Course Catalog

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Course Catalog for AMERICAN STUDIES
AMST 120
Fashioning America: Clothing, Culture, and Identities
We will examine the history and meanings of significant chapters in American clothing culture from the nineteenth century to today. Some of our topics will include: fashion advice and the shaping of the nation, gendered garments and body politics, clothing and ethnic identities, and the global politics of clothing production, consumerism, and recycling. Students will also share their own interests in developments such as today’s secondhand clothes industries, fashion and media, and wearable technologies. Our classroom work will be enriched by visual and material culture workshops at museums and other organizations in and near Hartford. (HUM)
0.50 units, Seminar
AMST 202
Early America
This course introduces students to major developments in the political, economic, and social history of North America from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. We will study indigenous sovereignty, encounters between Europeans and Native Americans, the founding of European colonies, the rise of the Atlantic slave trade, the Seven Years' War, the American Revolution, the spread of human enslavement, the War of 1812, Indian removal policy, U.S. wars with Native nations, westward expansion, the U.S.-Mexican War, abolitionism, and the Civil War. Students will be challenged to imagine American history within Atlantic and global contexts and to comprehend the expansiveness of Native American homelands and the shifting nature of North American borderlands. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 203
Conflicts and Cultures in American Society
Focusing on a key decade in American life—the 1890s, for example, or the 1850s—this course will examine the dynamics of race, class, gender, and ethnicity as forces that have shaped, and been shaped by, American culture. How did various groups define themselves at particular historical moments? How did they interact with each other and with American society? Why did some groups achieve hegemony and not others, and what were—and are—the implications of these dynamics for our understanding of American culture? By examining both interpretive and primary documents—novels, autobiographies, works of art, and popular culture—we will consider these and other questions concerning the production of American culture. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 209
African-American History
The experiences of African-Americans from the 17th century to the present with particular emphasis on life in slavery and in the 20th-century urban North. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 210
Doing Culture: Methods in Cultural Analysis
Culture is not something we simply consume, inhabit or even create. Culture is serious business: pun both intended and upended. We have a dynamic relationship with the world around us and in this class we will use culture, both elite and popular, to help bridge the gap between what we do here in the “ivory tower” and how we live out there in the “real world,” hopefully changing both in the process. Here we will not take culture for granted but engage culture as a method, a tool by which to engage, analyze and critique both historical narratives and contemporary events. In this course, street life, advertisements, popular media, and clothing are interrogated as archives of dynamic meaning, arenas of social interaction, acts of personal pleasure, and sites of struggle. We will also explore what happens when a diversity of forces converge at the intersection of commerce and culture. Present day notions of popular culture, and topics such as authenticity and selling out, will be interrogated both socially and historically. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 220
Possible Earths: Histories and Cultures of Environmental Thought
This seminar examines environmental thinking across histories and cultures in order to retrieve sources of hope and wisdom for a planetary future. Reading and discussion will foreground current humanity's vast inheritance when it comes to ways of existing in community with and knowing a living planet. Students will look critically at how texts, images, objects, and practices are historical evidence of the many ways humans have imagined natural communities and acted within them. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 223
The Prison & Public Humanities
The United States has the world's largest prison population. This course interrogates the structures and processes that have led to this calamitous condition. It introduces students to public humanities approaches to understanding the problem of mass incarceration. It prepares students for engaged public intellectual work in oral history, journalism, and social justice advocacy, among other creative applications. Through readings, lectures, and original research, students will acquire an inventory of concepts, including: systemic racism, the carceral state, policing, and security. Throughout the course, we will ask: How have carceral resolutions of social and economic crisis been legitimated? How have public humanities scholars challenged dominant definitions of mass incarceration? Together, we will explore the dimensions of the problem and what ethical and political alternatives might be possible. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 230
The Aesthetics and Politics of FX’s Atlanta
This course closely dissects the first two seasons of FX’s Atlanta, written and directed by Donald Glover. Particular attention is paid to how the cinematography helps convey the mood, tone, and themes of the show. These themes, including, but not limited to, race, gentrification, authenticity, misogyny, and urban policy, will be explored in detail. We will use our close analysis of the show to create dialogue about both the successes, shortcomings, and potential legacy of the show. Significant time will also be dedicated to placing Atlanta within the context of other critically-acclaimed modern television. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 253
American Conscience
Conscience can be the inner voice of an individual; it can also be the shared voice of a society's commitment to certain norms--sometimes the same norms an individual feels driven by conscience to defy. Questions of conscience therefore involve central issues of literary study: How does individual expression interact with cultural context? How is content (what is moral?) mediated and modulated by the form of its representation (what is "my conscience" telling me?). This course explores key episodes in US history when authors and activists--from Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry David Thoreau to Ida B. Wells and Martin Luther King--have mobilized the written word to awaken readers' consciences or reshape a collective conscience. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 254
Ellison’s Invisible Man and the Black Modern Experience
This class interrogates the text and contexts of Ralph Ellison’s iconic novel Invisible Man. Specifically, bringing historical and cultural analysis to bear on a single work of fiction, this course surveys key themes in the Black modern experience from 1899 to 1950 including migration, urbanization, the black modern aesthetic, black radicalism, and black nationalism. Ultimately, Ellison crafted a text of profound social commentary through experimentation with archival evidence and literary form. This class reconstructs the intellectual, aesthetic, and historical production of an American classic. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 260
From the Civil Rights Movement to the Movement for Black Lives
Have we entered a new civil rights era? What are this new movement's goals? Who are these new activists and what political beliefs motivate them? How did we get here? This seminar tries to answer these questions by looking backward. Both the strategies and the political analyses of the Movement for Black Lives are rooted in the successes - and failures - of the civil rights movements of the past. We will study the twentieth century's "Long Civil Rights Movement" and consider both continuities and breaks between past and present struggles for racial justice. This course is not open to those who took a similar course at the 300 level. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 265
Thinking with Things: Exploring our Material World
Our relationship to and interaction with things is a defining feature of the human experience. To think with things is to use objects as the primary lens of analysis. This course explores a range of object case-studies and the unique questions they present for understanding American history and contemporary society. The course centers on close-looking or building interpretations from direct material observation. Students work hands-on with objects spanning from historical texts to folk art and souvenir material to contemporary art and digital media. Object case-studies draw from diverse representations including cultural heritage debates in museums and portrayals of cultural identity performance in popular media. Students will learn to critically examine and discuss the many materials that make up our world. (SOC)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 267
Unearthing Local Histories
We live in interesting times. This course invites you to explore an interesting moment either in the past or present in your home town (or wherever you are currently), and create a document that explores it from a local perspective. Using interviews, local newspapers and other available materials, you'll be constructing the story, rather than simply reporting it. The course will move you through each stage of the process, with the end product intended (if possible) to be a public, online document others can learn from. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 269
The 1960s
The 1960s were watershed years in modern American history. Major areas of U.S. life – politics, foreign policy, culture, race, gender, the economy – experienced monumental shifts that irrevocably altered the nation. This class examines the social, cultural and political history of “the sixties.” Major course themes include: the Cold War; the civil rights movement and Black Power; the Vietnam War and the antiwar movement; the rise of both the New Left and the New Right; the counterculture and cultural change. In addition, the course studies the emergence of second-wave feminism and anti-feminism; the shift from a liberal, Keynesian political-economic order to a conservative, neoliberal era; the international history of the sixties; and the ways that ideas of “the sixties” are used and remembered in contemporary U.S. society, culture and politics. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 281
The Stand-up Comic as Political and Social Activist
