Fall 2015

FALL 2015


26:050:501:01 Introduction to American Studies

Timothy Stewart-Winter

Wednesdays, 5:30-8:10pm

Cross-listed: 26:510:551:01


Description: 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; newer studies which suggest the issues with which scholars of American Studies are currently engaged, and collections of articles addressing the state and future of the field.


26:050:521:01 Topics in American Studies I: Public History and Mass Incarceration

Mary Rizzo

Mondays, 5:30-8:10pm

Cross-listed: 26:510:565:01


Description: How can we start a public conversation about mass incarceration? Public history is the co-creation of historical knowledge between historians and the public. This course will ground students in the theory, methods, and practices of public history and the public humanities to consider how to engage the public with the history of mass incarceration. Using case studies, we will examine how public historians have delved into the challenges and opportunities that arise when dealing with, in James and Lois Horton's words, "the tough stuff of American memory," including slavery, trauma, violence, and structural inequality. We will also examine the broader scholarship on mass incarceration, but because much public history work is local, our focus will be on the Elizabeth Detention Center. This course is part of an international project, the Humanities Action Lab (HAL), which uses public history and the public humanities to raise critical conversations about contemporary issues. Among other activities, students will create a panel on the Elizabeth Detention Center for a traveling exhibition on mass incarceration, blog for HAL's website, and potentially engage in cross-campus collaboration with students in other HAL courses nationwide.


26:050:521:02 Topics in American Studies I: Transcultural Studies

Laura Lomas

Mondays, 5:30-8:10pm

Cross-listed: 26:350:508:02


Description: Transcultural Studies (to include the work of Walter Benjamin, Fernando Ortiz, Angel Rama, Mary Louise Pratt, Lourdes Casal, Stuart Hall and Juan Flores.  I would greatly appreciate having access to a smart classroom


26:050:550:01 Topics in Cultural History and Artistic Production: Cultural History and Cultural Studies

Ruth Feldstein

Tuesdays, 5:30-8:10pm

Cross-listed: 26:510:551:02


Description: Beginning from the premise that “culture matters,” this graduate seminar will explore when, how, and in what specific ways scholars working from various disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives have engaged with culture, cultural history, and cultural studies as categories and as methods.


26:050550:02 Topics in Cultural History and Artistic Production: The American Modern & Post-modern

Mark Krasovic

Wednesdays, 5:30-8:10pm

Cross-listed: 26:510:552:01


Description: This graduate reading seminar will track the intellectual and cultural history of notions of the modern and postmodern in the United States. We will consider various applications of these terms across time, not so much to settle on definitions, but in order to gain greater understanding of their history and the uses (and abuses) to which they have been put, and in order to use them in our own work more deliberately.


Though we will visit other times and places as the flows of language and ideas dictate, our focus will be on the United States since the late nineteenth century. We will consider notions of the modern rooted deep in the Renaissance and Enlightenment, explore debates about how applicable those ideas are in other national and historical contexts, and then turn to America at the turn of the twentieth century. Why do we call that period America’s modern era? What does that have to do with culture? The economy? Politics? Can we locate a corresponding postmodern era of American history? If so, what are its contours and defining characteristics in terms of, again, culture, the economy, and politics? What does it have to do with postmodern theory? What is that anyway, where did it come from, and why did it gain such influence in the U.S.? And since, as we will see, notions of the modern and postmodern are so intertwined with those of “the human,” what does this all mean for the broad field in which we work: the humanities? In that way, the course will offer a broad survey of American art and thought since the late nineteenth century.


In our attempt to address such questions and put some meat on the terms “modern” and “postmodern,” we will look closely at a range of primary and secondary sources, including historical scholarship, films, paintings, fiction, critical theory, and the urban landscape.