American Studies

AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

29940 • Hoelscher, Steven D
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GAR 0.102
(also listed as HIS 315G)
show description


AMS 310 is designed to introduce you to some of the major themes and trends of American history, as well as to familiarize you with some of the methods and materials that are used in the interdisciplinary study of American culture. As a way to focus our discussion, this section of AMS 310 takes as its starting point an apparent paradox embedded in the heart of contemporary globalization: at exactly the same time that the very political-economic processes that would seem to homogenize geography—to render the globe "placeless"—in fact increase its importance. Place-bound identities have become more, rather than less, important in a world of diminishing spatial barriers to exchange, movement, and communication. Thus, globalized flows of capital, population, goods, and terrorism not only bring the world together, but they tear it apart. At the center of this irony is the history of United States itself: a space created with an ideal of liberty, equality, individual opportunity, and social improvement, but set in a place of profoundly uneven patterns of wealth, crime, and pollution. We will address this historical contradiction from a variety of disciplinary perspectives by examining a wide range of primary source materials that range from novels, movies, and investigative journalism to travelogues, oral histories, and photography.


Possible Texts

Duany, Plater-Zyberk, & Speck, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream

Robert Frank, The Americans

Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil’s Highway: A True Story




“The Unforeseen”

“Smoke Signals”

AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

29945 • Underwood, Elissa
Meets MW 300pm-430pm GAR 0.102
(also listed as HIS 315G)
show description


This course will introduce students to key themes and methodological approaches involved in the interdisciplinary analysis of American culture.  In this particular section of AMS 310, we will use carceral spaces and incarceration to frame our interrogation and understanding of U.S. policies and practices.  By studying a wide range of texts, including memoirs, photographs, legal decisions, and films, we will work to illuminate the causes and impacts of imprisonment in the U.S., and more specifically mass/hyper-imprisonment of low-income communities of color.  Our examination of historical and contemporary primary source materials will raise questions pertaining to race, ethnicity, citizenship, class, gender, sexuality, age, disability, and other systems and categories of marginalization as we develop a discourse around the purposes of and potential alternatives to one of America's oldest and strongest institutions -- the prison.


Exam 1 (25%)
Midterm (35%)
Final (40%)

AMS 311S • America In The 1990's

29950 • Gaughen, Brendan C
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm BUR 436A
show description


Using a variety of popular culture texts including film, television, literature, fashion, and music, this course takes a critical look at American culture and society between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, framing the decade as a pivotal time for the nation when its preoccupations shifted from fighting communism to combating terrorism. During the twelve-year period framed by these two major events the nation turned inward, away from international affairs, and the trajectories, trends, crises, and debates during this time have had an enormous impact on our culture in the present day. This course takes a thematic, rather than chronologic, approach to understanding the complexities of the last decade of the twentieth century, focusing on the continued growth of neo-conservatism, the impacts of globalization, advances in technology, changes occurring within various media industries, the mainstreaming of “alternative” culture, and political battles over education, censorship, immigration, labor, and civil rights. What do things like school shootings, domestic terrorism, support for and backlash against social programs, and the increasing use of digital technologies tell us about the past and present? How is the decade remembered today?


Course reader potentially including the following texts:

Sarah Banet-Weiser – Kids Rule!: Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship

Ch 2 “The Success Story: Nickelodeon and the Cable Industry”

Ch 3 “The Nickelodeon Brand: Buying and Selling the Audience”

Tom Engelhardt – The End of Victory Culture

Part 5 “Victory Culture: The Sequel”

Tom Engelhardt – History Wars

Ch 8 “The Victors and the Vanquished”

Thomas Frank – What’s the Matter With Kansas

Ch 2 “Deep in the Heart of Redness”

Ch 9 “Kansas Bleeds For Your Sins”

Mary Celeste Kearney – Girls Make Media

Ch 2 “Brought to You By Girl Power: Riot Grrrl’s Networked Media Economy”

Ch 4 “Grrrl Zines: Exploring Identity, Transforming Girls’ Written Culture”

Robin D G Kelley – Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class

Ch 8 “Kickin’ Reality, Kickin’ Ballistics: Gangsta Rap and Postindustrial Los Angeles”

Naomi Klein – No Logo

Ch 3 “Alt.Everything: the Youth Market and the Marketing of Cool”

Ch 5 “Patriarchy Gets Funky: The Triumph of Identity Marketing”

Ch 12 “Culture Jamming: Ads Under Attack”

James Livingston – The World Turned Inside Out: American Thought and Culture at the End of the 20th Century

Ch 2 “’Tenured Radicals’ in the Ivory Tower: Origins and Effects of the Reagan Revolution”

Ch 3 “The Creators and Constituents of the Postmodern Condition”

Ch 4 “Signs of Signs: Watching the End of Modernity at the Cineplex”

Bethany Moreton – To Serve God and Wal-Mart

Ch 13 “Selling Tree Trade”

Kaya Oakes – Slanted & Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture

Ch 7 “Brighten the Corners: The Reinvention of Indie Rock”

Ch 10 “Branded: The Big Indie Crossover”

Alisa Perren – Indie Inc: Miramax and the Transformation of Hollywood in the 1990s

