Courses 2012-2013

Spring 2013

AMS 101  America Then and Now
Anne A. Cheng, Department of English and Center for African American Studies
Rachael DeLue, Department of Art & Archaeology
Hendrik Hartog, Department of History
This course introduces a selection of signature ideas and debates that made the nation what it is today and what it is becoming. Objects of study range across multiple media, including tests, images, works of art, music, performance, and film, and draw from the diverse fields of literature, history, political science, art history, economics, law, cultural studies, and the history of science. The course attends to how knowledge about America has and continues to be produced, disseminated, and consumed, emphasizing the cognitive processes associated with the invention and delineation of America.
AMS 315/ ENG 430  The Age of Emerson            
Eduardo Cadava, Department of English 

Using the poetry and prose of Emerson as a kind of measure, this course seeks to understand the governing cultural and political rhetorics through which nineteenth-century America thought about such issues as race, slavery, nationality, manifest destiny, westward expansion, and identity. Emerson’s writings will be read as both symptomatic and critical of the discourses that shaped the terms of these issues and debates. Although most of our time will be devoted to readings of Emerson’s writings, we also will be reading texts by, among others, Thomas Paine, Daniel Webster, and Frederick Douglass, in order to contextualize our discussions.
AMS 328 / ENG 358  American Genres: Western, Screwball Comedy, Film Noir
Maria DiBattista and Lee Clark Mitchell, Department of English 

Why did three distinctive American Genres – the Western, screwball comedy, film noir – achieve classic status in the same twenty-year period, 1936-1956? Part of the answer lies in global disruptions (economic depression, world war) that unsettled codes of behavior. Part lies in pivotal innovations in film technology (sound, color). But the decisive answer lies in a handful of directors who brilliantly reconfigured gendered relations in three different generic forms. And it is the surprising correspondences that emerge among these classic films, also the obvious divergences even within single genres, that will focus our discussion.
AMS 332  Bob Dylan
Sean Wilentz, Department of History 

Bob Dylan is one of the finest musical artists America has produced. Over a career that spans more than half a century, he has composed lyrics that estimable critics put on the same level as the work of Byron or even Shakespeare. His words and melodies have proved how art of the highest intelligence can also win wide commercial appeal. And his performances as well as his songs are deeply rooted in American experience and myth. This seminar will closely examine Dylan’s work, and assess the claims made about it, while tracing its many circuitous connections to American history and culture.
AMS 342 / HIS 442  Race, Racism and Politics in Twentieth-Century America
Kevin Kruse, Department of History 

In this seminar, we will explore the relationship between race, racism and politics throughout twentieth-century America. Topics will include segregation; immigration and assimilation; the role of racial politics in World War II and the Cold War; the civil rights movement and white massive resistance; Black Power and the white backlash; and contemporary politics up to the election of Barack Obama.
AMS 355  Nathaniel Hawthorne and American Exceptionalism
Paul Berman, Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies, Department of History 

This seminar will examine the Democratic Review (1830s-’50s) writers and their ideas, ideas that have come to be known as “American exceptionalism.” The seminar will read and discuss at length Hawthorne’s nuanced and ambiguous contributions to the theory.
AMS 376/ ART 376  American Art and Culture: The 1960s
John Wilmerding, Department of Art & Archaeology, Emeritus 

An examination of the dominant art movement of the 1960’s, Pop Art, through its major figures (Warhol, Lichtenstein, Oldenberg, Wesselman, Indiana, and Segal), and the interrelationships with contemporary advertising, e.g., imagery of sex, automobile culture, cigarettes and food, art and signs. The course will look at parallels in other cultural expressions, such as fiction, journalism, rock music, and film, to explore some of the defining social and artistic concerns of a very turbulent decade.
AAS 372/ ART 374/ AMS 372  Postblack – Contemporary African American Art
Chika O. Okeke-Agulu, Department of Art and Archaeology, Center for African American Studies
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. Though hard to define, postblack suggested 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 provides an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade. It will involve critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art.
AAS 378/ AMS 379  Slavery’s Afterlives
Aaron Y. Carico, Center for African American Studies
This interdisciplinary seminar will focus on slavery’s forms, structures, and logics. But, as the title suggests, it will also concentrate on those remnants of slavery that outlast its purported ends. We’ll spend much of the semester surveying the boundary lines that are imagined to separate slavery and freedom (geographical, temporal, legal), bringing into question the times and spaces thought proper to each. Anchored in nineteenth-century America but extending into our own moment, our texts will address the entrapments of freedom, the life and death of the slave commodity, the racial protocols of the law, and the architectures of captivity.
ART 368/ AMS 368  American Museums: History, Theory, and Practice
Anne McCauley, Department of Art and Archaeology
This course is an introduction to American museums as modern institutions and to the challenges that they currently face. Through readings, field trips, meetings with museum staff, and practical exercises, students will explore how museums use objects to construct narratives; how they grapple with changing audiences and funding sources; and how they are touchstones for debates over societal values and collective memories. Although the focus will be on art museums, we will examine museums of natural history, material culture, and ethnography to better understand the collecting practices and displays of art museums.
ENG 356/ JDS 377/ AMS 378  Topics in American Literature: American Jewish Writers
Esther Schor, Department of English 

