2020-21 Courses in American Studies

Spring 2021

Introduction to American Popular Culture
This course engages critically with the artifacts and archives of contemporary American culture, inviting students to view, read, and create these artifacts with an eye toward what they tell us about how the United States represents itself and its citizens through various genres including theatre, musicals, film, TV, music, graphic and written novels, games, and the internet. Who are the heroes and villains in contemporary U.S. pop culture? How are family, work, and romance represented across races, genders and sexualities? How are economics and social class portrayed? Do the narratives we consume still promise an American Dream?
Instructors: Jill Dolan
American Genres: Western, Screwball Comedy, Film Noir
Why did three American genres become classics in the same twenty-year period, 1936-56? Part of the answer lies in global disruptions that unsettled codes of behavior. Part lies in film innovations that altered cinema itself. But more than this intersection of social and formal transformations, the decisive answer lies in a handful of directors who reconfigured gendered relations in three generic forms. The surprising correspondences that emerge among these classic films, if also the obvious divergences even within single genres, will focus our discussion.
Instructors: Lee Clark Mitchell
Islam in/and America: Race, Religion, and Gender in the United States
What is American Islam and who are U.S. Muslims? This seminar employs lectures, discussions, and a diverse array of texts, including novels, scholarly works, films, arts, music, and much more, to respond to this question, revealing how a focus on Islam and Muslims in the U.S. produces critical counter-narratives of race, religion, and gender in the United States from the colonial era to the present.
Instructors: Sylvia Chan-Malik
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
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
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
Afro-Diasporic Dialogues: Black Activism in Latin America and the United States
This course investigates how people of African descent in the Americas have forged social, political, and cultural ties across geopolitical and linguistic boundaries. We will interrogate the transnational dialogue between African Americans and Afro-Latin Americans using case studies from Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. We will explore how Black activists and artists from the U.S. have partnered with people of color in Latin America and the Caribbean to challenge racism and economic inequality, while also considering why efforts to mobilize Afro-descendants across the Americas have often been undermined by mutual misunderstandings.
Instructors: Reena N. Goldthree
Postblack - Contemporary African American Art
As articulated by Thelma Golden, postBlack refers to the work of African American artists who emerged in the 1990s with ambitious, irreverent, and sassy work. PostBlack suggests the emergence of a generation of artists removed from the long tradition of Black affirmation of the Harlem Renaissance, Black empowerment of the Black Arts movement, and identity politics of the 1980s and early 90s. This seminar involves critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art, and will provide an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade.
Instructors: Chika O. Okeke-Agulu
Policing and Militarization Today
This class aims to explore transnational issues in policing. Drawing heavily upon anthropological methods and theory, we aim neither to vindicate nor contest the police’s right to use force (whether a particular instance was a violation of law), but instead, to contribute to the understanding of force (its forms, justifications, interpretations). The innovative transnational approach to policing developed during the semester will allow for a cross-cultural comparative analysis that explores larger rubrics of policing in a comprehensive social scientific framework. We hope that you are ready to explore these exciting and urgent issues with us.
Instructors: Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús, Laurence Ralph
Native American and Indigenous Studies: An Introduction
This course will introduce students to the comparative study of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. We will take a broad hemispheric approach instead of focusing solely on the experiences of any particular native community, allowing students to both acquaint themselves with the diversity of Indigenous communities and better understand the multitude of Indigenous experiences — or, what it means to be Indigenous — across regional contexts. How do processes of imperial expansionism and settler colonialisms shape the conditions within which Indigenous Americans now live? How do native peoples relate to settler colonial governing bodies today?
Instructors: Tiffany Cherelle (Cain) Fryer
Cinema in Times of Pandemic: Research Film Studio
In cooperation with the Sundance and the Berlin Film Festivals, our workshop will investigate the crisis of film production, distribution and canonization made acute by the pandemic as well as divisive culture wars. We will uncover how the formation of film canons is informed by the ebb and flow of the civil rights movement. Our focus will be on stories of injustice filmed by women and Afro-American artists. The seminar work will consist of making short digital presentations and scholarly film-montage essays. The class will record Zoom interviews with critically acclaimed filmmakers, film festival directors and leaders of the film industry.