Ch 1 “Finding a Niche in the 1990s”

Ch 2 “The Rise of Miramax and the Quality Indie Blockbuster”

Ch 8 “Maxed Out: Miramax and Indiewood in the New Millennium”

Otto Santa Ana – Brown Tide Rising: Metaphors of Latinos in Contemporary American Public Discourse

Ch 3 “Proposition 187: Misrepresenting Immigrants and Immigration”

Ch 4 “Proposition 209: Competing Metaphors for Racism and Affirmative Action”

Eric Schlosser – Fast Food Nation

Ch 4 “Success”

Ch 10 “Global Realization”

Marita Sturken – Tangled Memories

Ch 4 “Spectacles of Memory and Amnesia: Remembering the Persian Gulf War”

Marita Sturken – Tourists of History

Ch 2 “Citizens and Survivors: Cultural Memory and Oklahoma City”

Ch 3 “The Spectacle of Death and the Spectacle of Grief: The Execution of Timothy McVeigh”

Numerous primary texts


Assignments (include % of grade):

Analysis paper 1 (3-5 pages)                10%

Analysis paper 2 (3-5 pages)                10%

One-page reading responses (7)           35%

Final project proposal (1-2 pages)         10%

Final project (8-10 pages)                    25%

Participation/attendance                       10%

AMS 311S • America's Reality Tv

29954 • Kantor, Julie
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm BUR 436A
show description


Reality Television is the most ubiquitous and popular programming on American Television, garnering 50 percent of prime time viewers in 2013. Though most Americans claim hatred of reality shows, the influence of the programming and its reflection of American culture is undeniable; the shows' mediated narratives reverberate with American's desires, fears, and showcase our discourses and discursive production. Through the study of reality television, we can understand ideals and forms of American citizenship, race, gender, sexuality and class. This class will use a variety of disciplines, including American studies, media studies, anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, and theoretical lenses, such as affect, performance, and Foulcauldian genealogy to unpack the narratives produced by and around these shows. The class will look at a variety of reality programs, including makeover, identity-based (i.e. The Real Housewives, Shahs of Sunset), competition, and therapeutic shows (Hoarders, Intervention, Couples Therapy) to ask questions about American social life and culture. This class will also explore realms of culture and life where we can follow the bleed over of reality television; that these reality stars' real lives are continually followed on and off the shows speaks to cultural obsessions and fixations that are a part of the reality of American lives.


 Possible Texts:


Susan Lepselter, "The Disorder of Things: Hoarding Narratives in Popular Media"

David Grazian, "Neoliberalism and the Realities of Reality Television"

Neal Saye, "No "Survivors," No "American Idol," No "Road Rules" in "The Real

World" of "Big Brother": Consumer/reality, Hyper/reality, and Post/reality in

"Reality" TV"


Selections/Essays from Texts:

Burton P. Buchanan, Amber J., Narro, Alison F. Slade eds., Reality Television:

Oddities of Culture

Rachel Dubrofsky, The Surveillance of Women on Reality Television: Watching

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette

Leigh Edwards, The Triumph of Reality TV: The Revolution in American


James Hay, Laurie Ouellete eds, Better Living Through Reality TV: Television

and Post-Welfare Citizenship

Mischa Kavka, Reality Television, Affect and Intimacy: Reality Matters

Susan Murray, Laurie Ouellette eds, Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture

Katherine Sender, The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences

Brenda R. Weber, Makeover TV: Selfhood, Citizenship, and Celebrity



Weekly Responses to Readings: 25%

Final paper proposal (1 page): 10%

Class Discussion Leader: 10%

Annotated Bibliography (5-6 sources): 10%

First paper draft/peer review: 10%

Final presentation (10 mins): 15%

Final paper (10-12 pages): 20%

AMS 311S • Dancing In America

29960 • Ronald, Kirsten
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm GAR 0.120
show description


What does the way we move say about who we are?  For generations, dancing - from polka to hip hop - has helped ordinary Americans make sense of the world around them.  In this class, you will learn about social, or popular, dancing in America by learning how to do dances ranging from salsa and Lindy Hop to the lawnmower and the wobble - and you'll use these American dance forms to examine broader patterns of cultural change since World War I.  Some of the issues we'll investigate include race, technology, and dance in the segregated ballrooms of the 1930s; immigration and exile in the 1950s Latin dance craze; globalization, Urban Cowboy, and 1970s Texas chic; and the worldwide appeal of KPop.  We'll also try on a variety of tools for studying dance, including visual analysis, historical research, and participant observation.  For your final project, you'll get to put these tools (and maybe even your dance skills) to work in the real world and see how people use social dancing to make sense of American culture.  


