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American Studies (AMS)

AMS 102  Introduction to American Studies  (3 credits)  

This course is an introduction to American Studies, a field of knowledge about the ongoing formation of the United States and its borderlands that seeks interdisciplinary answers to the problems framing our nation. An interdisciplinary approach to U.S. cultures allows us to integrate the ideas, information, and collective feelings (or affects) that are usually studied separately in art, critical race/ethnicity studies, economics, film and TV studies, gender/sexuality studies, history, law, literature, media studies, modern languages, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology/anthropology. Using many analytical frameworks, we will explore case studies of real-world events and learn to interpret cultural texts, and by the end of the semester, you will have completed your own case study.

Course Rotation: NYC: Fall, Spring.
AMS 200  Introduction to Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies  (3 credits)  

This course serves as an introduction to Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies, an interdisciplinary academic field which is organized around the insight that race and ethnicity are major ideological and experiential frameworks that inform every aspect of human experience, from the formation of the individual to the organization of diverse societies. This course will introduce you to the robust academic and social justice field of Critical Race Theory. By the end of the semester you will be conversant in both the historical development of this field as well as its present manifestations.

Course Rotation: Fall; NY
AMS 201  Introduction to American Studies  (6 credits)  

This team-taught course will serve as an overview of American Studies, a discipline that focuses on the interdisciplinary exploration of American culture, history, and identity. In this course, students will read and write about a variety of texts, focusing on the intersections between disciplines that serve to illuminate ideas about American narratives, dreams, and realities.

Course Rotation: NYC: Fall.
AMS 202  Introduction to American Studies  (6 credits)  

This team-taught course will serve as an overview of American Studies, a discipline that focuses on the interdisciplinary exploration of American culture, history, and identity. In this course, students will read and write about a variety of texts, focusing on the intersections between disciplines that serve to illuminate ideas about American narratives, dreams, and realities.

Course Rotation: NYC: Fall.
AMS 210  Native and Indigenous Peoples Studies  (3 credits)  

This course explores the past, present, and future of Native and Indigenous Peoples Studies by studying the new rituals, ceremonies, and stories that characterize contemporary Native American performance, literature, and film. We will learn how American Indian tribes and other indigenous communities have used different styles and forms of cultural performance and relied on Indigenous theories to respond to historical, political, and social events. This class will involve decolonized instruction with major emphasis on group discussion and opportunities for creative writing and reflection.

Course Rotation: NYC: Spring.
AMS 296A  Topic: Public Cultures: Museum Studies  (3 credits)  

This course spotlights exciting changes in the 21st century museum, drawing on the unique and changing resources in New York City. This course asks how we shape the past through museums and how we shape public space and public memory (for example, Ground Zero). The course looks closely at NYC institutions, and students will visit many of the institutions considered: the National Museum of the American Indian, Ground Zero, the Brooklyn Museum, Ellis Island, among others.

Course Rotation: NYC: Fall.
AMS 296B  Topic: Public Cultures: Urban Cultural Life and the Downtown Culture Explosion  (3 credits)  

From the late 1960’s to the 1990s, Downtown New York became and artistic community that nurtured punk, art, fashion, film and literature. A rollicking collection of artistic cadres flaunted edgy urban lifestyles and wove their cultural creations into a texture of customs firmly rooted in urban space. These mavericks defined the Villages and Soho as a riposte to mainstream career paths and suburban norms. This course explores the roots of this cultural explosion, situating specific works and personalities in the historical context and particular geography of Downtown New York. Course work will include research in the important archives of the Downtown New York Collection at the Fales Library, fieldwork and observation, and assignments integrating analysis across genres and media.

Course Rotation: NYC: Spring.
AMS 296C  Topics: Entertaining America's Children  (3 credits)  

From Huck's raft to Andy' s room, entertainment for children in America has sought both to delight and to inculcate particular sets of values-and this course will emphasize the ongoing balance between the amusing and the didactic. The class will examine both content and the evolution of form, considering paperback books and the transformation of publishing, the evolution of eel animation, and the digital software revolution. Emphasis of the class will be on popular culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. Among topics to be discussed: L. Frank Baum, the Oz phenomenon both in print and on screen, and the creation of a particularly American children's literature; Walt Disney, animated anthropomorphism, and the social conservatism of the classic Disney features ; the contrast with the more surrealist house style at Warner Bros.; the reimagination of the amusement park, from carny to family vacation spot; vertical integration and its centrality to corporate culture - off the screen and onto the lunch boxes and bed sheets; multiculturalism, including Song of the South, its production and reception, and attempts to write it out of history; and the notions of universal preschool and kindergarten, and the Children's Television Workshop ; the influence of focus groups on children's entertainment -or, how Steve graduates from Blue's house and goes to college; Pixar as digital pioneer and heir to the Hollywood studio tradition.

Course Rotation: NYC: Fall.
Prerequisites: Fulfills 3 credits in Western Heritage (Area of Knowledge II) or 3 credits in Humanistic & Creative Expression (Area of Knowledge IV).
AMS 296D  Constructing Whiteness in America  (3 credits)  

This course will explore the construction and function of the social category of whiteness in American society from colonial times to the present. We will explore the development of idiosyncratically American social categories of race and ethnicity, and discover how American whiteness was fashioned in contrast to the identities constructed for indigenous, enslaved, immigrant, and borderlands peoples. The intersection of whiteness with sexuality and gender discourses is also evident in the interdisciplinary range of texts on our syllabus: primary historical documents, legal texts, scientific theories of race, literature (novels, plays, and poems), visual media from political cartoons to films and TV, and empirical studies of housing and policing. Special emphasis will be placed on understanding contemporary debate about such issues as "white privilege" and "white fragility" and the rise in open expressions of white supremacism in American culture in recent years.

