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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Irene Garza

Assistant Instructor PhD

Doctoral Student



B.A. American Studies and Ethnicity, Race, & Migration, Yale University
M.A. American Studies, The University of Texas at Austin

Recipient of Ford Foundation Fellowship and the University of Texas at Austin Powers Graduate Fellowship, 2012-2013


Latina/o Studies, Borderland studies, Militarism, War & U.S. empire, Transnationalism, Critical Race Theory, 20th century immigration and migration, comparative raccial and ethnic history of the U.S.

AMS 311S • America's Army

30830 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm BUR 228
(also listed as WGS 301 )
show description

Since the advent of U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) over a decade ago, an expansive set of cultural texts depicting the U.S. Armed Forces and more broadly, the U.S. Global War on Terror (GWoT) have circulated throughout American social life. These sites of cultural production include: video games like “Call of Duty” and “America’s Army”, best-selling novels including Sebastian Junger’s War, Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds, or Ben Fountain’s Billy Flynn’s Long Half-time Walk, television programs Generation Kill (HBO), Coming Home (Lifetime), Army Wives (ABC), films such as Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Stop Loss (2008), The Messenger (2009) The Hurt Locker (2008), and advertising campaigns like Anheuser-Busch’s “Here’s to the Heroes” program amongst many others.

This course considers how popular representations of the U.S. military, particularly those centering on the figure of the American soldier, can offer productive ways of examining and analyzing contemporary formations of citizenship, national identity, social relations of power, and U.S. global empire. One of our central aims will be to understand how the Armed Forces, though a distinct political and cultural institution in its own right, also serves as a microcosm for American life/culture as shaped by and experienced through classifications of race, class, gender, sexuality, health, and legal status. Topics of study will include: PTSD/ veterans disability rights, enlistment by non-citizen soldiers, race relations/multiculturalism, controversy over women in combat, military sexual trauma (MST), the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the militarization of gratitude (ie “Support the Troops” initiatives), and the civilian labor market’s relationship to evolving recruitment practices. 

This interdisciplinary course will approach the topic from a variety of perspectives, including history, memoir, fashion, art, film, advertising, sporting events, comic books, music, and war memorials/photography.



Attendance and Participation      20%

(2) Reading Responses             10%each

Class Presentation                   20%

Film Report                           15%

Research Paper                       25%


Possible Texts

Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War

Judith Butler, Frames of War: When is Life Grievable?

Ken MacLeish, Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community

Camilo Mejía, Road from Al-Ramadi 

Roger Stahl, Militainment, Inc.: War, Media, and Popular Culture

Kayla Williams, Love my Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S.


Flag(s): Writing


AMS F310 • Intro To American Studies

81825 • Summer 2012
Meets MTWTHF 1130am-100pm BUR 130
(also listed as HIS F315G )
show description

This class introduces students to the field of American Studies. Using a thematic of “war”, we will examine how American culture has been shaped by war and war preparation. Moving chronologically through five distinct time periods, this course will ask students to consider how war shapes practices of labor, leisure, public policy, and most importantly, how these practices are represented in popular culture. This interdisciplinary course will approach the topic from a variety of perspectives and methodological tools, including history, memoir, art, literature, film, music, and fashion.

We will pay special attention to the role of race, class, gender, and sexuality as they have alternately been influenced by war and in turn, contoured U.S. identity and national subject formation. A central frame for our inquiries will be to examine how issues of symbolic and juridical citizenship are alternately created, challenged, transformed, and delineated via war. Key theoretical and methodological questions include: how do the practices associated with warfare shape understandings of citizenship? In what ways does war redefine geopolitical boundaries and notions of “inclusion and exclusion”? What national mythologies and/or ideologies are mobilized to legitimate war and war preparation?  What are the colonial and imperial legacies of war wrought by the U.S.? How have Americans and ‘non’ Americans alike responded to war culturally? How is war represented in different contexts and by differentially positioned subjects?



Attendance and Participation                  20%

Film Review                                          10%

Midterm Exam                                      30%

Final Exam                                           40%


Possible Texts

Amy Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture

Jill Lepore, In the Name of War: King Philips War and the Origins of American

Adriene Lyn Smith, Freedom Struggles: African-Americans in the First World War

Course Reader


Partially fulfills legislative requirement in American History.