Possible Texts:

Julie Malnig, Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake Course Reader (including Joel Dinerstein, Jose Limon, Kathy Peiss, Erika Doss, Cindy Garcia, Tommy DeFrantz, Joseph Schloss, and several primary sources)


20% In-class participation, including discussion, quizzes, and in-class writing activities

10% peer review

30% 3 unit response papers (1,000-1,200 words)

40% final project on social dance in Austin (3,000-5,000 words)

AMS 311S • Technology And The Body

29965 • Gansky, Andrew
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am BUR 436A
show description


Perceptions and understandings of bodies significantly affect social and individual experiences, sometimes imperceptibly and sometimes viscerally. We commonly experience our bodies as containers and communicators of meaning, whether through visible characteristics such as gender and skin color or invisible codes such as genetic predispositions. Americans recognize, define, and interpret these embodied characteristics in historically and culturally contingent ways. While some features may appear immutable, technologies promise to remake bodies in surprising and sometimes unsettling ways. This course asks how some bodily features come to matter in U.S. culture, emphasizing various technologies’ significant role in shaping bodily perception. From mug shots and fingerprinting to makeup and hair products to “ethnic” plastic surgery, the peoples of the United States have used many technologies to control, manipulate, and alter bodies, often in order to negotiate the norms and boundaries of social categories such as gender, race, ability, health, sexuality, and beauty.


In this course, students will take a critical stance on how technologies help establish and subvert normative ideas about bodily behavior or appearance. We will examine historical and contemporary ideas about bodies in realms as diverse as medicine and genetics, law and security, fashion and style, health and fitness. Questions that guide the course include: Who gets to make bodily technologies, and who determines how they are used? How do economic, legal, and cultural contexts shape technological developments? How does gender, race, class, sexuality, or ability affect experiences of technology and the body? What are the ethics of technological modifications to the body? We will approach these questions through examinations of technologies, scholarship, fiction, art, film, popular culture, and technological hacks. Students will develop tools for recognizing and critiquing how technologies subject the body to political, cultural, and economic demands. We will also explore opportunities for using bodily technologies in independent, engaged, and creative ways.


Possible texts:

Steve Tomasula and Stephen Farrell. VAS: An Opera in Flatland.

Rene Almeling. Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm.

Harry Bruinius. Better for All the World: The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America’s Quest for Racial Purity.

Alex Rivera. Sleep Dealer.

Alison Bechdel. The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For.

Tanya Sheehan. Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America.

Kathy Davis. Dubious Equalities & Embodied Differences: Cultural Studies on Cosmetic Surgery.

Eugenia Kaw. “Medicalization of Racial Features: Asian American Women and Cosmetic Surgery.”

Lily Cho. “Citizenship, Diaspora and the Bonds of Affect: The Passport Photograph.”

Kelly Gates. Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance.

Simone Browne. “‘Everybody’s got a little light under the sun’: Black Luminosity and the Visual Culture of Surveillance.”

Jacqueline Goss. Stranger Comes to Town.

Allan Sekula. “The Body and the Archive.”

Kathy Peiss. Hope in a Jar: The Makings of America’s Beauty Culture.


Assignments (include % of grade):

Attendance and Participation (20%)

Reading Responses (10%)

Short Essay (15%)

Final Paper Proposal and Bibliography (10%)

Final Paper/Project (25%)

Collaborative Project (20%)


AMS 311S • Life And Death In American Cul

29970 • Quesal, Susan
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm BUR 436A
show description


American attitudes about life and death have changed over the past two centuries, as a consequence of changing ideas about the body, health, and medical authority. From early surgeons and midwives to serial killers and funeral directors, this course explores the cultural history of the twin sciences of life and death in the U.S. By looking at the historical overlap and difference between medicine and funeral science, students will understand how social structures of race and class have informed and produced the seemingly natural practices of life and death in America. Our readings will draw from a variety of disciplines, including black studies, urban studies, cultural geography, and public health. We will consider questions such as: How did the science of medicine benefit from white supremacist social structures in the 19th and 20th centuries? What cultural role(s) have funeral directors and other handlers of the dead played over time? What can the geography and location of a cemetery or hospital tell us about the social value of certain spaces and bodies?

            The course will begin with an exploration of the foundations of both medicine and mortuary science, with particular attention to the role of death, race, and poverty in the development of medicine. Next, we will look at the geography of medicine and death—where cities locate their hospitals, doctors, and burial grounds—and think about what that has to tell us about the cultural meaning of death and sickness over time. Finally, we will consider the role of social justice and environmentalism in contemporary movements that work to change public health and burial practices. Students will be asked to produce a series of reading response essays, a take-home midterm essay exam, and a longer research paper that offers an analysis of Austin’s geographies of life and/or death.

Possible Texts

Erik Larson, Devil in the White City

Keith Wailoo, Dying in the City of the Blues: Sickle Cell Anemia and the Politics of Race and Health

Mark Harris, Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial

Jessica Mitford, The American Way of Death

Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


Assignments (include % of grade):

10% Attendance and Participation

20% Two reading response essays (10% each)

20% Take-Home Midterm essay

10% Life/Death Geography of Austin assignment

10% Annotated Bibliography

30% Final Research Essay (10% Draft; 20% Final)

AMS 315 • Drug History In The Americas

29980 • Alvarez, C.J.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am BUR 112
(also listed as HIS 306N, LAS 310, MAS 319)
show description

FLAGS:   CD  |  GC


The international traffic in illegal drugs is a phenomenon loaded with important implications for democracy, public health, and politics. Yet it is also freighted with misunderstanding, prejudice, and bad data. In an effort to demystify, this course examines the narcotics trade from a historical and transnational perspective, tracing the multiple and intertwined histories of psychoactive substances, law enforcement, and diplomacy. We will explore the origins of marijuana and poppy cultivation, the medical development of cocaine, the popularization of hallucinogens, the invention of synthetics, while also considering why other mind-altering substances like tobacco, coffee, sugar, and many pharmaceuticals remain legal. We will also examine the rise of the Columbian and Mexican crime syndicates and the dramatic expansion and internationalization of law enforcement and incarceration.