Course Rotation: NYC: Fall
AMS 296E  Topic: Anarchism in the U.S.  (3 credits)  

The history of American anarchism as revealed in the stories of immigrants, activists, educators, and thinkers is also the history of progressivism in America. Just as their writing and stories have been consigned to footnotes in the history of American thought, the adherents of “the Idea” of freedom from government, authority, and hierarchies were relegated to the margins of American society. From labor struggles to anti-war movements, these anarchists have been the avant-garde of progressive thought and social change since the nineteenth century. This course will examine the history and writings of the American anarchist tradition in order to understand anarchism in the twenty-first century. Coursework will include a survey of associated writings and lectures, fieldwork, research and peer review, the in-class retrials of both the Haymarket activists and Sacco and Vanzetti, and culminate in a unit about representations of anarchy today, including the direct-action protest network known as Antifa. A survey of readings may include selections from Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, Voltairine de Cleyre, Katherine Anne Porter, John Dos Passos, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Benjamin R. Tucker, Henry David Thoreau, Josiah Warren, Samuel Yellen, Philip Selznick, Karl Jay Shapiro, and others.

Course Rotation: NYC: Spring, Even Years
AMS 296F  Topic: Legal Literacy and Defense  (3 credits)  

this course students will engage with a variety of materials in order to gain an understanding of legal principles and their usefulness when applied to everyday disputes. Students will be tasked with writing intraoffice memos to supervisors, drafting laws, and producing essays to defeat inadequate proposals. In addition, students will learn how to efficiently navigate grievance systems and seek remedies and will practice "high-stakes" forms of writing such as requests for leniency The course will also require students to apply their understanding of legal principles to the facts in a given case and will address how to represent a client through the use of adversarial writing. We will engage in frequent brainstorming sessions in order to anticipate reasonable counterarguments and strengthen our position while still in the planning phase. Let's learn to think like a lawyer!

Course Rotation: NYC: Fall
AMS 296G  Topic: Postwar New York and the American Empire  (3 credits)  

This class explores postwar New York City, with a particular focus on the 1950s, as a powerhouse for the expansion of American culture around the world. Guided by the titanic figure of the mid-century urban planner Robert Moses (and Robert Caro’s biography The Power Broker), we will consider how the built environment of New York City supported the development of numerous social and cultural movements, including: Abstract Expressionism, which moved the capital of the modern art world from Paris to New York; the emergence of the independent film movement and John Cassavetes; the “Golden Age of Television,” and New York re-establishing itself as a rival to Los Angeles in the entertainment business; Salinger, Updike, Mailer and the postwar literary scene; Steinem, Friedan, and the women’s movement; racial integration, the displacement of communities of color, and suburbanization; the pre-Stonewall gay community; the birth of off-Broadway, as well as the folk music and coffeehouse scene; and standup comedy’s transition from the Catskills to Lenny Bruce.

Course Rotation: NYC: Fall
AMS 296H  Topic: American Shadows: Coercion, Conspiracy, and the Mysteries of State  (3 credits)  

This course offers a critical examination of US empire through an interdisciplinary lens that includes parapolitics, an emerging academic discipline offering a theoretical emphasis on the political role of elite criminality. The course examines theories of human sociality and applies these to issues of injustice, race, and conflict in the contemporary US. The goal of the course is to encourage students to think critically about the serious cultural challenges presently facing US and European societies in particular, to hone their writing skills, and to provide a conceptual framework according to which certain claims of state may be meaningfully assessed, including assertions of mal-, mis-, and/or disinformation, attributions of “conspiracy theory,” as well as the perceived need for state and/or corporate censorship.

Course Rotation: NYC: Spring
AMS 296L  Topic: 10K Years of Land Art in the Americas: Creativity, Ecology, Geology  (3 credits)  

This class will focus on aspects of representation and information built into an array of land art and related writing produced by inhabitants of the American continent over the past 10,000 years, from ancient petroglyphs to future augmented reality.

Course Rotation: NYC: Spring
AMS 333  Chinatowns in the Americas  (3 credits)  

Is there a Chinatown in your hometown? In this course, we’ll be relating to the histories and cultures of communities in the Chinese diaspora throughout the Americas (continental North, South, and the Caribbean), with an experiential focus on present-day Chinatowns in and around NYC. Holding a seemingly permanent place in the American imagination, Chinatowns are transnational spaces defined from the first by global flows of goods and people, but also continuously racialized by “perpetual foreigner” and “yellow peril” stereotypes begun in the 1850s, resulting in a civic or city space that makes visible (not to mention hearable, smellable, and touchable!) some of the contradictions of national belonging and global capitalist competition. You'll receive civic engagement (CE) core credit upon completing our course, which involves communitybased learning projects such as site-based research, language immersion, and mutual aid activities that can strengthen our campus’s relationship to our neighbors. (Note: All texts will be in English and multilingualism is not required, but students who are Chinese speakers may be able to design their own language immersion experience.)

Course Rotation: NYC: Spring
AMS 396  Internship in American Studies  (3 credits)  

An internship is an assignment to a business, corporation, public agency, school, or other organization that provides on-the-job and pre-professional experience. Internships may be full-time or part-time and generally last for one semester. Students also participate in a seminar.

Course Rotation: NY: Fall
AMS 399  Seminar in American Studies  (3 credits)  

This seminar in American Studies is required for majors, who may complete it in their junior or senior year. Students prepare a thesis, which must be submitted to the American Studies program before graduation.

Course Rotation: NY
AMS 499  Senior Year Experience: American Studies Capstone  (3 credits)  

This course is designed to serve as a capstone for American Studies majors to assist students in writing their thesis for the program.

Prerequisites: Permission from the Program Director of American Studies required.