Course Offerings Fall 2020

Course Title Cr Time/Place Instructor
050:101:01

Introduction to American Studies

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. Students will analyze key texts in American culture, including works of literature, film, music, art, photography, and political essays, in order to explore the diversity of American experiences. Major themes of the course include American distinctiveness, race and ethnicity, violence and spectacle, membership and exclusion, and varieties of identities. The goal of the course is to expose students to intellectual and creative possibilities in the field of American Studies, as well to provide incoming majors with key concepts and analytical tools to prepare them for more advanced courses.

3 T/H
3:55-5:15pm
HSB 201
DC
Decker
050:101:02

Introduction to American Studies

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. Addressing fictional literature, law, film, history, visual culture, popular culture, philosophy, and politics, this class will examine the concept and idea of “America” in its global, national, community, and individual bodily/psychic permutations.

The goal of the course is to expose students to intellectual and creative possibilities in the field of American Studies, and the ideas, concepts, and themes that have been central to how Americans understand themselves and the United States as a nation. This course will also provide incoming majors with key concepts and analytical tools that can be used in more advanced courses. Emphasis will be placed on students’ analytical skills, close reading practices, and critical thinking.

3 Online Urban
050:102:01

Introduction to Race/Ethnicity

How do we approach issues of race, ethnicity, and skin color in the 21st-century United States? We live in arguably the most diverse and multicultural time in the nation’s history; and yet, these terms remain contentious, and even “fighting words” in public and private arenas, largely because systemic inequality and quotidian forms of discrimination continue to shape lived experience. This course examines social and political forces, both historical and contemporary, that have brought about racial and ethnic “diversity” and “difference” in the U.S. focusing on the mid-20th century through the contemporary era, and we will engage case studies from the Civil Rights era through the age of Obama and the War on Terror.

3 M/H
12:35-1:55pm
RAB 110A
DC
Fleetwood
050:200:01

Topics: Latinos & Communities

Examines historical and contemporary formations of   Latino communities in the US. Critically analyze social, cultural, geographic, political, and symbolic developments and forces that shape Latino populations in comparative perspective. The class also interacts with members   of the local Latino community through cultural and civic events.
Cross-listed with 01:590:299:01 / 01:595:299:01

3 M
5:00-8:00pm
LSH A266
LIV
Alonso
050:223:01

Learning from the Past: Early America and the 21st Century

Early Americans faced many of the same challenges as we do in the 21st century: climate change, income inequality, rapidly changing technology, and more. This course will explore how early Americans confronted the problems of their times, and what we can learn from their successes and failures. Students will produce a portfolio of opinion essays aimed at a public audience, comparing past and present.

3 M/H
12:35-1:55pm
RAB 105
DC
Cevasco
050:227:01

19th Century American Literature and Culture

Explores 19th-century American literature and culture: the struggle for cultural authority in the early republic, the emergence of middle class domesticity and sentimentalism, the search for a distinct American literature, race and the problem of slavery, the rise of industrialism, American Romanticism, Gothic, and social realism, and the emergence of a cultural hierarchy. Literary productions from canonical novels to journalism and poetry as well as cultural texts in the form of songs, paintings, sculpture, theater, and vaudeville. Examine popular and public culture, such as engagement with sport, leisure activities, and museums.

3 M/W
3:55-5:15pm
RAB 105
DC
Backes
050:228:01

The Contemporary American: The Global War on Terror

The War on Terror, also known as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) is a term applied to an international military campaign starting after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. This resulted in an international military campaign to eliminate Al-Qaeda and other militant organizations, such as ISIS. We will focus on two theaters of operations—Central Asia and the Middle East. Are we winning the GWOT? In this course we will examine both sides of this hot issue. To be sure, there are good arguments that this war has succeeded. There have been no significant foreign terror attacks on the U.S. homeland since 2001. On the other hand, critics say that the phrase itself is a misnomer. The notion of a “war” against “terrorism” has proven highly contentious since there is no identifiable enemy and that it is unlikely that internationalism terrorism can be brought to an end by military means.

3 M/H
12:35-1:55pm
HSB 201
DC
Gillespie
050:240:01

Latino Literature and Culture

Read texts by Mexican American, Chicano and Hispanic Caribbean Diasporic writers from the 1960s until 2010. Begins with the PBS documentary “Latinos in America” and Juan Flores’s work. Then focuses on close-reading of a selection of well-known texts from the Chicano tradition and of Nuyorican, Dominican American and Cuban American texts. Topics addressed: border and hybrid   identities, mestizaje, indigeneity,“la raza” and racialization, Spanglish and the limits of transculturation, the transformation of Latino gender and sexuality, and the subversion of internal colonialism in the creation of a new notion of American identity. We will also watch the following films: Selena (1997), Quinceañera (2006), Precious Knowledge (2012), Gun Hill Road(2013).
Cross-listed with 01:595:240:01

