Academics

Course Catalog

UGRD > AMST

American Studies

  • AMST 100  American Identities

    Description:
    "What is an American?" The subject of this course is how the diverse identities of North Americans are constructed, defined, and explained. Through a variety of resources-including historical sources, material artifacts, fiction, poetry, film, and music explore individual, family, community, ethnic, class, gender, and racial identities in relation to regional, national, and transnational identities. Students who take this course cannot enroll in AMST G110.   More Info

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  • AMST 101  Popular Culture in America

    Description:
    This course introduces students to the varieties of popular culture in America, including popular literature, live entertainment, radio, movies, and television. In-depth case studies of such particular forms of popular culture as humor and music are included. In class viewing and listening accompany case studies.   More Info

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  • AMST 110G  US Society and Culture since 1945

    Description:
    The course focuses on three broad themes: work, family, and (im)migration, using all three to explore the diversity of American experience with regard to race, class, gender, and ethnicity (culture). This course may count toward the American studies major. Please note: Students may receive credit either for this course or for AMST 100 (American Identities), but not for both.   More Info

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  • AMST 200  Special Topics

    Description:
    Various specialized topics are offered once or twice under this heading. Topics change from year to year and are announced before the beginning of each semester.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 201  Latinos in the US

    Description:
    This course seeks to examine the development of people of Hispanic descent, and to understand how this history intersects important junctures in US history. The course explores such topics as the formation of Latino groups; emigration, migration, and settlement; the impact of Latinos on US culture; and the development of pan-ethnic identities.   More Info

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  • AMST 203  The Thirties

    Description:
    A study of American society and culture during the years from the Panic of 1929 to the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 using several kinds of evidence: the accounts of people who lived during the decade, the interpretations of historians, and the representations of artists, writers, and filmmakers. The objective of the course is to develop an idea of the main characteristics of American society and culture during the 1930s, a conception of the decade's significance, and an increased understanding of the processes of historical and cultural analysis and interpretation.   More Info

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  • AMST 204  The Forties

    Description:
    A study of the history and culture of the 1940s. The course focuses on the social, political, and scientific effects of World War II, rather than on the conduct of the war itself.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 205  The Fifties

    Description:
    This course covers the period from the end of World War II in 1945 to President John F Kennedy's inauguration in 1961, focusing on the social, political, economic, and cultural trends of the era. Topics include the Cold War, the atomic age, McCarthyism, the early civil rights movements, the Fifties family, rock 'n' roll, the Golden Age of television, automobile culture and the growth of the suburbs, and the Beat movement.   More Info

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  • AMST 206  The Sixties

    Description:
    The course focuses on protest and the role of youth. Who protested and why? Was the phenomenon of the sixties an aberration or part of a larger radical tradition in America? What was the impact on the seventies? Readings are drawn from the works of participants in the student, black, feminist and peace protest movements, from the intellectuals who defended and attacked them, and from the growing body of retrospective, analytic, and historical literature which attempts to explain what really happened in that tumultuous decade.   More Info

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  • AMST 209  The 1990s

    Description:
    This course studies American culture, society, politics, and social thought in the 1990s. From a stirrings of globalization to the fall of the Communist bloc; from the protests in Seattle to the overthrowing of apartheid in South Africa; from the racial uprisings in Los Angeles to the inertia of Generation X's couch-surfing slackers; the 1990s were a decade marked by accelerating social, cultural, and political change, recorded by an increasingly omnipresent media. This course will study the decade in all its chaotic contradictions and inspiring innovation, particularly focusing on global contexts, generational shifts, emerging identities, and social upheaval.   More Info

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  • AMST 210  American Society and Culture, 1600-1860

    Description:
    Documents, diaries, letters, essays, fiction, and art, along with secondary historical and anthropological sources, are used to compare the dreams and realities of men's and women's lives in America from the first contact between European explorers and Native Americans up through the Age of Reform (1830-60). Topics include visions of landscape and nature; contrasting cultures of Indians and Anglo-Americans; family and "women's place"; slavery; working class organization; and women's rights.   More Info

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  • AMST 211  U.S. Society and Culture, 1860-1940

    Description:
    This course traces the dreams and realities of mens and womens lives in the United States from the Civil War through the Great Depression. Topics include the Westward Movement, the Second Industrial Revolution, immigrants and the city, World War I, the great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance, and the emergence of a consumer society in the 1920s. Among the materials analyzed in this course are primary sources such as photographs and paintings, film, short stories and poetry, letters and diaries, and public documents, as well as secondary-source analyses of specific themes and issues presented in scholarly historical essays.   More Info