Andreas, Peter. "The Politics of Measuring Illicit Flows and Policy Effectiveness." In Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts, edited by Peter Andreas and Kelly Greenhill. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010.

Mintz, Sidney. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Viking, 1985.

Pendergrast, Mark. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

Gootenberg, Paul. "Talking About the Flow: Drugs, Borders, and the Discourse of Drug Control." Cultural Critique, no. 71 (2009).

Astorga Almanza, Luis. "Cocaine in Mexico: A Prelude to 'los narcos'." In Cocaine: Global Histories, edited by Paul Gootenberg, 183-191. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Camp, Roderic Ai. Mexico's Military on the Democratic Stage. Westport, Conn.; Washington, D.C.: Praeger Security International; published in cooperation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2005.


Participation: 25%

Midterm: 25%

Debate: 25%

Final exam: 25%

AMS 315 • Ethncty & Gender: La Chicana

29990 • Uzendoski, Andrew G.
Meets MWF 900am-1000am PAR 101
(also listed as MAS 311, SOC 308D, WGS 301)
show description

The purpose of this course is to examine the various experiences, perspectives, and expressions of Latinas in the United States. Specifically, the relationship between gender, race/ethnicity, and class will be key as we discuss issues that have been significant in the experiences and self-identification of Latinas, such as family, gender, sexuality, religion/spirituality, education, language, labor, and political engagement. We will also explore the emergence of Latina and U.S. Third World (or woman of color) feminisms and what it means to be Latina in the United States today. We will engage in interdisciplinary analysis not only concerning cultural traditions, values, belief systems, and symbols but also concerning the expressive culture of Latinas, including folk and religious practices, literature and poetry, the visual arts, and music. Finally, we will examine media representations of Latinas through critical analyses of film and television portrayals.

AMS 315 • Intro East Austin Ethnography

29993 • Jones, Omi Osun Joni L.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm SAC 4.174
(also listed as AFR 317D, ANT 310L)
show description

In this course, students will study ethnographic methods including fieldwork, observant participation, interviewing, and oral histories. Archival research will also be conducted. Students will conduct fieldwork at specific sites in Austin with an emphasis on East Austin communitites. This course provides students with skills in critical ethnography by foregrounding the racial politics that shape policy-making and community-building.

Grading breakdown:

Project Focus 10%

Interview 10%

Oral History 10%

Observant Participation Notebook 30%

Research Project 30%

Participation 10%

AMS 315 • Revolution Will Be Dramatized

29994 • Thompson, Lisa B.
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm PAR 203
(also listed as AFR 317F, WGS 301)
show description

This course will examine the representations of black political protest in film and theatre from the 1960s to the present. We will discuss fictional and documentary films as well as plays. The class will also consider the performative aspects of black protest movements for social justice. Texts under consideration include plays such Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, Robert O’Hara’s Insurrection, and films such as Free Angela and all Political Prisoners, The Butler, The Untold Story of Emmett Till, Night Catches Us and Panther.


The Mountaintop – Katori Hall

Insurrection – Robert O’Hara

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners (film, director – Shola Lynch)

The Butler (film, director – Lee Daniels)

The Untold Story of Emmett Hill (film, director – Keith Beauchamp)

Night Catches Us (film, director- Tanya Hamilton)

Grading breakdown (percentages):

Performance review journal – 25%

Attendance – 15%

Class presentation – 30%

Three response papers – 30%

AMS 315 • Intro To Asian Amer Studies

29995 • Cho, Alexander
Meets TTH 930am-1100am CBA 4.326
(also listed as AAS 301)
show description

Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

This is an interdisciplinary course that introduces students to major issues in the historical and contemporary experiences of Asian Americans. Accordingly, it also trains students to critically unpack the idea of “Asian American” as containing an ever-shifting multiplicity of peoples and histories and places this category in conversation with issues of power, race, nation, and gender and sexuality. This course also spends substantial time on contemporary Asian American issues and recent histories of migration. Key topics to be explored are: (im)migration, citizenship, imperialism, panethnicity, racial formation, intersectionality, multiraciality, transnationalism, hybridity, mediated representation.

AMS 315F • Native American Lit And Cul

Meets TTH 200pm-330pm FAC 10
(also listed as E 314V)
show description

E 314V  l  5-Native American Literature and Culture

Instructor:  Grewe, L

Unique #:  33920

Semester:  Fall 2015

Cross-lists:  AMS 315F

Flags:  Cultural Diversity in the U.S.; Writing

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  Yes

Prerequisites: One of the following: E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A.

