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The American studies department offers numerous undergraduate and graduate courses each semester.

Course Catalogs

Program Requirements

To view requirements for a particular program, please visit the relevant program page:

AMST Courses

100-Level Courses

AMST101 - Introduction to American Studies
Introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies by examining concepts such as culture, identity, cultural practices, and globalization, as well as theories underlying these concepts. Engages key themes, especially constructions of difference and identity, cultures of everyday life, and America and the world.

AMST120 - Race, Gender, and the Global Economy
An exploration of the building blocks of the global economy (e.g. free trade, financial institutions) in relation to racial and gender difference, hierarchies, and ideologies.

200-Level Courses

AMST202 - Cultures of Everyday Life in America
Examine the structures and patterns of everyday life in the U.S., utilizing methods such as ethnography, oral history, survey research, and textual, visual, and material cultural analysis.\

AMST203 - Popular Culture in America
An introduction to American popular culture, its historical development, and its role as a reflection of and influence on our culture and society.

AMST204 - Film and American Culture Studies
Exploration of the American film from a historical perspective, illustrating the motion picture's role as an institutional phenomenon, as a form of communication, and as a source of cross-cultural study.

AMST205 - Material Aspects of American Life
Historical survey of American material culture. Ways of describing and interpreting accumulated material evidence (e.g., buildings, town plans) introduced by stressing the relationship between artifact and culture.

AMST207 - Contemporary American Cultures
World views, values, and social systems of contemporary American cultures explored through readings on selected groups such as middle-class suburbanites, old order Amish, and urban tramps.

AMST210 - Introduction to Ethnography
A qualitative research method course used to study social worlds communities, cultures, institutions, and other social groups from the perspectives of the people who inhabit those social worlds. Ethnographic research involves understanding cultural traditions from an insider's perspective by studying the everyday lives of people steeped in those traditions.

AMST212 - Diversity in American Culture
Exploration of the role of diversity in the shaping of American culture. Special emphasis will be placed on the multicultural origins of American popular and material culture, such as foodways and entertainment, and on the experience of "Americanization."

AMST213 - Heroes & Villains in American Film
Examines the complex, changing, and ever-present representations of heroes and villains in American film. Beginning with a foundational understanding of how heroes and, conversely, villains have been defined through classic Hollywood film, we will explore how these definitions have shifted throughout the 20th and 21st century in various narrative genres, including westerns, war films, film noir, fantasy, science fiction, and, of course, superhero movies. In particular, we will be focusing on how the hero and villain maintain or disrupt specific cultural ideologies concerning race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and ability. This course will examine how these various ideologies have evolved throughout the 20th and 21st century, impacting the ways in which heroes and villains are both represented in American film and perceived by diverse audiences. Finally, we will examine our own complicated and sometimes troubling identification with these heroes, even when they might stand in stark contrast to our cultural values and identities.Cross-listed with: FILM298V. Credit Only Granted for: AMST213, HONR219F or FILM298V. Formerly: HONR219F.

AMST260 - American Culture in the Information Age
Examines the ways in which content and form of public information interact with the culture, families & individuals. Credit Only Granted for: AMST260 or AMST298I. Formerly: AMST298I.

AMST262 - Houses, Schools, and Prisons in American Life
This interdisciplinary course explores the role of property, discipline, and punishment in American life. By exploring the ideological underpinnings in property, discipline, and punishment and their manifestations in houses, schools, and prisons we will explore how these entities reflect American society and its values.

AMST269 - Special Topics in Study Abroad
Special topics course taken as part of an approved study abroad program. Repeatable to: 15 credits if content differs.

AMST290 - Shifting Sands: Constructing Cultural Mainstreams and Margins in the U.S
Examines the construction, operation, and meaning of cultural mainstreams and margins in a range of contexts, spaces, and times in the U.S. Using a variety of primary sources, research methods, and interdisciplinary scholarship, we will explore how Americans make and assign meaning to cultural mainstreams and margins. We will examine how and why cultural margins and mainstreams shift over time and what their consequences have been for social policies, laws, power relations, and national identity.