Instructors: Erika Anita Kiss
Performance in Extraordinary Times: Documenting and Analyzing the Present
Performance and crisis have always been partners: entangled in epidemics, state violence and resistance, and austerity regimes, as well as the crisis ordinariness of settler colonialism and structural racism. This seminar examines performance in our extraordinary present using autoethnography, ethnography, and interviews. Course readings and viewings offer historical and contemporary case studies. Guests will discuss the paired challenges of antiracism and the COVID-19 pandemic for performance organizations. Students will collaborate on analyses of dance and performance organizations’ responses to COVID-19 and anti-racist imperatives.
Instructors: Judith Hamera
Moving Writing: Memoir and the Work of Dance
What can memoirs teach us about navigating the demands of a life in dance, and about the ways these demands are profoundly intersectional: shaped by racial, gender, and class hierarchies and economies? This seminar examines memoir as an activist project and mode of performance illuminating the work of dance. Readings include works by Carlos Acosta, Misty Copeland, Li Cunxin, Mark Morris, Jock Soto, and others. Theories of personal narrative theory and autobiography guide our discussions. Students will conduct oral history interviews and investigate personal papers in local archives as forms of memoir. Emphasis on dancers in the Americas.
Instructors: Judith Hamera
Wounded Beauty
This course studies the entanglement between ideas of personhood and the history of ideas about beauty. How does beauty make and unmake persons -socially, legally and culturally- at the intersection of race, gender and aesthetics? Let us move beyond the good versus bad binary that dominates discussions of beauty to focus instead on how beauty in literature and culture have contributed to the conceptualization of modern, western personhood and its inverse (the inhuman, the inanimate, the object). We will trace beauty and its disruptions in the arenas of literature, visual culture, global capitalism, politics, law, science and technology.
Instructors: Anne Cheng
Topics in Latinx Literature and Culture: Latinx Literary Worlds
This course will look to the many narratives and histories that comprise the multiple worlds of Latinx literatures. How does the term Latinx respond to questions of gender and language? What does the history of naming this pan-ethnic group tell us about U.S. racial-ethnic categories? How do borders become an occasion to rethink space and psyche, as well as entangled crisis? Taking a hemispheric approach, this course will examine how Latinx texts lend imagination and poetic vision to the experience of migration, the movements of diaspora, and the lasting effects of colonization.
Instructors: Christina León
Topics in 18th-Century Literature: North American Indians in Transatlantic Contexts
Anishinaabe writer Gerald Vizenor notes the word “indian” is a “colonial enactment” that “has no referent in tribal languages or cultures.” But as a trope it has long provided Western culture with a vision of romantic primitivism, of savage cruelty, or of the doomed victims of colonial expansion. This course will examine 18th-century transatlantic representations of North American Indigenous people and consider the cultural functions of these representations and their role in settler colonialism. In addition to literary texts, we will also examine art and visual culture, collected objects, and philosophical writing from the period.
Instructors: Robbie John Richardson
Reading Islands: Caribbean Waters, the Archipelago, and its Narratives
The Caribbean is an archipelago made up of islands that both link and separate the Americas — islands that have weathered various waves of colonization, migration, and revolution. How do narratives of the Caribbean represent the collision of political forces and natural environments? Looking to the many abyssal histories of the Caribbean, we will explore questions of indigeneity, colonial contact, iterations of enslavement, and the plantation matrix in literary texts. How do island-writers evoke gender and a poetics of relation that exceeds tourist desire and forceful extraction?
Instructors: Christina León
Conspiracy in American Literature and Culture
How do we analyze conspiracy narratives and conspiratorial thinking at a moment when the government spies on its citizens and profitable technology companies have turned surveillance itself into an economic necessity? Under what historical, political, and economic conditions do conspiracies proliferate? In this course we analyze conspiracies, paranoia, rumors, and the contemporary economies of dis/information and post-facts. Course material will be drawn from American history, from the 19th century to the present, and will include manifestos, films, novels, online fora, and theoretical texts in psychoanalysis, narrative theory and politics.