Flag(s): Cultural Diversity

AMS 315 • Ethncty & Gender: La Chicana

29557 • Fall 2010
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm PAR 201
(also listed as MAS 319, MAS 319, SOC 308D, WGS 301 )
show description

MAS 319/WGS 301/ SOC308 - Title Ethnicity & Gender: La Chicana

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to examine the various experiences, perspectives, and expressions of Chicanas in the United States. This involves examining the meaning and history of the term, "Chicana" as it was applied to and incorporated by Mexican American women during the Chicano Movement in areas of the Southwest U.S., such as Texas and California. We will also explore what it means to be Chicana in the United States today. The course will begin with a historical overview of Mexican American women's experiences in the U.S., including the emergence of Chicana feminism. We will discuss central concepts of Chicana feminism and attempt to understand how those concepts link to everyday lived experiences. 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 Chicanas, such as: family, gender, sexuality, religion/spirituality, education, language, labor, and political engagement. We will be engaging in interdisciplinary analysis not only concerning cultural traditions, values, belief systems, and symbols but also in relation to the expressive culture of Chicanas, including folk and religious practices, literature and poetry, the visual arts, and music. Finally, we will examine media representations of Chicanas through critical analyses of film and television portrayals.

AMS 315 • Intro To Asian Amer Studies

29910 • Fall 2009
Meets MWF 900-1000 JES A203A
(also listed as AAS 301 )
show description

AAS 301/AMS 315 :: Introduction to Asian American Studies

Course Description
This interdisciplinary course is designed to introduce students to key cultural moments in the history of Asian and Asian-Americans in the U.S. Using a transnational framework, students will be asked to think critically about patterns of immigration, citizenship, racial formation, and gender/sexuality as they operate in Asian-American communities. By examining historical, literary, and popular cultural texts, we can move into an interrogation of sites of cultural negotiation for Asian-Americans. In identifying and engaging with these patterns, we can conceptualize how the field of Asian-American studies enables an understanding as well as a problematizing of issues facing the Asian-American community: globalism, legacies of colonialism and warfare, assimilation, stereotypes and other popular representations, socio-economic struggles for justice, etc.  Moreover, students will be asked to think how the field of Asian-American studies enters into the debate with other communities of color along axes of race, ethnicity, and migration. What are major sites of commonality, as well as points of departure unique to those that claim ethnic Asian identity in the U.S.?


Attendance & Participation (20%): Please note that your attendance at lecture and participation including completion of reading assignments/ essays in a timely manner is expected.

Mid-Term Exam (15%) The mid-term exam will consist of ID’s, two short essay prompts, and one long essay covering the first half of the semester’s material. Material will be drawn both from readings and lectures. Students will need to furnish their own blue books for both the midterm and the final.

2 Reading Responses (10% EACH)  By the end of the semester, students will have needed to submit two reading responses. The students may decide on a topic of their choosing, but the primary objective is that they engage with one major text from a particular week. What themes, methodologies, or points does the author underscore? Each response should be no more than one page long, with 1” margins in 12 pt. font.

Short Essay (15%) The struggle over representation is a major theme of this course. Students are asked to choose a representation (ie a celebrity personality, film character, protagonist from a novel, musician, artist, etc, etc) and write a short essay about the negotiation of representation. Does the subject negate, challenge, subvert, or re-confirm particular cultural representations? This essay should be no more than 3-5 pgs.

Final Exam (30%): The final exam will consist of ID’s, ONE short essay prompt, and TWO long essays; it will encompass course themes from the entire semester, but will focus more exclusively on material covered after the mid-term. It will draw from lectures and reading.

Required Texts:
Sucheng Chan, Asian Americans: An Interpretive History    
Vicki Nam, Yell-oh! Girls: Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian  American
Ronald Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian-Americans
Don Nakanishi & Russell Leong, ed. Asian Americans on War & Peace    

Coursepackets (CP) are available at Jenn’s Copies on Guadalupe Street.

Suggested Texts:
Helen Zia, Asian-American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People    

Course Schedule:

Week 1:    Who are Asian-Americans?/ Establishing the Field of Asian-American Studies
W/8-26:   Overview: Course Objectives, Expectations, and Requirements
         Class Exercise: Why are students taking this course? Brief Bios…

F/8-28:     “Immigration, Citizenship, Racialization: Asian American Critique: from Lisa Lowe,     
           Immigrant Acts: On Asian-American Cultural Politics (handout in class)
Week 2:   On Asians in America—Early Histories of Migration
M/8-31:    In Class Film: Ancestors in the Americas

W/9-2:     Chang, Preface; Ch. 1: The International Context of Asian Immigration; Ch. 2:           
         Immigration and Livelihood, 1840’s-1930’s  

F/9-4:       Takaki, Ch. 1 “From a Different Shore: The History Bursts with Telling”; Ch. 3.     
         “Gam Saan Haak: The Chinese in the Nineteenth-Century U.S.”; Ch. 4 “Raising Cane”
Week 3:   Origins of the “Yellow Peril”
M/9-7:    No Class—Labor Day Holiday

W/ 9-9     Samuel Gompers, “Meat Versus Rice”; Robert G. Lee, “The Coolie and the
          Making of the White Working-Class” (CP)

