American Studies

AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

29775 • Cordova, Cary
Meets TTH 930am-1100am MEZ 1.306
(also listed as HIS 315G)
show description


This class introduces students to the field of American Studies. The guiding objective of the class is to use interdisciplinary lenses – such as music, dance, material culture, and urban studies – to develop a more complex understanding of American culture. In this class, we will investigate select aspects of American culture using various methodological approaches. The course outline follows a semi-linear pattern in history, but is hardly comprehensive. We will look broadly at the tensions between individual identity formation and the many social constructions that operate in American culture. The class is loosely tied around the connection, or disconnection, of individuals with mass culture (music, in particular, but also cars, corporations, television, and even fashion).


This class is organized into three sections, starting with swing culture in the 1930s and 40s, shifting to the dynamics of popular music and culture from the 1950s to the 1980s (think girl groups, salsa, disco, and rap), and finally, looking at the politics of consumerism and globalization in our everyday lives. We will use these three modules to think critically about the relationship between the past and present, to examine the relationship between individual identity formation and the larger cultural zeitgeist, and to develop an understanding of how social inequalities, particularly guised through race, class, gender, and sexuality, infiltrate all areas of American life.


While mass culture often provides a context for making sense of the world, it also simplifies and negates a variety of more complex issues. Thus, if there is an overriding theme to the class, it is the concept of visibility versus invisibility. Who becomes the representative American? What is un-American? Who feels displaced, or invisible? How do ideologies of race, class, gender, and sexuality penetrate popular culture? And how have individuals responded? The goals of the course are to develop a more nuanced understanding of American culture and American Studies, to build critical thinking skills, and to generate new paradigms for looking at the world.    



Midterm Exam:                     25%

Final Exam:                             30%

Reading Response Papers:          10%

Discography:                         20%

Attendance and Participation:      15%

AMS 310 • Intro To American Studies

29780 • Underwood, Elissa
Meets MW 300pm-430pm MEZ 1.306
(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 310 • Intro To American Studies

29783 • Vaught, Jeannette
Meets MWF 900am-1000am GAR 0.102
(also listed as HIS 315G)
show description

Introduction to American Studies: Cyborg Americans


This course introduces students to the field of American studies.  The guiding objective of this course is to use various interdisciplinary lenses – such as forms of material culture, technology, and performance – to investigate the United States as a contested set of identities and representations. 


In this particular section of AMS 310, we’re going to look at the human-technology interface – the cyborg! – in American culture.  The course emphasizes these concurrent and parallel histories of Americans by focusing on the adoption of and responses to new technologies from the late 19th century to the present.  The semester will be organized into four units, starting with the germ revolution in the 1880s and 1890s, then moving through the electrification of the nation from 1900 to 1940, shifting into the Cold War cultural relationships between nuclear particle physics and the boom in consumer domestic products, and finally investigating the turn to computing.  We end by considering the global dimensions of the internet age. 


In each of these units, we will use these examples to think critically about the relationship between the past and the present, to examine how individual identity formation relates to the larger cultural zeitgeist, and to understand more fully how social inequalities, particularly in the forms of race, class, gender, and sexuality, infiltrate all areas of American life.  By the end of the course, students will develop a more nuanced understanding of American culture and American studies, build critical thinking skills, and become cognizant of the multiple histories at play at any given period. 


Possible course texts:

Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club

Carolyn De La Peña, The Body Electric

Lizabeth Cohen, The Consumer’s Republic

Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes



Midterm: 30%

Final: 30%

Digital History project: 25%

Attendance and Participation: 15%

AMS 311S • America In The 1990's

29785 • Gaughen, Brendan C
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm 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?


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

29790 • 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

29795 • Ronald, Kirsten
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm GAR 0.128
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.  

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 • Life And Death In American Cul

29800 • Quesal, Susan
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm 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.


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


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 311S • Technology And The Body

29805 • 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 recognize our bodies as carrying and communicating important information, whether through visually recognized characteristics such as gender and skin color or invisible codes such as genetic predispositions to particular conditions. The ways in which Americans recognize, define, and interpret these embodied characteristics are historically and culturally contingent. While some features may appear immutable, technologies seem to be able to remake bodies, and ideas about them, 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, appearance, etc. 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 particular technologies, critical 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, as well as opportunities for interacting with technologies in independent, engaged, and creative ways to explore new possibilities for embodied experience and understanding.