AMST298 - Selected Topics in American Studies    
Cultural study of a specific theme or issue involving artifacts and documents from both past and contemporary American experience. Repeatable to: 6 credits if content differs.

AMST298C - Introduction to Asian American Studies
The aggregate experience of Asian Pacific Americans, from developments in the countries of origin to their contemporary issues. The histories of Asian Pacific American groups as well as culture, politics, the media, and stereotypes, viewed from an interdisciplinary perspective. (AAST200 Primary)

AMST298Q - Selected Topics in American Studies; U.S. Latina/o Literature and Culture
Examines the poetry, prose, and theater of Latinx communities in the United States from their origins in the Spanish colonization of North America to their ongoing development in the 21st century. Considers how authors use literary form to gain insight into human experience, including mortality, religious belief, gender and sexuality, war and peace, family, language use, scientific inquiry, cultural tradition, ecology, and labor. Also studies how Latinx literary traditions have shaped and been shaped by broader currents in American literature, as well as what connections exist between Latinx literature and social and artistic developments in other parts of the world, particularly Latin America and the Caribbean. Authors may include Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Eulalia Perez, Juan Nepomuceno Seguin, Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Jose Marti, Arthur A. Schomburg, Jesus Colon, Julia de Burgos, Cesar Chavez, Ariel Dorfman, Gloria Anzaldua, Junot Diaz, and Cristina Garcia.Cross-listed with: ENGL235.

300-Level Courses

AMST310 - Introduction to Comparative Ethnic and Racial Studies
Introduces students to the study of race and ethnicity in the United States. The class is organized according to the following five units: (1) Introduction; (2) Key concepts; (3) Mechanisms of racial formation; (4) Prevailing myths about race; and (5) Contemporary issues related to race and ethnicity. Through readings, film clips, and presentations, we will explore how the concept of race has developed and endured over time and become familiar with key concepts, such as “race” and “intersectionality”. We will attempt to better understand how race is associated with other forms of difference, such as class, gender and ethnicity. We will identify and confront the prevailing myths about race and ethnicity in the United States. Finally, we examine the ways in which contemporary issues reveal the dynamics of race and ethnicity. Formerly AMST328L and AAST 398F. Credit only granted for AMST310, AAST 398F, AAST310, or AMST328L

AMST323 - Filipino American History and Biography
Focus is placed on Filipino American experiences with an emphasis on identity, community building and organizing to influence public policy We will cover pertinent events from the US and Philippine history in order to understand the impact of colonialism, migration, immigration and assimilation on Filipino Americans. Credit only granted for: AAST363, AMST323, AAST398D, or AMST328J. Formerly: AMST328J

AMST324 - Growing Up Asian American: The Asian Immigrant Family and the Second Generation
An interdisciplinary course examines the experiences of children of Asian immigrants in the U.S., focusing on intergenerational dynamics in the Asian immigrant family, their intersections with race, gender, class, sexuality, and religion, and how these shape second-generation Asian American life. Topics include identity and personhood, the model minority myth and education, work and leisure, language and communication, filiality and disownment, mental health and suicide.Cross-listed with: AAST394, IMMR394. Credit Only Granted for: AAST394, AAST398E, AMST324, AMST328V, IMMR319G or IMMR394. Formerly: AMST328V

AMST328 - Perspectives on Identity and Culture
Analysis of the cultural aspect of identity formation and the role of individual or community identities in cultural production. Examination of cultural texts such as film, literature, fashion, artifacts, archival records, architecture, monuments, sports, and paintings. Repeatable to: 9 credits if content differs.

