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American Studies Courses

AMS 2010 - Introduction to American Studies: Perspectives on the American Dream
3 credits
In this course we will study the set of ideas, myths, and values that comprise the American Dream. Beginning with John Winthrop’s vision of America as a “city on the hill,” the definition of the American Dream, the purpose of American’s “discovery,” has been contested, challenged, and continuously revised. This course introduces students to the history of that process. Distribution Requirement: US.

AMS-WMS 2015 - Gender and Nature
3 credits
This course introduces students to a selection of American writers, artists and naturalists whose work explores the relationship between the natural world, ways of understanding and relating to the natural world, and gender. Through the material covered in this course we will explore the ways in which the constructed ideas of “nature” and “gender” have been intertwined in American culture, how certain assumptions about the essential nature of women and men have shaped opportunities for women and men to explore, study and know the natural world, and how the gendering of nature has shaped discussions of environmental topics and issues. Distribution Requirement: US.

AMS 2020 - Individualism and Community in American Life
3 credits
Exploration of individualism in American culture, its character, sources, and moral and social implications. We will trace the development of the ethos of individualism as it has been transformed by centuries of social, political, and economic change. Distribution Requirement: US.

AMS-PHR 2060 - Pragmatism and Classical American Philosophy
3 credits
This course provides a survey of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American philosophical thought. We will discuss texts by thinkers such as Emerson, Thoreau, Royce, James, Peirce, Dewey, Mead, Rorty, McDermott and West. Distribution Requirement: US. Offered Term I and Term II.

AMS-WMS 2410 - Gender and Utopia in America
3 credits
A study of the tradition of utopian thinking in American culture and how that tradition has dealt with questions of gender. Distribution Requirement: US.

AMS-ART 2420 - The American Landscape: Art, Culture and Society
3 credits
A social and cultural history of the American landscape as it has been depicted in painting, photography, architecture and design; topics include the Hudson River School of painting, the role of landscape design in reflecting and shaping social behavior (e.g., Frederick Law Olmsted and Central Park), the role of artistic representations in promoting tourism and development in the National Parks, the relationship between landscape art and environmental politics. Distribution Requirement: US. Note: AMS-ART 2420 and AMS-ART 3420 meet jointly, with additional work required for the 3000 level credit. Offered Term I and II.

AMS-ENG-HIS 3000 - Race and American Identity
3 credits
A study of the way in which race has influenced the question of American identity; readings include W.E.B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Richard Rodriguez, Amy Tan, Louise Erdrich. Prerequisite: One course in American Studies or American History or any of ENG 2020, ENG 2021, ENG 2022, ENG 2042, ENG 2043 or ENG 2044.

AMS-HIS 3015 - American Environmental History
3 credits
A study of the environmental history of the North American continent by exploring the interactions of human beings and the environment from the first European contacts with Native Americans to the present. We will explore a variety of historical sources, including data about climate, flora, and fauna, and agricultural and industrial production; the accounts of travelers and explorers; diaries; art and literature. Fulfills W-Course Requirement.

AMS-ENG-HIS 3025 - Nature and the American Imagination
3 credits
A study of the intellectual and cultural responses to nature from the colonial period to the present, focusing on arts, literature, and philosophy.

AMS-ENG 3200 - Mapping America
3 credits
Explores the complex relation between writing, mapping, and national identity in the United States. Distribution Requirement: US. Offered Term I.

AMS-ENG 3400 - Recent American Fictions
3 credits
A study of American fiction since 1980, with a focus on issues of national and personal identity. Texts selected from Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, Han Ong, Lorrie Moore, Jennifer Egan, T.C. Boyle, Aimee Bender, Charles Baxter, Thomas Pynchon and Emma McLaughlin. Prerequisite: Any of ENG 2020, ENG 2021, ENG 2022, ENG 2042, ENG 2043 or 2044 or AMS.

RT 3420 - The American Landscape: Art, Culture and Society
3 credits
A social and cultural history of the American landscape as it has been depicted in painting, photography, architecture and design; topics include the Hudson River School of painting, the role of landscape design in reflecting and shaping social behavior (e.g., Frederick Law Olmsted and Central Park), the role of artistic representations in promoting tourism and development in the National Parks, the relationship between landscape art and environmental politics. Note: AMS-ART 2420 and AMS-ART 3420 meet jointly, with additional work required for the 3000 level credit. Offered Term I and Term II.

AMS 4590 - Senior Seminar: Contemporary American Culture
3 credits
Exploration of the scope and methods of American Studies as a tradition of inquiry in connection with the consideration of some particular issue, problem, or other topic from American life. Prerequisites: AMS 2010, AMS 2020, or permission of the instructor. Fulfills W-Course Requirement. Offered as needed.