasize the significance of the upcoming 2016 elections, and the course will include election-related assignments. Although the course counts toward the Political Science major and will prepare prospective majors for further study of American politics, its primary aim is to introduce students of all backgrounds and interests to the information, ideas, and academic skills that will enable them to understand American politics better and help them become more thoughtful and responsible citizens. 


AMST 30518 Inner City America

William Carbonaro              M/W 2:00-3:15p.m.

Most Americans think of the "inner city" as a place of misery, danger, and despair. Why do most American cities have racially segregated areas dominated by concentrated poverty? What are the lives of inner city residents like? Why do the legal, political, economic, and educational institutions that serve these communities struggle so mightily to improve the lives of inner city residents? In this course, we will address all of these questions by viewing all five seasons of The Wire, David Simon's epic tale of life in inner city Baltimore. Sociological theory and research will serve as powerful tools to help students "decode" The Wire, and better understand of the social forces that create and sustain inner city poverty, violence, and disorder. (Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors Only) 


AMST 30703 History of Television

Michael Kackman                M/W-11:00-12:15p.m.

Television has been widely available in the United States for only half a century, yet already it has become a key means through which we understand our culture. Our course examines this vital medium from three perspectives. First, we will look at the industrial, economic and technological forces that have shaped U.S. television since its inception. These factors help explain how U.S. television adopted the format of advertiser-supported broadcast networks and why this format is changing today. Second, we will explore television's role in American social and political life: how TV has represented cultural changes in the areas of gender, class, race and ethnicity. Third, we will discuss specific narrative and visual strategies that characterize program formats. Throughout the semester we will demonstrate how television and U.S. culture mutually influence one another, as television both constructs our view of the world and is affected by social and cultural forces within the U.S. 


AMST 30737 The Hyphenated American

Anne Garcia-Romero           T/R 12:30-1:45p.m.

Contemporary U.S. theater ought to value equity, diversity, and inclusion by more consistently producing works that reflect its culturally complex society. This course is designed to introduce students to theatrical texts by contemporary Latinx, African-American, Asian-American, and Native American playwrights. Many of these playwrights' works engage with a variety of cultural experiences that complicate definitions of U.S. society. This course will examine the trajectory of culturally inclusive U.S. theater from the late 20th century to the present. The course will also consider how U.S. regional theaters work toward greater equity by including diverse voices. Students will be expected to read plays and analyze them using methods provided. The course aims to provide students with tools for reflection to develop their own analytical and creative responses to contemporary U.S. theater.