American Studies Courses

 

Note on General Education Requirements:  Please check your Catalog Year.

 

The requirements listed below are for those students with a Catalog Year of Fall 2018 or later. 

 

For those with a Catalog Year of Spring 2018 or earlier, please contact a General Education or AMST advisOr. 

General Education Courses

You may want to review the University catalog's description of General Education requirements. 

AMST 101 - Introduction To American Culture Studies 
The concepts of interdisciplinary culture studies, focusing on analysis of cultural change in complex, literate society. American culture, including cross-cultural comparisons. Topics include popular culture, subculture, regionalism, myths and symbols, and culture and personality. 
Meets G.E. Requirement: D.1 (Introduction to Social Science)

AMST 201 - Introduction To American Studies 
With the concept of culture as a unifying principle, focus is on four separate time periods in order to provide the framework for an understanding of American civilization. Several different kinds of documents will be used to illustrate the nature and advantages of an interdisciplinary approach. 
Meets G. E. Requirement: D.2 (American History, Institutions and Values)

AMST 300 - Introduction To American Popular Culture
An historical exploration of popular culture in America as it both reflects and contributes to the search for meaning in everyday life. Themes include heroes, myths of success, symbols of power, images of romance, consumerism, race and sexual identity. 
Meets G.E. Requirement: D.4 (Explorations in Social Science)

AMST 301 - American Character 
Cultural environment and personality. The extent to which there have been and continue to be distinctly American patterns of belief and behavior. Similarities, as well as class, ethnic, sex and regional differences among Americans. 
Meets G.E. Requirements: D.4 (Explorations in Social Science) and Z (Cultural Diversity)

AMST 320 - Women In American Society 
Socio-cultural history of women and women's movements in American society. Emphasis on 19th and 20th centuries. Examination of cultural models of American womanhood - maternal, domestic, sexual, social - their development and recent changes. 
Meets G.E. Requirements:  E (Lifelong Learning and Self Development) and  Z (Cultural Diversity)

AMST 324 - American Immigrant Cultures 
Investigates American immigrant communities, both historical and contemporary, to better understand how their experiences helped shape the meaning of being American. Explores immigrant cultures through literature, music, film, oral history and photographs using interdisciplinary methods. 
Meets G.E. Requirement: C.4 (Explorations in the Arts or Humanities)

AMST 345 - The American Dream 
An interdisciplinary analysis, in settings both historical and contemporary, of the myth and reality surrounding the notion of American as a land of unparalleled and unlimited possibilities, especially in the achievement of personal material success.  
Meets G.E. Requirement: C.4 (Exploration in the Arts or Humanities)

AMST 395 - California Cultures 
Examines how a variety of cultures -- Native American, European, Latino, Asian, African American, -- have interacted in California's past and present. Topics include: cultural diversity in frontiers and borderlands, shifting meanings of sex and gender, function of regional and racial myths.
Meets G.E. Requirements: D.4 (Explorations in Social Science) and Z (Cultural Diversity)

Core American Studies Courses

The following courses are all required for the American Studies Major but are all open to any student who has fulfilled the prerequisites (if any).   Please note: class meeting times mentioned on flyers are usually not accurate for the current semester. 

AMST 201- Introduction To American Studies
With the concept of culture as a unifying principle, focus is on four separate time periods in order to provide the framework for an understanding of American civilization. Several different kinds of documents will be used to illustrate the nature and advantages of an interdisciplinary approach.
Also Meets G. E. Requirement: D.2 (American History, Institutions and Values)

AMST 301 - American Character
Cultural environment and personality. The extent to which there have been and continue to be distinctly American patterns of belief and behavior. Similarities, as well as class, ethnic, sex and regional differences among Americans.
Also Meets G.E. Requirements: D.4 (Exploration in Social Science) and Z (Cultural Diversity)

AMST 350 - Seminar In Theory & Method of American Studies
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
To provide an understanding and appreciation of methodology, theories of society and images of man as they affect American Studies contributions to scholarship. Fulfills the course requirement of the university upper-division baccalaureate writing requirement for American Studies majors.

