Courses: Fall 2024

AMST 30104     Data Feminism     Katherine Walden     T/TH     2:00-3:15 PM

Feminism isn't only about women, nor is feminism only for women. Feminism is about power - about who has it and who doesn't. And in today's world, data is power. Data can be used to create communities, advance research, and expose injustice. But data can also be used to discriminate, marginalize, and surveil. This course will draw intersectional feminist theory and activism to identify models for challenging existing power differentials in data science, with the aim of using data science methods and tools to work towards justice. Class meetings will be split between discussions of theoretical readings and explorations of data science tools and methods (such as Tableau, RStudio, and Python). Those readings may include chapters from texts that include Catherine D'Ignazio and Lauren Klein's Data Feminism (2020), Virginia Eubanks's Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (2018), Ruha Benjamin's Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code (2019), and Sasha Costanza-Chock's Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need (2020). This course will also examine the data advocacy and activism work undertaken by groups like Our Data Bodies, Data for Black Lives, the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, and Chicago-based Citizens Police Data Project. Over the course of the semester, students will develop original research projects that use data to intervene in issues of inequality and injustice. This course is not about gaining mastery of particular data science tools or methods, therefore familiarity with statistical analysis or data science tools (R, RStudio, Python, etc.) is NOT a prerequisite for this course.

AMST 30141     Native American Literature      Ashlee Bird     M/W     2:00-3:15 PM

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 30150     Decolonizing Gaming    Ashlee Bird     M/W     12:30-1:45 PM

This course aims to change the way you think not only about the way that we play games, but also about the way that video games teach their players to behave within their digital worlds. This course will encourage students to reflect on and utilize their lived experiences as players, and utilize these experiences to locate themselves within their analysis and writing as well as their design practices. This course will undertake an intensive, interdisciplinary focus on the history of video game development, representation in video games, and the languages that digital games work in as well as decolonial theory and diverse theories of design. This class will engage with a variety of scholarly texts, video games, media posts, videos, and design exercises, in order to illustrate the ways in which video games have shaped the ways we play, think, and behave within their spaces. Students will be required to write and design around these lessons and address and push back against the problematic behaviors and colonial narratives around violence, race, gender, sexuality, and relationship to the land that these gamic languages and lessons have created.

AMST 30177     The Ideas That Made America     Peter Cajka     T/Th     3:30-4:45 PM

America, at its core, is an idea. The lands that became America have been imagined and in certain ways and constantly reimagined. The history of the ideas that made America is less a lesson in philosophy and more about a series of clashes between contending visions: Democracy vs. Republicanism; Free vs. Slave; Christian vs. Secular; Individual vs. Society; and Universal vs. Particular. This course traces a long arc from the Puritans to the Culture Wars to understand the ideas Americans draw upon to comprehend the world and act in it. Lectures and discussions will consider the notions of equality, democracy, pluralism, religious freedom, and the tensions between contending visions for America. Readings for this course will include autobiographies, speeches, sermons, canonical texts, lyrics, novels, newspaper articles, and poetry.

AMST 30112     Witnessing the 60’s     Peter Cajka     T/Th     11:00AM-12:15PM

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 protests.

AMST 30113    Sports and the Environment    Annie Coleman     M/W    9:30-10:45AM

With help from athletes such as Billie Jean King, Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Serena Williams, and Megan Rapinoe, Americans are growing accustomed to thinking about sports as embedded in the politics of gender, class, race, sexuality, and the nation. Consider the variety of places where sports happen, however, and the ways we develop and consume those places, and it becomes apparent that sports are also environmental in significant and complex ways. This course will examine the environmental politics of sports from conservation to climate change through the lenses of history and cultural studies. Course content will range from 19th century hunting, Indigenous surfing, and BASE jumping, to pick-up basketball, pro stadiums, and Notre Dame Athletics. Topical sections include outdoor sports and conservation, mountain sports and public land use, parks and recreation, stadiums and environmental justice, sports and climate change, and sustainability in the NCAA. Course requirements include regular reading and discussion, midterm and final essays, and a research project on a topic of the student's choice.

