AMST 412
Cold War Archaeology Spring 2024
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed STS 412 / AFR 394
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

In this advanced American Studies course, we will examine Cold War history and culture with attention to the intersection of racialization and nuclear paranoia. The concurrent unfolding of the struggle for Civil Rights and the national strategy of Civil Defense played out against the backdrop of a global ideological battle, as the United States and the Soviet Union fought each other for planetary domination. From the scientific fantasy of bombproofing and “safety in space,” to the fears of both racial and radioactive contamination that drove the creation of the American suburbs, the affective and material dimensions of nuclear weaponry have, from the beginning, been entangled with race. Drawing on the critical and analytical toolkits of American Studies and media archaeology, students will dig beneath the surface of received narratives about the arms race, the space race, and race itself. Students will uncover generative connections between mineral extraction, the oppression of Indigenous populations, the destructive legacies of “urban renewal,” and the figure of the “typical American family” huddled in their backyard bunker. Finally, this course will examine the ways in which the Cold War exceeds its historical boundaries, entangles with the ideology and military violence of the Global War on Terror, and persistently shapes the present through its architectural, affective, and cultural afterlives.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3564
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Three short papers, in-class writing/reflective work, and a final paper.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: AMST majors or prospective majors.
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 412 Division II STS 412 Division II AFR 394 Division II
WS Notes: Students in this course develop a capacity to write generative arguments in an interdisciplinary scholarly context. Students will receive feedback not only on structure, substance, and style, but also on how to best build a line of inquiry, how to gather high-quality evidence, and how to make one's thinking productively intersect with more than one scholarly or creative field.
DPE Notes: This course requires students to contextualize historical events during the Cold War in relation to racialization, inequitable distributions of resources, and the stratification of national space in relation to risk and radioactivity. Students gain critical skills that equip them to see the ways in which the Cold War continues to shape processes of racialization, oppression, and imperial extraction, and spatial arrangements.
Attributes: AFR Black Landscapes
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
AMST Space and Place Electives

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