This course will explore the power of stand-up comedians to provide social commentary that has historically invoked social and/or political change. We will accomplish this through the lens of several specific comics, notably Moms Mabley, Richard Pryor, Dick Gregory, Dave Chappelle, George Carlin, and Janeane Garofalo. Taking time to appreciate both the aesthetics of the performances and the insightfulness of the social critique, we will take a deep dive into some of the most legendary, controversial, and thought-provoking skits and routines of all time. (HUM)
0.50 units, Lecture
AMST 282
Contemporary Native American Literature
Indigenous writers have used fiction, autobiography, and poetry to explore what it means to be a Native person today, whether that is in an urban context or on a reservation. From poetry to historical fiction to dystopian futurist science fiction, Native writers celebrate the resistance and survival that has shaped their lives and communities despite a history of colonization. In this course we will examine a selection of works by Native American writers from across the United States and Canada, using these works to gain insight into the ongoing cultural experience of Native people. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 284
Food and American Culture
What we eat and how we eat reflect more than basic physical needs, and food has long played influential roles in defining and representing American culture, identities, and nationalism. Our course will begin by examining the history of the Thanksgiving feast and conclude with contemporary movements in organic and farm-to-table eating. As we explore foods' implications for Americanism, gender, class, and age, our topics of study will include defining edibles and non-edibles, immigrant influences, food and technology, American farming, diet fads, school lunches and gardens, hunger in America and food regulations. Our class will work with the nearby Billings Forge community to learn more about food's roles in family life and social reforms, including urban renewal. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 285
Born in Blood: Violence and the Making of America
This course explores the formations and functions of violence in the United States from 1754 to 1900. It investigates government (federal, state, and local) and individuals-and the intersection of the government and the individual-regarding military bodies, access to weapons, and legal and extralegal violent activities. Using figures from the well-known (George Washington or Abraham Lincoln) to the lesser known (Hannah Dustan or Robert Smalls), the class questions the limits and boundaries of American violence according to race, class, and gender. In the end, students will debate whether violence belongs aside liberty, democracy, freedom, and equality in the pantheon of American political and cultural ideals. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 293
James Baldwin Now
This course focuses on James Baldwin, one of the most important and influential figures in the post World War II struggle for racial justice in the United States. It pays particular attention to Baldwin's analysis of the complicated nexus of race, gender, and sexuality and explores his relevance today in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and lgbtq activism. In addition to a selection of his writings, materials also include documentaries, feature films, and broadcast interviews. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 298
Introduction to Hip Hop Music and Culture
This course will examine the evolution of hip hop music and culture (Graffiti art, B-boying [break-dancing], DJ-ing, and MC-ing) from its birth in 1970s New York to its global and commercial explosion during the late 1990s. Students learn to think critically about both hip hop culture, and about the historical, commercial, and political contexts in which hip hop culture took, and continues to take, shape. Particular attention is paid to questions of race, masculinity, authenticity, consumption, commodification, globalization, and good, old-fashioned funkiness. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 301
American Studies Seminar
This course, required for American Studies majors and ordinarily taken in the sophomore or junior year, examines central methods in the field. Situated on a theme, such as race or popular culture, seminar participants engage in archival, spatial, public humanities, and transnational approaches to the American experience. (WEB)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 303
Around the World: Basketball and Global Culture(s) Since 1891
This seminar follows basketball "around the world" in order to trace how culture moves. Beginning with the game's roots in the 19th-century U.S., students will analyze how basketball was subsequently shared, adopted, and adapted to a variety of settings on every continent of the globe. Throughout, attention will remain on politics: that is, basketball's role within larger struggles around power, identity, and (inter)nationalism. It will become clear that, far from "just a game," basketball is a key cultural practice through which people and groups have come to understand themselves for over a century. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 306
Imagining Digital Humanities: Research Methods for Cultural Analysis
Organized around a series of labs, this course surveys projects, methods, and controversies in digital humanities scholarship. Students will develop skills in digital methods-potentially including textual analysis, network analysis, data scraping, visualization, mapping, and sound studies, while exploring: the digital humanities as a way of knowing; the uses and abuses of data-based humanities; the politics of race, gender, and labor in collaborative scholarship; and the problems and possibilities of thinking the humanities at scale. Students will reflect on their experience with the digital and assess the ways digital methods (re)mediate analog forms of scholarship. Students will practice reviewing digital humanities projects and create low-stakes DH artifacts of their own. A final project investigates a substantive humanities research question using digital methods. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 307
Early American Women's Literature
Although early American literature often revolves around "Founding Fathers," in this course we will examine the writing of women. Writing poetry, journals, novels, travel diaries and letters, colonial women had a lot to say about their world and were extraordinarily creative in finding ways to say it-even when the society they lived in suggested it was "improper" for them to write. Along with elite white women, Native Americans, free African Americans, slaves, and indentured servants all wrote as well. As we explore this writing, we will think about what the texts these women produced tell us about the early American experience-how people thought of their place in the world, and what role women imagined for themselves in this newly developing society. This is a research-intensive seminar. For English majors, this course satisfies the requirement of a course emphasizing literature written between 1700-1900. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 312
Imagining Digital Humanities: Research Methods for Cultural Analysis
Organized around a series of labs, this course surveys projects, methods, and controversies in digital humanities scholarship. Students will develop skills in digital methods-potentially including textual analysis, network analysis, data scraping, visualization, mapping, and sound studies, while exploring: the digital humanities as a way of knowing; the uses and abuses of data-based humanities; the politics of race, gender, and labor in collaborative scholarship; and the problems and possibilities of thinking the humanities at scale. Students will reflect on their experience with the digital and assess the ways digital methods (re)mediate analog forms of scholarship. Students will practice reviewing digital humanities projects and create low-stakes DH artifacts of their own. A final project investigates a substantive humanities research question using digital methods. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 314
Global Radicalism
In the early twentieth century, struggles against racism, capitalism, and colonialism, encircled the globe. From Irish republicanism in Dublin, Bolshevism in Moscow, revolution in Mexico City, to anti-lynching crusades in Birmingham, these movements represented the largest waves of rebellion sustained by the global economy. This seminar offers an overview of these struggles and spaces. Through examination of primary and secondary sources, students will consider radical social movements from distinct yet overlapping traditions. We will discuss how radicals confronted issues of racism, gender, and nationalism in their revolutionary theories. Taking a uniquely spatial approach, we will observe how geographies of accumulation emerged alongside sites of global resistance. Throughout we will consider these debates' contemporary relevance, observing how global radicalism might be charted in our present world. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 315
Abolition: A Global History
Over the past decade, a new word has emerged in the lexicon of struggle: abolition. Alongside calls to "Abolish prisons," "Abolish ICE," and "Abolish borders," organizers have challenged the horizons of political possibility. This class considers contemporary debates while situating them in a long global history. We will study how definitions of freedom, the state, and human rights have been shaped by struggles to abolish slavery in tandem with Indigenous struggles against settler colonialism. We will learn how abolition has long been defined not simply as the negation of untenable violence but as an affirmation of alternative ways of being. By engaging American Studies and Human Rights scholarship on incarceration, disability, racism, gender and sexuality, we will deepen our understanding of this language of struggle. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 316
Freedom & Confinement: Narratives of Captivity in Early America
Even as America defines itself as "the land of the free," narratives of confinement have a prominent place in our national literature. In this class we will begin to explore this conundrum, focusing our attention on early American texts in which confinement operates as a structuring principle. We will explore ideas of imprisonment and captivity from colonial America through the nineteenth century, looking at such texts as criminal narratives compiled by ministers and others, captivity narratives, slave narratives, prison writing, and early American novels, among other texts. Along the way we will touch on issues of race and gender as well as institutions of confinement including slavery, prisons and even schools in early America, using appropriate theoretical models to frame our conversations. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 317
