Courses 2013-2014

Spring 2014

AMS 101      America Then and Now
Rachael DeLue, Department of Art & Archaeology; Paul Frymer, Department of Politics and Program in Law and Public Affairs; Imani Perry, Center for African American Studies
 
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 323 / JDS 323     America in Judaism
Rabbi Lance Sussman, Department of Religion

Although the idea of an “American Judaism” emerged in the early decades of the nineteenth century, scholars have yet to define this concept in precise terms and explain how it differs from a simpler historical understanding of “Judaism in America.” Our seminar will examine the Americanization of Judaism beginning with the earliest transplanted Iberian concepts of Judaism in the “new world” to the transformation of Jewish religious life in the United States. Special attention will be paid to Jewish theology, the rabbinate, gender, denominationalism, and the polity of the American synagogue.
 
AMS 339/AAS 333/ANT 389/REL 333      Religion and Culture: Muslims in America
 Aly Kassam-Remtulla, Associate Director for Academic Planning and Institutional Diversity, Office of the Provost
 
This course is an introduction to Muslim cultures in the United States. Each week we will draw upon texts from anthropology, sociology, history, and other fields to develop an understanding of the historical and present diversity of Muslim communities in America. The first half of the course provides a survey of Muslim communities in this country from the 17th to the 21st centuries. The second half features a thematic approach to a variety of topics: 9/11, women and gender, religious conversion, interfaith relations, youth, mosques as institutions, and Islamophobia.
 
AMS 345/GSS 347      Women’s Leadership in Modern America
Karen Jackson-Weaver, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Diversity, Office of the Dean of the Graduate School
 
This course examines issues related to gender, race, and class as substructures which shape the leadership of women in modern America. One of the focuses of the course will be to critique meanings of leadership particularly as we study the meaning of freedom in American society within the context of the civil rights and women’s movements. Drawing upon a myriad of primary sources including speeches, autobiographic accounts, newspapers, television and film programs, we will highlight how several contemporary American historiographies situate women as activists versus leaders and the significance of this projection.
 
AMS 367      Hard-Boiled to Noir: American Crime Fiction and Film
Lee Clark Mitchell, Department of English

A study of the emergence during the high modernist period of two genres that might be considered at once eminently American, distinctively modernist, and brazenly vulgar. The subject matter may be louche, but writers thereby more directly engaged issues of social inequality (racial, sexual, and economic), along with changing images of gender construction. As well they registered the impact of Freudian psychoanalysis on literary form, and in formal terms engaged the belatedness of narrative to event. Such fiction had tremendous appeal for cinema, and we will focus on the ways in which adaptation modified popular formulas.
 
AMS 380     Some Critics of American Society, 1880-1960
Alan Ryan, Department of Politics
 
Many commentators during the 1950s gave the impression that postwar liberal-democracy was the 'natural' state of the USA. This obscured the work of many interesting, non-mainstream critics of modern industrial America, ranging from insurrectionary socialists to melancholy conservatives, few of them writing from the academy, and including novelists, journalists, and activists. This course aims to give students the chance to read these writers and decide for themselves whether they deserved to have more influence than they did, or perhaps even less.
               
AMS 399/HIS 399     In the Groove: Technology and Music in American History, From Edison to the iPod
Emily Thompson, Department of History
 
When Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, no one, including Edison, knew what to do with the device. Over the next century Americans would engage in an ongoing dialogue with this talking machine, defining and redefining its purpose. This course will track that trajectory, from business tool to scientific instrument to music recorder to musical instrument. By listening to the history of the phonograph, and by examining the desires and experiences of phonograph users, students will perceive more generally the complex relationships that exist between a technology and the people who produce, consume, and transform it.
 
THR 313/AMS 343/ ENG 381    Dramaturgy Workshop: HOODWINKED
Jill Dolan, Department of English; Lewis Center for the Arts; Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies
 
This workshop explores the basic precepts of American theatre dramaturgy, using playwright/director Emily Mann’s play-in-progress, Hoodwinked, as its example. We’ll review the literature about dramaturgy as a production and literary method in American theatre, and apply those strategies to help develop the Hoodwinked text. The play addresses the massacre at Ft. Hood Army base in Killeen, Texas, in 2009, and investigates the political complications of terrorism and jihad. The course culminates in a staged reading of Hoodwinked and a one-day public symposium about its issues with invited guests.
 
ENV 346/AMS 347     The Environment Can Be Funny
Jenny Price, Visiting Lecturer, Environmental Studies
 
Why isn’t it?—and what if it were? While we’ll examine the first question (why does environmentalism tend to be so pious and self-serious?), this course will focus on the second, and on the creation of original work. How might we deploy the powers of humor to persuade, to cajole, to break down defenses—but also to expose hypocrisy and to challenge our own assumptions? Students will put their own powers of comedy to work—in op-eds, cartoons, skits—to address climate change, water pollution, environmental justice, and other critical issues.
 
