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Courses offered by American Studies are open to all students.  Students do not necessarily have to be working toward the Certificate to take courses offered by the Certificate Program.

Fall 2018

ASCP 81500: Race, Nation, & Narrative. Thursday, 2:00pm-4:00pm, Room TBA, 4 credits, Professor George Shulman
Sponsored by and cross-listed with Political Science (PSC 80301)

This course uses social analysis, political speeches, and artistic fictions to explore the relation of race-making, nation-building, and narrating  in the case of the United States. Our broadest premise is that collective subjects (nations, peoples, classes, religions, races) are formed and reformed through narratives joined to collective action. Our specific premise is that "American" nationhood has been formed by racial domination and opposition to it, as represented in and through contesting narratives. The first half of the semester therefore uses social theory to explore the intersections of settler colonialism, chattel slavery, and immigration restriction -and of social movements and counter-narratives opposing them- in shaping imagined (national) community and conceptions of democracy.
The second half of the course attends to and explores idioms of critique: what difference does it make to contest racialized nationalism by a scholarly treatise, by a political speech, or by a work of literary or cinematic fiction? What can and cannot be said (and thereby done) through these different genres of expression? How do we assess the rhetorical and literary dimensions of theoretical texts and how might we discern the theoretical implications of literary and cinematic fictions? Texts of theory include Michael Rogin, Glenn Coulthard, Mae Ngai, Loic Waquant, Hortense Spillers, Saidiyah Hartman, Frank Wilderson, Fred Moton. Authors include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, Claudia Rankine; Films include Bamboozled, GET OUT, and Black Panther.

ASCP 82000: Seminar in a Dramatic Genre: African American Theatre and Performance, 1850 to the Present, Monday, 4:15-6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits, Professor James Wilson
Sponsored by and cross-listed with Theatre (THEA 80200)

This seminar will focus on the artistic and political impact of African American theatre and performance from the nineteenth century to the present. Although we will examine performances and plays within their historical and geographical contexts, we will also consider the role of theatre as a tool for social change in the ongoing struggle for racial equality, representation, and activism. Some of the questions we will consider are: What effect did minstrelsy have on the development of drama, musicals, and performances by African Americans? What propagandistic and aesthetic functions are enhanced or limited by particular dramatic genres, such as the folk play, anti-lynching drama, satirical comedy, and Broadway melodrama? How do issues of class, gender, and sexual orientation intersect with the attempts to forge a national black identity? How has theatre and performance circulated within the African diaspora? A sampling of the playwrights and performers will include, but is in no way limited to: Ira Aldridge, William Wells Brown, Bert Williams, Angelina Grimké, Mary Burrill, Willis Richardson, Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, the Negro Ensemble Company, Efua Sutherland, Wole Soyinka, Adrienne Kennedy, Ntozake Shange, August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tarell Alvin McCraney. We will also examine black pageants, diasporic folk dance concerts, and musical revues. Contemporaneous criticism and theoretical treatises will provide the tools for interpreting and historicizing the texts, and students will be asked to weigh these against recent multidisciplinary scholarship and theory in African American studies (including the work of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Paul Gilroy, Hazel Carby, Karin BaSeminar rber, Tavia Nyong’o, Harvey Young, and others). Course requirements include a presentation, two short written responses (one of which will be a book review suitable for publication), and an original 15-20 page research paper (which will be preceded by a prospectus, annotated bibliography, and an optional first draft). Students will share their research in a mock academic conference.

Courses that will fulfill Certificate requirements

HIST 75700: Immigration and Citizenship in US, Monday, 4:15-6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits, Professor David Nasaw (can substitute for ASCP 81500: Themes in American Culture)

There is nothing new in the current debates on immigration, refugees, and paths to citizenship or the rancor, the anger, the fear that envelopes them.  Every nation on earth is defined by its immigration and citizenship policies.   Every nation on earth chooses, in one way or another, its future citizens.   In a representative democracy, these decisions are made through the political process.  

In this course we will examine how and why Americans have chosen to welcome or close this nation's mighty gates to those who sought to enter our nation and become our fellow citizens.   While attentive to European migrations from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries, we will focus on twentieth and twenty-first century border crossings from Mexico, immigrations from Asia and the Chinese exclusion acts, and the discordant and unintended consequences of post-World War II legislation.     

The readings will explore the separate but entwined historical literatures on “citizenship” and “immigration.”  I have designed them to be global in reach and interdisciplinary in perspective.   We will read works of history and sociology, as well as novels and memoirs written by authors who have immigrated to the United States in recent years, some with, some without their families. 
Students may be asked to write short papers in the course of the semester and a major final paper in the form of a “lecture” to undergraduates or civic groups on the themes and issues discussed in the readings. 
This is designed as a seminar, not a lecture course. 


