Courses: Fall 2023

AMST 10100     Intro to American Studies     Peter Cajka     M/W/F     12:50-1:40 PM

This course explores the rich and varied field of American Studies, a field dedicated to understanding America's diverse cultures and the ways American national identity has been constructed and contested differently over time. Through lectures, readings, and discussion, we will consider questions such as: How have ideas about race, gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, and class shaped the making and meaning of America and Americans, and how have they evolved? What are the dominant myths and values that Americans seem to share? How has the American Dream been defined, and by whom? As a class we will consider the ways in which concepts of America and American are performed and how they have changed over time, across space, and within particular social, cultural, and political contexts. Assignments emphasize critical analysis of texts; requirements include papers, a midterm, and a final.


AMST 30105     Sustainable America     Thomas Tweed     T/TH     2:00-3:15 PM

This CAD course looks back to 1850, when urban industrial America began, and looks forward to 2050, when Notre Dame promises to be carbon neutral, to critically engage competing visions of individual, communal, and ecological flourishing. It focuses on economic, racial, and environmental justice as students explore how US political culture, the discipline of American Studies, and Catholic social teaching have clashed and converged and Americans proposed varying solutions to poverty, racism, and environmental degradation. After an introduction to American Studies, we turn to visions of the good life in foundational US political documents (the Declaration, the Constitution, and Inaugural Addresses) and in Catholic tradition (scriptural passages, theological essays, and papal encyclicals, from Rerum Novarum to Laudato Si'). Then the course's three main sections consider, in turn, economic equity, racial justice, and environmental restoration. Each section includes a "faith in action" case study and concludes with an "integrative essay" that puts Catholic social teaching into conversation with American Studies scholarship. In the final class session, Learning Groups present their synthesis of the course material, and, during the exam period, each student submits a final integrative essay that focuses on one of the issues—poverty, racism, or environmental degradation—and identifies what American Studies might learn from the Catholic Tradition and what the Catholic Tradition might learn from American Studies. 


AMST 30107     History of the Book     Korey Garibaldi     T/TH     2:00-3:15 PM

This course examines the nineteenth and twentieth century histories of print and cultural manufacturing in the U.S., with special attention given to readers, writers, media producers, and distribution. By tracing how literature, broadly defined, has influenced the shape and reshaping of modern life, our primary goal for the semester will be to better understand the role and impact of intellectual transmission on civil society, formal politics, and cultural standards. Related topics we will investigate include the development and growth of American children's literature; the history of racial and ethnic authorship; the rise of industrial publishing; national and transnational censorship; and legacies of "master" communicators to mass audiences (e.g. Franklin Roosevelt with radio, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan with television, and Donald Trump with Twitter). Course readings and film screenings will range from William Llloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, Matthew Rubery's The Untold Story of the Talking Book, Catherine Fisk's Writing for Hire: Unions, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue, James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, Capote, and The Social Network.


AMST 30111     Disability at Notre Dame    Lauren Daen     T/TH     9:30-10:45 am

Disability has long been constructed as the opposite of higher education. Universities are places that valorize, even demand, physical and intellectual ability. Disability, in turn, is often seen as something that does not fit within a university context, a problem that must be fixed. This antithetical relationship between disability and the university is rooted in history—eugenical curriculums, research programs that study disabled people—but it continues today. Despite a growing focus on diversity in university admissions and populations, disabled students enter higher education at a lower rate than non-disabled students and are less likely to graduate. In addition, universities perpetuate cultures of ableism in both faculty and students by prioritizing ability, perfection, and achievement. This course interrogates the relationship between disability and higher education with a special focus on our university, Notre Dame. Students will be introduced to fundamental principles in disability studies; explore the place of disability in higher education; and, drawing on scholarship in critical university studies, consider intersections between ableism, racism, and sexism in university contexts. Students will also think and learn about what inclusive and accessible education might look like. The course will conclude with a student-driven project designed to increase access, inclusiveness, and awareness about ableism and disability at Notre Dame.


