For the most up-to-date information about courses offered through Saint Louis University’s Department of American Studies, consult the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Catalog.
Featured Undergraduate Courses: Offered Fall 2021
Instructor: Ben Looker
Lecture: Mon/Wed 11:00 am – 11:50 am
Discussion: Fri 10:00 am – 10:50 am or 11:00 am – 11:50 am
What does it mean to be “American”? Who decides, and Who is included or excluded? Is “America” a nation-state, a geographical entity, or a citizenship status? Or is it a set of ideas like “democracy,” “capitalism,” or “the frontier”? How do race, gender, sexuality, and class shape American identity and 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 wide variety of sources such as fiction, poetry, plays, films, music, photographs, advertisements, television, political debates, and much more. This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the Arts and Sciences BA/BS Core and is a requirement for the ASTD major and minor.
Instructor: Heidi Ardizzone
Lecture: Mon/Wed 1:10 pm – 2:00 pm
Discussion: Fri 12:00 noon - 12:50 pm or 1:10 pm - 2:00 pm
This course examines the intersection of gender and race with other categories of analysis (such as class, religion, sexuality, and nation) in historical and contemporary social justice movements in the United States. Topics include the role of race in movements for gender equality, as well as the impact of gender on movements for racial justice. This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the Arts and Sciences BA/BS Core and the Identities requirement for the ASTD major (for students who declared in Fall 2019 or later)
Instructor: Emily Colmo
Tues/Thurs 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
This course examines the historical experience and literary production of women from diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds from the 1950s to the present. Students will survey various women’s movements including those around feminism and antifeminism, labor, control over the body, and sexuality. The analysis of television shows, films, novels, magazines, and other forms of popular culture will aid students in interrogating how women have been portrayed and represented through cultural forms, as well as how conversations about gender have played out in American society. Students will leave this class with a better understanding of the historical foundations of women’s activism and the ways in which American culture shapes and reinforces ideologies concerning women and gender. Pending approval, this course will fulfill the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the CAS BA/BS Core; it fulfills the Identities requirement for the ASTD major (for students who declared in Fall 2019 or later).
Instructor: Emily Lutenski
Mon/Wed 3:10 pm – 4:25 pm
Did you know that storied rap label Def Jam’s first release was a 7” punk record? That Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Fab 5 Freddy were friends involved in New York’s late-1970s visual art scene? That the Beastie Boys were a hardcore band before they turned to hip hop? That the Los Angeles venues like Club Lingerie hosted shows by both Black Flag and Afrika Bambaata? That Washington DC’s go-go artists, like Trouble Funk (sampled in Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”) and hardcore bands, like Minor Threat, played shows together? That in the 1980s, both punk and rap were targets of moral panic, censorship, and attack by groups like the Parents Music Resource Center? This class will explore these synergies and crosscurrents, seeing them not as accidental, but as radical youth music subcultures that emerged in tandem to critique late-capitalist politics, society, and culture during the long Reagan era. This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the CAS BA/BS Core and the Practices requirement for the ASTD major (for students who declared in Fall 2019 or later).
Instructor: Emily Dodson Quartarone
Tues/Thurs 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm
This class will explore the portrayal of U.S. history in film and television, with a particular eye toward how these representations affirm or challenge notions of American nationhood, an endeavor that includes investigating what it means for a tale to be “American” and considers who does and does not get to tell their stories in these visual media. We will view films in order to tease out how they serve to interpret the past and promote ideologies, as well as learn how unpack how genre and form shape historical representations. Along the way, we’ll also historicize film itself, considering how this visual media emerges from the cultural, political, and social forces active in particular time periods. Finally, we will consider how U.S. history is represented in international cinema, which enables us to compare the stories Americans tell about themselves and with those told about America abroad. Films under consideration may include Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991) and Lars von Trier’s Manderlay (2005). This course fulfills the Upper-Division Literature requirement for the CAS BA/BS Core and the Practices requirement for the ASTD major (for students who declared in Fall 2019 or later).
Instructor: Kate Moran
Tues/Thurs 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm
What does it mean to be a global citizen? To pursue social justice abroad? To bring religious faith and commitment to the task of building a better world? These questions have motivated Americans for generations, and they continue to do so today. This class invites students to explore the U.S. history of faith, transnational activism, and non-governmental organizations from the nineteenth century to the present. We will examine the aims, experiences, and ideas of U.S. reformers, missionaries, human rights activists, and relief workers: topics include African American missionaries in the nineteenth-century Congo, Jewish relief programs in World-War-I Europe, American adoption agencies in Korea during the Cold War, and current debates about global feminist advocacy. Analyzing a variety of sources—from legal debates to advertising campaigns to material in SLU’s own archives—we will explore what a critical engagement with the past can teach us about today's humanitarian and activist goals. This course fulfills the Global Citizenship and 3000-Level Theology requirements for the CAS BA/BS Core, the Contexts requirement for the ASTD major (for students who declared in Fall 2019 or later), and is an elective for the Law, Religion, and Politics minor.
Instructor: Robin Hoover
Tues/Thurs 9:30 am – 10:45 am
This course investigates American foodways through the lens of agriculture, labor, landscape, festivals, the body, ethnicity, ethics, and gender. Its goals are 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. This course fulfills the Cultural Diversity in the U.S. requirement for the CAS BA/BS Core and the Practices requirement for the ASTD major (for students who declared in Fall 2019 or later).
Sample Graduate Courses
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 SP18 qualifying exam on materials covered in ASTD 5000 and one other graduate course taken during the 2017-18 academic year. Required of first-year M.A. and Ph.D. students.
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.