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.

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.



Attendance and Participation (15%)

Reading Journal (25%)

In-class Presentation (15%) and Short Paper (10%)

Final Paper Proposal and Bibliography (10%)

Final Paper/Project (25%)

AMS 315 • Asian American Film History

29809 • Nault, Curran
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm CMA 5.190
(also listed as AAS 310)
show description

FLAG:Cultural Diversity


This course will consider Asian American film from a historical perspective, from the pioneers of the silent era, to the YouTube stars of today. Students will explore Asian American films from a number of cinematic genres (romance, melodrama, comedy) and forms (Hollywood, independent, documentary, experimental), as well as their attendant constraints and freedoms. Foundational to this course is the belief that film history can only be understood in relation to dominant social structures and the workings of the film industries and, as such, textual, reception and industrial analysis will all be employed. Key issues discussed will include: politics of representation in classic Hollywood cinema; the rise of Asian American independents; oppositional practices of Asian American spectatorship; intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality in Asian American films; exhibition and distribution strategies of Asian American film festivals; and transnational Asian (American) cinema. While this course will focus primarily on cinema, students will also have the opportunity to examine related forms of Asian American mediamaking, including the contemporary turn to web series and television shows like ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat.


Hamamoto, Darrell and Sandra Liu, eds. Countervisions: Asian American Film Criticism. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 2000.

Mimura, Glen M. Ghost Life of Third Cinema: Asian American Film and Video. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2009.

Nguyen, Hoang Tan. A View from the Bottom. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.

Ono, Kent A. and Vincent Pham, eds. Asian Americans and the Media. Polity, 2008.


Short Response Essays…25%Midterm Paper…30%Final Paper…30%Attendance/Participation…15%


AMS 315 • Building America

29810 • Bsumek, Erika M.
Meets MWF 900am-1000am CLA 0.112
(also listed as HIS 317L)
show description

This course will look at roughly 100 years of building in American society from 1867-1980. It will focus on the ways in which politicians, architects, engineers, urban planners, construction workers, naturalists, environmentalists, novelists, filmmakers and the American populous approached the relationship between large-scale infrastructure projects and social development. This course will pay special attention to  the design of specific dams, highways, and urban areas and will place them in larger historical perspective by evaluating key locations before and after they were built or expanded. Hoover Dam, for instance, would provide a key case study in this class. Hoover Dam does more than hold water and generate electricity. It dramatically changed (and continues to change) the relationship that people had with technology, the surrounding area, and with each other. The closest urban area, Las Vegas, will also be evaluated when discussing Hoover Dam, but so too will Southern California. Special attention will also be paid to the engineering innovations that changed construction techniques used in large scale projects.


Selected readings from the following and other sources, including primary sources.: 

To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design by Henry Petroski (Mar 31, 1992)

Snyder, Logan Thomas. “The Creation of America’s Interstate Highway System.” American History 41, no. 2 (June 2006): 32–39.

Moudry, Roberta, ed. The American Skyscraper: Cultural Histories. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

McCullough, David G. The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Cooke, Amanda, and Avi Friedman. “Ahead of Their Time: The Sears Catalogue Prefabricated Houses.” Journal of Design History 14, no. 1 (January 1, 2001): 53–70. 


Midterm: 100 points

Paper: 50 points

Final exam: 100 points

Book Review: 25 points

Reading quizzes: 10 points each

AMS 315 • Mixed Race Identities

29820 • Chattopadhyay, Tupur
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 303
(also listed as AAS 310)
show description

FLAG: Cultural Diversity


What is “race,” and what does it mean to be “mixed”? How is mass media responsible for channeling fears, desires, and anxieties about “mixed” bodies? Why are “mixed race” bodies suddenly desirable and chic? Can one exist in two or more categories at the same time? How do people think of “mixedness” in the U.S., and how is it different in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Brazil? Why do people care so much? Why do categories matter? Isn’t everyone “mixed” somehow? Where do you fit in?

This course will give students the tools to critically respond to these questions via a comparative, historically situated study of the representation of "mixed-race" people in the United States. Major attention will be paid to special concerns for Asian American populations; it includes substantial attention to African American and Latino populations. Chiefly U.S.-centered, but with a large transnational comparative component analyzing “mixed” racial formation in: North America, Latin America, Caribbean, Brazil.