Curating the Present: Ethics, Imperatives, Practice
We are living through a moment of rupture. Approaching this moment from a heritage perspective, what must we hold on to—physically, emotionally—to curate this story for future generations? How do we do this ethically and without a clear sense of narrative complete with start and end? Drawing lessons from critical heritage literature and a variety of case studies from the recent past, we will seek answers to these probing questions, engaging virtually with a variety of experts throughout the semester. For their final projects, students will create experimental “exhibition catalogues” oriented in real and imagined events and possible futures, or alternately describe why such their exhibitions are impossible—where curating the moment might best be encapsulated by blank spaces and spectral voids. (SOC)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 319
Beyond Traditional: Contemporary Understandings of Puerto Rican Culture
An island uniquely characterized by a liminal political status and a dominant stateside diaspora, the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has been the subject of renewed national attention in the wake of the devastating 2017 Hurricane María and the 2019 "Verano Boricua" which saw the ousting of the governor, Ricardo Rosselló. This course interrogates Puerto Rican culture on its own terms - shifting from traditional definitions of identity formation to contemporary critiques centering historically marginalized communities amidst ongoing climate and economic precarity. Students will work hands-on analyzing diverse (im)material cultural productions, originating from the island and stateside diasporas. Students will engage with Puerto Rican cultural workers as they develop new, critical understandings of the island's cultural legacy and its future. (GLB5)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 320
Sense of Place in the Native Northeast
The coasts, rivers, fields, hills, villages, and cities of present-day Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia have been home for indigenous families, communities, and nations through numerous environmental, political, and economic transformations. Students will learn about the ways that Native nations of the Northeast, from Pequots to Mi'kmaqs, have adapted, recreated, and reaffirmed a deep connectedness to their homelands and territories, from the fifteenth century to the present. Fields trips to local sites and archives will facilitate original historical research. Primary sources to be assigned include autobiographies, travel narratives, war histories, maps, Native American stories, and dictionaries of indigenous place names, and secondary source readings will cover major themes in Native American studies, with special emphasis on sense of place. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 323
Grounded Ways of Knowing: Spatial Politics & Activist Research
Renowned popular educator Paulo Freire once warned of teaching with false impartiality, treating societies under study as if one was not also a "participant in it." He sought to challenge the divides separating spaces of learning from the process of learning itself. In this seminar, we will consider the questions Freire sought to ask and answer. By engaging texts in American Studies and Human Rights we will interrogate the spatial, epistemological, and social divides between the places in which we learn and the spaces we inhabit to do so. Through readings and discussion, we will consider how we might observe, engage, and challenge those divides. Students will produce a final project that interrogates these divisions as well as the many ways they might be transgressed. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 324
From Civil Rights to #BLM
Have we entered a new civil rights era? What are this new movement's goals? Who are these new activists and what political beliefs motivate them? How did we get here? This seminar tries to answer these questions by looking backward. Both the strategies and the political analyses of the Movement for Black Lives are rooted in the successes - and failures - of the civil rights movements of the past. We will study the twentieth century's "Long Civil Rights Movement" and consider both continuities and breaks between past and present struggles for racial justice. (HUM)
This course is not open to first-year or sophomore students without instructor consent.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 327
Racial Capitalism
This course introduces students to critical theories of racial and class formation. Students will trace how modern racial and labor regimes came into being and how, in turn, they have impacted contemporary debates about capitalism, white nationalism, and populism. Through readings by key theorists in American Studies, students will interrogate new and evolving theories of racial capitalism. Course discussions will explore how critiques of racial capitalism have emerged out of Black freedom, anticolonial, labor, feminist, queer of color, and immigrant struggles. Throughout the course, we will screen films and engage primary sources that inform these debates. By the end of the course, students will be able to define and describe the relationships between racism, capitalism, accumulation, dispossession, and the state's regulation of gender and sexuality. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 329
Civil War Literature
In this course, we will learn about the literary culture of the Civil War era (by reading Louisa May Alcott, Rebecca Harding Davis, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman, among others) and also consider broader questions about how we read, value, and remember literary works. What makes a text "Civil War literature"? Must it have been written during the U.S. Civil War, or about events of that war, or by a person who participated in the war? And do we understand literature differently when we organize it around a historical event rather than forms, genres, or authors? We will engage with the most recent scholarship on the subject and converse (in person or via Skype) with some of the nation's leading experts on Civil War literature. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 329
Viewing The Wire Through a Critical Lens
Through analysis and dissection of David Simon's The Wire, this course seeks to equip students with the tools necessary to examine our postmodern society. The Wire seamlessly juxtaposes aesthetics with socio-economic issues, offering up a powerful lens for investigating our surroundings. Whether issues of unregulated free market capitalism, the bureaucracy of our school systems, politics of the media, false notions of equal opportunity, devaluation of human life, or a failed war on drugs, The Wire addresses the complexities of American urban life. Through a socio-political and cultural reading of the five individual seasons, students will be able to explore a multitude of contemporary problems. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 331
Literature of Native New England
Before it was New England, this was Native space. From the Wampanoags to the Mohegans, Narragansetts and Pequots, diverse Algonquian communities imbued their physical space with their own histories, traditions, and literatures. With the arrival of English settlers, Native Americans became active participants in a world deeply invested in writing and written traditions, and they marked their presence through English colonial written forms while maintaining a longstanding commitment to their own communities and lifeways. In this course we will explore the great variety of writing by and about Native Americans in this region: we will look at the long tradition of Native American literary presence in New England, from English language texts to other forms of cultural expression. The course is research intensive. Note: For English majors, this course satisfies the requirement of a course emphasizing literature written between 1700-1900. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 332
Beyond the Ivory Tower: Critical Studies in Higher Ed
Upon graduation you will be forever tied to Trinity College. Yet, during your time here, you have little opportunity to learn about higher education itself. This course will change that. While colleges and universities are often understood as "ivory towers," insulated from the "real world," institutions of higher education actually sit at the center of today's politics and economy. How did we get here? With a focus on Trinity, this class explores the impact of higher education on communities both on and off campus. Together we question whether higher education, in its current form, was inevitable. We also explore whether other paths are possible. Key themes include: land acknowledgments, academic freedom, the knowledge economy, sexual assault, student debt, academic labor, campus policing, and community engagement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 335
Mapping American Masculinities
This course examines the construction of masculinity in American society starting with Theodore Roosevelt’s call at the turn of the twentieth century for men to revitalize the nation by pursuing the “strenuous life." Through close readings of literary and filmic texts, it considers why American manhood has so often been seen as in crisis. It pays particular attention to the formation of non-normative masculinities (African-American, female, and gay) in relation to entrenched racial, class, and sexual hierarchies, as well as the impact of the feminist, civil rights, and gay liberation movements on the shifting construction of male identity. In addition to critical essays, readings also include Tarzan of the Apes, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, The Great Gatsby, The Sun also Rises, Native Son, Another Country, and Kiss Me Deadly (Spillane). Film screenings include Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich), Shaft, Magnum Force, Philadelphia, Brokeback Mountain, Cleopatra Jones, and Boys Don’t Cry. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 336
U.S. Colonialism Past & Present
What does it mean to study the United States in the world, and the world in the United States? This course considers the role of the United States within global relations of empire, capitalism, migration, and war. It also examines how U.S. domestic politics of race, gender, national identity, and social justice have evolved in relation to these transnational histories. We will explore how the existence of the U.S. nation-state is premised upon the global histories of European colonialism, indigenous displacement, and transatlantic slavery. We will analyze the cultures and consequences of U.S. empire, as well as the multiracial and transnational social movements that have contested U.S expansion. This interdisciplinary course combines historical, literary, visual, and theoretical texts. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 340
