26:050:501 Introduction to American Studies: American Intellectual and Cultural History
This graduate seminar will introduce students to scholarship in American Studies, as we explore together where the field has been and where it is going. We will be reading influential older articles and books; theoretical work that has had a particularly significant impact on American Studies; and newer studies which suggest the issues with which scholars of American Studies are currently engaged.
26:050:521 Topics in American Studies: Community, Place and Public Humanities
In this public humanities/history graduate seminar, students will work with a community partner on a project about local history for the public. The class will ground students in the history, theory, and methods of place-based public history and community engagement. Students will also engage in original research, using archival collections, digitized materials, and/or oral history, over the semester to develop the class' public project.
26:050:521:02 Topics in American Studies: Race and Labor in the Americas
The spread of capitalist relations introduced a spectrum of "free" and "unfree labor" in the Americas beginning with the seventeenth century. The different labor systems--slavery, indentured, wage labor, guest worker programs--produced, and were produced by, racial knowledge and systems of meaning. This research seminar will focus on how race and class were co-constituted in the Americas and how they evolved with changing modes of production. The first half of the course will be spent familiarizing ourselves with the established scholarly literature (i.e. the historiography). Students will devote the second half of the semester conducting independent research and writing (and re-writing). Students are expected to produce a research paper that combines primary and secondary sources on topics related to the main themes of the course.
26:050:521:03 Topics in American Studies: Memory and Trauma (American Literature)
We will draw upon the archives of Holocaust studies as they have opened up the fields of memory and trauma studies. Our span will range from the mid-20th century to the early 21st which is rich in narratives that further complicate questions of genocide, migration, and dislocation while turning our attention to immigrants, refugees and survivors. We will read from memoirs, fiction, poetry and theoretical essays. We will also screen select films.
26:050:531 Intellect US Culture: The Politics of Utopia, Frederick Jameson
This seminar examines the political and critical import of utopia in Fredric Jameson’s contribution to American radical thought. Long considered the leading contemporary American Marxist literary and cultural theorist, Jameson’s oeuvre also makes a strong claim for him as the only genuinely original theorist of utopia writing today. In the arc formed by Marxism and Form and The Ancient and the Postmoderns, Jameson has formulated and redefined an original conceptualization of the politics of utopia. In his writings, different senses of utopia make an appearance – utopia as horizon, figure, hermeneutic, method, estrangement, trench, or as a figuration of “the break” – in terms of both existential and institutional utopias. The seminar carefully examines these formulations against the background of the fate of Marxism and radicalism in American thought.
26:050:550 Topics in Cultural History: Art and Its Publics in America
This graduate reading course will meet regularly at the Newark Museum and use its artistic and archival collections as a launching pad to an exploration of a broad, oftentimes contentious, debate over the role of art in American society. We will begin with a consideration of museum and library pioneer John Cotton Dana’s arguments for art’s crucial place in the early-twentieth-century modern city and watch as such ideas are spun out, expanded, and contested over the next hundred years. Topics will likely include the introduction of modern art to America; state funding for the arts during the New Deal and Great Society eras; art’s uses during the Cold War; debates over artistic representation, especially as informed by racial, gender, and sexual politics; and the commercial market’s role in shaping American art in an era of increasing economic inequality. Throughout, our discussions will be informed by specific artists and exhibitions (the 1913 Armory exhibition, Harlem on My Mind (1969), Robert Mapplethorpe, e.g.) as they both shape and are shaped by key developments in twentieth-century American history.