AMS 315 • Hist Of Religion In The US

29825 • Graber, Jennifer
Meets TTH 930am-1100am NOA 1.124
(also listed as HIS 317L, R S 316U)
show description
This class explores the history of religions in the United States with a focus on changing ideas about and experiences of religious freedom. We will look at colonial-era precedents for church-state relations and accommodations for religious minorities, as well as new formulations of these arrangements in the early American republic. We will track efforts to protect religious practices by groups including Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Nation of Islam, and evangelical Protestants.  



Sehat, The Myth of American Religious Freedom



Short papers and unit exams


AMS 315 • Amer Jews: The Yiddish Exp

29827 • Gottesman, Yitskhok (Itzik) N.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm GDC 2.402
(also listed as GSD 310, J S 311, R S 316K)
show description

American Jews: The Yiddish Experience

Writing FlagCultural Diversity Flag

 Course Description:

This course introduces students to the history and creativity of the Jewish immigrants who arrived in the United State from 1880 to 1925. These Yiddish speaking Jews from Eastern Europe became the largest segment of American Jewry and left an indelible stamp on the character of the nation. Their grandchildren and great-grandchildren continue to do so.

Using memoirs, films, novels, poetry, short stories and historical analysis the material will include: daily life on the Lower East Side, the  NY Yiddish theater; Jews in the Labor movement,  Jews in Hollywood, Jewish humor; Jewish American literature,  Jewish immigrants in the West and the South.

Required Textbooks: These books will be available for purchase at the University Coop.

  • My Future Is In America: Autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish Immigrants  Ed. Jocelyn Cohen
  • Jews Without Money Michael Gold
  • Bread Givers  novel by Anzia Yezierska
  • Yekl  novel by Abraham Cahan
  • A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York by Tony Michels
  • Tales of the Yiddish Rialto: Reminiscences of Playwrights and Players in New York's Jewish Theatre in the Early 1900's  by Lous Lipsky

Grading: Semester Grades will be determined as follows.

  1. 2 short papers (2-3 pages) , 2 long papers (7 – 9 pages)   55%
  2. In Class Participation and Attendance (30%) If you miss 5 or more classes you will drop one letter  grade.
  3. Oral presentations and reaction papers.  (15%)

Class Restrictions: Laptop use is forbidden unless you have prior approval from the professor in order to take notes on your computer. 

AMS 315F • Native American Lit And Cul

Meets TTH 930am-1100am JES A216A
(also listed as E 314V)
show description

E 314V  l  5-Native American Literature and Culture

Instructor:  Grewe, L

Unique #:  33930

Semester:  Spring 2016

Cross-lists:  AMS 315F

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: Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko (1977); Tracks, Louise Erdrich (1988).

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 (80% of the final grade).  There will also be short reading quizzes and two close reading exercises (20% of the final grade).

AMS 321 • Cultrl Heritage On Display

29835 • Seriff, Suzanne
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am SAC 4.118
(also listed as ANT 325L)
show description

This course is designed to take you behind the scenes in the public construction, negotiation, and display of “American culture” by focusing on a number of cultural heritage sites in the public sphere. In particular, the course will examine fairs, festivals, theme parks, history sites, and museum exhibitions as contested sites of heritage production in American history—focusing especially on those moments when defining and displaying an image of the “true American” becomes an active agent in the process of nation building and ideological construction. We will focus closely on the histories and agencies of specific “exhibitionary complexes,” paying close attention to what one critic calls ‘the problematic relationship of their objects to the instruments of their display.” (Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett). Each student will have the opportunity to participate directly in creating and/or critiquing a cultural heritage site (including its methods of production, documentation, and display). Students will have an opportunity to conduct original field research, plan, design and critique a mock exhibit, heritage site or theme park, and critically analyze an historic example of cultural heritage production.

AMS 321 • Race And Place

29840 • Thompson, Shirley E.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CMA 3.114
(also listed as AFR 372C, GRG 356T)
show description

When Harriet Tubman struck out for her own freedom and for that of countless others, she knew that her success depended on an intimate knowledge of the geographic boundaries of slave and free territory and the network of safe(r) spaces known as the Underground Railroad. When segregationists advocated for laws and policies that reinforced the color line, they spoke from an interest in “keeping blacks in their place.” When current day media executives attempt to market their programming to African American audiences they often frame them in terms of an “urban” market.  As these examples show, social constructions of race and status in the United States have always intersected with social constructions of place.