REL 377/AAS 376/ AMS 378     Race and Religion in America 
                              
Judith L. Weisenfeld, Department of Religion 
This seminar examines the tangled and changing relationship between religion and constructions of race in American history. We will consider such topics as American interpretations of race in the Bible, religion and racial slavery, race and missions, religious resistance to the idea of race, and popular culture representations of racialized religion.
 
AAS 380/AMS 382     Public Policy and the American Racial State
Naomi Murakawa, Center for African American Studies
 
In the context of de facto equality but persistent racial inequality, how do we identify race’s role in public policy? This course addresses this question by drawing on a range of interdisciplinary texts. We begin by exploring different theoretical perspectives of race, seeking to define “the racial state” in historical and comparative terms. We then consider how race interacts with a variety of American political institutions, including the welfare state, immigration regulation, and the criminal justice state. We give particular attention to the complexities of racial construction and race’s intersection with other forms of hierarchy.

Fall 2013

AMS 317        Social Media: History, Poetics, and Practice
Judy Malloy, Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies
 
Software-generated social networking environments encompass historical platforms, such as BBS systems, and contemporary platforms, such as Twitter and Second Life. This seminar will focus on the history, theory, and contemporary practice of online cultural community and on the creation of social media-based content. Shared student experience with Internet-based social networking and authoring, as well as collaborative envisioning of future cultural uses of social media will be important components, and students will create and present online content. 
 
 
AMS 337/THR 336        Performance and Politics in the 1960s: Hippies and “Homos,” Black Arts and Broadway
Stacy Wolf, Program in Theater, Lewis Center for the Arts; Princeton Atelier
This course will explore U.S. performance in the 1960s, from Broadway to the avant-garde to community and political theaters, in the context of the decade’s social, cultural and intellectual politics. We’ll examine production practices and artists’ intentions, scripted and unscripted “texts,” and critical and public reception of these works. Our goal will be to construct a complex and nuanced “thick description” of performance and politics during this remarkable period, while also questioning the value and limitations of decade-oriented historiography.
 
AMS 354        Asian Americans and Public History/Memory
Franklin Odo, Department of History and Program in American Studies
 
This seminar focuses on two major events in American history, the WWII incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans and the impact of the 1882 Chinese Exclusions Act, as well as Congressional apology or expression of regret for having enacted racially damaging legislation. We review the process of legislation, roles of executive and judicial branches, and immediate and long-term impacts on targeted populations. We trace development of successful redress efforts and meanings for American history and memory, especially through public history venues.

AMS 390        American Legal Thought
Hendrik Hartog, Department of History; Chair, Program in American Studies

This experimental course surveys American legal thought and the practices of American lawyers. Along the way, it questions the notion of distinctive “schools,” as well as the distinctive legality and the distinctive Americanness of legal thought. It offers an intellectual history of 20th century American law, with emphasis on core controversies and debates.

ENG 410 / AMS 393 / THR 368 / JDS 410        Jewish Identity and Performance in the U.S.     
Jill S. Dolan, Department of English; Lewis Center for the Arts; Program in the Study of Gender and Sexuality
Stacy Wolf, Program in Theater, Lewis Center for the Arts; Princeton Atelier
                                                           
What does Jewishness mean in the U.S.? Is it ethnicity or religion? Identity or culture? Belief or practice? How do performance and theater answer or illuminate these questions? We’ll consider plays and performances, bodies and texts, performers and spectators, history, memory, and the present.

HIS 402 / AAS 402 / AMS 412        Princeton and Slavery
Martha A. 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. 

THR 236/AMS 333        American Stages
Brian Herrera, Program in Theater
 
This course investigates the history of theater and performance in the United States during the past two centuries. Through archival excavations, bibliographic exercises, and close examinations of theatre history methodologies, and through a deep engagement with human and archival resources local to Princeton, this course undertakes an intensive introduction to the use of primary documents within both performance scholarship and performance practice (playwriting, directing, design, devised performance, etc.).

GSS 316 / THR 358 / AMS 366     Queer Boyhoods
Brian Herrera, Program in Theater
 
This course examines enactments of youthful masculinity in U.S. popular performance with a particular eye toward accounts of variant or queer boyhoods. As we scrutinize the regimentation and valorization of specific boyish behaviors, we will explore the cultural impact of non-normative youthful masculinities (i.e., sissies, tomboys, bois, punks, transguys, etc.) as we also assess the place of queer boyhoods in American life. Course readings will be historical, literary and theoretical, with play scripts, films, memoirs, and literature for young readers functioning as primary objects for the course’s analytic project.
 

WWS 385 / AMS 350        Civil Society and Public Policy
Stanley Katz, Lecturer with the rank of Professor in Public and International Affairs, 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.