3 T/H
5:00-6:20pm
LSH A256
LIV
Zamora
050:240:02

Latino Literature and Culture

Read texts by Mexican American, Chicano and Hispanic Caribbean Diasporic writers from the 1960s until 2010. Begins with the PBS documentary “Latinos in America” and Juan Flores’s work. Then focuses on close-reading of a selection of well-known texts from the Chicano tradition and of Nuyorican, Dominican American and Cuban American texts. Topics addressed: border and hybrid   identities, mestizaje, indigeneity,“la raza” and racialization, Spanglish and the limits of transculturation, the transformation of Latino gender and sexuality, and the subversion of internal colonialism in the creation of a new notion of American identity. We will also watch the following films: Selena (1997), Quinceañera (2006), Precious Knowledge (2012), Gun Hill Road(2013).
Cross-listed with 01:595:240:02

3 M/W
3:20-4:40pm
LSH A256
LIV
Zamora
050:245:01

Asian American Experience

Thorough a variety of genres,including history, literature, film and popular culture, interrogate the   fluid identity categories, the dynamic and diverse experiences, cultures, and   politics of “Asian American”/ “Asian Pacific American”/ “Asian Pacific   Islander American” peoples in the United States.
Cross-listed with 01:098:262:01

3 M/W
5:00-6:20pm
BE 101
LIV
Ramsamy
050:248:01

Native American Experience

An introductory survey of Native American cultures, literature, history, language, and current issues that exposes students to approaches, theories, and important concepts such as colonialism and sovereignty in Native American Studies. This course focuses on themes of colonialism, racism, and federal Indian policy but especially Indian political activism, resistance, and cultural continuity and revitalization. Through oral histories, literature, and film, students will investigate thousands of years of Native American history, but with a focus on current issues in Indian Country. Students will analyze representations of Indian people in American popular culture and consider major shifts in the nature of Native American sovereignty into the present.

3 T/H
2:15-3:35pm
RAB 207
DC
Sweet
050:259:01

Popular Culture

This class will explore the history and current dynamics of American popular culture. We will analyze and discuss a wide variety of movies, songs, literature, art, cuisine, events, and roadside attractions in an effort to understand what makes popular culture popular, how it works in society, what kinds of meaning it generates, and how it is received by audiences. In addition, the course will give special attention to myths, superstitions, mysticism, and cults. We will examine how these ideas have penetrated popular culture. Recent polls show high percentages of belief among adult Americans in the paranormal and the unexplained including the Bermuda Triangle, astrology, ghosts, monsters, cryptozoology, clairvoyance, mediums, UFOs, crop circles, and cattle mutilations. Some say that these strange occurrences have no scientific support and that they are clearly untrue. Others attempt to explain things as best they can. Should you dismiss what you cannot explain? Or should you pay attention to the evidence and the personal accounts of those involved? In this course, we encourage you to decide for yourself.

3 M/W
3:55-5:15pm
HSB 201
DC
Gillespie
050:263:01

American Folklore

This course provides an introduction to American folklore as the lore, values, ideas, and world views of Americans found in folk or community life, folk speech, words, signs and symbols, tools and decorative objects, music and other expressive forms. We will study several specific forms in which American folklore appears including the appearance of strange animals and the widespread belief in conspiracy theories. We then attempt to relate these phenomena to the greater American society and culture.

3 M/W
3:55-5:15pm
RAB 018
DC
Kennedy
050:265:01

American Experience Film & Video

Survey on the history and development of the various American experimental cinema movements from its beginnings to the present. In-depth analyses of the structure and content of films by Andy Warhol, Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Sidney Peterson, Kenneth Anger, Bruce Baillie, Yoko Ono, and others. Emphasis on the "mise-en-scene," editing, narrative form, sound, and special effects in the films of these celebrated experimental filmmakers. Warning: some films may contain nudity, sexual situations, violence, profanity, substance abuse, and disturbing images.
Cross-Listed with 01:175:265:01

3 T/H
5:35-6:55pm
RAB 001
DC

T
7:15-8:35pm
RAB 001
DC
Nigrin
050:281:01

Topics: Asian American Identities and Images LLC

Explore and learn about the diverse array of peoples of Asian descent in the Americas, including West, South, Southeast, and East Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Throughout the semester, we will examine, reflect upon, and discuss representations of Asian Americans in literature, history, politics, film, scholarship, current events, and popular culture.