This course explores these intersecting themes of race and place by considering a range of topics beginning with the formulation of an exclusively white national space from the conquest of indigenous land and the transportation of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic. We will also consider various challenges to this white supremacist national logic, from the presence of the Haitian Republic to expressions of black nationalism, diasporic imaginings and exilic critique. We will discuss geographies of plantation slavery and Jim Crow segregation and black resistance to these geographies as individuals and groups such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Marcus Garvey, Anna Julia Cooper, Rosa Parks, and the Freedom Riders forced a reconfiguration of public and private space. We will focus on such iconic black urban and rural spaces such as Harlem, Chicago, New Orleans, the Sea Islands, and more to keep track of the varied and complex politics of race and belonging. This course will provide a theoretical foundation in critical race studies and cultural geography and it will engage a wide variety of media, including speeches, memoir, poetry, music, visual culture, performance culture, film, and television. 

AMS 321 • Race, Internet, & Soc Media

29850 • Nault, Curran
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm GAR 2.112
(also listed as AAS 320)
show description

FLAGS: Cultural Diversity and Writing


From its earliest incarnations, the Internet has been celebrated as a place where bodily concerns such as race “don’t matter.” A sizable body of research and recent popular online trends have since proven otherwise. This course gives students the vocabulary to critically articulate the relationships between Internet technologies and embodied cultural practices of use that affiliate around “race.” Topics range from early text-based Internet identity tourism to the phenomenon of Asian American YouTube stars to the cultural discourses of “Black Twitter.” The course adopts an intersectional politics and includes attention to gender as well as (dis)ability.


Lisa Nakamura, “Cybertypes”

Henry Jenkins, “Convergence Culture”

Radhika Gajjala, “South Asian Technospaces”

Madhavi Mallapragada, “Virtual Homelands”

Wendy Chun, “Orienting Orientalism”

Mizuko Ito, “Networked Publics”

Liz Ellcessor, “Bridging Disability Divides”

MiaMcKenzie, “Black Girl Dangerous”

Aymar Jean Christian, “The Web as Television Reimagined?”



Final Research Paper: 30%Online written reading responses: 20%Paper 1: 25%Quizzes: 15%Attendance: 5%Participation: 5%

AMS 321 • Women And Socl Mvmnts In US

29855 • Green, Laurie B.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm UTC 4.132
(also listed as AFR 372C, HIS 365G, WGS 340)
show description

This upper-division history course examines women’s participation in both well-known and lesser-known social movements during the twentieth century, more deeply than is possible in a U.S. history survey course. Throughout, we explore women’s activism in movements that specifically targeted women’s rights, such as the woman suffrage movement. However, we also consider women’s participation in movements that do not outwardly appear to be movements about women’s rights, such as the Civil Rights Movement.


In addition to exploring the scope and contours of women’s activism, the course will place particular emphasis on four key themes: 1) how cultural understandings of gender may have shaped these movements, 2) tensions between ideas of women’s rights that emphasized equality of the sexes and those that emphasized difference; 3) the question of whether you can write a universal history of women or need to write separate histories along lines such as race, class, region and/or sexual preference; 4) power relations not only between men and women but among women.


Course Evaluation

Attendance                                                                                  5%

On-time submission of assignments                          5%

5 Lecture/Reading quizzes                                               4% each (20% total)

5 In-class essays                                                                     10% each (50% total)

Final exam                                                                                    20%


Possible Required Readings

SHORT READINGS will be available on Canvas.


Crow Dog, Mary. Lakota Woman.  Reprint edition, Grove Press, 2011.

Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi. 1968; reprint edition, Delta, 2004.

Orleck, Annelise. Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965. University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Ruth Rosen. The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America. Revised edition. Penguin, 2006.

Marjorie Spruill Wheeler, One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Women’s Suffrage Movement. NewSage Press, 1995.