American Jewish writers are known to adopt a variety of personae: they may write as exiles, as citizens, as provocateurs, among other figures. Why these strategies—and what sort of mark have they left on the rich body of writing we have before us? on American letters? on modern Jewish literature? We’ll address these questions while considering the historic sweep of American Jewish writing from the 18th to the 21st centuries.
GSS 403/ THR 403/ ENG 426/ AMS 403 For Your Viewing Pleasure: Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary American Theatre, Film, and Popular Culture
Jill S. Dolan, Department of English, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Lewis Center for the Arts
“For Your Viewing Pleasure” considers what it means to be an ideologically invested spectator of popular culture in the contemporary U.S. Contrary to common stereotypes, viewers can consider politics, as well as gender, sexuality, race, and other identities in theatre, film, and television, and still enjoy themselves, as analysis and pleasure are not mutually exclusive. These forms both reflect and shape who we are as citizens. The course will sharpen students’ instincts as fans and spectators, and provide tools to deepen the analytic skills they bring to their cultural consumption.
HIS 402/ AAS 402/ AMS 412  Princeton and Slavery
Martha Sandweiss, Department of History

Research seminar focused on Princeton University’s historical connections to the institution of slavery. The class will work toward creating a report that details the slave-holding practices of Princeton faculty and students, examines campus debates about slavery, and investigates whether money derived from slave labor contributed to the early growth of the school. Class will meet in Mudd Library.