Spring 2018

ASCP 81000: Introduction to American Studies: Situating Movement Methods, Wednesday, 4:15-6:15pm, Room 3307, 3 credits, Professor Natalie Havlin
This course aims to resolve and interconnect the manifold dimensions of movement as an analytical and methodological framework for American Studies. American Studies scholarship on nation formation and im/migration – as well as the study of U.S. social justice struggles – has long been animated by a concern with the ways that people, ideas, texts, and goods circulate. American Studies research has also investigated movement as a key component in the management and control of people and resources through U.S. colonialisms, systems of racial capitalism, imperialism, enslavement, forced labor, incarceration, and militarized borders.

This course will begin by examining frameworks of im/mobility and stasis in American Studies scholarship that traces the relationship of im/migration to settler colonialism, slavery, and U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean, the Pacific, Central America and Southeast Asia. Then we will explore movement as a performative method and corporeal analytic to understand embodied experience in relation to structural social inequalities along co-constitutive axes of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability. In this portion of the class we will pay special attention to American Studies scholarship about corporeal ways of knowing and expression that engage disability justice frameworks, U.S. Women of Color and Third World feminist theory, and queer of color critique. The course will conclude by considering the methodological limits and political possibilities of attending to the complex material, spatial, temporal, and corporeal dimensions of movement within indigenous, Latinx, Asian American, and Black diasporic struggles for sovereignty and justice that cross, and contest, U.S. borders.


HIST 72800: Readings in U.S. Cultural History: War, Culture, and Culture Wars, Thursday, 2:00-4:00pm, Room 6114 , Professor David Waldstreicher   
This readings seminar, offered periodically, ranges broadly across U.S. history from the colonial period to the present. This year’s theme is culture wars as an approach to understanding the role of culture in U.S. history, including war.
During the mid to late twentieth century historians came to see culture, in the form of ideals or ideologies, myths, and rituals, as what held the American nation together. More recently they are at least as likely to trace the roots and evolution of conflicts that are understood in terms of cultural differences. Similarly, US history has been seen as profoundly shaped by war-inspired consensus – or on the other hand marked by divisive wars that were caused by essential conflicts and which may have exacerbated conflict. What does it mean to characterize the culture of particular eras and as marked by war, by war’s aftermath, or by culture war? What is the relationship between how Americans see their culture(s) -- or culture itself -- and how they answer these questions? How have international contexts shape the vicissitudes of cultural conflict, consensus, and a long succession of wars? Does the analysis of culture as conflict akin to war, or as unifying like war, and of wars’ cultural dimensions helpfully inform narratives of history, of politics, and of real wars in the past? Is war an appropriate metaphor -- or is it a euphemism -- for the work of culture in a country made by war? Finally, what was and is the role of memory in a culture and history periodized by wars?
In addition to active participation, students will be expected to complete and present to the seminar a project that (1) charts scholarly developments in one subfield and period of cultural history and (2) brings to the seminar a primary source that may be especially useful to teachers or curators or citizens in the future.
MALS 78300: Introduction to US Latino Studies: “Performing Latinidad”,  
Thursdays, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m., Rm. 3309, 3 credits, Prof. Vanessa Pérez-Rosario (Cross-listed with SPAN 87200)

What is “Latinidad"? How has "the Latino" been constructed in U.S. culture? What has been the importance of "Latinidad" in the social and political history of people of Latin American descent in this country? What place does "Latinidad" occupy within the North American academy? This seminar will employ a strong interdisciplinary approach to analyzing issues ranging from race, class and gender relations, cultural productions, linguistic differences, identity politics, civil rights, and the rise of Latinx communities in current political struggles and debates. The seminar will combine methodologies of research from the fields of literary and cultural studies, with a focus on performance theory. Through the reading of Latinx literature and cultural texts we will analyze questions of racial, ethnic, sexual, and cultural identities in conversation with current theoretical concepts such as Diaspora, border identities, translanguaging, triple-consciousness, and intersectionality. The course will study the history of the field of Latinx studies, literary and cultural studies, community activism, feminism, sexuality, migration and the emergence of pan-Latino culture. We will focus on the development of the field of Latinx Studies over the past 60 years, its critical and intellectual genealogies and its theoretical contributions to cultural studies, the understanding of race, gender and sexuality, performance studies, and migration. We will read theoretical texts by Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Diana Taylor, Juana María Rodríguez, Jose E. Muñoz, and Guy Dubord. We will read Latinx cultural critics such as Ginetta Candelario, Juan Flores, George Yudice, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, and Lázaro Lima, among others. 
Link to course: (

Students taking courses offered through other units that are appropriate to ASCP 81500/Themes in American Culture or ASCP 82000/American Culture: Major Periods, may have them counted toward completion of the certificate program by sending the course details (name, title, instructor(s), and course description) to