AMS 330 • Mdrnsm In Am Design & Arch

29870 • Meikle, Jeffrey L
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm ART 1.110
(also listed as URB 352)
show description

Upper-division standing required. Fulfills the core requirement for “Visual and Performing Arts”



This lecture course is intended to provide a broad knowledge of major issues in the history of American design and architecture from about 1880 to the present.  The central assumption of the course is that our environments both shape us and reflect what manner of people we are.  The term design is understood to include all elements of the built environment ranging from the smallest artifacts and products through buildings (whether vernacular or elite) to the shape of suburban and urban landscapes.  Students are encouraged to consider design in the context of social and cultural history.  Among topics to be considered are methods of cultural analysis of material artifacts; the rise, triumph, and fall of functionalism and the International Style; the emergence of uniquely American varieties of commercial design in a consumer society; the interactions of technology, economics, and design; the impact of the automobile on all levels of design; the rise of postmodern design and deconstructive architecture as counters to the modernist tradition; and design for the information age.  Among problems to be considered are tensions between tradition and novelty, between functional and expressive theories of design, between elite ideologies and popular desires, and between European and American design. 



Although lectures will be illustrated with slides, this is not an image memorization course.  Grades will be based on:

Two in-class exams (the first counting 15%; the second 25%)

5-7 page paper based on original observation (30%)

Final exam (30%).


Possible Texts

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Carma Gorman, The Industrial Design Reader

Jeffrey Meikle, Design in the USA

John Kasson, Amusing the Million

Karal Ann Marling, As Seen on TV

Michael Sorkin, Variations on a Theme Park

AMS 355 • Main Curr Of Amer Cul To 1865

29875 • Smith, Mark C.
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BUR 130
(also listed as HIS 355N)
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"Who is this new man, this American?" Hector St. John de Crevecoeur


In many ways, what we now call the United States began as a national entity as a blank slate.  As late as two hundred years ago, there was no conception of what it meant to be American.  Yet, within seventy-five years, this entity would fight its most bloody and vicious war ever over insistence upon this very identity.


This course traces the concept of the American identity in cultural terms from the time of first settlements up until the Civil War.  We will study not politics per se but political ideas and institutions as well as such subjects as religion, work, gender roles, race, painting, literature, philosophy, the law, and social reform.  Throughout the course and especially in the assigned reading the emphasis will be upon the interaction of the lives of ordinary people including women, Native Americans, ethnic immigrants, and African Americans and the newly developing ideas and institutions that helped create this new American identity.  The books, indeed, will all be about very specific ordinary people—except for the very extraordinary Frederick Douglass—and the impact of a rapidly changing society upon their lives.



There will three exams with the first counting slightly less than the final two.  Both will consist of identification and essay questions.


Possible Texts

William Cronon Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England

James Horn A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America

Alfred Young, The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution

Laurel Taylor Ulrich A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary,1785-1812

Carol Sheriff, The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress

Paul Johnson, Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper

Frederick Douglass, A Narrative of the Life of

AMS 356 • Main Curr Amer Cul Since 1865

29880 • Davis, Janet M.
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm BUR 136
(also listed as HIS 356K)
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This interdisciplinary survey explores various cultural and social transformations in  American society from the post-Civil War era to the present.  Broadly construed, this course will examine the relationship between culture, technology, industrialization, urbanization, and American identity (using race, gender and class as ways to analyze America’s multicultural society)  over the last century and a half.  After a brief,  introductory exploration of the enormous social,  cultural and economic changes wrought by the Civil War—the bloodiest conflagration in American history—we  will study  the cultural landscape of a rapidly industrializing society in which roaring locomotives created a new sense of time and national identity .  Our journey will take us from the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad to the moon landing and internet.  Along the way, we will also consider the rise of the consumer society, the birth of mass culture, immigration, overseas expansion, modernism, feminism, regionalism, the new leisure culture, and the enduring mythology of the self-made man/woman.  Our examination of American culture is interdisciplinary and broadly defined to include fine arts, sports, music, literature, popular culture, architecture, anthropology, social thought, the built environment and  material culture. Ultimately, our goal is to investigate and evaluate how multiple  Americans—from presidents to the dispossessed—have made sense of explosive social transformations through cultural forms.



Class format:  This is primarily a lecture course, but I will always leave some time available during each class for discussion.

Requirements:   Regular attendance, completion of all reading assignments, three in-class ID (short answer) exams, and two take-home essay exams, one of which will be cumulative. 