Description: When Pharrell appeared in a headdress on the cover of Elle UK, it raised many questions, among them: how are Native Americans portrayed in popular culture? In response to this question, we might ask: how do Native Americans represent themselves? Native Americans, in fact, have been representing themselves in writing for hundreds of years. This class will focus on Native American literature from a range of different tribal nations, regions, and histories. We will examine Native American activism and forced assimilation as well as continuing conflicts between Native and non-Native belief systems and between tribal nation communities and US federal and state governments. Together, we will uncover the surprising way that indigenous literature has fundamentally shaped American literature and is beginning to impact world literature.

The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines. They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities. Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.

This course contains a writing flag. The writing assignments in this course are arranged procedurally with a focus on invention, development through instructor and peer feedback, and revision; they will comprise a major part of the final grade.

Tentative Texts: On Our Own Ground: The Complete Writings of William Apess, a Pequot, William Apess, ed. Barry O’Connell (1992); Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko (1977); Mean Spirit, Linda Hogan (1991).

Requirements & Grading: There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which must be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (75% of the final grade).  There may also be reading quizzes, reaction papers, and in-class presentations (25% of the final grade).

AMS 321 • Asian American Gender & Sexual

30005 • Cho, Alexander
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm SZB 330
(also listed as AAS 320, WGS 335)
show description

Why are Asian female bodies hypersexualized while Asian men are portrayed as emasculated? What can tracing the long history of sexual management of Asians in America reveal in terms of who is included in the category “American”? This course trains students to critically unpack concomitant constructions of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality that have informed the Asian American experience and connects these issues to broader themes of gender and sexual politics throughout American history. The course’s multidisciplinary approach spans the fields of literature, sociology, history, media studies, and anthropology.

AMS 321 • Rethinking Blackness

30010 • Thompson, Lisa B.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CLA 1.104
(also listed as AFR 372C, E 376M, WGS 340)
show description

Cultural critic Wahneema Lubiano argues that “postmodernism offers a site for African American cultural critics and producers to utilize a discursive space that foregrounds the possibility of rethinking history, political positionality in the cultural domain, the relationship between cultural politics and subjectivity, and the politics of narrative aesthetics.” Other scholars such as Cornel West conclude that the black experience in America is fundamentally absurd. Henry Louis Gates Jr. suggests that, “only a black person alienated from black language-use could fail to understand that we have been deconstructing white people's languages and discourses since that dreadful day in 1619 when we were marched off the boat in Virginia. Derrida did not invent deconstruction, we did!” If postmodernism is characterized by a de-centered human subjectivity then the black condition in the Americas is fundamentally postmodern. Although many writers render the outsider status of African Americans with somberness this course examines texts that re-imagine black subjectivity beyond traditional narratives of suffering and oppression. The authors that we will read present topics sacred to many African Americans such as the Civil Rights movement, slavery, family and blackness, but do so outside traditional African American literary paradigms. We will consider how their treatment of such sensitive issues expands notions of black identity and re-writes assumptions about the African American experience. During the term we will explore texts—some non-canonical others more familiar—from the late 20th century to the present. Class participants will become acquainted with artists working in a variety of genres such as literary satire, rock musical, faux documentary and speculative fiction.

Required Texts:

1. Octavia Butler, Kindred (1979)

2. Katori Hall, The Mountaintop (2011)

3. Andrea Lee, Sarah Phillips (1984)

4. Robert O'Hara, Insurrection: Holding History (1999)

5. Stew, Passing Strange (2008)

6. Lisa B. Thompson, Single Black Female (2012)

7. Baratunde Thurston, How to Be Black (2012)

8. Touré, Whose Afraid of Post Blackness? (2011)

Grading breakdown (percentages):

Essay One (5-7 pages) 15%

Midterm Exam 25%

Group Presentation 10%

Presentation 10%

Essay Two (7-10 pages) 30%

Participation 10%

AMS 321 • Tex Czechs: Cowboys & Kolaches

30015 • Hilchey, Christian
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm MEZ 2.124
(also listed as REE 325)
show description

FLAGS:   GC  |  Wr


This course examines the history and culture of the Bohemians and Moravians who made Texas their home during the 19th and early part of the 20th century. According to U.S. census data, over 180,000 Texans trace their ancestry back to Czech immigrants. Who are the Czechs and what were the circumstances that led them to leave their homeland? Why did they choose Texas, and in particular, Central Texas? Beginning with these essential questions, this course will examine the unique ways in which the Czech diaspora has manifested on Texan soil. We will consider the structure of Czech communities through their traditions and institutions, examining how Czech language and culture has been preserved and passed down through many generations. These explorations will take us into present-day Czech communities in Texas as we analyze the contemporary role of heritage associations and festivals, while also looking back at the contributions Czechs have made to Texas culture: city names such as Dubina and Hostyn, cemeteries and painted churches, and the distinctly Czech culinary traditions of beer and kolaches.

Coursework will consist of readings about the Czechs who made their way to Texas, as well as trips to nearby Czech communities, museums, and restaurants. A significant component of the course will include a project to visit and document one or more of the Czech communities of Texas. We will also examine other Czech diaspora communities in the United States, particularly those in Chicago and across the Midwest, through interviews, newspapers, and other documents.


Czech Voices: Stories from Texas in the Amerikán národní kalendář, Clinton Machann and James W. Mendl, Jr.

Krasna Amerika: A Study of Texas Czechs, 1851-1939, Clinton Machann and James W. Mendl, Jr.