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  • AMST 212G  The US in the Eighties

    Description:
    This course examines the politics and experiences of President Reagan's "morning in America," including family life, work, and organized labor; changes in the pattern of wealth and poverty; the enlargement of the role of the media in culture and politics; and US interventions in Central America and elsewhere. The course may be counted toward the American studies major or minor. Capabilities addressed: Critical reading, critical thinking, clear writing, academic self assessment, collaborative learning, information technology.   More Info

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  • AMST 215  America on Film

    Description:
    This course focuses on the flowering of American cinema through decades of social, political, and cultural change. It examines both classic representations of "The American Experience" and films which challenge such classic representations. The relations between film and other arts, and between film, history, and ideology, are an ongoing concern.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 223L  Asians in the United States

    Description:
    This multidisciplinary course examines the social, historical, and structural contexts defining the Asian American experience from 1850 to the present. Topics include immigration, labor, community settlement, ethnicity, stereotypes, and race relations. AMST 223L and ASAMST 223L and SOCIOL 223L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 225L  Southeast Asians in the United States

    Description:
    This course examines issues arising from the resettlement of one million Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugees in the US since 1975. Topics include resettlement policies, adjustment and acculturation, changing roles of women and family, and the continuing impact of international politics. Media presentations and lectures by local Southeast Asian community leaders highlight the course. AMST 225L and ASAMST 225L and SOCIOL 225L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 228L  Asian Women in the United States

    Description:
    Drawing on women's voices in literature, sociocultural research, and historical analysis, this course examines the experience of Asian women in the United States from 1850 to the present. Topics include the transformation of Asian women's traditional roles as part of the acculturation process; exclusion; changing roles within the Asian American family; resistance to oppression as defined by race, gender, class; and the continuing impact of international politics. AMST 228L and ASAMST 228L and SOCIOL 228L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 235  The Social History of Popular Music

    Description:
    This course analyzes the social forces, technological advances, and multicultural influences that have contributed to the development of US popular music, including Tin Pan Alley pop, blues, country, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, rock, soul, punk, disco, rap, and heavy metal. Popular music is treated as commercial mass culture and discussed as a social indicator. Extensive use is made of audio and video recordings.   More Info

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  • AMST 240G  War in American Culture

    Description:
    The course examines American cultural productions (essays, novels, poems, films) centered on the nation's wars, focusing on the "American Way of War"; images of the soldier/veteran; and images of the enemy. Material is analyzed through the perspective of the Idealist, the Jingoist and the Dissenting-perspectives found in cultural artifacts dealing with America's wars. Counts toward the major in American studies. Capabilities addressed: Critical reading, critical thinking, clear writing.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 246L  U.S. Environmental History

    Description:
    Since human beings first arrived in the land that we know today as the United States, they have altered its landscape, natural resources and ecosystems and have in turn had their actions and values changed by these elements. The course explores these interactions from the time of the earliest Native American settlers to todays multicultural societyfrom problems that were primarily related to land use and food resources to such complex contemporary issues as air and water pollution, resource scarcity, species extinction, and global warming. Central to the course is the question of whether understanding the historical roots of environmental problems helps to identify possible solutions. AMST 246L and ENVSTY 246L are the same course.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 250  U.S. Travel and Tourism

    Description:
    Tourism is the worlds largest industry. We encounter tourists on Bostons Freedom Trail, Harvard Square in Cambridge and on Cape Cod. In turn, we ourselves are tourists as we travel to Washington D.C., Disneyworld, and beyond. The tourist experience shapes our understanding of the past, our perceptions of ourselves and others, and our notions of the authentic and the exotic. Tourist encounters often place inequalities based upon class, race and ethnicity in sharp relief. Using history, anthropology, and cultural studies, this course explores the nature of tourism and how it affects and reflects U.S. culture.   More Info

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  • AMST 260L  African-American Folklore

    Description:
    This course examines the development and the significance of African-American folklore through study of its various genres: music, tales, legends, shorter verbal forms, material culture, folk belief, and folk humor. Emphasis is given to both African survivals and Indo-European influences in these genres. AFRSTY 260L and AMST 260L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 268L  The Italian-American Experience

    Description:
    This course examines the cultural history of Italian-American communities from the early Twentieth century to present. The course will explore representations of Italian-Americans in literature,film and popular culture. Taught in English, no previous knowledge of Italian is required.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 270L  Native Peoples of North America

