AMST 101
America: The Nation and Its Discontents Fall 2021 (also offered Spring 2022)
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

This course introduces students to the capacious and extraordinarily varied interdisciplinary field of American Studies. First institutionalized in the mid-twentieth century, American Studies once bridged literature and history in an attempt to discover a singular American identity. Over 80 years later, many American Studies scholars reject this exceptionalizing rhetoric, working instead to understand how genocide, enslavement, colonization, and militarism/war are foundational to the formation of the U.S. nation-state, and how marginalized and minoritized peoples have survived through, rebelled against, and created new visions for collectivity, relationality, and community. In this course, students will be introduced to the dynamic ways American Studies work links to ethnic studies; women, gender, and sexuality studies; literary studies, political science; critical geography; critical media studies; disability studies; history; anthropology; sociology; art; and more. We will anchor this array of approaches by examining beliefs, practices, places, and migrations that have shaped and been shaped by the U.S., and we will pay particular attention to the people who labor for, have been racialized by, and who think critically about “America.” Through close reading; discussions; and analyses of music, art, and film, we will collectively reckon with the questions of who and what makes “America” — hemispherically, transnationally, globally. In the process, students will be encouraged to co-create a learning experience rooted in praxis, political consciousness, intersectionality, and mutual support.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 1372
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on class participation, weekly reading questions or discussion posts, and series of written assignments (three 3-page papers; and one 5- to 7-page paper)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first- and second-year students
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: This course satisfies the DPE requirement in its constant interrogation of historical patterns of unequal access to power, wealth, and citizenship in the U.S., and in its recognition and analysis of resistance to such inequities.

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