1.5 F
1:40-3:00pm
AAC 207
LIV
Yoon
050:284:MA

American Folklife

In folk studies there are two terms often used—“folklore” and “folklife.” These terms are closely related, yet to scholars they have distinct meanings. What is folklore? It usually includes oral lore—such things as proverbs, riddles, myths, legends, tales, and ballads. What is folklife? It includes material folk culture—such things as folk architecture, folk crafts and art, folk costumes, and folk foods. Our focus in this course will be on American folklife. The direction in which American scholars looked for a model of folklife studies was to Europe, especially Scandinavia. In this course, we will begin with land use, cultivation, housing, settlement, and subsistence crafts, and proceed through furniture, domestic handwork, leisure-time handicrafts, decorative arts, representational art, musical instruments, and folk toys. In other words, we will be looking at the whole gamut of traditional material culture from the necessities of life to the luxuries and pleasures.
(Starts 10/20, Ends 12/10)

3 T/H
3:55-5:15pm
HSB 106
DC
Kennedy
050:301:02

Topics: Remembering Emmet Till

The events that took place in rural Mississippi in 1955 – the brutal lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till and the subsequent trial and acquittal of two defendants – shocked the nation and served as a catalyst for the demand for and pursuit of civil rights in the decades to follow. The story of Emmett Till will be central to this course as we explore ideas of race, equality, human rights and citizenship in the United States. It continues to resonate with the American public and in fact has gained increased attention in recent years, as evidenced by the reopening of the murder investigation by the Department of Justice in 2018; the creation of the Emmett Till Memory Project; and the unveiling of the Emmett Till exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture.

3 T
7:15-10:05pm
RAB 018
DC
Zemla
050:302:02

Topics: Director Spike Lee

Cross-Listed with 01:014:301:01

3 W
6:40-9:30pm
BE 221
LIV
Grier
050:310:01

Approaches

This course introduces students to the practices, research methods, and intellectual strategies in the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. Students will become familiar with the central approaches of the field and learn to apply them to their own research. To demonstrate how diverse methods can be applied to a specific topic, we will examine the history, national mythology, and representations of Native Americans in American culture. Native Americans have always been an integral part of American history and culture. From the nation’s founding mythology of the first “Thanksgiving,” to Boston Tea Partiers dressed as Indians in 1773, to manifest destiny, to representations in literature and film like “The Last of the Mohicans” and sports mascots, to Native American place names and military terminology, and the face of the modern environmental movement. This course will explore the myths and realities of Indigenous peoples in the U.S. and demonstrate their centrality to American culture.

3 W
12:35-3:55pm
RAB 105
DC
Sweet
050:310:02

Approaches

As an “Approaches” or methodology course, this class introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies, and the different tools and methods that American Studies scholars use. We’ll address how American Studies scholarship utilizes approaches from a range of disciplines – such as history, literary theory, anthropology, geography, sociology, ethnic studies, and gender studies, among others – to answer questions about American politics, culture, economics, and society, in both the past and the present.

In this Approaches course, we’ll focus on the theme of “Surviving in America” – a topic on everyone’s minds. To this end, we’ll discuss how Americans and the representative literature, art, and popular culture they have produced, have responded to public health, economic, and political crises. In addition, we’ll explore how American Studies scholars have studied and analyzed what it means to survive in America, and how race, gender, sexuality, and class factor into this question.

3 T/H
2:15-3:35pm
HCK 131
DC
Urban
050:316:01

21st Century Expression

This course will explore new genres of writing and some popular updates of familiar genres, such as the memoir, the novel, and the short story. In particular, we will examine blogs, read a graphic novel, examine some outsider perspectives on 9-11 and subsequent events, and finish the semester with a unit on zombies in popular literature and film. There will be individual reports on YouTube videos and group discussions.

3 H
3:20-6:20pm
TIL 103B
LIV
Moomjy
050:324:01

Wayward Americans

Wayward Americans – or – Who’s Normal Anyway? An examination of individuals and groups, those who might be categorized as “wayward” Americans, allows us to explore various normal/abnormal dichotomies within American culture. How do we determine who or what is normal? Do norms remain constant over time and place? How is normalcy measured? And by whom? How important is context – geographic location, social and cultural background, age, gender, race, ethnicity, and religion – when determining normalcy? As we examine groups that have been described as different, weird, deviant, strange, abnormal, disobedient or unnatural, we will seek to understand the historical, sociological and psychological underpinnings of the cultural norms, from which these groups are/were excluded.