American Adaptations: Contemporary Writers take on Early America
This course will look at the ways American writers from the nineteenth century to the present have mythologized an early American moment, looking to the past to critique or celebrate American identity through fiction and poetry. We will focus on texts concerned with early America, from works like Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter to twentieth-century texts like I, Tituba by Maryse Conde and A Mercy by Toni Morrison. By focusing on the historical and literary context for such works, including pivotal moments like the Salem witch trials, King Philip's War, and the American Revolution and writers like Mary Rowlandson and Phillis Wheatley, we will frame our discussion of the ways the past usefully informs current conversations around race, identity, and belonging. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 340
Sports and American Society
This seminar addresses sports as a central thread in the American cultural fabric of the 19th and 20th centuries. Emphasis is placed on the sports/society intersection, with particular attention to issues of identity, capitalism, power, ethics, and globalization. Analysis is guided by a variety of cultural “texts,” from films and magazine articles to the great spectacles (Olympics, World Cup, etc.) through which sports have exerted global reach. Discussion and debate is encouraged throughout; students must grapple with the political issues that have, from the beginning to the present, pervaded the sports world (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 344
The 1980s
When we think of the 1980s, certain things might come to mind: synthesizer music, action movie heroes, bright clothes, side ponytails, and other pop-culture markers. Yet the decade also featured a number of crucial developments and conflicts, from the Cold War to the War on Drugs, that set much of the foundation for American life today. This course will address the U.S. in the 1980s through a wide lens, surveying popular culture, global interactions, and political struggles related to race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion. In the process, students will learn how a "gnarly" decade featured ongoing struggle over the conditions, and meanings, of the American nation. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 350
Race and Incarceration
#BlackLivesMatter has brought the intersection of race and the criminal justice system into public conversation, but race has been intertwined with imprisonment since American colonization. This course begins with the ways slavery and African Americans were policed by the state, and the history of American prisons. After the Civil War, freed Black men and women sought equal rights and opportunities. In response, the justice system shifted to accommodate new forms of racial suppression. The course then considers this process, including civil rights activists' experiences with prisons, the War on Drugs' racial agenda, and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, which argued that the "prison-industrial complex" is the newest form of racial control. The course ends with current practices of, and challenges to, the criminal justice system. This course meets the Archival method requirement. (HUM)
This course is not open to first-year or sophomore students without instructor consent.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 352
Black Power/Red power: A "Long Movement" Approach to Black and Indigenous Social Movement History
Heeding recent scholars' calls to place Black Studies and Native American and Indigenous Studies in more active dialogue with each other, this seminar examines the Black Power and Red Power movements. Students will engage both primary and secondary sources, and attend to the ways in which these movements rejected the possibility of Black and Indigenous incorporation into the American polity and instead called for self-determination and political autonomy. Instead of limiting our consideration of Black Power and Red Power to the late 1960s and 1970s, we will take a "long movement" approach to thinking about these movements. Topics covered will include: sovereignty and self-determination, land and community control, revolutionary violence and self-defense, gender and sexuality; and solidarity. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 356
Black Neurodiversity and Neurodivergence
This seminar explores the stigma of Black neurodivergence and neurodiversity in mainstream and marginalized communities and cultures in the U.S. as well as in select Black diasporic contexts. It examines how the historical pathologization of Black bodies and minds, at least as far back as enslavement, informs contemporary understandings and treatment of Black neurodivergence and neurodiversity. Students will consider various representational sites of Black neurodivergence and diversity, such as the current mental health crisis that has impacted the Black population disproportionally. They will also explore how past and present discriminatory practices have contributed to the notion of Black inferiority and how idealized constructions of able-bodiedness and neurotypicality have been equated with white supremacy and have reinforced the historical conflation of anti-Black and ableist discourse. By examining how Black-disabled intersectionality informs a variety of counternarratives in fiction, poetry, film, and performance, the class works toward a fuller understanding of the shared humanity and overlapping histories that bind us as citizens of the nation and of the world. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 357
Race and Urban Space
Scholars and now even the larger public have conceded that race is a social construct. However, many are just beginning to fully explore how the specific dimensions and use of space is mediated by the politics of racial difference and racial identification. Therefore, this course seeks to explore how racism and race relations shape urban spatial relations, city politics, and the built environment and how the historical development of cities has shaped racial identity as lived experience. Covering the 20th century, the course examines three critical junctures: Ghettoization (1890s-1940s); Metropolitan Formation (1940s-1990s); and Neo-Liberal Gentrification (present). (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 360
Walden
Henry David Thoreau is popularly regarded as a pioneer of social distancing, but his work speaks to contemporary life in other ways, too. He followed his conscience into conflict with federal law. He studied the natural world so fastidiously that scientists use his journals to document global warming. He made flawed but uncommonly earnest efforts to understand North America's indigenous history. This course takes WALDEN as the starting point for an intellectual exploration ranging from Thoreau's medieval Japanese precursor Kamo No Chomei to debates still raging about him today. Students will get to follow-or carve out for themselves-one of many paths of inquiry Thoreau's work inspires, including Ecology & Climate, Ethics & Political Resistance, Transcendentalism & Eastern Philosophy, or Indigeneity & Deep History. (HUM3)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 371
Excavating Island Futures: Archaeology of the Caribbean
Moving beyond popular tropes of archaeology as an Indiana Jones adventure and of the Caribbean as a tourist playground, this course explores the material realities of archaeological practice in the study of past island culture and society. Through a multi-site case-study approach, the course considers uncertain future dynamics entangling economic and climate precarity, and questions of colonial debts and sovereignty with methods of cultural management and historical preservation. We will critically trace the historical legacies of archaeological excavation in and theoretical framings about the Caribbean. We will examine how archaeology has and continues to powerfully impact contemporary art. Students will learn to identify and analyze a wide range of Caribbean artifact types and assemblages across diverse temporal and geographic contexts. (GLB5)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 379
Melville
Though a superstar during his early career, Herman Melville watched his reputation decline as his literary ambitions escalated. One review of his seventh novel bore the headline, "Herman Melville Crazy." Not until the 20th century did even his best-known work, Moby Dick, attract considerable attention, but it now stands at the center of the American literary pantheon. Melville's work merits intensive, semester-long study not only because he is a canonical author of diverse narratives—from maritime adventures to tortured romances to philosophical allegories—but also because his career and legacy themselves constitute a narrative of central concern to literary studies and American culture. Through reading and discussion of several of his major works, we will explore Melville's imagination, discover his work's historical context, and think critically about literary form. For English majors, this course satisfies the requirement of a course emphasizing literature written between 1700-1900. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 399
Independent Study
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar's Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment. (HUM)
1.00 units min / 2.00 units max, Independent Study
AMST 403
American Ruins
This class explores the nexus between multi-disciplinary literatures on contemporary ruins and that of critical heritage querying how ruins and heritage are socially constructed, the process by which ruins become heritage, and the political and affective valences of ruined sites. Walter Benjamin’s groundbreaking yet unfinished Arcades Project will serve as a beacon and guide. We will navigate these literatures through case studies from the contemporary United States and Latin America. Cases include the rebuilding of New Orleans post-Katrina, the abandoned buildings of Detroit, and the ruins of the World Trade Center post 9/11. We also look at a series of emerging heritage sites including the heritage of violent labor disputes in the early 20th century, and the materiality of undocumented migration in the U.S. southwest. This course meets the Spatial method requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 405
Meds, Eds, Slot Machines, and Stadiums: Culture Industries and the New Urban Economy
