2020-2021 Catalog

AMST 295 Topics in American Studies

Topics vary semester to semester. Specific topics may satisfy different Core Program requirements.

Origins of the New Right

This course studies the twentieth century origins and myriad manifestation of the  “New Right” in U. S. politics and culture. Starting in the 1920s with the rise of the second Ku Klux Klan and Christian Fundamentalism and homing in on the New Right’s various stages of development from the Cold War to the present, we will examine film, news media, television, critical theory, and historical analyses.

Latino/a Experience

This course will explore the history and experience of Latino/a immigrants in the United States, paying particular attention to how race, ethnicity, identity, politics, class, and gender influence the lives of Latino/a immigrants. We will also examine how they have influenced historical developments in different regions of the country, especially in terms of U.S. demographics. 

Black Literary History and the Archive 

How do we resurrect the lives of people who were considered unimportant, those whose contributions were dismissed and buried? What does the existing historical archive tell us about what is considered valuable and about what constitutes "memory"? This class examines the lives of two of the most important 19-century Black women writers, Harriet Jacobs and Harriet Wilson, as a means to develop the tools of literary recovery. As we expand the contours of the historical canon, we will also reflect on our own sense of the scope and shape of African American historical memory and the ways in which we organize history. How do we interpret religion, resistance, and labor activities that that fall "outside" of the most recognized narratives about African American experience? This class will take on these larger questions as we also engage in archival work in newspapers, census records, and beyond. 

African American Literature: Race/Gender/Sexuality 

This course is designed as a survey of African American literature. We will examine a multitude of genres, including: oral forms (spirituals, ballads, work songs), poetry, fiction, drama, and essays by authors such as: Phillis Wheatley, David Walker, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Nella Larson, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, Jessie R. Faucet, Claude McKay, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Ann Petry, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Beyond strictly a "greatest hits" or "major authors" course, this class will also consider the ways African American writers interrogate complex categories of personal identity, which requires an in-depth investigation into the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic class. Through lectures, class discussions, and student presentations, we will highlight the critical impact of African American literature on American culture.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • United States Diversity