AMST 401T - Proseminar in American Studies  (Majors and Minors Choose One)
Prerequisites: American Studies 201 and 301; or consent of instructor.
Capstone research course for American Studies majors and minors. Variable topics; see the class schedule for topics each semester. May be repeated for credit with different topic. In recent years the topics have included:Literature And Culture Contemporary American literature as a cultural document. The relationship between American culture and its recent fiction, focusing on several important novels and plays published since the end of the Second World War.  

Adolescent America: A Cultural History and Contemporary Study of the Teenager in America
This course examines the teenager as a category of cultural participation: the challenges and conditions of adolescence in America, what has held "youth culture" together, what has fragmented and reformulated it across time, with attention to broader beliefs and values.   

Reading the City
Cultural life of a major American city as seen through its historical memory and self-image, its diverse racial, ethnic, and class life, and its artistic and expressive culture (literature, film, architecture, music, cuisine). Focus Spring 2017 is on Los Angeles.  

Gender in American Life and Thought
Investigates selected topics in the cultural construction of gender in America from colonization to the present. Examines changing idea about women, men, and sexualities, and considers the research methods of gender and American studies from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.   

Culture and Commerce of American Music
Analyzes the creation and consumption of American popular music from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Topics include: music and social change; censorship and patriotism; music and globalization; corporatization in the music industry; and gender politics in music videos.  

Women, Race & Ethnicity
Examination of the diversity of women's experiences, focusing on both historical and contemporary analysis of African American, Asian American, Native American, Latina, and white ethnic women. Course materials include history, autobiography, film, visual and popular arts, and cultural criticism.   

American Culture and Nature
Analyzes the meaning of nature in American culture, past and present. Traces the development of environmental attitudes as reflected and shaped in such cultural landscapes as the frontier, countryside, city, suburb.  

Mark Twain and His World
Examination of Mark Twain in context of his family, friends, region, culture, and art over time. Special attention given to issues of race and gender in post-civil war America. Readings include biography, history, literary criticism, diaries, letters, and fiction.  

The Body and American Culture
Concentrating on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present, examines the relationship between American culture at large and shifting definitions of the healthy and appealing body. Issues include gender, race, disability, weight control, and bodily alterations.   

Race in American Culture
This seminar examines how racial difference is constructed in American culture. Readings offer perspectives on the racial meanings within cultural products and practices, the intersection of stereotypes and social experience, and the changing notions of race over time.  

Civil Rights in American Culture
This course explores the meaning of the civil rights movement in American culture. We will use a variety of sources - including literature, music and memoir - to analyze the changing ways the movement has been interpreted, politicized, and commemorated.   

American Culture Through Social Science
Explores the earliest efforts of American sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and political scientists to study American culture, and the ways that they understood urban life, racial and ethnic identity, and the role of the individual in modern society.   

American Suburban Culture<
What is a suburb, why did America suburbanize, and what sorts of politics do suburbs encourage? This course investigates diverse cultural representations of suburbia in order to consider the cultural power of space, race, class, gender, and the built environment.   

The Fifties
American culture during a period of remarkable transformation in the aftermath of World War II. Changing values of Cold War Era examined as series of contradictions: placid -- disturbed; optimism -- despair; homogeneity--fragmentation.

Upper-Division Electives

American Studies Majors and Minors can count any Upper Division American Studies course that is not part of the core requirements as an upper division elective.  Our G.E. courses AMST 300, 320, 324, 345, and 395 all count as Upper Division Electives for the Major and Minor. Please note: class meeting times mentioned on flyers are usually not accurate for the current semester.

AMST 312 - Multicultural Identities and Women's Experience
Examination of the diversity of women's experiences, focusing on both historical and contemporary analysis of African American, Asian American, Native American, Latina, and white ethnic women. Course materials include autobiography, fiction, visual and popular arts, and feminist cultural criticism. Cross-listed with Women's Studies. 