Colleges, universities, and their medical centers have become the dominant employers, real estate holders, policing agents, and educational and health care providers in major cities across the country. Meanwhile struggling areas have looked to sports stadiums and casinos as their salvation from poverty. What happened? "Meds, Eds, Slots, and Stadiums" examines a world without factories, as higher education, healthcare, and tourism have become the face of today's urban economy. Located at the center of what has been called the "Knowledge Corridor" along I-91, the course draws special attention to Trinity College's past and present role in shaping greater Hartford. This course counts towards the spatial requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 406
History and Memory of Slavery on Campus
How long do the reverberations of slavery last, and how far do they travel? While debates on the memory and legacy of slavery take the national stage, colleges and universities are reckoning with how their own histories of slavery and exploitation may have shaped their pasts and presents. It is Trinity's turn for an honest accounting. Recent scholarship emphasizes slavery's many facets and its far-reaching tendrils. In this course, students will discover Trinity's and Hartford's place in slavery's vast social, cultural, economic, and political networks. Combining archival research and public humanities, we will create projects and archives commemorating Trinity's past, which our community will be able to use as we plot a course for a more equitable future. This course meets the Archival method requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 410
Through a Queer Lens: Migrant Critiques of the US
This course illuminates the ways the U.S. nation state is organized to promote traditional hetero-normative family and citizenship structures that inform narratives of American exceptionalism and sexuality. How have the "normative" and "queer" emerged and changed during the 20th and 21st centuries? How have processes of globalization and empire building impacted the lives of queer migrants, producing new experiences and understandings of gender and sexuality? Students will explore the material realities of LGBTQ immigrant communities of color in the United States and how they, as Amy Villarejo puts it, "antagonize and/or conspire with normative investments of nation-states and capital." This course meets the Transnational method requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 417
Space, Security, Sovereignty: The U.S.-Mexico Border
This course explores the social and political history of the U.S.-Mexico border divide, from the evolution of border policing, justifications for sealing the border, and the borderlands' material particularities in contrast to the imagined border. It discusses the expanding "borderization" of the United States. How has border security policy become an extension of U.S. sovereignty, and what is the role of such sovereignty in a globalizing world? Finally, we will talk about what it means to clandestinely cross the border, the construction of race connected to the experience of border crossing, and how the border becomes embodied in those who traverse it. We will read primary policy documents and academic and literary sources that tell multi-dimensional stories of the border as place, idea, and experience. This course meets the Spatial method requirement. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 425
Curating Conversations in the Public Humanities
Scholars in the public humanities are able to facilitate conversations across multiple divides: between disciplines, over different institutional spaces, and in traditional and non-traditional sites of knowledge production. This seminar trains students how to curate such conversations. Through readings and discussion, students will learn a variety of critical theories and methodological approaches to develop their own public humanities projects. Along with key texts, students will learn to engage different forms of evidence such as expressive culture, social movement periodicals, oral histories, museum exhibitions, podcasts, and digital archives By the end of the semester, students will demonstrate a critical understanding of public humanities theories and practices; develop research, writing, and curating skills; and present a project to a panel of researchers, educators, and activists. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 427
Sci Fi in the Archives: Post-War American Speculative Fiction
With the aid of the Loftus E. Becker collection in the Watkinson, this course will explore science fiction as an essential map of our post-war American empire. Fueled by dystopian and utopian impulses, artists like Ursula K. Le Guin and Ted Chiang evolved the genre from technological triumphalism into a devastating critique of a culture invested in weapons of mass destruction, alienating digitalization, and environmental collapse. While we read canonical works of post-1945 American science fiction for their aesthetic elements and ideological functions, we'll also map the genre's tangled publishing history and material traces via archival work at the Watkinson. This course meets the Archival method requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 430
Political Bodies: Contemporary Issues in Death and Dying in the United States
Death is an inevitable aspect of life, but practices of death and mourning vary culturally. How do we die in the United States? What is a "good death"? This course explores the many dimensions of death and dying in the United States from the evolving conceptions life-saving medicine to the alternative funeral industry and cultural alienation from dead bodies. It covers the inequities of death investigation and the social ramifications of the "CSI effect." Students learn about recent key milestones in the politicization of death such as the AIDS crisis, the passing of the North American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the mass disappearances of undocumented migrants crossing the US-Mexico border. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 432
Toni Morrison's BELOVED: Past, Present, Future
This seminar interrogates the text and contexts of Toni Morrison's powerful and challenging novel, Beloved, bringing historical, theoretical, and cultural analysis to bear on a single work of fiction. We will consider how Morrison crafted a story about the horrors of slavery, as well as the value of excavating stories deemed unspeakable or illegible. This course surveys critical responses to Morrison's work and considers how contemporary theories of racial formation and embodied blackness inform the novel. We will also address the novel's representation of themes that speak to Black racial formations not only in the wake of slavery, but also in the context of contemporary topics such as migration, trauma and healing, neurodiversity, radical self-love, and Afro-environmentalism. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 435
Museum Exhibition
One of the most engaging ways to promote collections and explore a subject or theme is to create an exhibition, which is a genre in and of itself—telling a story with artifacts. Through critical readings students will explore the cultural and educational goals of exhibits, visitor needs and accessibility, design elements (including technology), and audience evaluation methods utilized at libraries, historic houses and historical sites, and history and cultural museums. Drawing from the extensive and wide-ranging collections in the Watkinson Library, students will conceive, write, and install an exhibition, design and publish a catalogue, and plan and implement an opening event to take place at the end of the semester in the Watkinson. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 440
Autistic Blackness
How might autism and blackness be read alongside each other in a way that matters? By examining how the histories, lived experiences, and representations of autism and blackness intersect, it is possible to move beyond narrow understandings of both and create space for more diverse ways of being in our communities and in our world. What does it mean to recognize that autism is part of the neurodiversity of blackness historically and contemporaneously? What sort of creativity and meaning does the nonlabeled black autists presence add to our understanding blackness? We will examine this topic through an interdisciplinary lens that explores theoretical and historical perspectives of blackness, autism, and neurodiversity/neurodivergence, as well as primary sites of inquiry, including life writing, film, digital media, and performance/ (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 445
Black Women Writers in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Through readings in various genres (fiction, essays, drama, poetry, memoir, etc.), this course examines how black women's literary production is informed by the experiences, conditions, identities, and histories of women of African descent in the U.S., including some who were born or have lived outside of the U.S. Among the recurring themes/issues we will discuss are the impact of class, gender, race, sexuality, ability, and geographical location on black women's writings, artistic visions, the politics and dynamics of black women's roles in families, communities, the nation, and across the globe. Writers vary each semester but may include: Maya Angelou, Octavia Butler, Roxanne Gay, Lorraine Hansberry, bell hooks, Nella Larsen, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Z.Z. Packer, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ann Petry, Tracy K. Smith, and Alice Walker. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 450
Race and Incarceration
#BlackLivesMatter has brought the intersection of race and the criminal justice system into public conversation, but race has been intertwined with imprisonment since American colonization. This course begins with the ways slavery and African Americans were policed by the state, and the history of American prisons. After the Civil War, freed Black men and women sought equal rights and opportunities. In response, the justice system shifted to accommodate new forms of racial suppression. The course then considers this process, including civil rights activists' experiences with prisons, the War on Drugs' racial agenda, and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, which argued that the "prison-industrial complex" is the newest form of racial control. The course ends with current practices of, and challenges to, the criminal justice system. This course meets the Archival method requirement. (HUM)
This course is not open to first-year or sophomore students without instructor consent.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 453
The Rise and Fall of American Slavery