AMST 30117     American Conspiracies     Perin Gurel     M/W     2:00-3:15 PM

This course will explore modern conspiracy theories in and about the United States, discovering what they tell us about American culture and politics. The "truth" we will be seeking will not necessarily be whether secret forces have ever conspired or currently conspire to influence specific world events, but what conspiracy theorizing can tell us about modern American identities, communities, and social hierarchies including race, gender, class, religion, and national origin. In other words, we will take theories of conspiracy seriously as vernacular narratives that contribute to collective identity formation, produce powerful symbolic systems for ordering and inverting hierarchies, and help communities negotiate differences of identity and background. Beginning with the Cold War and moving on to the War on Terror, we will discuss why some theories gain preeminence in certain historical contexts and among different social groups. In addition, we will interrogate the role the label "conspiracy theory" plays within contemporary dynamics of knowledge/power. What types of knowledge are respected and acceptable and what types are stigmatized and mocked, and why? This is a writing-intensive course requiring over 20-pages of written work, including 3 small writing assignments, a series of graded and ungraded assignments leading to a major research paper, and an original research paper.


AMST 30119     The Asian American Experience    Jennifer Hunyh      M/W     2:00-3:15 PM

This class will survey the various historical and contemporary dimensions of Asian American experiences including immigration & integration, family & community dynamics, ethnic/gender/class identity, as well as transnational and diasporic experiences. We will explore contemporary and historical issues of racism, the model minority myth, inter-generational relationships, and the educational experiences of Asian Americans. To accomplish this, our class will pose such questions as: Who is Asian American? How did racism create Chinatown? Is there an Asian advantage? Coursework includes essays based on topics of your choice, presentations, and a creative narrative.


AMST 30122     Storytelling and Sport     Nick Manieri     M/W     3:30-4:45 PM

This course is about telling great, factual stories within the realm of human endeavor we call sport. That is, you will read and write substantial nonfiction narratives, and your main subject of inquiry will be near-at-hand happenings in sport, play, and performance. You can call it longform sportswriting, literary journalism, creative nonfiction, or anything in between—and, indeed, this course will ask you to interrogate the boundaries between subgenres in the literature of fact. Through your ethical efforts in research, exploration, and storytelling, you will seek to define and describe real-world truth through the art of the longform essay. With guidance, you will look for potential stories locally—on campus, or nearby—request access and permission to tell those stories, and gather material en route to crafting meaningful narratives. Together, we will ask fundamental questions about the time-honored act of storytelling and explore the history of the "longform" narrative form. What impact—culturally, socially, politically—can a well-told story have? We will build personal toolkits for writing nonfiction while reading and discussing exemplary essays. We will ask big questions about the role of sport and play in culture, mindful of local significance: What is the relationship between play and identity, for instance? How do conceptions of race, class, or gender find expression (or deconstruction) in sport? How does socioeconomic division affect access to sport and play in America? Most fundamentally, in this course, we will write and share our work with others. This course requires the completion of a substantial writing project, among other assignments, and you should be prepared to spend time with real people and your writing subjects outside of class time, and often according to their schedules.


AMST 30145     Immigrant America     Jennifer Huynh     M/W     11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

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 30150     Decolonizing Gaming    Ashlee Bird      M/W     2:00-3:15 PM

This class will survey the various historical and contemporary dimensions of Asian American experiences including immigration & integration, family & community dynamics, ethnic/gender/class identity, as well as transnational and diasporic experiences. We will explore contemporary and historical issues of racism, the model minority myth, inter-generational relationships, and the educational experiences of Asian Americans. To accomplish this, our class will pose such questions as: Who is Asian American? How did racism create Chinatown? Is there an Asian advantage? Coursework includes essays based on topics of your choice, presentations, and a creative narrative.