    Description:
    An introductory survey of Native American societies and cultures. Emphasis is given to the descriptive comparison of selected Native American societies, on their histories, and on problems in cross-cultural understanding. The course focuses on pre-twentieth century cultures and history. AMST 270L and ANTH 270L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 278L  U.S. Documentary Photography

    Description:
    This course examines U.S. documentary photographs as constructions of the past that articulate the social and political assumptions of their times. We will assess the impact of these photographs on their contemporary audiences and how they have shaped Americans' collective memories of such events as the conquest of the West, mass immigration, the Great Depression, and 9/11. AMST 278L and ART 278L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 285  Food in American Culture

    Description:
    This course examines the cultural history and meanings of "American" foodways at home and abroad from the colonial period to the present. It considers how nation, region, gender, ethnicity, race, religion, global politics, and corporate America affect food production and consumption. It explores how the histories of immigration, industrialization, suburbanization, and globalization have transformed what, how, where, and why Americans eat, as well as how American food is perceived throughout the world.   More Info

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  • AMST 301L  Childhood in America

    Description:
    An interdisciplinary treatment of conceptions and practices of child nature and nurture in the United States, viewed in the context of American culture and history. The course begins with an historical overview of child life in America, with special attention to Puritan New England, nineteenth century industrialization and urbanization, and twentieth century trends. In treating contemporary childhood, the course examines mainstream patterns of the middle and working classes, both rural and urban; African-American child and family life; Hispano-American child and family life; enculturation among selected American Indian groups; the importance of gender as a variable in childhood experience; and the growing importance of formal institutions-such as schools, youth organizations, and medical institutions-as environments for young people. Children's own cultural constructions, in the form of games and folklore, are also considered. The course concludes with an examination of selected policy issues affecting children, such as child abuse, medical intervention, day care, and the Children's Rights Movement. AMST 301L and ANTH 301L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 310  Television in American Life

    Description:
    The American experience with television and its cultural, political, and economic implications. Topics include technological innovation, entrepreneurship, the changing cultural content of "prime-time" programming, and public broadcasting cable system capabilities. (Offered only in the summer session.)   More Info

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  • AMST 311L  American Oral History

    Description:
    This course explores oral history interviewing, texts, and films, within the context of efforts to create a fully representative social and cultural history of the US. Students design individual or group oral history projects, to capture the experiences and perspectives of people formerly regarded as "unhistorical"-in particular, women, working class people, immigrants, people of color, and gays and lesbians. (Satisfies the research requirement for women's studies majors.) AMST 311L and WOST 311L are the same course.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 312  The United States & the Middle East since 1945

    Description:
    This course seeks to elucidate the current crises in the Middle East in terms of their root in policies pursued by the United States after World War II and by analyzing public attitudes toward the region embedded in religious and popular culture.   More Info

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  • AMST 325L  Sexual Identities in American Culture

    Description:
    This course studies the history of sexual identities in the twentieth-century United States, with a particular emphasis upon the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identities, through the study of cultural texts such as novels, songs, films, and poems. Topics covered in the course include homosexuality in the turn-of-the-century United States, sex in the Harlem Renaissance, sexual politics in the Depression years, purges of gay women and men in federal employment during the cold war and sexual liberation in the 1960s and 1970s. AMST 325L and WOST 325L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 335  Music And Politics

    Description:
    This course treats popular music as a social indicator, examining the relationship between popular music and various social issues, problems, and movements. It is organized thematically, addressing such topics as racism, sexism, censorship, social change, consciousness raising, and the impact of globalization. The course draws on historical and contemporary readings at the intermediate and advanced levels. There is extensive use of audio and video recordings to explicate various themes and issues.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 349L  The Cold War: Rise and Fall

    Description:
    This course examines the shifting US and Russian images of each other during the rise and fall of the Cold War. It focuses in particular on the way that issues of difference play out in the US/Soviet/Russian encounter, and on the emergence of public perceptions which linked struggles for racial, gender, and social equality with Communism and its agents. AMST 349L and HIST 349L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 350L  Race, Class, and Gender: Issues in US Diversity

    Description:
    This course deals with the interrelationship of race, class and gender, exploring how they have shaped the experiences of all people in the United States. Focusing on race, class and gender as distinct but interlocking relationships within society, the course examines both the commonalities and the differences that different historical experiences have generated. AFRSTY 350L and AMST 350L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 352L  Harlem Renaissance