This course covers important themes and developments in the history of slavery in the United States. From origins in indigenous communities, colonization, and the black Atlantic, human bondage shaped (and continues to shape) the legal and social framework for generations of Americans. Readings feature voices from slaveholders to the enslaved, politicians and activists, as well as some of the best work done by recent historians. This course fulfills transnational approaches. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 454
The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877
This course examines not only the military dimensions of the war years but also such topics as politics in the Union and the Confederacy, the presidential leadership of Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, women in the Union and Confederate war efforts, and the struggle over emancipation. The latter part of the course considers post-war political, social, and economic developments, including nearly four million African Americans' transition from slavery to freedom, the conflict over how to reconstruct the former Confederate states, the establishment of bi-racial governments in those states, and the eventual overthrow of Reconstruction by conservative white "Redeemers." Lectures and discussions. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 459
Orphans and Others: Family Identity in Early American Literature
From cross-dressing sailors and adventurers to castaways and runaways, early American literature is filled with narratives of reinvention—sometimes by choice, often by necessity. In this course we will look at the peril and promise of such reinvention as various figures reimagine their relation to a social order organized by family lineage and paternal descent. For some the Americas (at least theoretically) presented a world of new possibilities while for others this was a dangerous and isolating place. Our readings will include novels, autobiographical narratives, confessions, and other literary accounts. This seminar is research-intensive. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 466
Teaching Assistantship
Submission of the special registration form, available online, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment. Guidelines are available in the College Bulletin. (0.5 - 1 course credit) (HUM)
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
AMST 479
Revolutionary Generations: American Literature 1740-1820
Hannah Arendt suggested that the United States failed to remember its revolutionary tradition because it failed to talk about it. This course will recover those memories by reading the texts that founded the American rebellion, the intense arguments made in the aftermath of independence, and the passionate creative works produced in the wake of revolution. We will look beyond the context of New England to consider the roles played by Africa and the Caribbean in the cultural imagination, and we will trace how social class, race, and gender inflected the constitution of American identities in a post-1776 world. For English majors, this course satisfies the requirement of a course emphasizing literature written between 1700-1900. This course is research-intensive. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 480
Sports, Identity, and Global Capitalism
Using transnational methods in American Studies, this course addresses the intersection of sports, global capitalism, and identity, with a focus on how capitalism (as a set of logics and processes) has shaped identity formation on fields, courts, and beyond. We will address such identity categories as nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, and sexuality as (re)formed through sports. We will also examine how global-capitalist logic has shaped the experiences of athlete-laborers, fans, and even those who may seem to have little connection to the games. All of these processes take place in the form of spectacle, rendering mass-mediated sports a crucial purveyor, or "mirror," of social ideas. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 487
Everybody's Protest Novel
Americans don’t just have social protests and reform movements, they write fiction to convince others of the rightness of their cause. This course, based on reading, lecture, and discussion, considers the context and the impact of several protest novels and plays in American history, examining the issues they protested, the means of persuasion they used, and their success (or failure). The social movements and protest fiction we will discuss will change from year to year, but will include classics such as Uncle Tom's Cabin (slavery); The Jungle (industrial working conditions); Native Son or To Kill a Mockingbird(racism); or The Crucible (McCarthyism).
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 490
Research Assistantship
This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to undertake substantial research work with a faculty member. Students need to complete a special registration form, available online, and have it signed by the supervising instructor. (HUM)
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 496
U.S. Empire and the Asia/Pacific Wars
U.S. military involvement in Asia and the Pacific Islands has impacted the experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander communities and their diaspora since the late nineteenth century. In this seminar, students study the history of the Asia/Pacific wars and investigate the consequences of U.S. militarism, empire, and settler colonialism in Asia and the Pacific Islands via individual research projects. Together we will examine historical narratives, government documents, and cultural texts (films, literature, musicals) to understand how U.S. wars in the Asia/Pacific region have informed notions of race, indigeneity, gender, and empire both at home and abroad. The course brings together scholarship from the fields of American Studies, Asian American Studies, Pacific Indigenous Studies, and East Asian Studies. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 498
Senior Thesis Part 1
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the thesis adviser and the director are required for enrollment. The registration form is required for each semester of this year-long thesis. (The two course credits are considered pending in Part I of the thesis; they will be awarded with the completion of Part II.) (HUM)
2.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 499
Senior Thesis Part 2
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar's Office, and the approval of the thesis adviser and the director, are required for each semester of this year-long thesis. (The two course credits are considered pending in Part I of the thesis; they will be awarded with the completion of Part II.) (HUM)
2.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 801
Approaches to American Studies
This seminar, which is required of all American Studies graduate students, examines a variety of approaches to the field. Readings may include several “classic” texts of 18th- and 19th-century American culture and several key works of American studies scholarship from the formative period of the field after World War II, as well as more recent contributions to the study of the United States. Topics will include changing ideas about the content, production, and consumption of American culture; patterns of ethnic identification and definition; the construction of categories like “race” and “gender”; and the bearing of class, race, gender, and sexuality on individuals’ participation in American society and culture. Undergraduates who wish to enroll in this course must obtain permission of their adviser and the instructor. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 802
Primary Research Materials
This seminar is designed to enable students to identify, evaluate, and use a range of primary sources, from personal letters, vital records, and the census to photographs, oral history, and newspapers. Students will critically read secondary literature to explore how other scholars have used primary sources, and will develop research projects on topics of their own choosing, based on primary sources available in local archives and repositories. Course not open to undergraduates. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 803
American Ruins
This class explores the nexus between multi-disciplinary literatures on contemporary ruins and that of critical heritage querying how ruins and heritage are socially constructed, the process by which ruins become heritage, and the political and affective valences of ruined sites. Walter Benjamin’s groundbreaking yet unfinished Arcades Project will serve as a beacon and guide. We will navigate these literatures through case studies from the contemporary United States and Latin America. Cases include the rebuilding of New Orleans post-Katrina, the abandoned buildings of Detroit, and the ruins of the World Trade Center post 9/11. We also look at a series of emerging heritage sites including the heritage of violent labor disputes in the early 20th century, and the materiality of undocumented migration in the U.S. southwest. This course meets the Spatial method requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 805
Meds, Eds, Slot Machines, and Stadiums: Culture Industries and the New Urban Economy
Colleges, universities, and their medical centers have become the dominant employers, real estate holders, policing agents, and educational and health care providers in major cities across the country. Meanwhile struggling areas have looked to sports stadiums and casinos as their salvation from poverty. What happened? "Meds, Eds, Slots, and Stadiums" examines a world without factories, as higher education, healthcare, and tourism have become the face of today's urban economy. Located at the center of what has been called the "Knowledge Corridor" along I-91, the course draws special attention to Trinity College's past and present role in shaping greater Hartford. This course counts towards the spatial requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 806
History and Memory of Slavery on Campus
How long do the reverberations of slavery last, and how far do they travel? While debates on the memory and legacy of slavery take the national stage, colleges and universities are reckoning with how their own histories of slavery and exploitation may have shaped their pasts and presents. It is Trinity's turn for an honest accounting. Recent scholarship emphasizes slavery's many facets and its far-reaching tendrils. In this course, students will discover Trinity's and Hartford's place in slavery's vast social, cultural, economic, and political networks. Combining archival research and public humanities, we will create projects and archives commemorating Trinity's past, which our community will be able to use as we plot a course for a more equitable future. This course meets the Archival method requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 810