AMST 30108     History of American Capitalism     Korey Garibaldi     T/Th     2:00-3:15PM

This course offers a broad thematic overview of the history of capitalism from the early sixteenth century up to the late 1980s. As a discussion-based seminar, we will devote most of our conversations to discovering, analyzing and reflecting on the transformation of the U.S. from a newly-independent British colony, to the most influential economic power in the world. Topics and themes we will consider include: the rise of early modern transnational capitalism, European imperialism and trade, and indigenous dispossession after 1492; science and technological transformations; social and economic thought; slavery and servitude, broadly construed; and characteristics of prosperity, wealth, and economic flux. Our readings and viewings will be a mix of scholarly and primary sources, including an abundance of canonical literary and artistic material, such as novels, visual art, and film excerpts (e.g. Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House (1879), Aaron Douglas's Building More Stately Mansions (1944), and Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence (1920)). Over the course of the semester, students will draw upon this eclectic combination of sources to synthesize the dominant historical dimensions of capitalism in and beyond the U.S. via four short essays (4 - 5 pages, double-spaced-between 1,100 and 1,400 words), and a final paper (10 - 12 pages, double-spaced) based on cumulative texts.

AMST 43144     Humor and Power    Perin Gürel     M/W     11:00AM-12:15PM

How many American Studies seniors does it take to analyze a joke? By studying humor seriously in its historical and sociocultural contexts, this senior seminar will introduce students to critical approaches to humor and power in the United States. Instead of taking humor and laughter for granted as self-evident phenomena, we will consider how practices of humor might intersect with structural hierarchies, including those of race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and religion. Students will engage with a wide variety of sources, including primary documents such as films and political cartoons, theories of humor, and critical scholarship on key American texts of humor. We will also explore vernacular theories about the value of having "a sense of humor" and explore how entire groups of people have historically been excluded from this category. The senior seminar is designed to be a culminating experience for American Studies.

AMST 30145     Immigrant America    Jennifer Huynh    M/W     2:00-3:15PM

Nearly one in four people is an immigrant or child of immigrants in the United States. This course critically examines what it means to be an immigrant or child of immigrants through interdisciplinary sources, including memoirs, blogs, art, 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 family, media representation, religion, education, dating, and sexuality. Students will participate in a service-learning opportunity related to migration and social justice and learn skills in quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Service learning will be 2-3 hours outside of class each week.

AMST 30119     The Asian American Experience    Jennifer Huynh     M/W     11:00AM-12:15PM

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 30169     Race and American Popular Culture     Jason Ruiz     T/Th     12:30-1:45PM

While it is a notoriously difficult concept to define, "race" is undoubtedly a powerful force in American life. Focusing on the late nineteenth century to the present, this course examines the ways in which racial ideas are formed, negotiated, and resisted in the arenas of American literature and popular culture. From the story of racial confusion in Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894) to contemporary cultural politics of performance and appropriation, this course will ask how popular culture actively shapes—rather than merely reflects—American ideas about race and ethnicity. A key aim of the class is to go beyond looking for "good" and "bad" pop culture texts to explore the deeper meanings of racism and antiracism. By closely engaging with a diverse set of theoretical, historical, and primary texts, students will learn to approach and analyze popular culture with a critical eye.

AMST 30133     Buddhism in America     Tom Tweed     T/Th     11:00 AM-12:15PM

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 30154     Disability in American History and Culture     Laurel Daen      T/Th     9:30-10:45AM

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 26% of Americans (about 61 million people) have a disability—a physical, intellectual, sensory, or self-care impediment that affects major life activities. This course considers this population, their stories and experiences, as well as how disability—as a social, cultural, legal, and political construct—has shaped the nation and its history. A particular focus of the course will be on disability and social justice. Throughout American history, and still today, disabled people have been excluded from basic civil rights, such as voting, marrying, holding property, and living independently. This course will examine how these restrictions developed and changed over time as well as how disabled people have fought for greater access and equality. Coursework may include response papers, primary source analysis, and a final project.

AMST 30148     Early America Today     Laurel Daen     T/TH     12:30-1:45PM

Whether it is controversies about the removal of statues, bans on teaching the New York Times’s The 1619 Project, critiques of the musical Hamilton, or originalist interpretations of the United States Constitution, early America seems to have gained new prominence in debates about the present-day United States. But why does this period—which spans four centuries from approximately 1450 to 1850—hold such meaning today? And what does this history have to teach us about our present moment? In this class, we will learn about the vast, diverse, and complex world of early America and use this knowledge to better understand current issues and events. Like Americans today, early Americans dealt with pandemics, racial injustice, political corruption, and income inequality. They adapted to changing markets, globalization, and climate change. What do their experiences have to teach us about navigating these issues in our own time