AMST 30161    Football in America     Katherine Walden     T/TH     3:30-4:45 PM

Football is one of the most enduringly popular and significant cultural activities in the United States. Since the late 19th century, football has occupied an important place for those wishing to define and understand "America." And Notre Dame football plays a central role in that story, with larger-than-life figures and stories, from Knute Rockne's "Win one for the Gipper" line to the 'Four Horsemen' backfield that led the program to a second national championship in 1924. The mythic proportions of the University's football program cast a long shadow on the institution's history, cultural significance, and traditions. This course focuses on Notre Dame football history as an entry point into larger questions about the cultural, historical, and social significance of football in the U.S. Who has been allowed to play on what terms? How have events from Notre Dame football's past been remembered and re-imagined? How has success in Notre Dame football been defined and redefined? In particular, the course will focus on how Notre Dame football became a touchstone for Catholic communities and institutions across the country navigating the fraught terrain of immigration, whiteness, and religious practice. This course will take up those questions through significant engagement with University Archive collections related to Notre Dame football, working toward increased levels of description and access for these materials. This course will include hands-on work with metadata, encoding and markup, digitization, and digital preservation/access through a collaboration with the University Archives and the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship. Readings for this course will include chapters from texts such as Murray Sperber's Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football (1993), TriStar Pictures' Rudy (1993), Steve Delsohn's Talking Irish: The Oral History of Notre Dame Football (2001), Jerry Barca's Unbeatable: Notre Dame's 1988 Championship and the Last Great College Football Season (2014), David Roediger's Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White (2005), David Roediger's The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (1991), and Noel Ignatiev's How the Irish Became White (1995). Class meetings will be split between discussions of conceptual readings and applied work with library and information science technologies and systems. Coursework may include response papers, hands-on work with data, and a final project. Familiarity with archival methods, library/information science, data science, or computer science tools and methods is NOT a prerequisite for this course.


AMST 30162     Latinx Representation in Hollywod    Jason Ruiz      T/TH     3:30-4:45 PM

This course will survey the history of representations of Latinos in American cinema from the silent era to the present. We will examine how stereotypes associated with Latinos have been produced, reinforced, and challenged in American films - from greasers and Latin lovers to gangsters, kingpins, and border crossers. We will explore the fascinating contradiction that, despite a long history of misrepresentation and under representation, Latinos have made significant contributions to Hollywood and independent cinema. We will also examine the rise of Latino directors in recent years and their drive to reframe the Latino image for American audiences. Screenings will range from the silent epic Martyrs of the Alamo (1915) to more recent films such as Maria Full of Grace (2004). Our interdisciplinary approach to the subject will draw upon readings from history, film theory and criticism, and ethnic/American studies. Students will take a midterm exam and make class presentations.


AMST 30165    The Vietnam War & American Catholics     Peter Cajka     M/W     11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

How did the most divisive war in American History shape the nation's biggest church community? This course explores Catholics as both supporters and detractors of the Vietnam War. American Catholics wished to see America defeat Communism but, importantly, the power of faith motivated many to criticize the state's escalation of the conflict. Students will explore the tensions and transformations of this important moment in American life. Lectures and classroom discussions will address decolonization, the global and national nature of American Catholicism, the power of the liberal state, conscientious objection, the "Spirit of the Sixties," sacramental protests, the rise of human rights, geopolitics, and the Cold War. Course readings will include the latest scholarship, but also primary sources like poems, films, songs, letters, prayers, newspaper articles, and art. Students will have access to the rich materials of Catholic peace activists found in the University of Notre Dame Archives.


AMST 30186     Indigenous Cinema   Ashlee Bird      T/TH     12:30-1:45 PM

This course will examine the global field of Indigenous Cinema. This class will utilize screenings of Indigenous film along with accompanying lecture, reading, and discussion, to examine the ways in which Indigenous filmmakers, actors, and communities are subverting genre and decolonizing the industry to tell and reclaim Indigenous stories and make room for Indigenous futures.


AMST 30190    Religion in America     Thomas Tweed    T/TH     11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

This course introduces students to the history of religion in the lands that became the United States. it focuses on how diverse peoples imagined and transformed the landscape, interacted with one another at different sites, and moved within and across borders. It is divided into two main sections. We begin --and end--by asking: How should we tell the story of religion in America? To help students clarify their thinking and provide them with a wide variety of intriguing sources, the next two sections introduce different ways to tell that story--by chronology or theme. Section one provides an historical overview, telling the story of U.S. religion by tracing chronological shifts, and we turn in the next section to explore a series of theses drawing on varied sources from multiple groups and historical periods. The topics we discuss in that section include gender, sexuality, science, class, race, ethnicity, violence, politics, pluralism, and law. Along the way, students plan and write a research paper on a topic of their choice and present their findings to the class. At the end, we circle back to the questions we posted at the start-how do we tell the story of U.S. religion?-as we write our own narrative on the last day of class.


AMST 30192   Sports and American Culture    Annie Coleman     M/W     12:30-1:45 PM

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.