Instructors: Zahid Rafiq Chaudhary
Empire of the Ark: The Animal Question in Film, Photography and Popular Culture
This course explores the fascination with animals in film, photography and popular culture, engaging critical issues in animal and environmental studies. In the context of global crises of climate change and mass displacement, course themes include the invention of wilderness, national parks, zoos and the prison system; the cult of the pet; vampires, werewolves and liminal creatures; animal communication, emotions and rights; queering nature; race and strategies for environmental justice. How can rethinking animals help us rethink what it means to be human? How can we transform our relations with other species and the planet itself?
Instructors: Anne McClintock
Pleasure, Power and Profit: Race and Sexualities in a Global Era
Pleasure Power and Profit explores the intimate ways that sexualities and race are entwined in contemporary culture, historically, and in our own lives. Why are questions about sexuality and race some of the most controversial, compelling, yet often taboo issues of our time? Exploring films, popular culture, novels, social media, and theory, we engage themes like: race, gender and empire; fetishism, Barbie, vampires and zombies; sex work and pornography; marriage and monogamy; queer sexualities; and strategies for social empowerment such as: Black Lives Matter, the new campus feminism, and global movements against sexual and gender violence.
Instructors: Anne McClintock
Asian American History
This course introduces students to the multiple and varied experiences of people of Asian heritage in the United States from the 19th century to the present day. It focuses on three major questions: (1) What brought Asians to the United States? (2) How did Asian Americans come to be viewed as a race? (3) How does Asian American experience transform our understanding of U.S. history? Using newspapers, novels, government reports, and films, this course will cover major topics in Asian American history, including Chinese exclusion, Japanese internment, transnational adoption, and the model minority stereotype.
Instructors: Beth Lew-Williams
Race, Labor, and Empire
This course explores histories of race, labor, and empire in the United States from late 19th century to the present from a transnational perspective. In doing so, we will examine the history of race as a product of modernity and colonization. By the end of this course, students will have a keen understanding of how racial constructions (in intersection with gender, sexuality, and class) are deeply intertwined with histories of empire, labor, and immigration. Yet, we will also discuss how groups have resisted, survived, and thrived. We will engage a wide range of sources including legal documents, court rulings, newspapers, and literature.
Instructors: Neama Alamri
Archiving the American West
Working with Princeton’s Western Americana collections, students will explore what archives are and how they are made. Who controls what’s in them? How do they shape what historians write? Using little studied collections, students will produce online “exhibitions” for the Princeton University Library website, and research potential acquisitions for the library collections. Significant time will be devoted to in-class workshops focused on manuscript and visual materials (all digitized for the class). Special visitors will include curators, archivists, librarians, and dealers.
Instructors: Martha A. Sandweiss
Reconstructing the Union: Law, Democracy, and Race after the American Civil War
The Reconstruction of the Union, following the American Civil War, remade the United States. This course will examine how Reconstruction set the stage for rest of the 19th century in all its contradictions. One big theme for the course is how the Civil War and Reconstruction shaped American political philosophy, especially how later debates of the Progressive Era over the size of the government and over laissez-faire capitalism developed out of Reconstruction. We will examine some of the major constitutional and political changes that occur during the aftermath of the Civil War.
Instructors: Peter Wirzbicki
The History of Incarceration in the U.S.
The prison is a growth industry in the U.S.; it is also a central institution in U.S. political and social life, shaping our experience of race, class, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and political possibility. This course explores the history of incarceration over the course of more than two centuries. It tracks the emergence of the penitentiary in the early national period and investigates mass incarceration of the late 20th century. Topics include the relationship between the penitentiary and slavery; the prisoners’ rights movement; Japanese internment; immigration detention; and the privatization and globalization of prisons.
