AMST 201
Introduction to American Studies Fall 2014 (also offered Spring 2015)
Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

To be an “American” means something more than U.S. citizenship. In this course, we focus on the problems and possibilities of American identity. Access to Americanness is shaped by factors such as class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, and region–categories which themselves change in meaning over time. Given the geographical, racial, and cultural diversity of the United States, the ways in which Americans imagine nation inevitably vary over time, according to place, and among different individuals and groups. Rather than a survey of any one aspect or period of American history, literature, or popular culture, this course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies, a field defined both by the range of texts we read (essays, novels, autobiographies, photographs, films, music, architecture, historical documents, legal texts), and by the questions we ask of them: How have different Americans imagined what it means to be an American? What ideas about national history, patriotism, and moral character shape their visions of Americanness? How do the educational system, mass media, government policies regarding citizenship and immigration shape American identities? How are boundaries of inclusion and exclusion in the nation drawn? What uses have been made of the claim to an American identity, and what is at stake in that claim? How have Americans imagined a national landscape, a national culture, and to what ends?
The Class: Format: discussion/seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 19
Class#: 1037
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two or three essays (about 7 pages each); sections with two essays may have additional short writing assignments; some sections also have a required field trip or group work; all sections base evaluation in part upon class participation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and first-year students
Distributions: Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses

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