We're Czechs, Robert L. Skrabanek

My Ántonia, Willa Cather

Additional course readings and materials will be distributed on the course website.


Attendance/Participation                                20%

Map Quiz                                                    5%

Midterm                                                     20%

Short Paper 1 (3-4 pages)                             10%

Short Paper 2 (3-4 pages)                             10%

In-Class Presentation                                   10%

Final Research Paper (10-12 pages)               25%

AMS 321 • US-Mexico Border Sounds

30019 • Tahmahkera, Dustin
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm CMA 3.114
(also listed as MAS 374)
show description

COURSE TITLE: U.S.-Mexico Bordersounds

INSTRUCTOR: Tahkahmera, Dustin 


Through interdisciplinary scholarship in sound studies, cultural studies, and popular music, this course critically listens to and analyzes soundways (i.e., interpretive beliefs, modes, and practices concerning sound) and soundscapes in relation to cultural identities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. How, the course asks, does sound matter in and around the borderlands? How are borderland identities sonically and musically represented? How does sound construct, critique, remix, or otherwise complicate perceptions of the borderlands?


Readings by Josh Kun, David Samuels, Dolores Ines Casillas, Roberto Hernandez, Luis Alvarez, Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, Jonathan Sterne, Murray Schafer, and others TBD.


Homework assignments; one major research paper, including research proposal, workshop drafts, peer reviews, and final draft; research presentation; attendance. (This is subject to change)

AMS 321 • US In The Civil Rights Era

30030 • Green, Laurie B.
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm UTC 3.102
(also listed as AFR 374D, HIS 356P, MAS 374)
show description

FLAGS:   CD  |  EL

AMS 355 • Main Curr Of Amer Cul To 1865

30045 • Meikle, Jeffrey L
Meets MW 930am-1100am PAR 301
(also listed as HIS 355N)
show description


This lecture course traces the development of American cultural history from the time of the Puritan migration of 1630 through the end of the Civil War in 1865.  The basic premise of the course is that cultural history can best be understood by examining common themes that cut across such wide-ranging fields as religion, literature, art, science, philosophy, and popular culture.  Building from this base, the course explores such themes as the opposition of "young" America to "old" Europe, the continuing struggle between the individual and the community, the significance of the frontier, the impact of evangelical Protestantism, the idea of an American "mission," the emergence of industry, the paradox of liberty and slavery, and the awakening of regionalism and pluralism in opposition to the mainstream.


The course format consists of formal lectures (with questions and discussion encouraged) and several designated discussion periods.  Assigned reading is not always discussed in class but must be completed all the same.  Prior knowledge of basic U.S. history is helpful.



Two in-class tests (20% and 35% of the course grade) and a final exam (45%).  A student who makes at least a B on the first test may substitute a 10-page paper in place of the second test with the approval of the instructor.


Possible Texts

Five or six paperbacks and some articles including material like the following:

Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed

Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature"

John Kasson, Civilizing the Machine

David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin

AMS 356 • Main Curr Amer Cul Since 1865

30050 • Mickenberg, Julia
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BUR 134
(also listed as HIS 356K)
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Flag(s): Cultural Diversity



This course will survey American cultural history from the Civil War to the present, emphasizing the variety of economic, political, demographic, and social forces that have shaped American cultural production; the variety of media and forms in which American culture is expressed (including literature, painting, photography, dance, architecture, film, advertising, childrearing practices, education, political speeches, architecture and the environment, music, fashion, theater and performance, scientific thought, athletics, political demonstrations, trials, museums, foodways, fairs and exhibitions); and the impact of race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and religion on American cultural expression. Finally, we will consider the trajectory of American cultural history in terms of the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world, examining how Americans have imported traditions from other countries and how the United States has shaped broader processes globalization.



Students are expected to attend class regularly and to complete all assigned readings. There will be three major exams, and short quizzes most days based on the assigned reading.


Possible Texts

Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward

Nella Larsen, Quicksand

Federal Theater Project, Triple A Plowed Under

Mine Okubo, Citizen 13660

Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era

Luis Valdez,Early Works: Actos, Bernabe, and Pensamiento

Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal


AMS 370 • Arts/Artifacts In Americas

30055 • Kamil, Neil D.
Meets MW 400pm-530pm GAR 1.134
(also listed as HIS 350R)
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Material culture is a term borrowed by a number of disciplines from archaeology that refers to all categories of historical artifacts—things from artistic masterpieces to the lowly stool; from architectural monuments to hedge rows—that are studied by historians in the hope of revealing their use as overlooked evidence of past lives that reach beyond the written text.


This course will survey the changing material culture of the western hemisphere from pre-Columbian times to the beginning of the industrial revolution.  We will view artifacts from an Atlantic perspective on all levels of society while sampling a cross-section of written work from a number of disciplines and geographies in the Americas.  We will keep a keen eye on our central problem of telling the connected stories of both the artisans (makers) and their societies (consumers).



Robert Blair St. George, Material Life in Early America.