Possible Reading List (Please Note: This will likely change):


Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick

Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery

Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt

Studs Terkel, Hard Times (selected portions)

Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken

Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic

AMS 370 • History & Future Of Higher Ed

29884 • Mickenberg, Julia
Meets W 1200pm-300pm PCL 2.500
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There has been a great deal of attention focused on higher education in recent years: why is college so expensive? What’s the point of college anyway? Should taxpayers support the pursuit of “intellectual curiosity?” As texts and learning itself become increasingly digitized, will actual classrooms and libraries become relics of the past? Are universities hotbeds of racism, drunkenness, and sexual assault? Or are they, on the other hand, plagued by political correctness and hotbeds of protest? What is the role of colleges and universities in struggles for social justice? And perhaps the biggest question of all: how can colleges and universities best prepare young people—indeed, all kinds of people—for  the future? The fact is that most of these questions can be traced to debates and circumstances that have been part of the higher education landscape for years. This experimental and experiential course examines the university in American life, past and present, as a means for imagining its possible futures.


Over the past year or so, faculty and administrators from around the university have been engaged in discussions about how we might best break down barriers at UT: barriers between research and teaching; between disciplines and colleges; between faculty, students, and the wider community. This course is a prototype for the type of research-based learning community that we hope to foster through a new Innovation Center on campus. Cross-listed in the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts, and working in collaboration with another course in the Department of Design, the class will include undergraduates and graduate students from a range of different disciplines. The intent is to involve students in original, collaborative research on the role of colleges and universities in American life, past and present. It will also bring students into dialogue with other members of the university community and beyond through guest speakers, symposia, and a culminating conference during which class members will present their research to the public. Students will be active players in all aspects of the course.



Likely course texts:

Andrew Delbanco, College: What it Is, Was, and Should Be

Zadie Smith, On Beauty

Boren, M.E. (2001). Student resistance: A history of the unruly subject.

Lucas, C.J. (2006). American higher education: A history (2nd ed .)

Additional readings as assigned



Active participation

Two short papers

Research paper

Reading/research diary

Public presentation

AMS 370 • Queer Study In Low Culture

29890 • Gutterman, Lauren
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm BUR 436A
(also listed as WGS 335)
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Why and how have representations of sexual and gender non-conformity repeatedly emerged in cultural forms often considered “unsophisticated” or merely “trash”? What economic, racial, and sexual meanings are embedded in such cultural valuations? From cheap paperback novels and TV talk shows, to tabloid magazines and drag performances, “low” culture has served a vital role in transforming Americans’ sexual norms and values and bringing queer communities together since the middle of the twentieth century. In this class we will not only read scholarship in queer theory, LGBTQ studies, and the history of sexuality, we will also watch queer cult films and analyze lesbian pulp novels for ourselves. Together we will explore both the transformative potential and the inherent political limitations of these “guilty” pleasures.

AMS 370 • Race, Law, And US Society

29895 • Thompson, Shirley E.
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm CMA 3.114
(also listed as AFR 372F, HIS 365G)
show description

This seminar examines the intersection of racial ideology and legal culture in the United States. We will take a broad historical approach that spans the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but we will also survey a range of contemporary sites where racial discourses permeate American law and conceptions of the rights and responsibilities of citizens. The legal construction of race in America is inextricably bound up with the development and dissolution of the institution of race-based slavery. Therefore, a consideration of laws concerning slavery, segregation, and desegregation will form the backbone of the course. We will pay special attention to Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857); Plessy v. Ferguson (1896); and Brown v. Board of Education (1954), cases that span a crucial century. By considering the long trajectories of race, law, and social transformation, we will begin to see how racial reasoning has informed many aspects of U.S. legal culture for a wide range of ethnic and social groups and how race has influenced the development of property law, family law, immigration law, and civil rights law.

This course will embrace interdisciplinary methods: we will put court cases in conversation with literature, film, social scientific writings, music, and other pertinent material. The goals of this course include 1. exploring the social and legal construction of race at various moments in American history; 2. understanding the intersection of race, gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and other markers of identity; 3. examining the interpenetration of law and popular cultural forms; and 4. determining how race has informed American conceptions of a wide variety of issues, such as privacy, property, citizenship, national security, and sovereignty.

AMS 370 • The Beats/Amer Cul, 1945-90

29905 • Meikle, Jeffrey L
Meets W 630pm-930pm BUR 436A
show description


Historians and literary critics have long debated the significance—both literary and cultural—of such "Beat Generation" writers as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs.  This seminar will engage that debate by examining some "classics" of Beat writing and tracing their impact on popular art and culture from the 1960s through the 1980s.  First we will assess several key Beat texts both as literary works and as documents of social and cultural history from the 1940s through the early 1960s.  Then, using an interdisciplinary approach, we will ask whether a Beat aesthetic spread from literature to other areas of cultural production.  Finally, we will examine survivals, influences, and appropriations of Beat or neo-Beat modes of expression in popular arts from the 1960s through the 1990s, including but not limited to literature, art, music, film, photography, and comics.  This course has a significant writing component, including a final paper on a single Beat or neo-Beat figure or phenomenon.  In a sense, the course is an exploration of alternative cultures during the last half of the twentieth century.