F/ 9-11:    Nayan Shah, “Perversity, Contamination, and the Dangers of Queer Domesticity”(CP);        
        Sui Sin Far, “The Story of One White Woman Who Married a Chinese” (BB)

Week 4:  The Boundaries of Citizenship & Race
M/9- 14   Ian F. Haney Lopez, “The Prerequisite Cases”; “Ozawa & Thind (CP)

W/9-16    (BB) Mae Ngai,“Introduction/Illegal Aliens: A Problem of Law & History”

F/9-18        (BB) Karen Leonard, “Making Ethnic Choices: California’s Punjabi Mexican-Americans”

Week 5:   Fu Manchu, Dragon Ladies, and the Role of Cinema
M/9-21    No  Reading

W/9-23    In Class Film: The Slanted Screen

F/9-25         NO CLASS

Week 6:   Imperialist Desires
M/9-28:   Ngai, “From Colonial Subject to Undesirable Alien, Filipino Migration and the
         Invisible Empire” (BB)

W/9-30:   Takaki, “Dollar a Day, Dime a Dance: The Forgotten Filipinos” p. 315-340
         In Class Film:  Dollar A Day, Dime a Dance

F/10-2:     Carlos Bulosan, America is in the Heart (BB)

Week 7:    WWII and the Politics of Exclusion
M/10-5:    John W. Dower, “Patterns of a Race War; Ch.7: Yellow, Red, & Black Men” (CP);
         excerpt from “Farewell to Manzanar” (BB)

W/10-7:   Takaki, Ch. 10 “The Watershed of WWII” (pp. 357-405);
        In Class Film: Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story

F/10-9:     MIDTERM

Week 8:   Cold War Orientalism  
M/10-12    Lee, “The Cold War Origins of the Model Minority Myth” (CP)

W/10-14    No Reading

F/10-16     No Reading
**READING RESPONSE 1 DUE (if not already submitted)

Week 9:     Viet Nam and the New Immigration post-1965
M/10-19     Takaki, “Strangers at the Gates Again” pp.406-471; select excerpts “Monkey Bridge” (BB)

 W/10-21    In Class Film: “Aka Don Bonus”
 F/10-23     Aihwa Ong, Buddha is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, & the New America : Intro; “Guns, Gangs,                       and Doughnut Kings” (BB)

Week 10:    From Yellow Peril to Yellow Power: Ethnic Nationalism & Anti-Colonial Struggles
M/10-26    (BB) Amy Uyematsu, “The Emergence of Yellow Power in America”

 W/10-28    (BB) Glenn Omatsu, “The Four Prisons and the Movements of Liberation: Asian American             Activism from the 1960’s”

F/ 10-30:    YELL-Oh Girls! Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian       
           American (TBD in class)

Week 11:  Mediations on Gender & Sexuality
M/11-2     Yen Le Espiritu, “Asian American Women and Men” (CP); King-Kok Cheung, The Woman
Warrior versus the Chinaman Pacific: Must a Chinese American Critic Choose  Between Feminism and Heroism? (BB)

W/11-4     YELL-Oh Girls! Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian       
American (TBD in class); Making Waves: An Anthology of Writings by and about Asian-American                  
Women (BB)

F/11-6       NO CLASS

Week 12:  The Advent of the Model Minority
M/11-9    (CP)  TIME, “Those Asian-American Whiz Kids” (August 31, 1987); Mia Tuan, Forever                    Foreigners or Honorary Whites?: The Asian Ethnic Experience Today (BB)

W/11-11   Zia, “Detroit Blues: Because of You Motherfuckers” (CP)
         In class film: Who Killed Vincent Chin?

F/11-13    Zia, “For Richer, Or Poorer; Deborah Misir, "The Murder of Navroze Mody: Race, Violence,                  and the Search for Order" (CP)

Week 13:   Community, Race, and Oppositional Voices
11/16      “Not Asian, Black, or White? Reflections on South Asian American Racial Identity” (CP);
     Sunaina Mair, “Indo Chic: Late Capitalist Orientalism and Imperial Culture” (CP)
11/18        Rachel Rubin “Cyberspace, Y2K: Giant Robots, Asian Punks” (BB); Oliver Wang, “Rapping
     and Repping Asian: Race, Authenticity, and the Asian American MC(BB)
11/20        Zia, “To Market, To Market New York Style” (CP)
     In Class Film: Sai-I-Gu

Week 14:  Global Re-Ordering and the War on Terror
11/23    Asian Americans on War & Peace , ed. by Russell C. Leong and Don T. Nakanishi; Part I, “Worlds
 of Crisis”


11/30    Asian Americans on War & Peace, Part II “Civil Liberties and Internment”

12/2     Asian Americans on War & Peace, Part III “Geopolitics”


12/12   FINAL EXAM



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