Fall 2012

AMS 313 The Law of Democracy
Mark Alexander, Program in Law and Public Affairs

This course examines the interaction of law and politics. Topics covered will include the development of the right to vote, the Voting Rights Act, redistricting, the role of political parties, ballot access, election and campaign activities, recounts (including a review of the 2000 Presidential Election recount), and the regulation of money in politics. This course focuses on federal issues, but also will examine the States, including New Jersey. Students will receive theoretical and practical knowledge of the role that government and courts play in the political process and how that interaction affects campaigns, candidates, and officeholders.
Now taking applications for wait list only.
AMS 325 Urban Education Reform
Leslie Gerwin, Program in Law and Public Affairs
This seminar focuses on issues involved in improving educational opportunities for children in urban schools. Students will analyze the historical and contemporary writings on concerns fundamental to student educational performance, with emphasis on understanding the barriers and pathways to reform and the political and policy dimensions of various reform initiatives. Seminar sessions will include issues analysis, student facilitated discussion, debates and guest speakers.
Course closed.  Please contact regarding the wait list.
AMS 353/ ENG 355/ENV 353 Moby-Dick Unbound
William Howarth, Department of English, Emeritus
This seminar undertakes a close reading of Melville's major tales and Moby-Dick (1851), often acclaimed as the greatest American novel. Why was this story of a tragic sea voyage so neglected in its day, and so celebrated by later generations? To explore its twin lines of action--Ahab's drive to kill a white whale versus Ishmael's quest to know it--we use the methods of history, literature, art, religion, economics, philosophy, and ecology. We will especially note how Melville anticipates recent environmental thought, depicts a globalized culture, and dramatizes the national struggle to reconcile faith and fact, race and justice.
Application required - deadline extended to April 27th.
AMS 357/THR 357 Making American Theater: The History and Challenges of Creating Theater on Broadway and in New York
David Binder, Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies; Program in Theater
The most vital theater is in direct conversation with the world in which it’s created and performed. This class explores the American theater over the course of the last 100 years, surveying how some of its most vital plays, artists and theaters were engaged in ambitious attempts to reclaim or reinvent the American stage, while tackling some of the biggest issues in the American Century.  Additionally, the class will explore challenges faced by producers and artists currently working on Broadway and in New York. The class aims to inspire those who might wish to make theater or performance in any context.
Open enrollment.
AAS 306/ENG 302/AMS 306 Frederick Douglass and the Long 19th Century
Douglas A. Jones, Department of English, Society of Fellows
This seminar conjoins the work of Frederick Douglass – his speeches, essays, journalism, autobiographies, photographs, and fiction – with that of other contemporaneous figures as means to explore several of the philosophical, social, political, and cultural developments of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America. These include: the relationship between the public image and the private self, the politics of literary representation and a national literature, tensions among social movements, and the function of historical memory.
AAS 340/ENG 391/AMS 340 Shades of Passing
Anne Cheng, Department of English, Program in African American Studies
This course studies the trope of passing in 20th century American literary and cinematic narratives in an effort to re-examine the crisis of identity that both produces and confounds acts of passing. We will examine how American novelists and filmmakers have portrayed and responded to this social phenomenon, not as merely a social performance but as a profound intersubjective process embedded within history, law, and culture. We will focus on narratives of passing across axes of difference, invoking questions such as: To what extent does the act of passing reinforce or unhinge seemingly natural categories of race, gender, and sexuality?
AAS 386/AMS 386 Race and the City
Imani Perry, Center for African American Studies
Race and the City examines how the politics of race and racialization shaped the development of American cities over the course of the 20th century. The course covers a diverse array of topics including: ghettoization, urban renewal, the creation of public housing, popular music (Jazz, Motown, Hip Hop), public art and graffiti, literature of urbanity, the fair housing movement, deindustrialization and gentrification. We will have particular foci on the following cities: Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
ENG 224/AMS 304 Asian American Law, Bodies and the Everyday
Anne Cheng, Department of English; Program in African American Studies
This course studies the relationship between law and literature by focusing on the roles that Asian Americans played in US constitutional history. We will examine cases involving Asian Americans that reflect on American policies on citizenship, immigration, civil rights, human rights, and foreign policy, and we will explore novels, plays, poems, and films that respond to these cases. We will also consider the invisible ways in which the law shapes our everyday lives: how it structures our feelings, bodies, spaces, and the sense of the quotidian.
ENG 357/AMS 354/REL 394 The Supernatural in American Literature
Sarah Rivett, Department of English
The 1692 Salem witch trials defied rational explanation. How does one reconcile invisible specters flitting through the night or inflicting harm on young girls with religious orthodoxy and scientific modernity? Beginning with the crisis exposed by Salem, this course charts how a supernatural domain of sleepwalking, ghosts, and transcendence persists throughout American literary history. We read novels about Salem alongside the more general appearance of supernatural phenomena in slave narratives, Native American prophecies, and ghost stories. Oscillating between spirit and matter, the supernatural interrogates what haunts America.
ENG 408 /GSS 408 /THR 408 /AMS 408 Women in American Theater: Doing Gender, Race, Sexuality Onstage and Off
Jill Dolan, Department of English, Program in Theater, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Addresses the history and theory, practices and polemics, of women working in American theatre and performance. We concentrate on contemporary examples, and theater's role in the struggle for women's visibility advanced by 1960s and 1970s American feminism. We'll study women playwrights, solo performers, collective theatre companies; delve into feminist, queer, critical race, and performance theory; and host guests currently practicing in the field. Our conversations will be polemical: What is the future of women's work in theatre?

THR 309/AMS 327/ENG 361/GSS 307 Theatre and Society
Jill Dolan, Department of English, Program in Theatre, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Theatre and Society investigates the ways in which theater and performance speak into their cultural and historical moments. We’ll look at self-avowed political drama or performance in various historical moments in American theatre; at plays or performances that caused controversy in various communities in which they were performed; at street performance within protest movements; and at community-based performance produced for specific reasons within its locale. We’ll also discuss the role of the artist in society. What is the artist’s responsibility to his or her nation? To his or her local community or identity groups?

WWS 385/AMS 350  Civil Society and Public Policy
Stanley N. Katz, Woodrow Wilson School
Civil Society is the arena of voluntary organizations (churches, social welfare organizations, sporting clubs) and communal activity. Scholars now tell us that such voluntary and cooperative activities create “social capital” – a stock of mutual trust that forms the glue that holds society together. The course will be devoted to the study of the history of these concepts, and to the analysis of their application to the United States and other societies. This will be an interdisciplinary effort, embracing history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology and other disciplines.