The instructor will present a brief historical overview of the period and offer a series of themes for discussion but for the most part will serve as a moderator of discussion.  Students are encouraged to act as cultural observers and critics.


Because a successful seminar depends on lively, informed discussions, students are expected to complete assigned readings, to attend regularly, and to participate actively in class.  Written work includes four 2-page essays (10% of final grade each), a final project of at least 10 pages (30%), and a take-home final exam (15%).  Each student will be responsible for a short oral report and frequent class participation (15%).  Evaluation will be based on originality and clarity of thought and expression, both written and oral.


Possible Texts

This course requires considerable reading, probably about ten books and a packet of articles.  If that worries you, then the course may not be for you.  Students may also be asked to view several films and listen to music outside of class.  Assigned texts will include works like the following:


Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Allen Ginsberg, Howl

Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

William Burroughs, Naked Lunch

Joyce Johnson, Minor Characters

Hettie Jones, How I Became Hettie Jones

Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Allen Ginsberg, The Fall of America

Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Gary Snyder, Turtle Island

Thomas Pynchon, Vineland

Kathy Acker, Essential Acker

Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1

Mac Montandon, ed., The Tom Waits Reader

AMS 370 • American Food

29909 • Bendele, Marvin
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm BUR 436A
show description

Food is more than sustenance; the foods we eat can also tell us a great deal about the culture and history of groups and individuals throughout our history. This course will investigate American culture and history through food production and consumption with a primary focus on American identities across time and space. We will consider specific food traditions and practices and the ways they are used to perform or signify race, ethnicity, gender, and class, as well as denote political, religious, and regional backgrounds or affiliations. The study of food and foodways can help us to understand our interpersonal and regional connections as well as the ways our food choices both reflect and influence developments in the food industry and American popular culture. We will cover wide-ranging topics including food and mobility, gender roles, immigration, food safety, labor, barbecue and race, food spaces, food ethics, technology, and industrialization among many other topics. The primary goal of the course is to illustrate the significant ways that the simple act of eating influences and is influenced by our local cultures and histories.        


Possible Texts:

Kathleen Leonard Turner, How the Other Half Ate: A History of Working Class Meals at the Turn of the Century

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation

Laura Shapiro, Perfection Salad

Mark Kurlansky, The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell

Michael Pollen, The Omnivore's Dilemma

James McWilliams, Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly 


Assignments (include % of grade):

20% - Response Papers / Quizzes

20% - Midterm Exam

20% - Final Exam

40% - Research Paper / Project    


AMS 370 • The Politics Of Creativity

29915 • Lewis, Randolph
Meets MW 300pm-430pm BUR 436A
show description


This course is an interdisciplinary investigation of artists in American society, including (but not limited to) Richard Pryor, Banksy, Jimi Hendrix, the Yes Men, Kara Walker, Michael Moore, Dorothea Lange, Anna Deveare Smith, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Spike Lee, David Lynch, and anonymous street artists. In addition to studying individual photographers, musicians, writers, comedians, architects, and filmmakers who have made powerful statements about American culture and its history, we will be looking at the changing function of art in our society in recent decades. Our fundamental questions will often explore the intersection of art and politics: How have American artists conceptualized the United States visually, aurally, and in literature? How have they envisioned American identities? What mythologies about the United States they endorsed or defied? The course will investigate these and other questions about the roles that artists have played in our recent cultural history.



Class participation and weekly journals:    30%    

Presentation:      20%

5-7 page paper:                   20%

10-12 page research paper:          30%


Possible Texts

Octavia Butler, Kindred

Richard Ross, The Architecture of Authority

Dave Eggers, The Circle

Andrew Boyd, Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution  

Richard Zoglin, Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America

HD Thoreau, Walden

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.

Molly Haskell, Frankly, My Dear: “Gone With the Wind” Revisited

Anna Deveare Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles

David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross

Bart Beaty, David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence

Ed Guererro, Do The Right Thing