AMST 318 - Hollywood And America: Using Film as a Cultural Document
An examination of Hollywood as a cultural institution. Concentrating on the films of selected periods, analyzes Hollywood's ability to create and transmit symbols and myths, and legitimize new values and patterns of behavior. 

AMST 346 - American Culture Through Spectator Sports Study of the shifting meaning of organized sports in changing American society. Includes analysis of sports rituals, symbols and heroes. Focus is on the cultural significance of amateur and professional football, baseball and basketball.

AMST 377 - Prejudice and American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Concepts and methods of American culture studies as tools for better understanding the origins and appeal of intolerance, past and present. Particular focus on racism, ethnic and religious bias, sexism, and homophobia.

AMST 390 - Disability and American Culture
Changing meaning, history and experience of disability in American culture through scholarly readings, memoir, film, photography and other cultural documents. Disability in relation to identity, stigma, discrimination, media representations, intersectionality, gender and sexuality, work, genetic testing, and design.

AMST 402 - Religion And American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2
An interdisciplinary analysis of the religious dimensions of American core culture from colonial settlement to the present. Topics include: Puritanism; rationalization, secularization and feminization; the conversion experience, revivalism and revitalization; fundamentalism and modernism; and civil religion.

AMST 404 - Americans and Nature
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Americans' – from native inhabitants and early colonists to rural and urban dwellers today – shifting attitudes towards the natural environment. Agrarian expansion, industrialization, transcendentalism, tourism, humans' roles in "natural" disasters and the history of environmental activism.

AMST 405 - Images of Crime & Violence in American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Cultural analysis of meanings ascribed to law and order, authority, violence and punishment in the American past and present. Examined in selected symbols, images, traditions, and realities, including: the gun, police, vigilantes, "hard-boiled detectives," "romantic outlaws," and "crime waves."

AMST 407 - American Humor
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Analyzes the cultural significance of various types of American humor in past and present settings. How humor reinforces existing culture and also serves as an index and agent of cultural change. Humor's relationship to ethnicity, region, social class and sex. 

AMST 408 - Gaming and American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Development and significance of outdoor, board and video gaming in America. Literary works, films, television shows, advertisements, manuals and material artifacts to understand how gaming has addressed larger social tensions and shaped American identity and culture.

AMST 409 - Consumer Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Consumerism in America, from the Boston Tea Party to today, from an interdisciplinary perspective using literature, music, clothing, advertisements, and consumer-based social movements to analyze the power of consumer culture.

AMST 410 - The Office: White-Collar Work in American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Explores the history and culture of white-collar work through film, television, novels, ethnographies, and historical works. Topics include: work and identity; gender, race, and corporate hierarchy; work/life balance; corporate ethics; flexible work arrangements; and layoffs.

AMST 412 - Women, Race, and Ethnicity in American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Diversity of women’s experiences, focusing on historical and contemporary analysis of African American, Asian American, Latina and white ethnic women. Course materials include autobiography, fiction, visual and popular arts and feminist cultural criticism

AMST 413 - The Shifting Role & Image of the American Male
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
The effect of economic, social, political and cultural changes on American males. Emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries.

AMST 416 - Southern California Culture: A Study of American Regionalism
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Regionalism as a concept and as a fact of American life. Theories of regionalism measured against a study of Southern California and one other distinct American region.

AMST 418 - Food and American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Prerequisite: junior, senior or graduate standing. Food and identities in America from the colonial era to the present, including explorations of American ethnic food, industrialization of food and contemporary food movements.

AMST 419 - Love in America
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Examines changes in the emotional lives of American men and women from the 17th century to the present. Concentrates on enduring and innovative views on the nature of love and the cultural forces that shape its "legitimate" and "illegitimate" expression.