3 M/W
7:15-8:35pm
RAB 104
DC
Zemla
050:325:01

Women on the Fringe

The course will provide students with an historical perspective on the evolution of the concepts of female deviance from the colonial period to the present with particular attention to the influence of race, ethnicity, class, region, gender, and religion. Students will learn how to analyze film critically in terms of its cultural context and will receive training in the analytical and methodological skills necessary to pursue a research project in American Studies on the history of female deviance.
Cross-Listed with 01:988:325:01

3 T
10:55-1:55pm
RAB 018
DC
Fishbein
050:331:01

Ethnic America: Borders, Labor, and Culture

From internal and extraterritorial colonies to outsourcing and building a wall along Mexico, the US has been debating how to imagine and where to place its national borders. Territorial and corporate expansion has historically complicated where US jurisdiction and "America" begin and end. The first half of the semester deals with the making of borders and US racialization, while the second half looks at asylum issues and corporate and military presence along the border. The class looks at the different ways the US has regulated these spaces of exclusions in novels, films and scholarship. We will then ask how we begin to re-write and re-imagine “America” from these borders?
Cross-Listed with 01:595:312:03
Eligible for CCRES Minor

3 H
2:15-5:15pm
BIO 205
DC
Isaac
050:342:01

American Sexuality

This course explores specific moments (from the late-19th century to the present) in American cultures to understand and analyze evolving conceptualizations of gender and sexuality. Particular attention will be given to the ways in which narratives of sexuality become dominant in the cultural imaginary. How do these stories of gender and sexuality get framed, and circulate as “normal”? How are heteronormative ideals disrupted? Some of the issues we will discuss include: marriage, sex and the culture wars, feminism, masculinities, race and ethnicity, AIDS, pornography, among other topics. Examination of literature, film, television, advice manuals, reports on sexual behavior (Kinsey), music videos, and other cultural artifacts. Theoretical works by Freud, Foucault, and others will be read alongside primary works.

3 M/H
10:55-12:15pm
RAB 105
DC
Fleetwood
050:344:01

Islam in/and America

Examines the history and presence of Islam in the United States, and the construction and evolution of U.S. Muslim identity, community, and culture. In our contemporary moment, “Islam” is perhaps the most misunderstood term in the national lexicon, and stands at the heart of numerous cultural and political debates about “who we are” as a nation. Islam’s presence in the Americas stretches back four centuries, to when over one third of African slaves forcibly transported here were Muslim. At the start of the 20th century, the religion forcefully re-emerged amongst Black American communities in urban centers in the North such as Chicago and Detroit. Examines the diverse historical presence of Muslims in the United States, alongside representations and stereotypes of Islam and Muslims in media and popular culture. Representations of Black American Muslims and U.S. Muslim women.

3 M/W
2:15-3:35pm
WAL 210
DC
Auston
050:350:01

Fest Curation: Curatorial Seminar

This class will cover the fundamentals of public humanities curation as we prepare for two upcoming New Jersey Folk Festivals: Oaxaca (2021) and Cultures of Cultivation (NJ Food and Agriculture, 2023). Students will practice professional skills including researching, writing, and speaking to a variety of audiences, both academic and public.

3 H
2:15-5:15pm
HCK 206
DC
Cevasco
050:380:01 Internships in American Studies  3 By Appointment By Appointment
050:389:01

Junior Seminar: The Rise and Fall of the American Middle Class

The idea of an expansive and powerful middle class has special resonance in the United States. Nearly all Americans identify themselves as part of this mysteriously inclusive middle. Observers have often claimed that the United States is somehow middle class at its core, and many have even posited a fundamental connection between middle-class status and national destiny. But both the actual and the mythical middle class have had a complex, turbulent history and continue to mark out a terrain more of conflict than consensus. This course examines the history and culture of the middle class in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present. We begin with the emergence of a powerful and self-conscious bourgeoisie in the late eighteenth century and first half of the nineteenth century, continue with the trials and consolidation of middle-class authority in the late nineteenth century on up to the post-WWII period, and conclude with a long look at the crisis (real and imagined) of the middle class over the past fifty years. Our goal will be to develop a working knowledge of the history and current shape of the middle class as a social formation as well as a cultural and ideological question.

 3 W
12:35-1:55pm
TH 201
DC
Backes
050:449:01

Principles of Folk Festival

Folk Festival Management and Principles of Folk Festival Management are a sequence of courses that prepare students to assist in running the New Jersey Folk Festival, an annual event that draws 15,000 people during Rutgers Day. In these courses, students learn about public humanities and heritage issues, non-profit event management, and contribute to the real work of festival production. Participation in the class sequence is by application.

1.5 M
5:35-6:55pm
RAB 018
DC
Kennedy
050:495:01 Honors in American Studies  3 By Appointment Masur

 

Off-Campus Courses

Course Title Cr Time/Place Instructor
050:259:80  Popular Culture 3 W
6:00-8:40pm 
RVCC
Backes
050:301:90 Topics: Fantasy, Illustration, & Science Fiction  3 Online McElhinney
050:302:80 Topics: Beaches, Lakes, and Rivers of NJ 3 M
6:00-8:40pm
BCC
Appels
050:317:80 Law and American Culture 3 T
4:20-5:40pm
ACCC
Furman
050:323:90 American Horror 3 Online McElhinney