Through a Queer Lens: Migrant Critiques of the US
This course illuminates the ways the U.S. nation state is organized to promote traditional hetero-normative family and citizenship structures that inform narratives of American exceptionalism and sexuality. How have the "normative" and "queer" emerged and changed during the 20th and 21st centuries? How have processes of globalization and empire building impacted the lives of queer migrants, producing new experiences and understandings of gender and sexuality? Students will explore the material realities of LGBTQ immigrant communities of color in the United States and how they, as Amy Villarejo puts it, "antagonize and/or conspire with normative investments of nation-states and capital." This course meets the Transnational method requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 814
Global Radicalism
In the early twentieth century, struggles against racism, capitalism, and colonialism, encircled the globe. From Irish republicanism in Dublin, Bolshevism in Moscow, revolution in Mexico City, to anti-lynching crusades in Birmingham, these movements represented the largest waves of rebellion sustained by the global economy. This seminar offers an overview of these struggles and spaces. Through examination of primary and secondary sources, students will consider radical social movements from distinct yet overlapping traditions. We will discuss how radicals confronted issues of racism, gender, and nationalism in their revolutionary theories. Taking a uniquely spatial approach, we will observe how geographies of accumulation emerged alongside sites of global resistance. Throughout we will consider these debates' contemporary relevance, observing how global radicalism might be charted in our present world. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 817
Space, Security, Sovereignty: The U.S.-Mexico Border
This course explores the social and political history of the U.S.-Mexico border divide, from the evolution of border policing, justifications for sealing the border, and the borderlands' material particularities in contrast to the imagined border. It discusses the expanding "borderization" of the United States. How has border security policy become an extension of U.S. sovereignty, and what is the role of such sovereignty in a globalizing world? Finally, we will talk about what it means to clandestinely cross the border, the construction of race connected to the experience of border crossing, and how the border becomes embodied in those who traverse it. We will read primary policy documents and academic and literary sources that tell multi-dimensional stories of the border as place, idea, and experience. This course meets the Spatial method requirement. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 822
Beyond the Ivory Tower: Critical Studies in Higher Ed
Upon graduation you will be forever tied to Trinity College. Yet, during your time here, you have little opportunity to learn about higher education itself. This course will change that. While colleges and universities are often understood as "ivory towers," insulated from the "real world," institutions of higher education actually sit at the center of today's politics and economy. How did we get here? With a focus on Trinity, this class explores the impact of higher education on communities both on and off campus. Together we question whether higher education, in its current form, was inevitable. We also explore whether other paths are possible. Key themes include: land acknowledgments, academic freedom, the knowledge economy, sexual assault, student debt, academic labor, campus policing, and community engagement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 825
Curating Conversations in the Public Humanities
Scholars in the public humanities are able to facilitate conversations across multiple divides: between disciplines, over different institutional spaces, and in traditional and non-traditional sites of knowledge production. This seminar trains students how to curate such conversations. Through readings and discussion, students will learn a variety of critical theories and methodological approaches to develop their own public humanities projects. Along with key texts, students will learn to engage different forms of evidence such as expressive culture, social movement periodicals, oral histories, museum exhibitions, podcasts, and digital archives By the end of the semester, students will demonstrate a critical understanding of public humanities theories and practices; develop research, writing, and curating skills; and present a project to a panel of researchers, educators, and activists. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 827
Sci Fi in the Archives: Post-War American Speculative Fiction
With the aid of the Loftus E. Becker collection in the Watkinson, this course will explore science fiction as an essential map of our post-war American empire. Fueled by dystopian and utopian impulses, artists like Ursula K. Le Guin and Ted Chiang evolved the genre from technological triumphalism into a devastating critique of a culture invested in weapons of mass destruction, alienating digitalization, and environmental collapse. While we read canonical works of post-1945 American science fiction for their aesthetic elements and ideological functions, we'll also map the genre's tangled publishing history and material traces via archival work at the Watkinson. This course meets the Archival method requirement. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 830
Political Bodies: Contemporary Issues in Death and Dying in the United States
Death is an inevitable aspect of life, but practices of death and mourning vary culturally. How do we die in the United States? What is a "good death"? This course explores the many dimensions of death and dying in the United States from the evolving conceptions life-saving medicine to the alternative funeral industry and cultural alienation from dead bodies. It covers the inequities of death investigation and the social ramifications of the "CSI effect." Students learn about recent key milestones in the politicization of death such as the AIDS crisis, the passing of the North American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the mass disappearances of undocumented migrants crossing the US-Mexico border. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 832
Toni Morrison's BELOVED: Past, Present, Future
This seminar interrogates the text and contexts of Toni Morrison's powerful and challenging novel, Beloved, bringing historical, theoretical, and cultural analysis to bear on a single work of fiction. We will consider how Morrison crafted a story about the horrors of slavery, as well as the value of excavating stories deemed unspeakable or illegible. This course surveys critical responses to Morrison's work and considers how contemporary theories of racial formation and embodied blackness inform the novel. We will also address the novel's representation of themes that speak to Black racial formations not only in the wake of slavery, but also in the context of contemporary topics such as migration, trauma and healing, neurodiversity, radical self-love, and Afro-environmentalism. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 835
Museum Exhibition
One of the most engaging ways to promote collections and explore a subject or theme is to create an exhibition, which is a genre in and of itself—telling a story with artifacts. Through critical readings students will explore the cultural and educational goals of exhibits, visitor needs and accessibility, design elements (including technology), and audience evaluation methods utilized at libraries, historic houses and historical sites, and history and cultural museums. Drawing from the extensive and wide-ranging collections in the Watkinson Library, students will conceive, write, and install an exhibition, design and publish a catalogue, and plan and implement an opening event to take place at the end of the semester in the Watkinson. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 839
Special Topics in Film: The Evolution of the Western Film
The course examines how the Western genre emerged from global popular culture at the end of the 19th century to become one of the most powerful and complex forms for expressing the experience of Modernity. After a careful consideration of the political and philosophical implications of the Western, we will track the development of the genre as it responds to the ideological contradictions and cultural tensions of 20th-century American history, focusing on broad trends within the mainstream, the contributions of individual directors, and the global dissemination of generic elements. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
AMST 840
Autistic Blackness
How might autism and blackness be read alongside each other in a way that matters? By examining how the histories, lived experiences, and representations of autism and blackness intersect, it is possible to move beyond narrow understandings of both and create space for more diverse ways of being in our communities and in our world. What does it mean to recognize that autism is part of the neurodiversity of blackness historically and contemporaneously? What sort of creativity and meaning does the nonlabeled black autists presence add to our understanding blackness? We will examine this topic through an interdisciplinary lens that explores theoretical and historical perspectives of blackness, autism, and neurodiversity/neurodivergence, as well as primary sites of inquiry, including life writing, film, digital media, and performance/ (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 845
Black Women Writers in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Through readings in various genres (fiction, essays, drama, poetry, memoir, etc.), this course examines how black women's literary production is informed by the experiences, conditions, identities, and histories of women of African descent in the U.S., including some who were born or have lived outside of the U.S. Among the recurring themes/issues we will discuss are the impact of class, gender, race, sexuality, ability, and geographical location on black women's writings, artistic visions, the politics and dynamics of black women's roles in families, communities, the nation, and across the globe. Writers vary each semester but may include: Maya Angelou, Octavia Butler, Roxanne Gay, Lorraine Hansberry, bell hooks, Nella Larsen, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Z.Z. Packer, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ann Petry, Tracy K. Smith, and Alice Walker. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 850
Race and Incarceration