AMST 420 - Childhood and Family in American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Historical and contemporary culture study of childhood and family in America. The idea of childhood, changing concepts of child-rearing, growing up in the American past, the impact of modernization, mother and home as dominant cultural symbols.

AMST 423 - The Search for Community
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Examining the historical transformation and modern reformulation of community in America, the course emphasizes the relationship of the individual to the larger social group. Topics include: freedom, need to belong, alienation, and search for identity.

AMST 428 - American Monsters
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2. 
Interdisciplinary study of the monster in American culture. Monsters in historical context as reflection of fears and anxieties surrounding nature, science, gender, race, community, the body. Images of monstrosity in film, literature, folklore, television, performance art, youth culture.;

AMST 433 - Visual Arts in Contemporary America
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2
Visual phenomena in America as they reveal changes in recent American culture. Areas covered include the "high" arts (painting, sculpture) as contrasted with the "low" arts (advertising, television); the artist as innovator, alienation, the business world, and American values in art.

AMST 438 - American Minds: Images of Sickness and Health
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2
Historically explores cultural changes in American images of the healthy mind. Topics include medical and legal views of insanity, Freud's impact on American thought, literary treatments of madness, and psychological themes in American popular culture.

AMST 439 - American Photographs as Cultural Evidence
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2
The cultural work of American photography, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Examines how photographs--especially the vernacular or everyday variety--have both reflected and shaped American beliefs, symbols, and values.

AMST 440 - American Folk Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Considers American culture from the perspectives of particular folk groups and through the eyes of the "common" person, past and present. Topics include: interpretation of artifacts and oral traditions; relationships between regional, ethnic and folk identity; modernization and folk consciousness.

AMST 442 - Television and American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
American television as an interactive form of cultural expression, both product and producer of cultural knowledge. Examines the structure and content of television genres, and social-historical context of television's development and use, audience response, habits and environments of viewing.

AMST 444 - The Built Environment
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Examines how Americans have shaped and structured space from the seventeenth century to the present. Emphasizes the relationship between space, place, architecture, and material culture; the interpretation of cultural landscapes and architectural style; the changing meanings of the American home.

AMST 445 - The Cold War and American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
An examination of the Cold War's impact on American society and culture. Topics include: the meaning of the atomic bomb, civil defense, McCarthyism, gender roles, sexuality, family life, material culture, and national security.

AMST 447 - Race and American Popular Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Using popular culture as a lens, this course examines literature, theater, sport, music and film, and asks: how has popular culture contributed to and challenged the social construction of race and ethnicity in the United States?

AMST 448 - American Popular Culture and the World
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.3.
Historical and contemporary study of American popular culture in a global context. Transnational influences on U.S. popular culture and impact of American culture around the world. Youth culture, film, music, sports, TV, literature, material culture.

AMST 449 - American West in Symbol and Myth
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
The meaning of the West to American culture through analysis of cultural documents such as explorer and captivity narratives, fiction, art and film. Topics include: perception of wilderness, Indians, frontiersmen and role of West in creating a sexist national mythology.

AMST 451 - Fashion in American Culture
Prerequisite: completion of G.E. Category D.2.  
Cultural politics of fashion in America. Uses of interdisciplinary sources, including material culture, visual arts, legal codes, protests, advertising, and popular culture to study the diverse meanings of fashion in the past and present U.S.

AMST 459 - Technology and American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Relationship between technology and culture in America from industrialization to the present. How technologies, such as the steam engine, automobile, atomic bomb and computer have both been shaped by larger cultural ideas, institutions, values and processes in America.

AMST 460 - Bohemians and Beats: Cultural Radicalism in America
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Examines the ideas, activities, and legacies of the creators of a "counter-cultural" tradition in the 19th and 20th centuries. Explores their critique of modern civilization as well as their projects for self-transformation, social change, and cultural renewal.

AMST 465 - The Culture of the American South
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Examines distinctive cultural patterns in the American South, past and present. Topics include: Southern concepts of work and leisure, race and gender roles, political religious controversies, literature and folklore, and the South as portrayed in the media.