Robert Blair St. George, Conversing by Signs

Jorge Canizares-Esguerra, Nature, empire, and nation : explorations of the history of science in the Iberian world

Neil Kamil, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Disappearance and Material Life in early New York,” in American Furniture 1995

Neil Kamil, Fortress of the Soul: Violence, Metaphysics and Mateial Life in the Huguenots' New World, 1517-1751

Jules Prown,  American Artifacts: Essays in Material Culture

Henri Focillon, The Life of Form

Jones, Michael Owen, Handmade Object and its Maker

Deetz, James, In Small things Forgotten

Humes, Ivor Noel, Martins Hundred

SY Edgerton, Theaters of Conversion: Religious Architecture and Indian Artisans in Colonial Mexico




2 page book review due weekly; 50%

Final 5 page project; 20%

Class Participation; 30%

AMS 370 • Hist Black Entrepren In US

30060 • Walker, Juliet E. K.
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm GAR 1.122
(also listed as AFR 374D, HIS 350R)
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Within the construct of African American Business history, race, contemporary American popular culture and global capitalism, this course will focus on an important aspect in the contemporary political economy of black Americans. Specifically, the commodification (sale) of black culture provides the conceptual frame for an examination of the phenomenon of both the superstar black athlete as an entrepreneur and the Hip Hop Superstar as an entrepreneur in post-Civil Rights America. The emphasis in this course, then, is to critically examine and analyze the impact of a multiplicity of societal, cultural and economic factors in the post-modern information age, propelled by new technologies in the New Economy of Global Capitalism.  Also, consideration will be given to the new diversity as it impacts on the political economy of African Americans.


Proceeding from an interdisciplinary perspective, the course considers both the financial successes of superstar black athletes and hip hop entrepreneurs as well as their emergence as cultural icons, contrasted with the comparatively overall poor performance of Black Business not only within the intersection of race, gender, class, but also within the context of transnationalism in the globalization sale of African American Culture in post-Civil Rights America. But who profits?


Most important, why is it that business receipts for African Americans, who comprise almost thirteen percent of this nation's population, amounted in 2007 to only .5%, that is, less than one (1) percent of the nation's total business receipts? In addition, why is it that among the various occupational categories in which blacks participate in the nation's economy, especially as businesspeople, that black entertainers and sports figures are the highest paid? What does this say about race, class, gender and hegemonic masculinities in America at the turn of the new century?



Boyd, Todd,      Young, Black, Rich and Famous:  The Rise of the NBA, The Hip Hop Invasion and the Transformation of American Culture

Curry, Mark,         Dancing With the Devil: How Puff Burned the Bad Boys of Hip Hop

Daniels, Cora,     Black Power, Inc: The New Voice of Black Success

Johnson,  Magic,    32  Ways to Be a Champion in Business

Kitwana, Bakari,   Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wangstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality                             of Race in America

Lafeber, Walter, Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism, New Expanded Edition

Oliver, Richard, Tim Leffel, Hip-Hop, Inc. : Success Strategies of the Rap Moguls   

Pulley, Brett, The Billion Dollar BET: Robert Johnson and the Inside Story of BET

Smith-Shomade, Beretta, Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy: Selling Black Entertainment Television           

Walker, Juliet E. K. History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship

Chaps, 6-11; Course Packet “The Commodification of Black Culture”   


Critical Book Review Analysis                           25%

    (5 reviews, 2-3 pages 5 points each)

Class Discussion/participation                             25%

Oral Summary of Research Paper                         5%

Seminar Research Paper (15 pages)                    45%


AMS 370 • Latina/O Spirituality

30065 • González-Martin, Rachel V.
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm GAR 1.126
(also listed as MAS 374, R S 346, WGS 335)
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FLAGS:   CD  |  Wr  |  II


This course introduces students to the religious and spiritual practices of diverse Latina/o populations living in the United States. Students will work with primary and secondary texts, ethnographic film and museum exhibitions to examine the diverse ways in which Latina/o communities’ create spiritual meaning in their lives. It will examine the religious and spiritual practices from the vantage point of transition and change as a way of understanding larger aspects of cultural and social change within 21st century U.S. Latina/o publics. This course incorporates materials and theoretical approaches relevant to multiple diasporic Latina/o communities including Afro Latino and Indigenous migrant communities. Students will learn about the diverse aspects of Latina/o spiritual, from the history of Latina/o Catholicism, to influences of West African ritual, to the rise of Latina/o Muslim conversion in the United States. It will expressly look at cultural productions from the vantage points of gender and race politics, and incorporate the spiritual tradition of women, queer communities, and various “othered” Latina/o identifying community members.


Aponte, Edward David. 2012. Santo!: Varieties of Latina/o Spirituality. New York: Orbis.

Baez, Edward J. "Spirituality and the Gay Latino Client." Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 4, no. 2 (1996): 69-81.

Daniel, Yvonne. 2005. Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomble. Urbana: University of Illinois Press Otero, Solimar. 2014.