#BlackLivesMatter has brought the intersection of race and the criminal justice system into public conversation, but race has been intertwined with imprisonment since American colonization. This course begins with the ways slavery and African Americans were policed by the state, and the history of American prisons. After the Civil War, freed Black men and women sought equal rights and opportunities. In response, the justice system shifted to accommodate new forms of racial suppression. The course then considers this process, including civil rights activists' experiences with prisons, the War on Drugs' racial agenda, and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, which argued that the "prison-industrial complex" is the newest form of racial control. The course ends with current practices of, and challenges to, the criminal justice system. This course meets the Archival method requirement. (HUM)
This course is open only to History and American Studies majors, or permission of instructor.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 853
The Rise and Fall of American Slavery
This course covers important themes and developments in the history of slavery in the United States. From origins in indigenous communities, colonization, and the black Atlantic, human bondage shaped (and continues to shape) the legal and social framework for generations of Americans. Readings feature voices from slaveholders to the enslaved, politicians and activists, as well as some of the best work done by recent historians. This course fulfills transnational approaches. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 854
The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877
This course examines not only the military dimensions of the war years but also such topics as politics in the Union and the Confederacy, the presidential leadership of Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, women in the Union and Confederate war efforts, and the struggle over emancipation. The latter part of the course considers post-war political, social, and economic developments, including nearly four million African Americans' transition from slavery to freedom, the conflict over how to reconstruct the former Confederate states, the establishment of bi-racial governments in those states, and the eventual overthrow of Reconstruction by conservative white "Redeemers." Lectures and discussions. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 857
Tough Guys & Bad Girls: 20th Century American Crime Fiction
Crime fiction has been an amazingly resilient and pliable genre, a cultural barometer registering revisions to cultural fantasies about knowledge and power, sex and gender, race and ethnicity, violence and freedom. Its character types are interwoven into the fabric of popular culture, from the detective to the sociopath, the femme fatale to the street tough. This course will trace an alternative American history through the brutal, lurid, and stylish crime fiction of the 20th century. We will explore its pulp roots through Dashiell Hammett, its modernist peaks with Raymond Chandler, its post-war weirdness in Chester Himes and Patricia Highsmith, and its contemporary renaissance by George Pelecanos. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 859
Orphans and Others: Family Identity in Early American Literature
From cross-dressing sailors and adventurers to castaways and runaways, early American literature is filled with narratives of reinvention—sometimes by choice, often by necessity. In this course we will look at the peril and promise of such reinvention as various figures reimagine their relation to a social order organized by family lineage and paternal descent. For some the Americas (at least theoretically) presented a world of new possibilities while for others this was a dangerous and isolating place. Our readings will include novels, autobiographical narratives, confessions, and other literary accounts. This seminar is research-intensive. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 868
Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson
Nothing that precedes them in the American literary tradition quite prepares us for the poems of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. We will steep ourselves in the verse of these two literary iconoclasts. At the same time, we will trace the critical history of both, reading essays from the 19th century to the present which have made the complex works and lives of Whitman and Dickinson more legible. The final class period will be reserved for reading selections from 20th-century poets -- not all of them American -- who have openly professed a debt to Whitman's and Dickinson's experimental and often exhilarating poems. Note: English 468-06 and English 868-16 are the same course. For undergraduate English majors, this course satisfies the requirement of course emphasizing literature written between 1700-1900. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 874
Race and Realism: African American Literature Before the Harlem Renaissance
Coming of age in the ruins of Reconstruction, the encroachment of Jim Crow laws, and waves of great migration, African American writers of the early 20th century shaped American literature in powerful and often-forgotten ways. Their texts, published in the decades before the Harlem Renaissance, offer an opportunity to consider how people produce literature under the pressures of structural racism; how art might respond to the terrorism of state sanctioned violence; how genres might stretch to articulate the psychological complexities of social and self identities; and how writers appeal to audiences, construct communities, forge friendships, and speak truth to power, despite institutional ambivalence and resistance to their voices. Course readings will come from Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, Alice Dunbar Nelson, WEB Du Bois and others. For English majors, this course satisfies the requirement of a course emphasizing literature written post-1900. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 879
Revolutionary Generations: American Literature 1740-1820
Hannah Arendt suggested that the United States failed to remember its revolutionary tradition because it failed to talk about it. This course will recover those memories by reading the texts that founded the American rebellion, the intense arguments made in the aftermath of independence, and the passionate creative works produced in the wake of revolution. We will look beyond the context of New England to consider the roles played by Africa and the Caribbean in the cultural imagination, and we will trace how social class, race, and gender inflected the constitution of American identities in a post-1776 world. For English majors, this course satisfies the requirement of a course emphasizing literature written between 1700-1900. This course is research-intensive. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 880
Sports, Identity, and Global Capitalism
Using transnational methods in American Studies, this course addresses the intersection of sports, global capitalism, and identity, with a focus on how capitalism (as a set of logics and processes) has shaped identity formation on fields, courts, and beyond. We will address such identity categories as nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, and sexuality as (re)formed through sports. We will also examine how global-capitalist logic has shaped the experiences of athlete-laborers, fans, and even those who may seem to have little connection to the games. All of these processes take place in the form of spectacle, rendering mass-mediated sports a crucial purveyor, or "mirror," of social ideas. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 881
Coffee Power and Cultures
Coffee has long connected and stratified communities globally and locally. This course will investigate how coffee has played central roles in the formation of power structures, politics, and relations worldwide. We will explore how coffee houses have brewed revolutions, from the American patriots to women suffragists to colonial Singaporeans. Our studies will also focus on early production and trade practices, including slavery and the triangular trade, to more recent developments, such as organic and fair trade coffees. Additional discussions will cover coffee as a status symbol and conspicuous consumption, the bean to cup movement, coffee and gender construction, and the meanings of coffee places, as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage spaces to third spaces. We will hold several class meetings off campus.
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 894
Museums and Communities Internship
Matriculated American studies students have the opportunity to engage in an internship at an area museum or archive for credit toward the American studies degree. Interested students should contact the Office of Graduate Studies for more information. (HUM)
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 896
U.S. Empire and the Asia/Pacific Wars
U.S. military involvement in Asia and the Pacific Islands has impacted the experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander communities and their diaspora since the late nineteenth century. In this seminar, students study the history of the Asia/Pacific wars and investigate the consequences of U.S. militarism, empire, and settler colonialism in Asia and the Pacific Islands via individual research projects. Together we will examine historical narratives, government documents, and cultural texts (films, literature, musicals) to understand how U.S. wars in the Asia/Pacific region have informed notions of race, indigeneity, gender, and empire both at home and abroad. The course brings together scholarship from the fields of American Studies, Asian American Studies, Pacific Indigenous Studies, and East Asian Studies. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
AMST 940
Independent Study
Selected topics in special areas are available by arrangement with the instructor and written approval of the graduate adviser and program director. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for the special approval form. (HUM)
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 953
Research Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, graduate students may do an independent research project on a topic in American studies. Written approval of the graduate adviser and the program director are required. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for the special approval form. (HUM)
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 954
Thesis Part I
(The two course credits are considered pending in Part I of the thesis; they will be awarded with the completion of Part II.) (HUM)
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 955
Thesis Part II
(Continuation of American Studies 954.) (HUM)
1.00 units, Independent Study
AMST 956
Thesis
(Completion of two course credits in one semester). (HUM)
2.00 units, Independent Study