AMST328W - Perspectives on Identity and Culture; Asian American Film (AAST398L)
Explores how Asian Americans have historically been represented in the U.S. by Hollywood, and in turn, how independent and Hollywood Asian American filmmakers have represented themselves. It covers the history of racial, gendered, and sexualized representations of Asian Americans in Hollywood, as well as Asian American filmic responses within and outside Hollywood. It also introduces how four basic tools of film analysis mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound work together to create meaning in moving images. It examines how these elements are put together in three different types of films by Asian American filmmakers: narrative, documentary, and experimental. How films function in society to circulate ideas that reproduce and challenge stereotypes about Asian Americans. Credit only granted for: AAST355, AAST398L or AMST328W

AMST340 - Introduction to History, Theories and Methods in American Studies    
Introduction to the process of interdisciplinary research, including research literatures, questions, first-hand sources and library and analytic methods in American Studies. Each student will craft a prospectus for original research. Prerequisite: Must have completed AMST201; and 2 courses in AMST. Restriction: Must be in American Studies program; and sophomore standing or higher.

AMST386 - Experiential Learning    
Experiential learning. Restriction: Permission of ARHU-American Studies department; and junior standing or higher.

AMST388 - Honors Thesis    
Individual research, thesis and oral defense. The research project will be conducted under the supervision of a faculty member. Restriction: Must be admitted to AMST honors program; and permission of ARHU-American Studies department; and senior standing. Restriction: Permission of ARHU-American Studies department. Repeatable to: 6 credits if content differs.

AMST398 - Independent Studies    
Provides the student with the opportunity to pursue independent, interdisciplinary research and reading in specific areas of American culture studies. Restriction: Permission of ARHU-American Studies department. Repeatable to: 6 credits if content differs.

AMST399 Community-based American Studies
Faculty mentored service-learning or community-based research.

400-Level Courses

AMST418 - Cultural Themes in America
Examination of structure and development of American culture through themes such as "growing up American," "culture and mental disorders," "race," "ethnicity," "regionalism," "landscape," and "humor." Repeatable to: 6 credits if content differs.

AMST418N - Cultural Themes in America; Asian American Public Policy
Using Asian Pacific Americans as a case study, this course will analyze the development of public policy in America. Each week, topics such as community development, voting rights, and the movement to redress the wartime internment of Japanese Americans will serve as backdrops for discussion. We will explore the policy-making roles of legislators, judges, local and national political leaders, journalists, writers, unions, social movements, and community organizations. Credit only granted for: AAST421, AAST498M or AMST418N

AMST428 - American Cultural Eras
Investigation of a decade, period, or generation as a case study in significant social change within an American context.  Repeatable to: 6 credits if content differs.

AMST429 - Perspectives on Popular Culture
Topics in popular culture studies, including the examination of particular genres, themes, and issues. Repeatable to: 6 credits if content differs.

AMST450 - Seminar in American Studies
Developments in theories and methods of American Studies scholarship, with emphasis upon interaction between the humanities and the social sciences in the process of cultural analysis and evaluation. Prerequisite: AMST101 and AMST340; and 1 course in AMST. Restriction: Senior standing; and must be in American Studies program.

AMST498 - Special Topics in American Studies
Topics of special interest. Prerequisite: AMST201 and AMST340; and 1 course in AMST. Restriction: Senior standing; and must be in American Studies program.

AMST498J - Special Topics in American Studies; Asian American Politics
Students will gain a greater understanding of 1)the role of Asian Americans in US politics, 2) the political attitudes and behaviors of Asian Americans and 3)how to conduct research on Asian American politics. Though the class will concentrate on Asian Americans, issues related to Asian American politics will be examined within the larger context of America's multicultural political landscape.Cross-listed with: AAST443.Credit Only Granted for: AAST498T, AAST443, GVPT368C or AMST 498J. Formerly: AAST498T.

AMST499 - Independent Study
Provides the student with the opportunity to pursue independent, interdisciplinary research and reading in specific areas of American culture studies. Restriction: Permission of ARHU-American Studies department; and must be in American Studies program. Repeatable to: 6 credits if content differs.

600-Level Courses

AMST601 - Introductory Theories and History in American Studies
Explores the formative literature, theories, research approaches, and history of American Studies. Restriction: Must not be a Graduate Advanced Special Student.