    Description:
    This course focuses on major texts of the Harlem Renaissance within contexts of modernism, history, and the development of an African American literary tradition. The course will examine how literature creates and represents real and "imagined" communities and will explore the diverse and often contradictory roles that literature plays in shaping, resisting, and reinforcing cultural discourses. AFRSTY 352L and AMST 352L and ENGL 352L are the same course.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 353  Latino/a Border Cultures

    Description:
    An introduction to the field of border studies, this course investigates the linguistic, cultural and historical meanings of the concept of "border" for several Latino/a groups, particularly Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans, and Cuban Americans. While attending to the distinct histories of the groups in question, the course also looks for cultural and artistic links which connect Latino people.   More Info

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  • AMST 355L  Black Popular Culture

    Description:
    This course requires students to engage with Black/African diasporic cultural products intended for a mass audience. The macro-contents of American and global consumer capitalism and the micro- categories of ethnicity, gender, and sexualities are used as a framework for the critical analysis of production, consumption, and reception of African American popular culture in the US and abroad. AFRSTY 355L and AMST 355L are the same course.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 360  Work, Society, and Culture in Modern America

    Description:
    This course has a double focus: the history of work in the modern US, and the cultural representations (fiction, movies, television, music, and others) that people have made of their working lives. All manner of work-from domestic service to farm labor-is considered. Above all, this course examines how work functions as a "way of life" in American cultural history.   More Info

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  • AMST 372L  American Women Writers and American Culture

    Description:
    This course examines the significant contribution that women writers have made to the creation and development of an American national literature and culture. Points of emphasis include studying representative writers from different historical periods; examining the structures, forms, themes, concerns, and cultural contexts of individual works; and examining the relation of women's writing to American culture. AMST 372L and ENGL 372L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 375  Best Sellers in American Society

    Description:
    "Best sellers" have shaped American views of science and nature; molded American business behavior; affected Americans' notions of the past and their expectations of the future; and shaped public perceptions of gender, class, race, and ethnicity. In this course, we will read popular works, both fiction and nonfiction, published over the past century and a half and discuss the ways in which these books have influenced our images of our society and ourselves. The best sellers we will examine are those which were extremely popular with large sections of the public and/or influential in changing public opinion on major social issues. Readings for the course include Uncle Tom's Cabin, Gone with the Wind, The Power of Positive Thinking, Silent Spring, The Feminine Mystique, and the novels of Stephen King.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 376L  Women of Color

    Description:
    This course offers interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives on a variety of theories, themes, and issues related to the experiences of women of color in both U.S. and global contexts. It examines the genealogies, practices, and agendas of women of color "feminisms," and promotes a dialogue about the interactive impact of race, class, and gender on women's lives. AMST 376L and WOST 376L are the same course.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 380  Kennedys Of Boston

    Description:
    This course provides a background on the Kennedys and their times. It analyzes some of the political and cultural processes of which the Kennedys were a part, and in particular traces the rise of the Kennedy family in the context of the Boston Irish. Audio-visual material is used where appropriate to examine the role played by the media, that is, print, film, and television, then and now, in forming popular images of the Kennedy family.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 383L  Men's Lives in the US

    Description:
    An investigation in the contemporary U.S. of the experiences of men and the social construction of masculinities, as they emerge in various realms of experience (family, work, college, sexuality, war, imprisonment) and in conjunction with other constructed identities (social class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation). We will consult various theories on gender and examine a range of perspectives on "men's issues." AMST 383L and SOCIOL 383L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 393L  The Social History of American Women

    Description:
    This course provides a general social history of women in the United States and the institutions that governed their lives-the family, sexual and reproductive practice, child-raising practices, the social organization of work, and control over the means of production. AMST 393L and HIST 393L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 394L  Women in US Social Movements

    Description:
    A selective survey of the motivations, strategies, experiences, and accomplishments of US women who have been activists in a variety of social movements during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students have the opportunity to do a research project on an activist in any of several movements, including, among others, anti-slavery, birth control, civil rights, gay and lesbian liberation, labor, peace, socialism, suffrage, temperance, and women's liberation. AMST 394L and WOST 394L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 402L  American Visual Cultures

    Description:
    This course explores the historical, cultural, and aesthetic importance of visual images in shaping ideas about empire, race, gender, class, work, and nation in American culture. We will think about our reasons for looking and how different historical contexts change how and why we look as consumers. We will learn how to interpret and analyze visual evidence from a variety of forms, including film cartoons live performance, photographs, and print advertising, from the mid-nineteenth century through the twenty-first. AMST 402L and ART 402L are the same course.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 405  The Immigrant Experience