Instructors: Wendy Warren
Violence in America
This course considers the history of collective violence in America. We will define “collective violence” broadly to encompass people acting on behalf of the U.S. government (i.e., police, soldiers, militiamen, and immigration officers) and people acting as civilians (i.e., slaveholders, vigilantes, terrorists, and protestors). A series of case studies (drawn primarily from the 19th and 20th centuries) will introduce disparate forms of violence, including vigilantism, slavery, massacre, imperialism, riot, segregation, and terrorism.
Instructors: Beth Lew-Williams
Writing Lincoln: Biography, Film, Literature
This seminar explores how the historical image of Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) has been developed in American memory through writing, film and literature. Issues to be examined are the major groups of biographical interpreters (the “personal life,” the “Progressive Lincoln,” the “Liberal Hero”), the portrayals of Lincoln in literature (Whitman, Vidal), and how concepts of Lincoln have been shaped by film (Spielberg’s Lincoln, 2012) and television episodes (The Twilight Zone, Star Trek).
Instructors: Allen Carl Guelzo
Introduction to Latino/a/x Studies
This is an introductory survey of critical topics, themes, and approaches to the interdisciplinary field of Latin@x Studies. Drawing from anthropology, sociology, history, literature, critical race studies, gender and sexuality studies, this course will analyze the role and position of Latin@x in the United States alongside the policies and practices of the U.S. in the Caribbean and Latin America. The course will explore questions of citizenship, immigration, imperialism, settler/colonialism, border crossing/borderlands, mass incarceration, policing, globalization, and other emerging formations of latinidad from a transnational perspective.
Instructors: Heidy Sarabia
Latinx Autobiography
This course begins from the disjoint and relation between the narrated autobiography and the lived life. In reading works by authors including Myriam Gurba, Wendy C. Ortiz, Carmen Maria Machado, Richard Rodriguez, and Junot Diaz, we will explore not only how writers experiment with the project of narrating a life that contends with the structures and strictures of racial matrices, gender binaries, and traumatic abuse — but also how writers test the boundaries of what autobiographies more generally are and are for.
Instructors: Monica Huerta
Race and Religion in America
In this seminar we examine the tangled and shifting relationship between religion and race in American history. In doing so, we explore a broad landscape of racial construction, identity, and experience and consider such topics as American interpretations of race in the Bible, religion and racial slavery, race and missions, religion, race, and science, popular culture representations of racialized religion, and religiously-grounded resistance to racial hierarchy.
Instructors: Judith Weisenfeld
The Orange Bubble
This seminar uses the lenses of race, class, gender, and sexuality to help students understand undergraduate life at Princeton. We will make sense of how the experiences you have had over the past four years are strongly influenced by historical, cultural, social, and technological forces. The aim is to develop a sociological understanding of the Princeton experience, and use that to reflect more generally on the organization of communities. Topics covered include sports, town-gown relationships, nightlife, academics, sexual assault, eating clubs, admissions, systematic racism, the concepts of merit, inclusion, and equality.
Instructors: Mitchell Duneier, Shamus Rahman Khan
Theater and Society Now
As an art form, theater operates in the shared space and time of the present moment while also manifesting imagined worlds untethered by the limits of “real” life. In this course, we undertake a critical, creative and historical survey of the ways contemporary theater-making in the United States — as both industry and creative practice — does (and does not) engage the most urgent concerns of contemporary American society.
Instructors: Brian Eugenio Herrera
Decentering/Recentering the Western Canon in the Contemporary American Theater
Why do some BIPOC dramatists (from the U.S. and Canada) choose to adapt/revise/re-envision/deconstruct/rewrite/appropriate canonical texts from the Western theatrical tradition. While their choices might be accused of recentering and reinforcing “white” narratives that often marginalize and/or exoticize racial and ethnic others, we might also see this risky venture as a useful strategy to write oneself into a tradition that is itself constantly being revised and reevaluated and to claim that tradition as one’s own. What are the artistic, cultural, and economic “rewards” for deploying this method of playmaking? What are risks?