AMST602 - Interdisciplinary Research Methods and Bibliographic Instruction
Advanced instruction interdisciplinary research strategies, bibliography, and the structure of systems of scholarly communication in the fields and subfields of American Studies.

AMST603 - Current Approaches to American Studies
Builds on AMST601 and explores contemporary literature, theory, and intellectual issues in American Studies. Restriction: Must be in one of the following programs (American Studies (Master's); American Studies (Doctoral)) . Or permission of ARHU-American Studies department; and permission of instructor.

AMST628 - Seminar in American Studies
Special topics in American Studies

AMST629 - Seminar in American Studies
Special topics in American Studies

AMST638 - Orientation Seminar: Material Aspects of American Civilization
Meets at the Smithsonian

AMST639 - Reading Course in Selected Aspects of American Civilization
Meets at the Smithsonian

AMST650 - Material Culture Studies Theory
Readings and analysis of canonical and current scholarly approaches to the study of material culture. Covers a wide range of material culture genres and subfields, and focuses on artifacts and the built environment.

AMST655 - Introduction to Museum Scholarship (HIST610 & ANTH655)
Provides students a basic understanding of museums as cultural and intellectual institutions. Topics include the historical development of museums, museums as resources for scholarly study, and the museum exhibition as medium for presentation of scholarship.Cross-listed with HIST610, ANTH655, INST728T. Credit Only Granted for: AMST655, ANTH655, INST728T or HIST610.

AMST698 - Directed Readings in American Studies
This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to pursue independent, interdisciplinary research and reading in specific aspects of American culture under the supervision of a faculty member. Repeatable to: 6 credits if content differs.

700-Level Courses

AMST798 - Non-Thesis Research    
Master's Non-Thesis Research

AMST799 - Master’s Thesis Research
Master’s Thesis Research

800-Level Courses

AMST851 - Interpretation of Cultural Landscapes
A research seminar that provides students an opportunity to survey the principal approaches to studying a cultural landscape, learn how to apply and adapt a field research method, and produce a primary research report on a cultural landscape of their choice.

AMST856 - Museum Research Seminar
A research seminar focusing on the practice and presentation of cultural and historical scholarship in museums and historical sites. Students will complete an original research project on the challenges and opportunities of public exhibition and interpretation of cultural and historical research. Prerequisite: AMST655, ANTH655, INST728T or HIST610. Cross-listed with ANTH856, HIST810, INST728U. Credit Only Granted for: AMST856, ANTH856, INST728U, or HIST810.

AMST857 - Museum Scholarship Practicum
Students devise and carry out a research program using the collections at the Smithsonian Institution or some other cooperating museum, working under joint supervision of a museum professional and a university faculty member. Prerequisite: AMST856, ANTH856, INST 728U or HIST810. Restriction: Permission of Museum Scholarship Program required. Cross-listed with ANTH857, HIST811, INST728I. Credit Only Granted for: AMST857, ANTH857, INST728I, or HIST811.

AMST878 - American Studies Pedagogy Mentoring
This course provides graduate teaching assistants with a structured approach to pedagogical content, techniques, and collaborative practices that they learn and then can use throughout their careers. It also commits a core faculty member to teaching pedagogy and makes it possible for the course to become a formal part of one's load. Restriction: Must be an AMST graduate assistant. Repeatable to: 12 credits.

AMST898 - Pre-Candidacy Research
Pre-Candidacy Research

AMST899 - Doctoral Dissertation Research
Doctoral Dissertation Research

USLT Courses

200-Level Courses

USLT201 - U.S. Latina/o Studies I: An Historical Overview to the 1960s
Interdisciplinary course focusing on demographics, terminology and social constructs of race, class, ethnicity, indigeneity, gender, and sexuality associated with the historical and political roots of US Latinidades. Examines the formation, evolution and adaptation of US Latina/o communities as a critical field of inquiry.