    Description:
    Through letters, essays, autobiography, fiction, film, oral and written history, the course explores the historical and cultural issues raised by native-born Americans (Anglos) and immigrants (Aliens) who were involved during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in defining the sometimes agonizing process of becoming an American. Representative documents reveal a variety of conflicting views about the process and meaning of Americanization: from the defensive essays of Anglo-Saxon supremacists, through Jane Addams' sensitive witness of immigrant life, the letters, diaries and accounts of immigrants, and two works of immigrant fiction.   More Info

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  • AMST 410  Cultural History of U.S. Media

    Description:
    This capstone course will explore the historical emergence of selected media: the Penney Press in the 1830s, film 1896-1932, radio 1928-1960, and television 1948-1977. Examining these media in the period of emergence will show how each relied on and challenged prior forms of conveying information and telling stories, reshaping boundaries between fictional and the real.   More Info

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  • AMST 430  Music & Amer Lit

    Description:
    What special insight into American literature can be gained by linking literary texts to musical ones? This course examines the various ways in which popular musical forms, tropes, performance styles, mythologies (and so forth) have shaped, and been shaped by, twentieth-century American literature. Musical genres considered include blues, hip hop, punk, Tex-Mex, soul, and country. Weekly responsibilities include intensive and systematic listening as well as reading assignments.   More Info

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  • AMST 436L  The American Suburb

    Description:
    This course traces the history of the American suburb during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, emphasizing the changing social and physical character of suburban development. It investigates the relationship between design and society through the study of such topics as the nature of domesticity, the technologies of housekeeping, the impact of the automobile, and the suburb in the American imagination. AMST 436L and ART 436L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 440L  United States in a Global Context

    Description:
    This course will situate thhe United States in a global context by considering US and non-US perspectives on key events of the twentieth century. Special focus: Public, media/arts as well as government perspectives. AMST 440L and HIST 440L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 470L  New England Literature and Culture

    Description:
    A study of the New England literary tradition from about 1850 to the near present. How have writers and critics contested their differing versions of native grounds and reinvented the New England idea in their works? Consideration of such topics as Native American culture, Puritanism and Transcendentalism, slavery and Abolitionism, immigration and ethnicity, nationalism and regionalism, industrialization, and popular culture. AMST 470L and ENGL 470L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 471L  The City in American Literature and Culture

    Description:
    A study of physical, social, and cultural aspects of the American city, as reflected and constructed in architecture, the arts (literature, film, music, visual arts), and theory. The course focuses on four historical periods: the mid-19th century, the turn of thecentury, the mid-20th century, and the present; and includes a capstone research project. AMST 471L and ENGL 471L are the same course.   More Info

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    • TBA
  • AMST 476L  Current Issues in Native America

    Description:
    This seminar focuses on the lives of modern Native Americans, on reservations and off. Topics for reading, discussion, and original research include law, politics, economic development, public health, education, and the arts. Each student in the seminar compiles and presents a comprehensive case study on a subject relevant to one of the seminar themes. AMST 476L and ANTH 476L are the same course.   More Info

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  • AMST 478  Independent Study

    Description:
    Advanced students may conduct independent research under the supervision and guidance of members of the faculty.   More Info

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  • AMST 479  Independent Study

    Description:
    Advanced students may conduct independent research under the supervision and guidance of members of the faculty.   More Info

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  • AMST 490  Internship in American Studies

    Description:
    Part-time experience in an appropriate business, government, public advocacy, or non-profit institution, supervised by an on-site supervisor and an American Studies Program faculty advisor. Bi-weekly conferences with faculty advisor and written/audio-visual work are required. For full details, see the American Studies Student Handbook.   More Info

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  • AMST 498  Honors

    Description:
    To be eligible for honors work in American studies a student must be doing a major in American studies and must have a cumulative average of at least a 3.3 in the program, and an overall grade-point average of at least 3.0. The student defines and writes the Honors project with the help of an American studies faculty advisor and enrolls in AMST 498-499. For full details, see Student Handbook.   More Info

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  • AMST 499  Honors II

    Description:
    To be eligible for honors work in American studies a student must be doing a major in American studies and must have a cumulative average of at least a 3.3 in the program, and an overall grade-point average of at least 3.0. The student defines and writes the Honors project with the help of an American studies faculty advisor and enrolls in AMST 498/499.   More Info

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