Yemoja: Gender, Sexuality, and Creativity in the Latina/o and Afro-Atlantic Diasporas. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Perez, Laura E. 2007. Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities. Durham: Duke University Press

Rodriguez, Roberto C. 2014. Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother: Indigeneity and Belonging in the Americas. Tucson: University of Arizona Press

Romero Cash, Marie. 1998. Living Shrines: Home Altars of New Mexico. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press


Minute Papers/Attendance 10%

3 Film/Art-Exhibit Reviews 15%

Project Proposal & Annotated Bibliography 20%

Midterm Exam 20%

Final Exam 15%

Final Project 20%

AMS 370 • Children's Lit And Amer Cul

30070 • Mickenberg, Julia
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm BUR 436A
(also listed as WGS 340)
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Flag(s): Writing, Independent Inquiry



This course will trace the history of American childhood through children’s literature. Using selected texts from the colonial era to the present, we will use children's texts as lenses for understanding American culture and American cultural history more generally. Understanding how childhood and children’s literature have changed over time tells us a great deal about the ways in which the broader culture and society have evolved. It is easy to take children’s literature for granted: we’ve all read it, and, indeed, we all read it as kids. What could be simpler, more obvious, or less worthy of critical examination? This class will ask students to think critically about children's literature and to think about how these texts are informed by and also contribute to a broader cultural context.




1. Participation (25%): Includes: attendance, active and informed participation in class discussions, two presentations, in-class writing and short (one page) out of class assignments

2. Two 4-5 page papers (20% each)

3. One 8-10 page research paper (35%)



Possible Texts

Ann Scott MacLeod, American Childhood: Essays on Children’s Literature of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Steve Mintz, Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women(Norton Critical Edition)

Dr. Seuss, The Sneetches and Other Stories

Doris Gates, Blue Willow

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy

Alice Childress, A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich

Jean Luen Yang, American Born Chinese


Additional packet of readings

AMS 370 • Women In Postwar America

30075 • Green, Laurie B.
Meets W 300pm-600pm GAR 3.116
(also listed as HIS 350R, WGS 345)
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This course intensively examines U.S. women's history between World War II and the 1970s. In doing so, it also explores popular perceptions of womanhood, manhood and sexuality that became central to the cultural politics and social conflicts of the postwar period. By weaving together these topics – women’s history, popular culture, and postwar social movements – we raise fresh questions about well-known episodes of U.S. history. Why, for example, do most Americans remember Rosa Parks only as a demure seamstress who initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott because she was too tired to give up her seat to a white? If every young woman hoped to be like Donna Reed or June Cleaver in the fifties, then where did the sixties movements come from? We also explore how various groups (e.g., suburban girls, working-class women, civil rights activists, immigrants, and others) negotiated ideas of family, work and sexuality. In doing so, we examine roots of issues that continue to have political purchase today, such as reproductive rights, sexuality, job equity, welfare, race, and ethnicity.

Course Activities:This is primarily a discussion seminar, but class will occasionally include short lectures and films. Readings include historical documents, memoirs, scholarly articles and full-length historical studies. The course has a writing flag, and is designed to help you develop skills in historical writing and analysis. Students will write regularly to encourage critical thinking and class discussion of readings. Graded assignments include weekly reading summaries, a short media research paper based on popular magazines of the postwar era; and a “Postwar Women’s Memoir Project” based on interviews with women who came of age between World War II and the 1970s.



* Bailey, Beth. Sex in the Heartland

* Douglas, Susan J. Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media 

* Gilmore, Stephanie, ed. Feminist Coalitions: Historical Perspectives on Second-Wave Feminism in the United States

* Grace, Nancy M. and Ronna C. Johnson, eds., Breaking the Rule of Cool: Interviewing and Reading Women Beat Writers

* Lee, Chana Kai. For Freedom’s Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer

* Meyerowitz, Joanne, ed. Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960 (noted as NJC on syllabus)

* Santiago, Esmeralda. Almost a Woman

* Shakur, Assata. Assata: An Autobiography



10% Attendance, promptness, class participation

30% 350-word weekly analyses of readings (6 essays, 5% each)

20% Media research essay, 5 pages 

35% Final Postwar Women’s Memoir Project essay, 8-10 pages

5%  Group Presentation on Memoir Projects

AMS 370 • American Disasters

30080 • Cordova, Cary
Meets TTH 930am-1100am BUR 436A
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Flag(s): Writing, Independent Inquiry


As the popularity of Hollywood disaster films can attest, Americans relish the spectacle of disaster.  This course will examine “natural” and human-made disasters as key turning points in American history.  Whether fire, hurricane, toxin, or epidemic, moments of crisis frequently heighten the visibility of race, gender, and class inequalities, as well as propel, or retard social change.  This class requires students to question what is “natural,” to analyze the relationship between race and environmental policies, and to develop a historical view of disasters and American identities and transformations.  This class will engage with the politics of disasters, analyzing environmental contexts, grassroots activism, legislative policies, and approaches toward commemoration.  Possible topics to be covered include the Triangle Factory fire of 1911, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Love Canal, Three Mile Island, AIDS, the Los Angeles Riots of 1965 and 1992, The Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, and Hurricane Katrina (2005). 



Class participation:     25%

Group Presentation:    10%

Paper #1:                    15%

Paper #2:                    20%

Final Paper:                 30%



Possible Texts

Eric Klinenberg, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago

Tony Kushner, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes

Erik Larson, Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History 

Anna Deveare Smith, Twilight Los Angeles

Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil’s Highway: A True Story

Donald Worster, Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s, 25th Anniversary Edition

Julie Sze, Noxious New York: The Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice