Saint Louis University

Course Descriptions in American Studies

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OFFERED FALL 2015

Undergraduate

ASTD 1000 - Investigating America 
Mon/Wed 1:10 pm - 2:25 pm
Instructor: Kate Moran

In 1925, African American poet Langston Hughes wrote, "I, too, sing America. / I am the darker brother. / They send me to eat in the kitchen / When company comes," indicating that "America" may not always be the land of opportunity touted by its foundational myths and dreams. Despite this, Hughes continues, "I laugh / and eat well, / And grow strong. / [...] I, too, am America." His poem raises a series of questions: What does it mean to be American? Who decides, and who is included or excluded? Are there uniquely American characteristics, experiences, identities, art forms, places, politics, or stories? Is America a nation-state, geography, or citizenship status? Or is it a set of ideas--like "democracy," "capitalism," "the frontier," "exceptionalism," "freedom," "opportunity," "work," or "imperialism?" How do race, gender, sexuality, and class inflect American identity and shape American culture? These are the central questions of this course, which are at the heart of the field of American Studies. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring these questions, examining a variety of sources and methods: literary, historical, visual, and social scientific. This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS core.

ASTD 2700 - Women and Social Justice

Tues/Thurs 11:00 am - 12:15 pm
Instructor: Karen Smyth

This course examines historical and contemporary examples of women in social justice movements in the United States, looking at the political and cultural contexts in which women's issues and women's activism have emerged. Topics will include the impact of race, class, and religion on women's involvement in campaigns for economic justice, political rights, and social equality. Open to American Studies majors/minors and Micah Program students only. This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS core.

ASTD 3100 - Making the American City: Culture, Space, and 20th-century U.S. Urbanisms
Mon/Wed 11:00 am - 12:15 pm
Instructor: Benjamin Looker

This seminar examines the cultural history of the U.S. city, 1880s to present. Students consider how changing city environments have shaped urban cultural communities and processes of identity-formation over time. Meanwhile, using fiction, film, paintings, photography, and other primary-source genres, participants explore relationships between urban space and representational practices in the arts and popular culture. This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the BA/BS core.

ASTD 3400 / SOC 3930 / CCJ 3401 - Prisons in American Culture
Tues/Thus 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm
Instructor: Matthew Mancini

Using history, social theory, film, fiction, and autobiography, the course surveys the cultural history of incarceration in America, and examines the place of incarceration in American culture. Because it is crosslisted with Sociology, this course fulfills 3 credits of the Social Science requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS core, regardless of whether it is taken under the American Studies or Sociology course number.

ASTD 3020 / ENGL 3560 - American Mosaic: Literature and Diversity
Mon/Wed 3:10 pm - 4:25 pm
Instructor: Emily Lutenski

In Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior (1975), the narrator describes how "When we Chinese girls listened to the adults talk-story, we learned that we failed if we grew up to be but wives or slaves." This narrative is not the only one that links storytelling to ethnic and gender identity formation-and, at times, subversion. Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony (1977) begins with the reminder, "I will tell you something about stories, / [...] They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled." More recently, Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo (2002) admonishes its reader to "Tell me a story, even if it's a lie." What is the function of storytelling in these texts, and for writers of color? Do stories create and sustain ethnic and gender identities-or do they trouble our expectations of these identities? Can stories be used as a form of domination or resistance? Questions like these will form the center of this course as we read contemporary multiethnic fiction that tells us about "talking-story." This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS core, the upper division literature requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA core, and the literature requirement for the Arts & Sciences BS core.

Graduate

ASTD 5000 - Perspectives in American Studies
Thurs 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Instructor: Matthew Mancini

Introductory graduate seminar offering a survey of major theoretical and methodological frameworks for the interpretation of American culture over time. In this course, first-year graduate students examine the intersection of history, text, and theory in the interdisciplinary study of the American experience, consider the historical development of American Studies as an academic field of inquiry, and engage with readings in areas such as Marxism, feminism, semiotics, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, cultural studies, critical race theory, and queer theory. Participants will leave the seminar with a strong understanding of selected major texts that have shaped the contemporary practice of American Studies and related disciplines. Offered every year. N.B.: First-year Ph.D. students will complete a SP16 qualifying exam on materials covered in ASTD 510 and one other graduate course taken during the 2015-16 academic year. Required of first-year M.A. and Ph.D. students.

ASTD 5700 - Metropolitan America
Wed 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Instructor: Benjamin Looker

Introduction to the study of American urban and suburban life. Course examines American cities, their cultures, and their built environments as these change over time. Students engage scholarship, develop visual literacy for "reading" the metropolis, and analyze the ways in which built environments shape and reflect American cultural meaning.

ASTD 5930 - Ideas and Intellectuals in Twentieth-Century America
Mon 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Instructor: Kate Moran

Over the past century, the United States has been riven by debates in which intellectuals and their ideas have played starring roles. This seminar will explore such debates in the United States, from the late nineteenth century to the present. Topics will include: debates about the relationship between the self, the community, and the state; about the future of the nation in a globalizing world; about the intersections between religious and secular authority; about the politics of difference and the discourse of rights; and about the very definition of intellectual work itself. This course will focus in particular on new scholarship.

ASTD 6020 / POLS 6700 / WGST 5930 - American Political Thought
Tues 7:00 - 9:30 pm
Instructor: Wynne Moskop

This course focuses on selected ideas, issues, and institutions that have been central to the U.S. Constitution and the practice of American constitutionalism, from the founding era to the present. Readings emphasize seminal works in American political thought, which are supplemented by historical accounts, illustrative literature, and contemporary analyses.

ASTD 6930 - The Harlem Renaissance

Tues 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Instructor: Emily Lutenski

The first decades of the twentieth century witnessed the beginning of the "Great Migration" of African Americans from the rural south to the urban north and west, where many hoped to find increased employment opportunities, and decreased prejudice, discrimination, and racialized violence. Cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles saw the establishment of vibrant black communities and a subsequent explosion in black visual arts, music, literature, and intellectual work. The most renowned of these sites was Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s, during what is now commonly known as the "Harlem Renaissance" or "New Negro Movement." This course will explore the literary arm of this movement and its intersections with the broader cultural history of the period, putting literature into dialogue with black politics, music, and visual and performing arts.

 

OFFERED SPRING 2015

Undergraduate

ASTD 250 - Introduction to Museum Studies
Tues/Thurs 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm
Cindy Ott

What can historic house museums, city zoos, national art galleries, and tribal museums tell us about how Americans have thought about themselves and the world around them? In this class, we will study the history, politics, and design of museum collections and exhibitions. We will trace museums' development from private cabinets of curiosity (such as the art collections of Asian royalty and the zoos of European princes) to public educational institutions in the nineteenth century. We will analyze museum exhibition trends in the context of changes in the natural and social sciences, exploring for example, the shift from displaying artifacts by type to geographic and cultural origins. We will especially focus on the politics of display, that is, how museum objects project and interpret ideas about cultures and nature, and how people have fought against these interpretations. We will explore these topics through scholarly writings, visual and material culture studies, visits to local St. Louis institutions, and through the development and organization of an original exhibition.

ASTD 260 - American Places: Frontiers and Borderlands
Tues/Thus 2:15 pm - 3:30 pm
Emily Lutenski

In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner announced the westward frontier was the defining process of American history. He insisted that confrontation with environmental wilderness and indigenous people had resulted in a unique American culture and identity. Intellectuals since have interrogated his famous thesis--at times embracing it, at times rejecting it, and at times reconceptualizing it to give it new meanings. Exploring these turns, this course asks the following questions: What are the differences between "frontiers," "borderlands," and "the West?" Are these places, processes, or symbols? How have they been represented, contested, and mobilized? Why are they salient for American Studies? We will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring these questions, examining a variety of sources and methods, including film, literature, and history. This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS core.

ASTD 310 - American Decades: The 1960s
Mon/Wed 11:00 am -12:15 pm
Heidi Ardizzone

The 1960s have a mythic quality in our political and cultural life. This is the decade of peace, optimism, cultural turbulence, despair, war, and conflict. We will explore American politics and history as well as the social and cultural movements of the 1960s and early 1970s. Our "texts" will include art, music, fiction, and visual images in exploring the history of the sixties and its legacy in American culture and politics. This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS core.

ASTD 322 - The Urban Crisis
Lecture Mon/Wed 1:10 pm - 2:00 pm; Discussion Fri 12:00 noon - 12:50 pm or 1:10 pm - 2:00 pm
Benjamin Looker

This course examines the political, cultural, economic, and demographic transformations that have remade U.S. cities and their metropolitan areas in the decades since World War II. Over the course of the semester, students will investigate the history and legacy of urban problems such as racial segregation and poverty, white flight and suburban sprawl, public housing and urban renewal, riots and insurrections, job loss, and industrial change. Participants will also consider a number of the approaches developed by planners, policymakers, social activists, and ordinary residents to address these challenges, as well as several examples of how Americans have tried to make sense of the changing urban landscape in the realms of art, literature, popular culture, and social criticism. Along the way, participants will regularly engage with the city around them, pausing frequently to consider local examples, spaces, and issues in greater depth. This course fulfills 3 credits of the Social Science requirement and the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS core.

ASTD 340/THEO 359 - Religion and American Culture: Faith and Change in the City
Tues/Thurs 9:30 am - 10:45 am
Mark Koschmann

This American Studies course examines the role of religion in American urban contexts. In this course, we will look at the history of cities in the U.S. in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will be tracing some of the key religious factors that have shaped American cities politically, socially, and culturally in the twentieth-century through a focus on Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim religious traditions. We also will consider topics such as theology and the city, sacred space, religious diversity, religion in the streets, and urban faith-based organizations. Our interest in the city will also allow for a few urban field trips to religious sites in our own city of St. Louis. 

Regardless of whether it is taken under the ASTD or THEO course number, this course fulfills the 300-level Theology course requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA core.

ASTD 393 - Coming to America: Immigration in U.S. History and Culture
Tues/Thus 11:00 am - 12:15 pm
Kate Moran

The idea that the United States is a "nation of immigrants" is a mainstay of American cultural and political life. Scholars have described the United States in many different ways--as a "melting pot," a "salad bowl," or a "symphony orchestra" of different immigrant groups--yet all have agreed that immigration has contributed significantly to the formation of American society and culture, and continues to do so today. In this class, we will examine the history of this immigration--of the many people who have traveled to the United States from other places and who have built their lives here, helping to build the United States itself in the process. We will confront the ever-changing relationship that Americans have had with the very idea of immigration, including changes in immigration law and policy and recent debates over undocumented migration. We will also explore aspects of immigration history that go beyond what we read in textbooks, or see on the nightly news. We will see migrants coming to the U.S. in great numbers, but also migrating through the U.S. to other countries, or returning to their countries of origin after living in the U.S. for years. We will confront the imperial and global economic contexts of migration flows, investigating the ways in which U.S. foreign policy and international affairs have affected migration patterns. And, throughout the course, we will seek to know the history of U.S. immigration not only through the lenses of law and politics, but also through the multiple cultural forms in which that history has been enacted: in personal letters and memoirs, in film and photography, and in novels and poetry.

Graduate

ASTD 525: Tocqueville's America
Tues 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Matthew Mancini

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), was one of the ancestors of American Studies. His book, Democracy in America (2 vols., 1835, 1840), was the first empirically based and philosophically sophisticated book about the society, culture, manners, and politics of the United States--and just as important, about the future of democracy throughout the world. "Tocqueville's America" refers first to the version of America that Tocqueville presented in his book; and second to American society and culture during the Jacksonian era and beyond. Therefore our course is an advanced introduction to Tocqueville's life and work and to the field of Tocqueville studies, as well as an interdisciplinary examination of antebellum American culture.

ASTD 593: What's American about American Women Novelists?
Wed 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Emily Lutenski

"America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women," Nathaniel Hawthorne grumbled in 1855. And as recently as 2013, writer Amanda Filipacchi noticed a curious series of events on Wikipedia. The category "American novelists" had gotten so long and unwieldy that editor decided to remove authors from that page to subcategories. Who would remain? Who would go? The criterion used was not, for example, whether writers were better known for their poetry than their prose. Instead of grappling with the nuances of genre or form, there was a seemingly simpler solution: gender. Within a couple of days, Harper Lee, Amy Tan, and about three hundred other writers had been moved to a new page: "American women novelists." When they questioned women's roles in the development of a national literature, these editors continued a long history stemming at least from the time of Hawthorne's famous complaint. This class will examine the "scribbling" of contemporary U.S. women to explore questions of canon formation as well as the nexus of gender, nation, and other categories of analysis such as race and class--to ask, in short, "What's American about American women novelists?"

ASTD 612: Dissertation Colloquium
Thurs 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Kate Moran

This course is designed to facilitate the dissertation-writing process. Seminar discussions will focus on peer review of student generated works-in-progress. Required of all Ph.D. students. May be repeated for credit at adviser's discretion.

ASTD 615: Visual Culture Theory
Thurs 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Cindy Ott

This course provides an introduction to the theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and cultural practices of visual culture. Using a wide variety of visual media, including photography, film, television, art, and digital media, we will explore critical perspectives in the production, interpretation, and consumption of images.

ASTD 620: Jazz, Cities, and Social Movements
Mon 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Ben Looker

This graduate seminar explores two sets of relationships: that between jazz music and particular cities, districts, and spaces; and that between jazz communities and an array of historical movements in the realms of social activism, popular culture, and identity. Focusing on specific musical communities' engagements with debates over race, space, gender, artistic hierarchies, and economic structures, the readings and class sessions will provide a broad-ranging overview of a number of major issues in twentieth-century U.S. urban geography and cultural politics. Students will examine texts by scholars in fields such as American Studies, musicology, and history; no formal musical background is required for enrollment.

ASTD 670: American Political Thought
Tues 4:20 pm - 6:50pm
Wynne Moskop

This course focuses on selected ideas, issues, and institutions that have been central to the U.S. Constitution and the practice of American constitutionalism, from the founding era to the present. Readings emphasize seminal works in American political thought, which are supplemented by historical accounts, illustrative literature, and contemporary analyses

ASTD 693: Race and Citizenship in St. Louis
Tues 1:00 pm - 3:30pm
Heidi Ardizzone

A major urban center since the late 19th century, St. Louis sits on the geographic and cultural border between Midwest and South. This course examines St. Louis history and recent events through the lenses of race and citizenship, within its regional and national contexts. We will pay particular attention to African American experience and social protest in the 20th century.

 

OFFERED FALL 2014

Undergraduate

ASTD 293 / HR 190 - What Makes a Man? Manhood and Meaning in American Culture
Tues/Thurs 11:00am-12:15pm
Instructor: Emily Lutenski

From dueling among Southern "men of honor" to fistfights on the floor of Congress, from the "self-made men" of the frontier to the boxing ring of the "Fight of the Century," from the frontlines of warfare to icons like Ernest Hemingway or James Dean, and from fraternity rushes to the National Beard and Moustache Growing Championships, this course takes the question "What makes a man?" seriously by examining the contested sites of manly conduct throughout American history and among American cultures.
Open only to first-year honors students and American Studies majors and minors.

ASTD 310 - American Decades: Cold War Culture, 1947-1963
Mon/Wed 11:00am-12:15pm
Instructor: Benjamin Looker

This undergraduate course explores the culture and cultural politics of the early cold-war era in the U.S. In particular, participants will examine the ways in which cold-war domestic and international conflicts shaped American society in areas ranging from shifting gender configurations to new forms of youth culture, artistic ideologies to the transformation of urban and suburban space, civil rights struggles to the politics of mass culture. Study of these intersections is grounded each week in close work with a range of primary documents from the period: Hollywood films, advertising, magazine journalism, jazz music, science fiction, activist manifestos, radio melodramas, poetry, TV sitcoms, and more. By the semester's end, participants will have gained not only an enhanced understanding of the domestic cultural history of the early cold war period, but also a set of theoretically informed strategies for performing close readings of cultural texts in a variety of genres.
Fulfills the "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS Core.

ASTD 360 - History and Fiction: The Harlem Renaissance
Tues/Thurs 2:15-3:30pm
Instructor: Emily Lutenski

The first decades of the twentieth century witnessed the beginning of the "Great Migration" of African Americans from the rural south to the urban north and west, where many hoped to find increased employment opportunities and decreased prejudice, discrimination, and racialized violence. Cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles saw the establishment of vibrant black communities and a subsequent explosion in black visual arts, music, literature, and intellectual work. The most renowned of these sites was Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s, during what is now commonly known as the "Harlem Renaissance" or "New Negro Movement." This course will explore the literary arm of this movement and its intersections with the broader cultural history of the period, putting literature into dialogue with black politics, music, and visual arts.
Fulfills the Upper Division Literature requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA core, and the Literature requirement for the BS core.

ASTD 393/ WGST 393 - Marriage and Other American Traditions
Tues/Thurs 12:45-2:00pm
Instructor: Heidi Ardizzone

This interdisciplinary course looks at cultural expectations for marriage in the United States, focusing on the late 19th and 20th centuries. We will look at changes to legal definitions of marriage as well as marital rights for women and men; public and immigration policies regarding marriage and families; and legal shifts over who can get married and how marriages can end. Against this context we will focus on American ideas about gender, sexuality, and other cultural practices that have affected how we as a society think about marriage, love, relationships, and family.

Graduate

ASTD 510 - Perspectives in American Studies
Wed 4:00-6:30pm
Instructor: Benjamin Looker

Introductory graduate seminar offering a survey of major theoretical and methodological frameworks for the interpretation of American culture over time. In this course, first-year graduate students examine the intersection of history, text, and theory in the interdisciplinary study of the American experience, consider the historical development of American Studies as an academic field of inquiry, and engage with readings in areas such as Marxism, feminism, semiotics, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, cultural studies, critical race theory, and queer theory. Participants will leave the seminar with a strong understanding of selected major texts that have shaped the contemporary practice of American Studies and related disciplines. Offered every year. N.B.: First-year Ph.D. students will complete a SP15 qualifying exam on materials covered in ASTD 510 and one other graduate course taken during the 2014-15 academic year.
Required of first-year M.A. and Ph.D. students.

ASTD 605 - Mythbusting and Mythmaking in Recent American Studies Scholarship
Tues 4:00-6:30pm
Instructor: Matthew Mancini

It is widely known, if not always well understood, that many full-blown myths circulate in American culture, and that these mythic discourses often serve to obscure people's view of the histories for which those myths are substitutes. What's less well known is the precise role of academic scholarship in the career of such myths-sometimes in uncovering them, and sometimes in propping them up. In this seminar we will examine two areas of American mythmaking, one that surrounds the Vietnam War, and another concerning the Civil War and its aftermath. In addition, we will take a few detours to briefly visit other precincts of Mythland; and students will identify one mythic construct and carefully critique it with their own scholarship.

ASTD 637 - Visions of U.S. Empire
Mon 4:00-6:30pm
Instructor: Kate Moran

A decade ago, Amy Kaplan took the podium as president of the American Studies Association to express "urgency and bewilderment." The subject of empire had been thrown into sharp relief after 9/11, as pundits on both sides of the political spectrum began to embrace the notion of the U.S. as empire: some with pride, others with criticism. Yet American Studies scholars were stymied by what Kaplan called the "limitations of our available tools" for critically engaging such claims. This course will introduce students to the study of the imperial in nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. culture. Students will become conversant in a multi-disciplinary collection of key theories on empire/imperialism, and will examine how these theories have influenced important scholarly studies over the past two decades. We will pay particular attention to locating the imperial both within as well as outside of U.S. national borders, in arenas as diverse as literature, law, film, and photography. Graduate students will leave this course with a box full of Kaplan's "tools," prepared to work with the concepts of empire and imperialism wherever they may encounter them.

ASTD 693 - Racial Crossings
Thurs 4:00-6:30pm
Instructor: Heidi Ardizzone

This course examines race in American history and culture primarily through the lens of racial ambiguities, intersections, and intimacies. With attention to major theoretical frameworks for interpreting racial identity and structures, we examine historical and contemporary experiences of race, focusing primarily but not exclusively on black-white contexts. Topics covered include interracial relationships, people of mixed ancestry, and shifting or ambiguous racial identities.

OFFERED SPRING 2014

Undergraduate

ASTD 322 / HIST 393-04 - The Urban Crisis
Lecture Mon/Wed 1:10-2:00pm; section Fri 12:00-12:50pm or 1:10-2:00pm
Instructor: Benjamin Looker

This course examines the political, cultural, economic, and demographic transformations that have remade U.S. cities and their metropolitan areas in the decades since World War II. Over the course of the semester, students will investigate the history and legacy of urban problems such as racial segregation and poverty, white flight and suburban sprawl, public housing and urban renewal, riots and insurrections, job loss, and industrial change. Participants will also consider a number of the approaches developed by planners, policymakers, social activists, and ordinary residents to address these challenges, as well as several examples of how Americans have tried to make sense of the changing urban landscape in the realms of art, literature, popular culture, and social criticism. Along the way, participants will regularly engage with the city around them, pausing frequently to consider local examples, spaces, and issues in greater depth.
Fulfills 3 credits of the Social Science requirement and fulfills the "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS Core.

ASTD 358 - Americans Abroad
Mon/Wed 11:00 am-12:15 pm
Instructor: Kate Moran

When we think about the present-day United States, we inevitably think not only about events within the nation's borders, but also about what Americans are doing on the global stage: as travelers, consumers, teachers, students, missionaries, soldiers, and workers. Yet the world has been "globalizing" for a long time, and Americans have been engaged in work and play across the world since the nation's birth. In this course, you will examine the history of American travel and transnational encounters, exploring a variety of material including: first-hand accounts of Americans who traveled the world and lived abroad; films, fiction, and television depicting "Americans abroad"; theories of tourism and transnational exchange; and critical analyses of important individuals, organizations, and movements. This is a course that will help you understand the evolving place of the U.S. in the world, offering a deep perspective as you form your own experiences as travelers, international students, and global citizens.
Fulfills the "Cultural Diversity: Global Citizenship" requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS Core.

ASTD 360 / WSTD 393-02 - History and Fiction: What's American about American Women Novelists?
Tues/Thurs 11:00am-12:15pm
Instructor: Emily Lutenski

In April 2013, writer Amanda Filipacchi noticed a curious series of events occurring on Wikipedia. The category "American novelists" had gotten so long and unwieldy that editors decided to remove authors from that page to subcategories. Who would remain? Who would go? The criterion used was not, for example, whether writers were better known for their poetry than their prose. Instead of grappling with the nuances of genre or form, the editors had a more simple solution: gender. Within a couple of days, Harper Lee, Amy Tan, and about three hundred other writers were moved to a new page: "American women novelists." -- When they questioned women's roles in the development of a national literature, these editors continued a long history, stemming at least from 1855, when writer Nathaniel Hawthorne famously complained, "America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women." In this class, we will examine the "scribbling" of contemporary U.S. women to explore this history of knowledge- and canon-formation, as well as the nexus of gender, nation, and other categories of identity and analysis, such as race and class--to ask, in other words, what's American about American women novelists?
Fulfills the second half of the Literature requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA core, and fulfills the full Literature requirement for the BS Core.

ASTD 393-01 / POLS 393-03 / WSTD 393-09 - New Questions: American Leftist Radicalism
Tues/Thurs 2:15pm-3:30pm
Instructor: Melissa Ford

This course is inspired by a quote from Robin D. G. Kelley's Freedom Dreams. He writes "Social movements generate new knowledge, new theories, new questions. The most radical ideas often grow out of a concrete intellectual engagement with the problems of aggrieved populations confronting systems of oppression." This course is cross-listed between the American Studies and Political Science Departments, and, as such, explores the unique exchange between these two disciplines. As an American Studies course, this class examines the intersection of race, class, and gender in radical ideology formation, as well as cultural, philosophical, and political implications. As a Political Science course, this class explores the theory and practice of political institutions and how 20th century activists interacted with all forms and levels of government. For this course, we will focus only on leftist activists. Leftists activists are often framed as the outsiders of history, though certainly the more popular progressive movements have made their way into mainstream American history.

ASTD 393-03 - Mixed-Race America
Tues/Thurs 12:45-2:00pm
Instructor: Heidi Ardizzone

Despite popular images of America as a "melting" both of races and ethnicities, our institutions, values, and practices have often tried to create or maintain spatial and social distance between groups defined as racially different. This course will explore the ways in which Americans have transgressed those boundaries or found other ways of interacting across cultural lines, primarily in the 19th and 20th centuries. We will examine popular cultural perceptions of people of mixed ancestry, their social experiences, the development of various mixed-ancestry communities, and historical attempts to limit interracial socializing, relationships, and marriage. These issues were and are deeply embedded in debates over the meaning of race, gender expectations, and ideas about sex and sexuality. We will also pay close attention to how minority communities have understood people of mixed ancestry in the United States, and how mixed-race identities intersect with African American, Native American, Asian, White, and Latino identities.

ASTD 393-04 - Sport in American Cultural History
Mon/Wed/Fri 10:00-10:50am
Instructor: Nicholas Porter

In this class, students will examine the history and continued popularity of sport in America. Sport is a fascinating and complex area of study with regard to American culture, and this course intends to investigate sport's significance to our diverse society. Issues of race, gender, and class will be analyzed alongside a range of other topics such as national identity, globalization and bodily representations as we engage with sport from multiple angles. With an emphasis on sport as both an economic enterprise and a grassroots cultural phenomenon, the class will investigate deeper cultural ideas that have made sport a crucial factor in a variety of American experiences. The aim of this course is for students to develop their skills of analysis, research, and critique as they work towards an understanding of sport's continuing centrality within American life and culture. By bringing their own interpretations and experiences of sport into contact with the assigned readings it is intended that students will be able to gain a greater perspective on why sport continues to play an important, yet always controversial, part in American life.

ASTD 410 - Senior Seminar
Scheduling by arrangement
Instructor: Benjamin Looker

This course is designed to guide students through researching and writing a senior thesis and, in the process, to teach them how to be good critics. The senior thesis is the embodiment of the knowledge and training students have garnered in their undergraduate education in American Studies. When completed, it should be a strong expression of students' analytical and writing skills, which will be useful for whatever career they plan to pursue. In the class, students focus on the step-by-step process of producing a 30- to 40-page research paper, read and discuss practical guides to research and writing, and use the classroom as a forum to critique individual projects. Each student plays a vital role in the development of every other student's work. At the end of the course, students will have honed their research and writing skills, developed strong techniques for critiquing their peers' work, and produced a research paper that they can use as a writing sample as they pursue their respective further endeavors.

Graduate

ASTD 550 - The Practice of American Studies
Tues 4:00-6:30pm
Instructor: Matthew Mancini

The goal of this course is to prepare Ph.D. students to become practicing members of the interdisciplinary humanities community, whether inside or outside of the higher-education industry, and to enable them to engage thoughtfully and critically with the social, political, and economic forces currently reshaping the various institutions in which humanities labor takes place. Over the course of the semester, participants will learn and practice a variety of practical skills, cultivate a broadened awareness of professional options available to them, and consider contemporary debates over an array of issues in higher education, including academic freedom, institutional governance, labor practices, evolving curricula, and political engagement.
Required of all Ph.D. students during the second or third year of study; first-years may enroll by permission of the instructor.

ASTD 557 - African American Politics, Culture, and Identity
Thurs 4:00-6:30pm
Instructor: Heidi Ardizzone

This graduate seminar explores the connections and tensions between politics, culture, and identity in African American experiences and public movements. Covering the mid-nineteenth century through the contemporary period, we will focus on activism, issues of representation, and the multiple strategies within a diverse African American population, paying attention to issues of gender, class, religion, region, migration, and national identity.

ASTD 593 - American Modernism
Wed 4:00-6:30pm
Instructor: Emily Lutenski

Skyscrapers. Imagism. The Great Migration. Expressionism. The Industrial Workers of the World. Dada. The Blues. Fordism. The Bob. Eugenics. Cubism. Jazz. Women's Suffrage. Futurism. The Depression. Film. The Harlem Renaissance. Expatriation. The World Wars. Prohibition. Primitivism. Immigration. The Armory Show. Art Deco. -- Radical Breaks. Rapid Changes. Applied to art, politics, popular culture, technology, and everyday life, phrases like these have been often used to describe modernism and modernity in the United States and its transnational intersections. This interdisciplinary course will look at this cultural history and aesthetic production, largely between the World Wars.

ASTD 693 - Cultural Geographies of American Religion
Mon 4:00-6:30pm
Instructor: Kate Moran

This course will explore the relationship between religion and ongoing processes of spatial organization and place making in modern America. From store-front churches to suburban mosques, ancient burial grounds to twentieth-century urban neighborhoods, home architecture to border fences, we will look at the religious and spiritual meanings that a wide variety of people have invested in the places they live, work, and play; the spaces through which they travel; and the borders they cross and defend. We will trace how those meanings have shaped those spaces, movements, and practices, and how they have intersected with evolving notions of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Along the way, we will study theories of place, space, and religion drawn from a variety of disciplines, including geography, history, anthropology, and religious studies.

OFFERED FALL 2013

Undergraduate

ASTD 202 - Investigating America
Tues/Thurs 9:30-10:45

In 1925, African American poet Langston Hughes wrote, "I, too, sing America. / I am the darker brother. / They send me to eat in the kitchen / When company comes," indicating that "America" may not always be the land of opportunity touted by its foundational myths and dreams. "But" despite this, Hughes continues, "I laugh / and eat well, / And grow strong. / [...] I, too, am America." His poem raises a series of questions: What does it mean to be American? Who decides, and who is included or excluded? Are there uniquely American characteristics, experiences, identities, art forms, places, politics, or stories? Is America a nation-state, geography, or citizenship status? Or is it a set of ideas - like "democracy," "capitalism," "the frontier," "exceptionalism," "freedom," "opportunity," "work," or "imperialism?" How do race, gender, sexuality, and class inflect American identity and shape American culture? These are the central questions of this course, which are at the heart of the field of American Studies. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring these questions, examining American history, literature, and culture through a variety of sources and methods: literary, historical, visual, and social scientific.
Fulfills the "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS Core.

ASTD 240 - American Homefronts and Global Wars
Tues/Thurs 12:45-2:00

This course considers American social history during times of war from World War I to the current "War on Terror. " How have these global wars affected American cultures, arts, demographics, and politics? What internal divisions and shared identities has war inspired or revealed? How have the experience and memory of war shaped American society and our position in the international arena? We will address these questions through an examination of primary sources in literature, media, film, and visual culture, as well as reading scholarly works.
Fulfills the "Cultural Diversity: Global Citizenship" requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS Core.

ASTD 320 - Making the American City: Culture, Space, and 20th-century U.S. Urbanisms
Tues/Thurs 11:00-12:15

This seminar examines the cultural history of the U.S. city, 1880s to present. Students consider how changing city environments have shaped urban cultural communities and processes of identity-formation over time. Meanwhile, using fiction, film, paintings, photography, and other primary-source genres, participants explore relationships between urban space and representational practices in the arts and popular culture.
Fulfills the "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS Core.

ASTD 393 - "Young Americans": Contemporary America in Music
Mon/Wed/Fri 10:00-10:50

This course will use music, and the cultures around music, to investigate American economic, political, social, and cultural events and values since the 1970s. It will draw connections between music and the life of the nation, analyzing contexts from the local to the international.

ASTD 425 - American Mosaic: Literature and Diversity
Tues/Thurs 2:15-3:30

In Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior (1975), the narrator describes how "When we Chinese girls listened to the adults talk-story, we learned that we failed if we grew up to be but wives or slaves. " She describes how "my mother talking-story [...] said I would grow up a wife and a slave, but she taught me the song of the warrior woman [...]. I would have to grow up a warrior woman." Kingston's narrative is not the only one that links storytelling to ethnic and gender identity formation-and, at times, subversion. Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony (1977) begins with the reminder, "I will tell you something about stories, / [...] They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled." More recently, Sandra Cisneros' Caramelo (2002) admonishes its reader to "Tell me a story, even if it's a lie." What is the function of storytelling in these texts, and for writers of color? Do stories create and sustain ethnic and gender identities-or do they trouble our expectations of these identities? Can stories be used as a form of domination or resistance? Questions like these will form the center of this course as we read contemporary multiethnic fiction that tells us about "talking-story."
Fulfills the second half of the Literature requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS Core.

Graduate

ASTD 425 - American Mosaic: Literature and Diversity
Tues/Thurs 2:15-3:30

See description in the undergraduate courses listing just above. By arrangement with the instructor, this 400-level course may be taken by graduate students for credit toward the M.A. and Ph.D. coursework requirements.

ASTD 510 - Perspectives in American Studies
Thurs 4:00-6:30

Survey of theoretical frameworks for the interpretation of American culture over time. Examines the intersection of history and theory in the interdisciplinary study of the American experience from colonial encounters to the present. Critical readings in Marxism, feminism, semiotics, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, race theory, and queer theory. Offered every year.

ASTD 540 - Metropolitan America
Tues 4:00-6:30

Introduction to the study of American urban and suburban life. Course examines American cities, their cultures, and their built environments as these change over time. Students engage scholarship, develop visual literacy for "reading" the metropolis, and analyze the ways in which built environments shape and reflect American cultural meaning.

ASTD 593 - Historical Classics and the American Studies Tradition
Mon/Wed 12:30-1:45

Readings in great works of history that were written by important scholars in the development of American Studies. Course objectives are: to develop clear comprehension of crucial periods in U. S. history, to explain why such periods were significant in the minds of the historians who wrote about them, to relate the historians' methods to American Studies, and to critically examine the works as literature. Works include, in whole or part, Perry Miller, The New England Mind, John Hope Franklin, Reconstruction After the Civil War, David Potter, The Impending Crisis, Henry F. May, The End of American Innocence, Nell Irvin Painter, Standing at Armageddon. Three short papers or one major paper; class discussion leadership; reviews of book reviews.

ASTD 627 - Transnational America
Wed 4:00-6:30

This course introduces students to the history, intellectual trajectories, and institutional impact of the "transnational turn" in American Studies. Focusing on 19th and 20th century cultural, economic, political, and religious encounters in Africa, Asia, and Europe, participants investigate the varied manifestations and wide-ranging impact of U.S. global engagement.


OFFERED SPRING 2013

Undergraduate

ASTD 202 - Investigating America

In 1925, African American poet Langston Hughes wrote, "I, too, sing America. / I am the darker brother. / They send me to eat in the kitchen / When company comes," indicating that "America" may not always be the land of opportunity touted by its foundational myths and dreams. "But" despite this, Hughes continues, "I laugh / and eat well, / And grow strong. / [...] I, too, am America." His poem raises a series of questions: What does it mean to be American? Who decides, and who is included or excluded? Are there uniquely American characteristics, experiences, identities, art forms, places, politics, or stories? Is America a nation-state, geography, or citizenship status? Or is it a set of ideas--like "democracy," "capitalism," "the frontier," "exceptionalism," "freedom," "opportunity," "work," or "imperialism?" How do race, gender, sexuality, and class inflect American identity and shape American culture? These are the central questions of this course, which are at the heart of the field of American Studies. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring these questions, examining a variety of sources and methods: literary, historical, visual, and social scientific.
Fulfills the "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BS Core.

ASTD 322 / HIST 393-02 - The Urban Crisis

This course examines the political, cultural, economic, and demographic transformations that have remade U.S. cities and their metropolitan areas in the decades since World War II. Over the course of the semester, students will investigate the history and legacy of urban problems such as racial segregation and poverty, white flight and suburban sprawl, public housing and urban renewal, riots and insurrections, job loss, and industrial change. Participants will also consider a number of the approaches developed by planners, policymakers, social activists, and ordinary residents to address these challenges, as well as several examples of how Americans have tried to make sense of the changing urban landscape in the realms of art, literature, popular culture, and social criticism. Along the way, participants will regularly engage with the city around them, pausing frequently to consider local examples, spaces, and issues in greater depth.
Fulfills 3 credits of the Social Science requirement and 3 credits of the "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." requirement for the Arts & Sciences BA/BA Core.

ASTD 340 - Religion and American Culture

This course uses historical, literary, and popular culture sources to explore the relationship between religious beliefs, values, and practices and American cultural formation. Examining key events, groups, and themes in American history from 1880 to the present, students will learn to recognize the diversity of religious experiences in U.S. society.

ASTD 493-02 - Introduction to Museum Studies

What can historic house museums, city zoos, national art galleries, and tribal museums tell us about how Americans have thought about themselves and the world around them? In this class, we will study the history, politics, and design of museum collections and exhibitions. We will trace museums' development from private cabinets of curiosity (such as the art collections of Asian royalty and the zoos of European princes) to public educational institutions in the nineteenth century. We will analyze museum exhibition trends in the context of changes in the natural and social sciences, exploring for example, the shift from displaying artifacts by type to geographic and cultural origins. We will especially focus on the politics of display, that is, how museum objects project and interpret ideas about cultures and nature, and how people have fought against these interpretations. We will explore these topics through scholarly writings, visual and material culture studies, and visits to local St. Louis institutions.

Graduate

ASTD 593-01 - Reading Moby Dick

Students will undertake a close reading of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), in the second Norton Critical Edition (2002). We will move steadily at approximately ten chapters per week. The course will also examine Melville's life, and the novel will serve as a tool for understanding antebellum American culture and politics. Objectives: Students will: develop skillful, sophisticated understandings of the novel as narrative art; examine the novel's themes in the context of antebellum society and culture; study the economic and social history of the whaling industry; understand the place of Moby-Dick in Melville's life and career; reach their own conclusions about Melville's place in American literary history; trace the reception of Moby-Dick as a problem in American intellectual history.

ASTD 593-02 - Frontiers and Borderlands: Contact and Conquest in the American Imaginary

In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner announced the westward frontier was the defining process of American history. He insisted that confrontation with environmental wilderness and indigenous people had resulted in a unique American culture and identity. Intellectuals and artists since have interrogated this famous thesis, at times embracing it, at times rejecting it, and at times reconceptualizing it to give it new meanings. Exploring these turns, this course asks the following questions: What are the differences between "frontiers," "borderlands," and "the West?" Are these places, processes, or symbols? How have they been represented, contested, and mobilized? Why are they salient for American Studies? We will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring these questions, examining a variety of sources and methods: literary, historical, and visual.

ASTD 644 - From Satchmo to Strangelove: Cold War Cultural Politics and the "American Century"

This graduate seminar explores the cultural politics of the cold war in the United States, from roughly 1947 to 1963. In particular, we'll be examining the ways in which political and international forms of conflict shaped American society in areas ranging from shifting gender configurations to new forms of youth culture, artistic ideologies to the transformation of urban and suburban space, evolving racial formations to the politics of mass culture, and beyond. Along the way, the course is intended to familiarize students with the process of critically analyzing pieces of historical scholarship, and to allow them the opportunity to work each week with a set of primary documents in order to complicate the narratives delivered in class and in the scholarly readings. At various points, we'll be dealing with contemporary cultural texts ranging from magazine articles to manifestos, musical recordings to Hollywood films, radio plays to instructional filmstrips, poems to TV sitcoms. Thus, by the end of the semester, participants ought to have gained not only a good understanding of the cultural history of the domestic cold war era, but also a set of theoretically informed strategies for performing close readings of cultural texts in a variety of genres.

ASTD 693-01 - American Environments

American Environments, American Cultures is an introduction to some of the classic and much of the fresh writing in the field. We will study the complicated ways the natural world has shaped American history and cultures and, in turn, how American ideas and activities have reshaped the natural world around them. We will study theoretical approaches regarding the meaning of nature through the lens of race, class and gender; and topics that highlight the complex ties between people and nature, such as wilderness recreation, urban rivers, environmental justice, consumer culture, and food. Students will learn how to access scholarly work in environmental history, to use the environment as a tool to study cultures, to understand the historic sources of current nature-culture dynamics; and to interpret a variety of visual, material, and written source materials. Scholars of the environment frequently cross disciplinary boundaries in their work and learn basic principles from the fields of history, literature, geography, ecology, agriculture, urban planning, art, literature, and, even, medicine. Over the course of the semester, we'll be discussing how effectively the authors we read step across disciplinary boundaries and what insights emerge in their work as a result. As a research seminar, you will have the opportunity to engage in your own scholarly investigation of environments and cultures by using the tools honed by experts in the field.

ASTD 693-02 - Many Mid-Wests: Race and Citizenship in the Twentieth-Century Heartland

The Mid-West as a region has received relatively little attention in the historical and cultural study race and citizenship in the twentieth-century U.S. The early to mid-nineteenth century regional divide between North and South over the issue of enslavement has shaped a much broader academic study of race and region into the present. Scholars of the West have added that region's different ethnic, economic, and political patterns to the North-South model, most recently arguing for the centrality of Western states in twentieth-century reconstructions of race, civil rights, and citizenship. Where does this leave the Mid-West? This graduate seminar will look first at regional studies that examine the "Mid-West" as a geographic and cultural entity with ambiguous borders. We will examine several local studies of developing race relations, civil rights movements, and other struggles around citizenship in specific Mid-Western cities and states. Of the city-studies, Chicago and Detroit are arguably over-represented in publications, but this unit will include scholarship on smaller cities (e.g. Indianapolis, Cleveland) as well as on cities and states further west (Milwaukee, the Dakotas, Kansas, etc.) Much of the available scholarship also focuses on African Americans, particularly emphasizing the civil rights movement but other ethnic groups will be included as well. Our final unit will focus on "border" or ambiguous locations to consider the usefulness and limits of considering them within or against the Mid-West. Missouri, for example, has been described by scholars as part of the South, the Mid-West, and the West.

OFFERED FALL 2012

Undergraduate

ASTD 310 - American Decades: The Sixties

For the Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum, this course fulfills the "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." requirement.

ASTD 360 - History and Fiction: The Harlem Renaissance

The first decades of the 20th century witnessed the "Great Migration" of African Americans from the rural south to the urban north, where many hoped to find increased economic opportunities and decreased prejudice, discrimination, and racialized violence. Cities saw the establishment of vibrant black communities and a subsequent explosion in black arts, intellectual work, and other cultural forms. The most renowned of these occurred in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s, during what is now known as the "Harlem Renaissance" or the "New Negro" movement. This course will explore the literary arm of this movement and its intersections with the broader cultural history of the period, putting the literary into dialogue with politics, music, and the visual arts. This course aims to immerse students in the historical landscape of a self-consciously modern America, and in the rich contributions of minority groups to this moment and cultural consciousness, as well as to empower students in their writing, research, and learning processes while forging intellectual community.
For the Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum, this course fulfills the second phase of the Literature requirement.

ASTD 393 - Religion and Popular Culture in Contemporary America

"How do religion and popular culture influence each other in the United States today?" This course will examine that question by analyzing a variety of cultural texts in genres such as film, stage drama, musicals, novels, songs, television, comics, and other media. By giving these cultural texts weight and consideration, students will discover how popular phenomena like the Twilight Series and the television show LOST are imbued with religious themes that raise questions about broader cultural values and meanings. This course teaches critical thinking, observation, and interaction with the everyday products of our nation's popular imagination to provide a deeper understanding of the reciprocal influences between cultural forms and religious expression. Texts and media we will analyze include but are not limited to: The Book of Mormon play, Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Tim Tebow and religion in sports, Christianity in Young Adult literature, religion on HBO, and more.

ASTD 493-01 - Farming in American Society and Culture

Graduate

ASTD 510 - Perspectives in American Studies

Survey of theoretical frameworks for the interpretation of American culture over time. Examines the intersection of history and theory in the interdisciplinary study of the American experience from colonial encounters to the present. Critical readings in Marxism, feminism, semiotics, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, race theory, and queer theory. Offered every year.

ASTD 523 - Cultures of the American South

Using fiction, film, history, literary criticism, music, and autobiography, this course identifies and investigates elements of the South's distinctiveness, as well as the relation between the region and the nation of which it forms a part. Specific topics include Southern fiction, race and slavery, and images of the South in American cultural expression. Books with titles like Tell about the South: The Southern Rage to Explain and What Made the South Different? testify to the widespread perception that the South constitutes a distinctive region. Why, how, and with what results are some of the questions we will address in this seminar. The course objectives are as follows: to provide a historical survey of the South's social, economic, and cultural development, especially since 1865; to address the question of Southern distinctiveness through fiction and history by black and white Southerners; to examine American race relations in a specific regional context; to appreciate the variety of cultures that flourish in the region; to expand disciplinary competencies by approaching different kinds of texts with methods appropriate to them.

ASTD 593-01 - Women of Color and Feminism

ASTD 593-02 - Food in American Culture

Food is more than something we eat. Finding food is a basic human necessity but making food choices is more complex. Eating is biological and cultural, personal and political. Although we might lose some of the connections when we revamp, repackage, and consume a product of nature, we, nevertheless, connect ourselves to a particular country, region, landscape, economy, and producer. In turn, we also link ourselves to other consumers, their ways of life and their values. This class will study culture through food production and consumption, investigating American foodways through themes such as labor, environment, gender, ethnicity, globalization, identity and power. We will analyze scholarly and popular works that approach food through the lens of semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism, revisionist history, and Marxism, and ones that celebrate the pleasures of cooking and eating food. The course's goal is to teach students about the meaning of food and how the simple act of eating can reveal interconnections among so many diverse aspects of society and the environment. Another goal is to introduce students to foodways as a fun, accessible yet deeply penetrating tool they can add to their methodological approaches for studying history and cultures. And, finally, as a readings class, by its completion students will be well-versed in major approaches and works in the diverse field of food studies.

ASTD 612 - Dissertation Colloquium

This course is designed to facilitate the dissertation-writing process. Seminar discussions will focus on peer review of student generated works-in-progress. Required of all Ph.D. students.

ASTD 671 - Leadership and Culture

Focuses on how culture both constrains and empowers leaders as they attempt to influence various publics. Students examine political leaders and leaders of social movements, primarily in U.S. history, with an eye toward the connections between their policies, their rhetoric, and the institutional and cultural contexts in which they acted.

OFFERED SPRING 2012

Undergraduate 

ASTD 202 - Investigating America

American Studies 202 will introduce students to the major themes associated with American cultural history. This course is geared towards helping students understand the interdisciplinary nature of American Studies, a common source of confusion for many people. Throughout the semester, students will examine how American identity myths are countered by what Stephen Duncombe refers to as "cultural resistors." Through resistance, many marginalized people offer distinct perspectives not contained within the typical portrayal of American history. We will discuss what it means to resist, where certain cultural myths come from, what they mean to different groups of Americans, and how resistance and cultural myths construct our identities as well as the society around us. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 310 - American Decades: 9/11 and After

This course examines how September 11, 2001 was represented in U.S. culture and political discourse and how Americans have understood, remembered, and commemorated this day and its consequences over the past decade. We will explore media footage, movies, television, novels, poems, comics, music, photographs, blogs, "ground zero" souvenirs, and memorials, but also political speeches and domestic and foreign policy documents, in order to better understand the cultural and historical context that created and contested responses to, and narratives of, 9/11.

We will also study the legal, political, and violent impact of 9/11 and of the following decade, both on Americans and on people around the world: the global war on terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and new meanings of security, democracy, citizenship, national identity, state power, and patriotism. This course will introduce students to interdisciplinary American Studies methods. For the Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum, this course fulfills 3 credits of the "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." requirement. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 322-01/01H - The Urban Crisis

This course examines the political, cultural, economic, and demographic transformations that have remade U.S. cities and their metropolitan areas in the decades since World War II. Over the course of the semester, students will investigate the history and legacy of urban problems such as racial segregation and poverty, white flight and suburban sprawl, public housing and urban renewal, riots and insurrections, job loss, and industrial change. Participants will also consider a number of the approaches developed by planners, policymakers, social activists, and ordinary residents to address these challenges, as well as several examples of how Americans have tried to make sense of the changing urban landscape in the realms of art, literature, popular culture, and social criticism. Along the way, participants will regularly engage with the city around them, pausing frequently to consider local examples, spaces, and issues in greater depth. For the Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum, this course fulfills 3 credits of the Social Science requirement and 3 credits of the "Cultural Diversity in the U.S." requirement. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 360 - History and Fiction: Narratives of Racial Identity

This course examines twentieth-century fictional narratives of racial identity in the context of the historical moments they are written in and/or about. Focusing on periods of transition in American racial systems, we will pay particular attention to themes of racial ambiguity, migrations, civil rights, assimilation, transformations, and passing. How did fictional and nonfictional writers grapple with shifting meanings and experiences of race in the United States? How can literary treatments of these issues inform our understanding of these historical moments and vice versa? Required texts may include John Okada's No-No Boy, Danzy Senna's Caucasia, and Alice Walker's Meridian. 
For the Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum, this course fulfills the second phase of the Literature requirement.

ASTD 393-01 - Reading the American Landscape

This course will use a variety of source material, including paintings, films, and actual places, to explore the relationships between the natural world and American cultures from the colonial period to the present. We will study the complicated ways the natural world has impacted human history and, in turn, how European and American ideas and activities have reshaped the world around them. We will look at "nature" as both a physical entity and an idea, examining how European conceptions of the natural world shaped settlers' attitudes, encounters, and interactions with their environment and then how nature became a symbol of American national identity in the nineteenth century.

We will study the development of national parks, zoos and amusement parks, the design of suburban lawns and city parks, the rise of environmentalism and the environmental justice movement in the twentieth century. We will seek to unravel how Americans' ideas about nature have impacted the world around them and, conversely, how the natural world has affected everyday Americans' lives. At the end of the course, students will have gained familiarity with pivotal works and topics in the field of environmental history and expertise in how to "read" the American landscape.

Graduate 

ASTD 550 - The Practice of American Studies

The goal of this course is to prepare graduate students to become practicing members of the interdisciplinary humanities community, whether inside or outside of the higher-education industry, and to enable them to engage thoughtfully and critically with the social, political, and economic forces currently reshaping the various institutions in which humanities labor takes place. Over the course of the semester, participants will learn and practice a variety of practical skills, cultivate a broadened awareness of professional options available to them, and consider contemporary debates over an array of issues in higher education, including academic freedom, institutional governance, labor practices, evolving curricula, and political engagement. Required of all Ph.D. students during the second or third year of study. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 593-01 - "We Are the World"? Transnationalism and American Studies

This course introduces students to the history, the intellectual trajectories, and the institutional impact of the "transnational turn" in American Studies and to the scholarship that has shaped and changed the discipline over the past two decades. We will explore recent work that situates the study of U.S. history and culture in global contexts. Focusing on 19th and 20th century cultural, economic, political, and religious encounters in Africa, Asia, and Europe, we will investigate the varied manifestations and the wide-ranging impact of U.S. global engagement in the world. How have the diverse entanglements and relationships with people, places, and ideas shaped cultures outside and within U.S. national boundaries - and how have they shaped U.S. historiography? How has transnational American Studies scholarship challenged, to borrow historian Thomas Bender's words, "the unitary logic of national history"? Download the Syllabus

ASTD 660 - American Intellectuals in a Dynamic Culture, 1870-1920

This course deals with topics related to the ideas that inform American culture through history. Topics vary: e.g. pragmatism, Dewey, Emerson, history and philosophy of American education.

ASTD 693-01 - American Environments and American Culture

This course will explore the interrelationships between the natural world and American cultures from 19th-century New England woodlands to 21st-century Los Angeles neighborhoods. We will study the complicated ways the natural world has impacted American history and cultures and, in turn, how American ideas and activities have reshaped the natural world around them. We will study theoretical approaches regarding the meaning of nature through the lens of race, class and gender; and topics that highlight the complex ties between people and nature, such as wilderness recreation, urban rivers, environmental justice, consumer culture, and food. Students will learn how to access scholarly work in environmental history, to use the environment as a tool to study cultures, to understand the historic sources of current nature-culture dynamics; and to interpret a variety of visual, material, and written source materials.

ASTD 693-02 - Memory, History and Image: The Civil Rights Movement

Recent historical scholarship has challenged almost every aspect of our collective narrative of the civil rights movement. Continuing debates over the roles of women, gender, class, race, religion, and region bring new interpretations to the strategies of activists and the multiple levels of campaigns against segregation and discrimination. The Civil Rights movement is now Long, or is it still short: was it New, or was it a direct development from activism in the early twentieth-century, was a Southern phenomenon or also a Northern one? What about the Midwest? Did men lead and women organize? Should the Black Power movement be understood as a separate a new movement or yet another shift in the ongoing Black Freedom Struggle? How was it connected to other movements for social change in the 1950s-1970s? This course will look at the historiography of the movement, including some attention to the highly influential Eyes on the Prize documentary, then focus on explosion of a new civil rights scholarship both in more traditional social and political history methodologies as well as histories that focus on visual culture, advertising, and public memory.

OFFERED FALL 2011

Undergraduate

ASTD 310 - American Decades: Decade of Crisis-the 1890s

 

 



An interdisciplinary study of the history and culture of the American 1890s, the "watershed" decade. A watershed is a landform bounded by a ridge. One one side of the ridge all the rain, rivers, and streams fall off to one main watercourse, and ultimately to the ocean; on the other side, to a different watercourse. On the ridge of the 1890s, persons and events flow into new and different seas from those of the 1880s. As you might guess, this great shift made the nineties a decade of crisis: in race relations, foreign policy, immigration, literature, painting, philosophy, economics, labor, and even sports. Understanding the 1890s is crucial to understanding modern America.

Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 320 - Making the American City

Introduction to the interdisciplinary study of American cities, suburbs, and metropolitan regions. Students examine forces that have shaped the urban United States, with special attention to primary sources such as archival documents, census data, maps, novels, essays, photography, painting, architecture, popular music, and film. 

 ASTD 393-01 - Twentieth Century Southern Culture

In this course, we will examine the historical and social changes of the American South through material and visual culture, music, food, religion, and recreation. This multi-disciplinary exploration of the region's folkways reveals generations of scarcity and want, a pessimism in its social outlook and moral philosophy, and a deep historical consciousness that all contribute to the South's distinct region identity. This approach often reveals a modern South that is a mass-produced caricature of hackneyed southern stereotypes. By exploring the contradictions of southern heritage students will be asked to reconcile the region's turbulent past with its present. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 393-02 - Twentieth Century American Imperialisms

Over the last decade, the question of how to categorize America's power in the world has been a hotly contested debate, both in the world of academia and in the public at large. Much of this debate centers on one question: Is America an empire? This question begs a series of sub-questions: What does empire mean? Does an empire require territorial acquisition? Does the U.S.'s cultural and diplomatic influence around the globe count as a kind of cultural imperialism? Was the U.S. an empire during the twentieth century? If America is an empire, what does that mean for the nation and the world?

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the study of American empire in the twentieth century. Moving from the Spanish-American War of 1898 to post-9/11 American policies, this class will examine the changing role of America throughout the world in the twentieth century. Through course assignments, students will develop an understanding of the concept of empire and what it has meant to America historically as well as what it means about American policy in the present. Students will also examine multiple primary source documents-such as films, World's Fair exhibits, magazine advertisements, and newspaper articles-through the critical and theoretical frameworks discussed in class in order to gain experience in applying the critical tools scholars use when thinking about empire. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 393-03 - Mixed Race America

Despite popular images of American as a "melting" both of races and ethnicities, our institutions, values, and practices have often tried to create or maintain spatial and social distance between groups defined as racially different. This course will explore that ways in which Americans have transgressed those boundaries or found other ways of interacting across cultural lines, primarily in the 19th and 20th centuries. We will examine popular cultural perceptions of people of mixed ancestry, their social experiences, the development of various mixed-ancestry communities, and historical attempts to limit interracial socializing, relationships, and marriage. These issues were and are deeply embedded in debates over the meaning of race, gender expectations and ideas about sex and sexuality. We will also pay close attention to how minority communities have understood people of mixed ancestry in the United States, and how mixed-race identities intersect with African American, Native American, Asian, White, and Latino identities. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 493-01 - Edibles Are Good to Think With: American Food and Culture

Food is more than something we eat. Finding food is a basic human necessity but making food choices is more complex. Eating is biological and cultural, personal and political. Although we might lose some of the connections when we revamp, repackage, and consume a product of nature, we, nevertheless, connect ourselves to a particular country, region, landscape, economy, and producer. In turn, we also link ourselves to other consumers, their ways of life and their values. This class will study culture through food production and consumption, investigating mainly American foodways through such topics as agriculture, labor, landscape, festival, the body, ethnicity, ethics, and gender. We will also discuss global issues of hunger, food safety, and corporate branding. We will study food as symbol; the culinary heritage of contemporary food practices, 19th-Century Industrialization's impact on food, factory and field workers, and consumers; Julia Child's influences on women and cooking practices; the connections between kitchen and restaurant design and larger cultural transformations; and the ethics of eating meat or organic over time. The course's goal is to teach students about the meaning of food and how the simple act of eating can reveal interconnections among so many diverse aspects of society and the environment. Another goal is to introduce students to foodways as a fun, accessible yet deeply penetrating tool they can add to their methodological approaches for studying history and cultures. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 493-02 - Hollywood Goes East: The Middle East and Asia in U.S. Film

This course uses Hollywood film - from silent film to contemporary blockbusters - as a medium to examine how U.S. culture has imagined and constructed the "East" (the "Far East" and "Middle East"). We will explore the changing representations, meanings, and functions of these world regions for the formation of U.S. national, racial, gender, and religious identities. This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary study of American culture by providing the tools to analyze film and its cultural and historical contexts. Download the Syllabus.

Graduate

ASTD 510 - Perspectives in American Studies

Survey of theoretical frameworks for the interpretation of American culture over time. Examines the intersection of history and theory in the interdisciplinary study of the American experience from colonial encounters to the present. Critical readings in Marxism, feminism, semiotics, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, race theory, and queer theory. Offered every year. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 515 - Studies in American Photography

This course introduces students to critical methodologies for studying American photography. Using foundational texts about photography as well as recent American Studies approaches to visual culture analysis, we will examine the cultural and political work photographs perform at particular historical moments and explore the larger discourses they participate in, with a focus on the contingent roles of race, gender, class, nation, and citizenship. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 540 - Metropolitan America

Introduction to the study of American urban and suburban life. Course examines American cities, their cultures, and their built environments as these change over time. Students engage scholarship, develop visual literacy for "reading" the metropolis, and analyze the ways in which built environments shape and reflect American cultural meaning. Download the Syllabus

ASTD 593 - African American Politics, Culture, and Identity

This graduate seminar explores the connections and tensions between politics, culture, and identity in African American experiences and public movements. Covering the mid-nineteenth century through the contemporary period, we will focus on activism, issues of representation, and the multiple strategies within a diverse African American population, paying attention to issues of gender, class, religion, region, migration, and national identity. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 670 - American Political Thought

This course focuses on selected ideas, issues, and institutions that have been central to the U.S. Constitution and the practice of American constitutionalism, from the founding era to the present. Readings emphasize seminal works in American political thought, which are supplemented by historical accounts, illustrative literature, and contemporary analyses. Download the Syllabus.

 

OFFERED SPRING 2011

Undergraduate

ASTD 322 - The Urban Crisis 

This course examines the political, cultural, economic, and demographic transformations that have remade U.S. cities and their metropolitan areas in the decades since World War II. Over the course of the semester, students will investigate the history and legacy of urban problems such as racial segregation and poverty, white flight and suburban sprawl, public housing and urban renewal, riots and insurrections, job loss, and industrial change. Participants will also consider a number of the approaches developed by planners, policymakers, social activists, and ordinary residents to address these challenges, as well as several examples of how Americans have tried to make sense of the changing urban landscape in the realms of art, literature, popular culture, and social criticism. Along the way, participants will regularly engage with the city around them, pausing frequently to consider local examples, spaces, and issues in greater depth.  Download the Syllabus.Dilapidated Building, St. Louis, MO

 

ASTD 393 01 - Special Topics: Studies in American Photography

What can American photographs tell us about the past and the present, and about how Americans have thought about themselves and others? What can we learn from archives, the media, family albums, photography blogs, and facebook snapshots about the role of photographs in crafting individual and collective identities? From the Civil War to Abu Ghraib, and from the daguerrotype to digital media, this course introduces students to critical methods in studying American photography. We will examine the cultural and political work photographs perform at particular historical moments and explore the lager discourses they participate in. Topics include the history of photography, the work of documentary photographers, and the interpretation of photographs as a primary source in historical study and as an aesthetic object in contemporary art. We will also visit several St. Louis cultural institutions to learn first-hand how different professions use photographs on a daily basis. Download the Syllabus. This course examines the dynamic relationship between clothing and culture in American society. Rather than moving chronologically from the past to the present, we begin with a narrow focus on the materiality of clothing and then trace the ideas, values, and uses of clothing by individuals and its broader social and cultural contexts. We consider ideas about identity and values rooted in clothing, discuss the social and cultural debates that both form and are formed by fashion, and grapple with issues of power, authority, and oppression as they are expressed through clothing.

 

 

ASTD 393 02 - Fashion Matters: Clothing and Culture in American Society

Throughout the course, we engage with different primary sources and use the diverse approaches of American Studies to contribute to our knowledge of matters of fashion. We also debate both historic and contemporary issues of clothing in order to understand how clothing shapes our assessments of other people and public attitudes and policies towards cultural and religious groups. This culminates in a final project in which you interrogate a piece or style of clothing of your choice as a site of ideas, values, identity, cultural debates, or power relations to show that indeed, fashion matters.

 

ASTD 393 03 - Country Music and American Culture

Marxist cultural historian Walter Benjamin believed that politics and art should be kept separate, while his fellow peer Theodor Adorno believed that popular music could never politically, culturally, or socially important. Is this true? Can popular music ever be "significant?" Is music ever a useful or appropriate medium for political commentary? If so, what makes it an attractive medium?

In this course, we will examine one genre of American popular music: country music as a broadly defined genre. We will examine the history of the genre and its role in 20th century American culture. The goal of the course is not to convert students to avid country music fans; rather, the intent is to question the existing discourse that places popular music on a lower level than other art forms and to examine the significance of the music from a multidisciplinary approach.  Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 393 04 - Congress, Courts and the Classroom: The Politics of American Education

What are the forces that shape public education in America? How do the agendas and actors at the local, state, and federal levels affect the daily lives in America's schools and the opportunities that are available to America's school age children? How are these actors in conversation or conflict with each other? This course will investigate the role of politics in American public education through considerations of the purposes of schooling in America, issues of control and governance, and recent reform efforts. Download the Syllabus.

Graduate

ASTD 510 - Perspectives in American Studies

Survey of theoretical frameworks for the interpretation of American culture over time. Examines the intersection of history and theory in the interdisciplinary study of the American experience from colonial encounters to the present. Critical readings in Marxism, feminism, semiotics, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, race theory, and queer theory. Offered every year.

Tocqueville

ASTD 525 - Tocqueville's America

This course studies the culture of pre-Civil War America with emphasis on the 1830's and 1840's. The central text is Tocqueville's Democracy in America through which the course investigates his perspectives on American culture. Other assigned readings help the student to understand the politics and culture of this era in more detail. Offered occasionally. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 593 01 - Over There: The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in U.S. Film and Media

This course examines representations of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in U.S. film and media, ranging from news coverage to Hollywood and independent films to television series. Our analysis focuses on the roles of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality in the construction of war narratives. How do these narratives create, contest, challenge, and change public understandings of the nation, its values, and its place in the world? What perspectives and interpretations - foundational myths, oppositional readings - do they enable, mobilize, limit, and foreclose? What are the political consequences of the visual and aesthetic production of the body - the national body, the soldier's body, the enemy's body, the civilian's body, the injured and disabled body, the dead body - for constituting notions of human life? The broader goal of the course is to explore how American Studies scholarship has engaged with the wars, and to probe interdisciplinary methodologies and theoretical approaches that link the current wars with larger issues in the study of U.S. history, culture, and society: violence and the state, foreign policy and culture, historical memory, the politics of representation, citizenship and nationalism, the role of the rhetoric of war and of consensus and dissent in public discourse, and the militarization of culture, society, and academic knowledge. Course readings include theoretical texts by Paul Virilio, Judith Butler, Jean Baudrillard, and Elaine Scarry. Weekly film screenings outside of class. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 644 - From Satchmo to Strangelove: Cold War Cultural Politics and the "American Century"

This graduate seminar explores the culture of the Cold War era in the United States from 1947 to 1963. In particular, participants will examine the ways in which political and international forms of conflict shaped American society in areas ranging from shifting gender configurations to new forms of youth culture, artistic ideologies to the transformation of metropolitan space, evolving racial formations to the politics of mass culture. Weekly preparation involves careful work with an array of primary documents in order to test and complicate the narratives found in the secondary readings. By semester's end, participants will have acquired not only a solid understanding of the period's cultural history, but also a set of theoretically informed strategies for performing close analysis of cultural texts in a variety of genres.

ASTD 693 - Special Topics: DuBois and Race

Ida B. Wells

OFFERED FALL 2010

Undergraduate

ASTD 202 - Investigating America 

This course introduces students to the discipline of American Studies. Organized around a theme, the course engages students in the interdisciplinary study of American culture by allowing them to approach a single set of questions from a variety of perspectives, combining the vantage points of the historian, the social scientist, the literary scholar, and others. This year's theme, Mobility & the Work Ethic, focuses on particular events and ideas in American history and culture (such as the frontier, immigration, segregation, and the home) and asks students to explore how American ideals of hard work and economic individualism have shaped the course of geographic migration, social mobility, and shifting identities. Download the Syllabus.  

ASTD 360 - History and Fiction

This course interrogates the boundary between history and fiction. The course considers examples of historical fiction, and more broadly, asks literary questions of "historical" texts, and historical questions of "literature" for the purpose of deepening our understanding of both history and fiction. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 393 01 - Introduction to Museum Studies 

What can historic house museums, city zoos, national art galleries, and tribal museums tell us about how Americans have thought about themselves and the world around them? In this class, we will study the history, politics, and design of museum collections and exhibitions. We will trace museums' development from private cabinets of curiosity (such as the art collections of Asian royalty and the zoos of European princes) to public educational institutions in the nineteenth century. We will analyze museum exhibition trends in the context of changes in the natural and social sciences. We will especially focus on the politics of display, that is, how museum objects project and interpret ideas about cultures and nature, and how people have fought against these interpretations. We will explore these topics through scholarly writings, visual and material culture studies, and visits to local St. Louis institutions. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 393 02 - Animals in American Culture 

What is the animal in American culture? How is it constructed, utilized, viewed, loved, hated, killed, eaten, depicted and represented in our culture? This course will introduce the interdisciplinary field of Animal Studies and explore species-based ideologies behind our cultural attitudes. The content and activities of this course will work to foster an understanding of the complex relationship between animals and humans in American culture with the end goal being to critically examine the way we think about animals. We will study animals in culture through a variety of sources such as articles, films, advertisements, music and visual images. Download the Syllabus.

 

Graduate

 

ASTD 550 - The Practice of American Studies 

The goal of this course is to prepare graduate students to become practicing members of the interdisciplinary humanities community, whether inside or outside of the higher-education industry, and to enable them to engage thoughtfully and critically with the social, political, and economic forces currently reshaping the various institutions in which humanities labor takes place. Over the course of the semester, participants will learn and practice a variety of practical skills, cultivate a broadened awareness of professional options available to them, and consider contemporary debates over an array of issues in higher education, including academic freedom, institutional governance, labor practices, evolving curricula, and political engagement. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 693 - Orientalisms in American Culture 

This course explores the role and significance of American constructions of the "Orient" and the "Oriental" in shaping national, racial, gender, sexual, and religious identities. What is the relationship between the Orientalist discourse, national identity, cultural representations, and U.S. foreign policy? We will study "The East" - generally referred to as the Middle East and Far East - as geographical, political, ideological, and cultural construct. Starting with Edward Said's groundbreaking book Orientalism, we will engage with recent American Studies scholarship that uses and expands this theoretical framework to investigate the many different representations, meanings, and functions of Orientalism in America from colonial times to the present, with the focus on 19th and 20th century cultural histories. We will explore how - and why - American notions of the "Orient" and the "Oriental" were created, used, and modified in changing historical and cultural contexts. We will also test Orientalism as concept and theory for its usefulness, and its limitations, in studying U.S. relations with other parts of the world. What alternative theoretical models enable us to look and see, as cultural historian Melani McAlister suggests, "beyond Orientalism"? Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 593 01 - Public Art and Memory 

The public outcry over the NEA's support of the artist Robert Mapplethorpe in the 1980s. The debates over Maya Lin's use of modernist art for the Vietnam Veterans memorial in DC. Conflicts over murals and sculpture in public spaces as different as the US Capitol building and the streets of LA. This course will explore all these issues through its investigation of the politics and aesthetics of public art. We will examine public art from the perspective of the producers, including official sponsors and the artists themselves, as will as the different audiences that response and engage with the pieces. We will use public art to explore tensions in American culture over issues of taste, authority, and identity. Specific topics include commemoration and remembrance, tourism, landscape design and earthworks, neighborhood murals, 19th-century civic art movements, and 20th-century federal government-sponsored art programs. The class will also explore the local public art movement here in St. Louis. The objectives of the class are to have students learn to use art and landscape as sources to explore larger political and community issues, to understand that ways history and art have been used to create, perpetuate, or fight for a national and civic identity, and to interpret and identify different artistic styles. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 593 02 - Mythbusting & Mythmaking in Recent American Studies Scholarship 

It is widely known, if not always well understood, that many full-blown myths circulate in American culture, and that these mythic discourses often serve to obscure people's view of the histories for which those myths are substitutes. What's less well known is the precise role of academic scholarship in the career of such myths-sometimes in uncovering them, and sometimes in propping them up. In this seminar we will examine two areas of American mythmaking, one that surrounds the Vietnam War, and another concerning the Civil War and its aftermath. In addition, we will take a few detours to briefly visit other precincts of Mythland; and students will identify one mythic construct and carefully critique it with their own scholarship. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 612 - Dissertation Colloquium 

Dissertation Colloquium is designed as an intensive writing seminar for advanced graduate students. Early in the semester we will discuss specific forms of academic writing that you will be likely to perform at some point in your graduate career, such as portfolio papers, literature reviews, dissertation proposals, conference papers, academic articles, and dissertation chapters. We will spend the rest of the semester engaged with your own and your colleagues' writing. Download the Syllabus.

OFFERED SPRING 2010

Undergraduate

 

ASTD 393 01 - From TV to Twitter: The Social Construction of Digital Identity in the United States 

It is impossible to imagine the construction of nation, race, gender, sexuality, and class identities in the 20th and 21st centuries without confronting the major telecommunications developments of the past one hundred years-radio, television, cell phones, and the internet. Indeed, their effects and processes have become so visible and vocal as to have perhaps become a type identity in its own right. This course uses the major telecommunications and transportation technologies of the 20th century as a lens for understanding the construction of US national identities. We will pay particular attention to the technological significance of such landmark moments as the March on Washington, the JFK assassination, the Challenger disaster, 9/11, and the Obama inauguration. Throughout, the major and recurring questions will consider how (or if) these technological innovations participate in the social construction of "digital" identity. Download the Syllabus.

 

ASTD 393 02 - Over There: The Iraq War in U.S. Film and Media 

This course examines the many and diverse visual representations of the Iraq war in Hollywood and independent films, television series, documentaries, and in news media coverage. It focuses on the representations and experiences of Iraqis, U.S. soldiers, and their families at home, and asks larger questions about national identity and war, history and culture, and issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and class in war narratives. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 393 03 - Gay Right Movement in U.S. Politics

ASTD 322 - The Urban Crisis  

ASTD 410 - Senior Seminar 

This course is designed to guide students through researching and writing a senior thesis and, in the process, teach them how to be good critics. The senior thesis is embodiment of the knowledge and training students have garnered in their undergraduate education in American Studies. When completed, it should be a strong expression of students' analytical and writing skills, which will be useful for whatever career they plan to pursue. In the class, students focus on the step-by-step process of producing a 30- to 40-page research paper, read and discuss practical guides to research and writing, and use the classroom as a forum to critique individual projects. Each student plays a vital role in the development of each other student's work. At the end of the course, students will have honed their research and writing skills, developed strong techniques for critiquing their peers' work, and produced a research paper that they can use as a writing sample as they pursue their future endeavors. Download the Syllabus.

Graduate

ASTD 510 - Perspectives in American Studies 

This course introduces students to critical theories and methodologies that have shaped the interdisciplinary practice of American Studies. We will read works that have informed American Studies scholarship and examine how scholars have interpreted, used, and modified these theories and approaches in monographs and articles. Students will reach a critical understanding of major texts by influential progenitors of theoretical and methodological approaches that are used in American Studies as well as related disciplines. They will also master the appropriate format of advanced critical writing, and critically engage specific methodological (in contrast to theoretical) approaches to American culture and history. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 615 - Visual Culture Theory 

This course provides an introduction to the theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and cultural practices that have defined visual culture studies as an interdisciplinary field. We will work with key texts in visual culture theory and cultural studies as well as with American Studies scholarship informed by these models. Using a wide variety of visual media, including photography, film, television, art, and digital media, we will explore critical perspectives in the production, interpretation, and consumption of images. Concepts and issues to be discussed include visuality and spectatorship, the politics of representation, the creation of meaning in different social and cultural contexts, and the relationship between visual technologies and globalization. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 593 02 - Jazz, Cities, and Social Movements 

This graduate seminar explores two sets of relationships: that between jazz music and particular cities, districts, and spaces; and that between jazz communities and an array of historical movements in the realms of social activism, popular culture, and identity. Focusing on specific musical communities' engagements with debates over race, space, gender, artistic hierarchies, and economic structures, the readings and class sessions will provide a broad-ranging overview of a number of major issues in twentieth-century U.S. urban geography and cultural politics. Students will examine texts by scholars in fields such as American Studies, musicology, and history; no formal musical background is required for enrollment. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 693 - Telegraph to Twitter: The Social Construction of Digital Identity 

It is impossible to imagine the construction of nation, race, gender, sexuality, and class as identities in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries without confronting the major telecommunications and transportation developments from the Industrial Revolution forward-railroad, telegraph, automobile, airplane, radio, television, cell phones, and the internet. Indeed, the effects and processes of these technologies have become so visible and vocal as to have perhaps contributed to the formation of an entirely new identity construct in its own right-the digital identity. This course uses the major telecommunications and transportation technologies of this period as a lens for understanding the construction of digital identity. Throughout, the major and recurring questions will consider how (or if) these technological innovations participate in the social construction of "digital" identity. Along the way we will pay particular attention to the technological significance of such landmark moments as the Lincoln inauguration, the March on Washington, the JFK assassination, the Challenger disaster, 9/11, and the Obama inauguration. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 593 - Introduction to Material Culture Studies 

In this class, students will study the theory and practice of material culture studies. Students will learn how to use objects as sources for historical and cultural analyses and how to decipher ideas and meanings embedded in a variety of artifacts, from souvenirs to plastic pink flamingos. We will especially focus on museum objects, examining how an object - or set of objects - can communicate history and cultures to the public, and how an object is transformed from mundane houseware to a precious icon when placed within an exhibit case. Students will put theory to practice by working with and analyzing material objects and exhibitions for their class assignments. Class field trips will be scheduled throughout the term. Download the Syllabus.

OFFERED FALL 2009

Undergraduate

ASTD 201 - The American Experience 

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary study of American culture by exploring one central theme: the role of the U.S. in the world. How can we think about American experiences in a global context, beyond U.S. borders? Whose American experiences? How do Americans' definitions of themselves as individuals and as members of diverse communities and of a nation change over time, because of and in response to experiences with different cultures, countries, and peoples? What is the impact of U.S. cultural and military power on the world, on people's lives? How have American experiences abroad shaped, and changed, American culture and perspectives? This course engages with these questions by exploring the diverse encounters between America/Americans and the world from the mid-19th century to the present, ranging from war and occupation to the media, fast food, and Hollywood films. We will focus on the role and significance of culture in constructing and projecting American national identity and American values and ideas both at home and abroad. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 310 - American Decades: Culture of the Cold War: 1947-1963 

This course explores the culture of the Cold War in the United States from 1947 to 1963. In particular, it examines the ways in which political and international forms of conflict shaped American society in areas ranging from shifting gender configurations to new forms of youth culture, from artistic ideologies to the transformation of urban and suburban space, from evolving racial formations to the politics of mass culture. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 425 - American Mosaic: Race in American Society 

African Americans. American Indians. Hispanic Americans. Euro-Americans. Asian Americans. Instead of studying American cultural diversity in terms of what sets people apart, this course will focus on the ties that bind them, the ways they come together rather than they differ. We will study Indian cowboys, black pioneers in the American West, a black man who writes about his white Jewish mother, and artists whose work defies racial categories in order to problematize cultural stereotypes and boundaries. Through a rich variety of scholarly works, art, literature, and material sources, this course critiques how Americans have constructed cultural identities, the flexibility of these identities, and how these identities have shaped people's everyday lives. Students study these cultural encounters through the lens of the body, history and memory, work and play, and communities. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 479 - Autobiography 

At first glance, autobiography presents itself as the most easily identifiable genre-i.e., as the factual narrative of a life told by the self living it. As such, it appears to distinguish itself from scholarship, poetry, fiction, film, audio recordings, comic books, and other more troublesome genres and media. This course aims to interrogate this easy assumption about autobiography through an interdisciplinary examination of the autobiographical impulse in the 20th century United States. We will examine this impulse and its relationship, both textual and formal, to the developing 20th century technologies of mass communication and transportation. While our primary disciplinary lens will be literary, we will draw regularly from the work and methodologies of cultural studies and history to understand how our impulse to tell self-reflective stories about ourselves becomes changes, in terms of both form and medium, over the course of the 20th century. Download the Syllabus.

Graduate

ASTD 500 - Introduction to American Studies 

This course offers graduate students an advanced introduction to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. The readings begin with some primary American documents before undertaking a survey of the historical development of American Studies as an academic field of inquiry. Through these readings we will discover and discuss some of its characteristic methods, themes, and controversies. Additional assignments will introduce students to other important primary texts, documents, and artifacts. At the end of the semester, students will have developed an understanding of both the assigned primary texts and scholarly monographs. Students will also be able to discuss these texts in relationship to the development of the field of American Studies. Although not counted towards the course grade, first-year American Studies graduate students will complete a year-end written exam on material covered in ASTD 500 and ASTD 510. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 523 - Cultures of the American South 

Using fiction, film, history, literary criticism, music, and autobiography, this course identifies and investigates elements of the South's distinctiveness, as well as the relation between the region and the nation of which it forms a part. Specific topics include Southern fiction, race and slavery, and images of the South in American cultural expression. Books with titles like Tell about the South: The Southern Rage to Explain and What Made the South Different? testify to the widespread perception that the South constitutes a distinctive region. Why, how, and with what results are some of the questions we will address in this seminar. The course objectives are as follows: to provide a historical survey of the South's social, economic, and cultural development, especially since 1865; to address the question of Southern distinctiveness through fiction and history by black and white Southerners; to examine American race relations in a specific regional context; to appreciate the variety of cultures that flourish in the region; to expand disciplinary competencies by approaching different kinds of texts with methods appropriate to them. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 540 - Metropolitan American

Introduction to the study of American urban and suburban life. Course examines American cities, their cultures, and their built environments as these change over time. Students engage scholarship, develop visual literacy for "reading" the metropolis, and analyze the ways in which built environments shape and reflect American cultural meaning.

ASTD 593 - Visions of Empire 

This course examines how American Studies has addressed the role and impact of U.S. imperialism both within and outside of U.S. borders. In what national and transnational spaces do U.S. imperial relations and cultures unfold? What is the relationship between national identity discourse and racial formations at home and imperial domination abroad? We will explore the multiple forms in which the U.S. empire has manifested and materialized itself from the 19th century to the present: from continental and overseas territorial conquests to literary texts and other cultural representations. This approach to U.S. economic, cultural, political, and military power is theoretical, historical, and cultural, and above all interdisciplinary. We will read works on empire and imperialism by Edward Said, Albert Memmi, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, David Harvey, Ann Laura Stoler, and Arundhati Roy, but focus primarily on cultural histories that investigate the discourses on race, gender, and sexuality that U.S. imperial practices were steeped in and sustained. We will particularly explore what might be called the visual culture of empire by studying film, photography, advertisements, exhibitions, and performances as projection sites for imperial ambitions, projects, and anxieties. Throughout the course, we will ask what analytical tools and critical reading practices we can employ when empire, despite its forceful global and domestic workings, remains unseen, invisible, elusive. Download the Syllabus.

ASTD 693 - Edibles are Good to Think With: American Food and Culture 

Food is more than something we eat. Finding food is a basic human necessity but making food choices is more complex. Eating is biological and cultural, personal and political. Although we might lose some of the connections when we revamp, repackage, and consume a product of nature, we, nevertheless, connect ourselves to a particular country, region, landscape, economy, and producer. In turn, we also link ourselves to other consumers, their ways of life and their values. This class will study culture through food production and consumption, investigating American foodways through themes such as labor, environment, gender, ethnicity, globalization, identity and power. We will analyze scholarly and popular works that approach food through the lens of semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism, revisionist history, and Marxism, and ones that celebrate the pleasures of cooking and eating food. The course's goal is to teach students about the meaning of food and how the simple act of eating can reveal interconnections among so many diverse aspects of society and the environment. Another goal is to introduce students to foodways as a fun, accessible yet deeply penetrating tool they can add to their methodological approaches for studying history and cultures. And, finally, as a readings class, by its completion students will be well-versed in major approaches and works in the diverse field of food studies. Download the Syllabus

OFFERED SPRING 2009

Undergraduate

ASTD 202 - Investigating America

Introduces methods of interdisciplinary inquiry and original research in primary and secondary sources. Develops library, bibliographic, archival, and writing skills, building to an independent research project.

ASTD 322 - The Urban Crisis

This course examines the roots and dimensions of the urban crisis that has transformed American metropolitan areas since World War II. Students investigate major urban problems such as racial segregation and poverty, white flight and suburban sprawl, public housing and urban renewal, riots and insurrections, job loss, and industrial change.

ASTD 393 01 - Sports in American Culture

Americans often consider sports as simply a form of leisure and entertainment, but many of our culture's characteristics and conflicts play out in the field of sports. Using sports history, advertisements, photographs, and films, and focusing specifically, but not exclusively, on boxing and baseball, the course explores larger themes in American culture, such as nationalism and racism, notions of masculinity and femininity, and labor and capitalism, to gain a new understanding and different perspective of the way we look at sports and American culture.

ASTD 393 04 - Immigration Nation: The Latino/a Experience in the United States

This course examines the recent debates on immigration, with specific emphasis on Latino/a communities in the U.S. Using cultural studies, history, sociology, literature, and film, we will explore how race, ethnicity and class have shaped Latino/a experiences in the country. We will also learn about how negative representations of Latinos/as in culture impact our thoughts on fair immigration reform.

ASTD 410 - Senior Seminar

This course brings the major to a coherent end, through which students gain a broad understanding of the field and their path within it. Readings will concentrate on the development of major American Studies questions. The seminar will serve as a workshop for the independent senior projects.

Graduate

ASTD 510 - Perspectives in American Studies

This course introduces students to critical theories and methodologies that have shaped the interdisciplinary practice of American Studies. We will read works that have informed American Studies scholarship and examine how scholars have interpreted, used, and modified these theories and approaches in monographs and articles. Students will be able to identify, understand, and critique theoretical concepts and methods, and to situate American Studies books and articles not only in terms of their content and topics, but also in terms of their methodologies and theoretical and ideological underpinnings. We will focus on the major disciplinary contexts (literature, history, and cultural studies) from which American Studies draws its interdisciplinary methods and engage with selected writings by thinkers whose work provide many of the foundations of current scholarship in American Studies: Marx, Freud, Gramsci, and Foucault. Students will be able to contextualize the wide range of perspectives available to American Studies scholars, and learn how to make methodological choices that will best accommodate their individual research interests and projects. Download the syllabus.

ASTD 537 - Literature of the Middle Passage

Undoubtedly, all who experienced the Middle Passage were change irreversibly. This course explores how this passage participated in the invention of both blackness and whiteness. Topics include the ongoing importance of the transatlantic experience to current American discussions of race, culture, migration, exile, holocaust and memory, and nation and citizenship.

ASTD 612 - Dissertation Colloquium

This course is designed to facilitate the dissertation-writing process. Seminar discussions will focus on peer review of student generated works-in-progress. Required of all Ph.D. students.

ASTD 693 01 - "We Are the World"? U.S. History, World History, and American Studies Practices

This course invites and encourages students to rethink America in global perspective and introduces them to the practice of globalizing U.S. history. We will study foundational texts by historians who have sought to integrate global perspectives into the study of American history. What are the alternatives to framing histories in conventional, nation-based narratives? How does the study of broader global events and forces, and of the entanglements, interactions, and encounters with other nations, peoples, places, and movements that have shaped our past help us better understand our present? What are the consequences, and the limitations, of dominant national histories: of the narratives we tell of ourselves, to ourselves, and to others? We will interrogate concepts, themes, and categories that structure the study of American history, such as Atlantic World, nation, diaspora, empire, migration, transnationalism, and exceptionalism, and investigate the constructed geographical and temporal boundaries of dominant U.S. historiography. We will also explore new frameworks and methodologies available to American Studies scholars, and pay particular attention to recent scholarship that seeks to situate the study of American history, society, and culture in transnational contexts. How can we, as American Studies scholars, break through, to borrow historian Thomas Bender's words, "the unitary logic of national history"? Download the Syllabus. 

OFFERED FALL 2008

Undergraduate

ASTD 201 - The American Experience

This course will focus on different important themes in American life and thought and on the methods and materials for determining those themes and their significance

ASTD 340 - Religion & American Culture

This course uses historical, literary, and popular culture sources to explore the relationship between religious beliefs, values, and practices and American cultural formation. Topics may include church and state, social questions, and lived religious experience. The course will emphasize but not restrict itself to Christian traditions.



ASTD 393 02 - Special Topics: Immigration Nation: An Exploration of the Latino/a Experience in the United States


This course examines the recent debates on immigration, with specific emphasis on Latino/a communities in the U.S. Using cultural studies, history, sociology, literature, and film, we will explore how race, ethnicity and class have shaped Latino/a experiences in the country. We will also learn about how negative representations of Latinos/as in culture impact our thoughts on fair immigration reform.

ASTD 393 03 - Women in American Politics: An Historical Perspective

ASTD 493 01 - American Political Thought

From 1765 to the present. Eighteenth century consensus, nationalism versus sectionalism, nineteenth century reform movements, pragmatism and progressivism, current liberalism and conservatism.

ASTD 493 02 - Hollywood Goes East: The Middle East and Asia in U.S. Film 

This course uses Hollywood film - from silent film to contemporary blockbusters - as a medium to examine how U.S. culture has imagined and constructed the "East" (the "Far East" and "Middle East"). We will explore the changing representations, meanings, and functions of these world regions for the formation of U.S. national, racial, gender, and religious identities. This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary study of American culture by providing the tools to analyze film and its cultural and historical contexts.

Graduate

ASTD 515 - Early American Photography

Introduces students to early American photographers, diverse photographic trends and technologies of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the visual culture analysis of major scholars in American Studies. Critical attention to representations of race and gender is emphasized throughout.

ASTD 550 - Practice of American Studies

Facilitates sound professional development to accompany graduate work in American Studies. Students analyze universities as diverse social institutions, review key aspects of academic labor, examine the purposes and stages of graduate training, and survey the broad range of professional options available with the M.A. and the Ph.D.

ASTD 593 01 - Public Art and Public Memory

The public outcry over the NEA's support of the artist Robert Mapplethorpe in the 1980s. The debates over Maya Lin's use of modernist art for the Vietnam Veterans memorial in DC. Conflicts over murals and sculpture in public spaces as different as the US Capitol building and the streets of LA. This course will explore all these issues through its investigation of the politics and aesthetics of public art. We will examine public art from the perspective of the producers, including official sponsors and the artists themselves, as will as the different audiences that response and engage with the pieces. We will use public art to explore tensions in American culture over issues of taste, authority, and identity. Specific topics include commemoration and remembrance, tourism, landscape design and earthworks, neighborhood murals, 19th-century civic art movements, and 20th-century federal government-sponsored art programs. The class will also explore the local public art movement here in St. Louis. The objectives of the class are to have students learn to use art and landscape as sources to explore larger political and community issues, to understand that ways history and art have been used to create, perpetuate, or fight for a national and civic identity, and to interpret and identify different artistic styles.

ASTD 655 - American Intellectuals in a Dynamic Culture, 1870-1920

This course deals with topics related to the ideas that inform American culture through history. Topics vary: e.g. pragmatism, Dewey, Emerson, history and philosophy of American education.

ASTD 670 - American Political Thought

This course focuses on selected ideas, issues, and institutions that have been central to the U.S. Constitution and the practice of American constitutionalism, from the founding era to the present. Readings emphasize seminal works in American political thought, which are supplemented by historical accounts, illustrative literature, and contemporary analyses.

ASTD 693 01 - Nature and the City

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