Instructors: Michael William Cadden

Fall 2020

America Then and Now
An introduction to the interdisciplinary field of American studies. Employing history, theater, law, and politics, and focusing on such critical concepts as “community,” “xenophobia,” and “race,” we will consider the structures of knowing and feeling that have formed America since its founding. Throughout the course, we will pay special attention to the ways that culture and difference have shaped, and continue to shape, the signature ideas and debates that have made the nation what it is today. In the fall 2020 semester, we will be particularly interested in the political, social, and cultural questions that inform the current U.S. presidential election.
Instructors: Patricia Fernández-Kelly, William Albert Gleason, Ali Adam Valenzuela
Issues in American Public Health
The study of public health is an interdisciplinary inquiry involving issues of politics, policy, history, science, law, philosophy, ethics, geography, sociology, environmental studies, and economics, among others. Students will examine governments’ role in assuring and promoting health, through the exploration of issues on America’s “public health agenda,” such as epidemic response, tobacco use, the impact of weight on health, mandatory vaccination, disease prevention, and violence. In doing so, they will consider the impact of race, income, gender, place and environment, education, capitalism and democracy on health outcomes.
Instructors: Leslie E. Gerwin
Sondheims Musicals and the Making of America
In this course, we’ll examine the musicals of Stephen Sondheim from Company (1970) to Road Show (2009) as a lens onto America. How have Sondheim’s musicals conversed with American history and American society since the mid-20th century? How do Sondheim’s musicals represent America and Americans, and how have various productions shaped and re-shaped those representations? We’ll explore how Sondheim and his collaborators used the mainstream, popular, and commercial form of musical theatre to challenge, critique, deconstruct, and possibly reinforce some of America’s most enduring myths.
Instructors: Stacy E. Wolf
Privacy, Publicity, and the Text Message
This seminar will explore how we negotiate the distance between ourselves and others through text messages. Texts sustain an ambient intimacy that is increasingly redefining borders that range from the interpersonal — via anonymous mental health support — to the international — via reporting platforms for immigrant communities. What technical and social expectations of privacy do we operate with when sending a point-to-point message? How do novelists incorporate text messages into works of fiction? What does it mean that Frank Ocean can sing, “you text nothing like you look”?
Instructors: Grant R. Wythoff
FAT: The F-Word and the Public Body
The fat body operates at the conjuncture of political economy, beauty standards, and health. This seminar asks, How does this “f-word” discipline and regulate bodies in /as public? What is the “ideal” American public body and who gets to occupy that position? How are complex personhood, expressivity, health, and citizenship contested cultural and political economic projects? We will examine the changing history, aesthetics, politics, and meanings of fatness using dance, performance, memoirs, and media texts as case studies. Intersectional dimensions of the fat body are central to the course. No previous performance experience necessary.
Instructors: Judith Hamera
Topics in Race and Public Policy: Race and Inequality in American Democracy
This course explores how ideas and discourses about race shape how public policy is debated, adopted and implemented. Black social movements and geopolitical considerations prompted multiple public policy responses to racial discrimination throughout the twentieth century. Despite these policy responses, discrimination persists, raising theoretical concerns about the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, political representation, the role of the state (meaning government or law) in promoting social justice, and the role of social movements and civil society in democratizing policymaking and addressing group oppression.
Instructors: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Race, Gender, Empire
How is empire made? How is it imagined and reimagined, mutating and creating new global relations? What are its social, political and material signatures? In this seminar we will explore how empire’s derivative manifestations and entrenched mechanisms (e.g. race, gender or capitalism) influence our understandings of history and the structuring of our social relationships. Engaging transdisciplinary works we will focus on how empire constructs contradictory logics of belonging in localized contexts through the formation of intimate, biopolitical and ecological relationships between people, territories and collective institutions of governance.
Instructors: Tiffany Cherelle Cain
Model Minority Fictions
Where did the stereotype of Asian Americans as model minorities — overachieving whiz kids, industrious workers, “tiger mothers,” “crazy rich” Asians — come from? What accounts for the model minority myth’s persistence today? How has its representational scheme changed over time? Does model minoritism have a literary (and not only social) history? By reading across fiction, visual culture, and economic history, this seminar traces the changing definitions of Asians in the U.S. from “yellow peril” to model minorities: from the myth’s wartime origins, to the birth of American neoliberalism, and onward to the global rise of Asia in the 21st century.
Instructors: Paul Nadal
Special Topics in Creative Writing: Writing Political Fiction
In traditional workshops content and context come second to craft. Here we will explore writing political fiction, the politics of fiction and writing as political engagement. We’ll read widely, from the most realistic depictions of the American political process and the varieties of immigrant experience to the work of Afrofuturists and feminists. The personal is the political and our frame will range from the global to the domestic. We will write stories that inhabit experiences other than our own. This course will allow students to make interdisciplinary connections between courses on history, politics and identity and creative writing.
Instructors: A.M. Homes
Performance in Extraordinary Times: Documenting and Analyzing the Present
Performance and crisis have always been partners: entangled in epidemics, state violence and resistance, and austerity regimes, as well as the crisis ordinariness of settler colonialism and structural racism. This seminar examines performance in our extraordinary present using autoethnography, ethnography, and interviews. Course readings and viewings offer historical and contemporary case studies. Guests will discuss the paired challenges of anti-racism and the COVID-19 pandemic for performance organizations. Students will collaborate on analyses of dance and performance organizations’ responses to COVID-19 and anti-racist imperatives.
Instructors: Judith Hamera
The Reverence and Violence of Modern Dance
This hybrid studio/seminar course progresses in two tracks: one of embodied movement practices and the other of theoretico-historical critique. The canon of modern dance — arguably an American trajectory — is the source material for our interdisciplinary work. We will mimic and examine landmark choreographies in order to explore foundational tenets of modern art and modernity at large. Ableism and nihilism, sovereignty and sexuality, race and gender, are some of the themes that we will face along the path of analyzing the work of Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Bob Fosse, Merce Cunningham, George Balanchine, and Vaclav Nijinsky.
Instructors: Netta Carnit Yerushalmy
Are You For Sale? Performance Making, Philanthropy and Ethics
In this class we study the relationships between performance-making, philanthropy and ethics. How are performing artists financing their work, and what does this mean in relationship to economic and social justice? How did we arrive to the current conditions of arts funding? What is the connection between wealth and giving and when are those ties inherently questionable? What is at stake in the debate of public versus private support? Does funding follow artists’ concerns or delimit them?
Instructors: Miguel Gutierrez
Introduction to Indigenous Literatures
This course reads Indigenous literatures to reflect on, critique, and contest settler colonialism, or the dispossession of land and waters and the attempt to eliminate Indigenous people. Students engage in projects that impact Indigenous studies initiatives at Princeton by building partnerships with Indigenous communities, locally, nationally, and internationally. Community-engaged projects and readings by Native American and Aboriginal Canadian authors will connect Indigenous histories across time and space invite new ways of thinking about the past, present, and future of the Americas and the world.
Instructors: Sarah Rivett
American Literature: 1930-Present
A study of eleven modern American writers over eighty years that emphasizes the transition from modernism to postmodernism to retro-realism.
Instructors: Lee Clark Mitchell
Forms of Literature: American Short Stories
The short story reveals narrative at its most succinct, stripped bare (or rather contained within indispensable parts). Often viewed as insufficient novels, stories expose more fully the possibilities of narrative itself in revealing the flashes of character, lyricism, comedy, voice, coincidence, even fate that shape all fictional forms. This course examines the development of American short fiction over two centuries, revealing its extraordinary variety and complexity.
Instructors: Lee Clark Mitchell
Queer Literatures: Theory, Narrative, and Aesthetics
This course will read from various trajectories of queer literature and engage “reading queerly” across race, gender, ability, class, and geography. We will consider the etymology of queer and think through its affiliate terms: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans. How are such narratives encounters with power that are historically situated in relation to the national formations, carceral states, and racial capitalism?
Instructors: Christina A. León, R.L. Goldberg
Major Author(s): Mourning America: Emerson and Douglass
This course focuses on the relations and differences between these two “representative men” of the 19th century. Demonstrating that Douglass’ strategies of writing have relays with Emerson’s points will enable us to bring out the radically political and historical character of Emerson’s writings but also the profoundly literary elements of Douglass’ political writings. Using the writings of these two key figures of the 19th century as a kind of measure, the course will seek to understand the governing cultural and political rhetorics through which America thought about such issues as race, slavery, manifest destiny, westward expansion, and identity.
Instructors: Eduardo Lujan Cadava
Empire of the Ark: The Animal Question in Film, Photography and Popular Culture
This course explores the fascination with animals in film, photography and popular culture, engaging critical issues in animal and environmental studies. In the context of global crises of climate change and mass displacement, course themes include the invention of wilderness, national parks, zoos and the prison system; the cult of the pet; vampires, werewolves and liminal creatures; animal communication, emotions and rights; queering nature; race and strategies for environmental justice. How can rethinking animals help us rethink what it means to be human? How can we transform our relations with other species and the planet itself?
Instructors: Anne McClintock
Feminist Futures: Contemporary S. F. by Women
Feminist Futures explores the way in which recent writers have transformed science fiction into speculative fiction — an innovative literary form capable of introducing and exploring new kinds of feminist, queer, and multi-cultural perspectives. These books confront the limitations imposed on women and imagine transformative possibilities for thinking about gender roles and relationships, the body, forms of power, and political and social structures.
Instructors: Alfred Bendixen
U.S. Intellectual History: Development of American Thought
This course examines the history of the United States through its intellectuals and major ideas. Starting with the American Revolution and progressing through to the contemporary intellectual scene, it hopes to introduce students to major debates, themes, and intellectual movements in the history of American ideas. We will read a number of famous thinkers and actors in their own words: Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others. Students will leave this class with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the ideas and the thinkers who have shaped the nation’s politics and culture.
Instructors: Peter Wirzbicki
Arab America: Culture, Activism, and Resistance
This course explores the history of Arabs and Arab Americans in the United States beginning from the 1850s to the present. We will be exploring the historical, political, cultural and economic conditions that have influenced Arab American communities. This course covers a wide range of topics including: issues of citizenship, racial discrimination and exclusion; racial formation; labor, activism and resistance; transnational networks; cultural productions and representations of Arab Americans. We will be exploring a wide range of sources including legal documents, newsletters, court rulings, poetry, novels and films.
Instructors: Neama Alamri
Latinx Autobiography
This course begins from the disjoint and relation between the narrated autobiography and the lived life. In reading works by authors including Myriam Gurba, Wendy C. Ortiz, Carmen Maria Machado, Richard Rodriguez, and Junot Diaz, we will explore not only how writers experiment with the project of narrating a life that contends with the structures and strictures of racial matrices, gender binaries, and traumatic abuse — but also how writers test the boundaries of what autobiographies more generally are and are for.
Instructors: Monica Huerta
Secession, the Civil War, and the Constitution
This seminar explores constitutional and legal issues posed by the attempted secession of eleven states of the Federal Union in 1860-1865 and the civil war this attempt triggered. Issues to be examined include the nature of secession movements (both in terms of the constitutional controversy posed in 1860-1861 and modern secession movements), the development of the "war powers" doctrine of the presidency, the suspension by the writ of habeas corpus, the use of military tribunals, and abuses of civil rights on both sides of the Civil War.
Instructors: Allen Carl Guelzo
Theater and Society Now
As an art form, theater operates in the shared space and time of the present moment while also manifesting imagined worlds untethered by the limits of “real” life. In this course, we undertake a critical, creative and historical survey of the ways contemporary theater-making in the United States — as both industry and creative practice — does (and does not) engage the most urgent concerns of contemporary American society.
Instructors: Brian Eugenio Herrera