USLT202 - US Latina/o Studies II: A Contemporary Overview 1960's to present
Interdisciplinary course on emerging populations of Latinos in the 20th century with a focus on the multiple waves of latino immigration as a result of neocolonialism, imperialism, globalization and transnationalism. Examines the positioning of immigrant waves in the political, sociocultural and historical contexts of US Latinidades.

USLT269 - Special Topics in Study Abroad II
Special topics course taken as part of an approved study abroad program. Repeatable to: 15 credits if content differs.

300-Level Courses

USLT369 - Special Topics in Study Abroad III
Special topics course taken as part of an approved study abroad program. Repeatable to: 15 credits if content differs.

400-Level Courses

USLT401 - Latinas/os and US Popular Culture
An examination of the relationship between Latinas/os and popular culture in the United States. Using theoretical lenses drawn from cultural studies, visual culture studies, critical race theory, borderlands theory, and feminism, the course analyzes multiple texts from time frames past and present. Explores issues such as exclusion from and inclusion within US identity, transnational identifications and cultural flows, ethnoracial stereotyping and resistance to it, and intersections of Latina/o identity with aspects of class, race, sexuality, and gender. Investigates art, TV, music, cinema, and everyday lived experience. Credit Only Granted for: USLT401, USLT498B, or AMST498M. Formerly: USLT498B.

USLT403 - Citizens, Refugees, and Immigrants
Citizenship, Refugee and Immigrant are guiding categories that often define the Latina/o community in the United States. Employing this analytical lens, this course critically engages with notions of exclusion and inclusion, which included documentation, status, race, gender, and power. To better understand how these ideas and processes work, students are introduced to the history of Latina/o migration, US immigration policies, racial formation theory, gender construction, borderland theory, and the politics of territoriality. Credit Only Granted for: USLT403, USLT498I, AMST498N, or IMMR419D. Formerly: USLT498I.

USLT420 - U.S. Latinas/os on the Silver Screen: The Silent Era to the Present Day
"Combining media theory and film history, this course considers the film industry's relationship to Latinidad, examining issues such as the shift from silent film to sound, the impact made on Latina/o images by the Second World War, and Latinas/os in the Red Scare. The second half of the course turns its attention to self-representation by Latina/o filmmakers and empathetic images created by whites in and after the 1970s. Some of the questions that the course addresses include: How have Latinas/os been depicted in Hollywood history? How have inter-American foreign relations shaped the US Latina/o image? How have Latina/o filmmakers confronted issues such as racism and sexism in the United States? Credit Only Granted for: USLT420, USLT498A or AMST498G.
 Formerly: USLT498A."

USLT430 - Globalization and the Diversifying U.S
While often talked about as a recent phenomenon and one focused on capital, the ebbs and flows of globalization has a long history among Latina/o communities in the United States. The impact and consequences of globalization can be seen in US foreign policy in Latin America. For instance, Operation Bootstrap in Puerto Rico and the Maquiladores on the Mexico and U.S. border. At the same time, it has shaped immigration policies and the social. political and cultural experiences of Latina/o workers in the U.S. Often blamed for "taking " jobs, this course takes a deeper look at the concrete reasons for the rise of globalism and its impact on Latina/o communities in the US. Credit Only Granted for: USLT430, USLT498N, AMST498W, or IMMR419J. Formerly: USLT498N.

USLT488 - U.S. Latina/o Senior Seminar
A variable topics seminar that exposes students to interdisciplinary critical readings, writings, and research in U.S. Latina/o Studies. Interdisciplinary research methodologies are broadly addressed. Students will gain skills and practice in reading critical analytic texts and will develop writing skills. Recommended: USLT202 or USLT201. Restriction: Senior standing; and permission of instructor. Repeatable to: 9 credits if content differs.

USLT498 - U.S. Latina/o Studies: Special Topics
Special Topics in U.S. Latina/o Studies. Prerequisite: USLT202 or USLT201. Restriction: Junior standing or higher. Repeatable to: 9 credits if content differs.