Advanced Seminars

Advanced seminars bring students into spaces of collaborative exploration after pursuing their individual paths of study in American studies, Asian American/diasporic studies, and/or Latino studies. To students culminating programs of study toward one or more of the certificates offered by the Effron Center for the Study of America, advanced seminars offer the important opportunity to integrate their cumulative knowledge.

Advanced seminars pull from primary sources from multiple disciplines and cultural products across varied genres and media.  Experimentation is encouraged, and students-as-collaborators learn to synthesize disparate elements into sustained complex arguments, creating and presenting significant work in written, oral, and other creative formats at varied lengths. Seminar participants bring their special interests into dialogue with one another through the lens of course topics aimed at addressing key issues in America today.

Fall 2021

AMS 403

Advanced Seminar in American Studies: Art and Politics of Food

This course brings methods and ideas from two fields — American studies and the environmental humanities — to examine the role of the arts in U.S. food movements related to agriculture, culinary experimentation and environmental justice. Course materials will include film, visual and performance art, journalism, political ephemera and culinary artifacts. Course participants will develop both an independent research-based essay and a multimedia collaborative project that build on the seminar’s guiding questions and assigned materials.

Instructors: Allison Carruth

AMS 406

Advanced Seminar in American Studies: The Disney Industrial Complex

This interdisciplinary seminar will examine the history and evolution of the Walt Disney Company not only as a multinational media and entertainment conglomerate but also as a powerful cultural force — from the early films and theme parks to the highly successful streaming service. We’ll consider the ever-expanding Disney multiverse (which now includes Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, among others) as well as the company’s global reach, while paying special attention to its impacts on, and representations of, American history, society, and culture, particularly as they touch on matters of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and place.

Instructors: William Albert Gleason

Spring 2021

AMS 403 / POL 478

Advanced Seminar in American Studies: Fixing a Bug in Democracy: The Math and Practice of Fair Redistricting

Democracy in the United States is looking a bit rickety. Decades of progress in voting rights are countered by recent efforts to weaken the connection between popular opinion and representational outcomes. This course will address redistricting, the process of redrawing legislative and congressional lines, which every state will do in 2021. Redistricting can remedy a distorted Census count — or make its effects tenfold worse. We will address how lines can be drawn to enhance fairness and the representation of diverse communities. As case studies we may redistrict Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Instructors: Samuel Sheng-Hung Wang

AMS 404 / ENG 434

Advanced Seminar in American Studies: Multiethnic American Short Stories: Tales We Tell Ourselves

Short stories have been used by writers to make concise, insightful comments about American national identity and individuality. Taken up by African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and many others, the genre has been used to convey experiences with immigration and assimilation, discrimination and oppression, generational divides, and interactions across difference. Examination of such stories deepens our understanding of America’s multiethnic landscape. In this seminar, we will explore stories written by a diverse group of writers to consider the ties that both link and divide multiethnic America.

Instructors: Tessa Lowinske Desmond

AMS 406

Advanced Seminar in American Studies: The Disney Industrial Complex

This interdisciplinary seminar will examine the history and evolution of the Walt Disney Company not only as a multinational media and entertainment conglomerate but also as a powerful cultural force — from the early films and theme parks to the recently launched streaming service. We’ll consider the ever-expanding Disney multiverse (which now includes Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, among others) as well as the company’s global reach, while paying special attention to its impacts on, and representations of, American history, society, and culture, particularly as they touch on matters of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and place.

Instructors: William Albert Gleason