AMST 468 - Culture in Turmoil: 1960's America
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Origins, manifestations, and continuing significance of the turbulence in American culture associated with the 1960's. Accelerated changes which occurred (or seemed to occur) in cultural meanings of authority, achievement, patriotism, sexuality, technology, and consciousness.

AMST 473 - Sexual Orientations and American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Examines the cultural construction of the very idea of a sexual orientation. Shifting meanings of erotic attraction and involvement in America, especially regarding people of the same sex, from the colonial period to the present.

AMST 476 - The Cultures of Early America
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Explores the variety of cultures of early America and, through an analysis of visual, material and print culture, investigates the beliefs, ideologies, and institutions through which early Americans created their worlds. The course also examines contemporary public memory of early America.

AMST 488 - Race, Sex, and American Urban Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.2.
Focusing on major urban spaces at key moments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this course will examine the ways that anxieties about race, gender, youth and sexuality have come to be identified with urban spaces and modern city life.

AMST 495 - Internship in American Studies
Learning experience for undergraduate majors or minors at any public or private institute to which an American Studies major is related.

AMST 499 - Independent Study
Supervised research projects in American studies to be taken with the consent of instructor and department chair. May be repeated for credit.

Graduate Level Courses

While all 400-level courses carry graduate credit, we offer the following 500-level courses exclusively for graduate students.  AMST 501 and AMST 502T are required for every AMST graduate student. 

AMST 501- Theory And Methods 
The American Studies movement. Its conceptual and methodological development. The way this development was affected by and in turn reflected larger trends in the culture itself.

AMST 502T - Seminar: Selected Topics 
A particular problem or topic as a case study in the use of interdisciplinary methods in American Studies. May be repeated for credit with a different topic. Topics offered in recent years include:

Race in American Studies: Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Racial Formation: Advanced analysis of the ways in which Americans have constructed, defined, represented, and negotiated racial identity and racial hierarchies from the seventeenth century to the present. Although this course takes an historical approach, it is not meant to be a survey.  Instead we will pursue an in-depth analysis of how different cultural historians with differing interdisciplinary specialties have approached the study of racial formation and interracial interactions. It attends to substantive conclusions as well as theoretical and methodological considerations. 

Contemporary American Culture: Advanced analysis of the beliefs, practices, and implications of membership in spatial, fictive, and virtual communities of contemporary cultural participation. Critical examination of the increasingly mediated nature of American experience evidenced in post-WWII technology, architecture, communications, and social organization.

Gender and Theory in American Studies: An advanced analysis of enduring patterns and innovative shifts in the ways in which Americans have defined, represented, and negotiated gender identity and gender relations from the seventeenth century to the present. 

Visual Culture: Theories and case studies of how visual imagery has reflected and influenced Americans' sense of nature, time, memory, authenticity, and reality itself. Attention to television, film and painting, but particular emphasis on still photography as cultural evidence. 

Ethnography and American Culture: Introduction to the pragmatics and politics of ethnographic research on American culture. Students design, conduct, and write up independent fieldwork projects based on interviews and participant-observation. Topics include: research design, interviewing, participant-observation, ethics, cultural analysis, ethnographic writing, and representational genres. 

American Scape, Place, and Architecture: After analyzing space, place, and architecture as concepts and cultural artifacts, the seminar examines how Americans have shaped nature from the seventeenth century to the present.  Emphasizes diversity of architectural expression in a pluralistic society. A reading and research colloquium. Mike Steiner

Theoretical Approaches to Studying Popular Culture: This course will examine new theoretical approaches to the interpretation of American popular culture. It will focus on theories examining the relationship between forms of popular culture (including best-selling novels, television, mass amusements, and advertisements) and the society producing them. 

Public Memory: Analyzes narratives of the past encapsulated in museums, memorials, historic preservation sites, living history projects, and popular culture. Emphasizes the cultural politics and packaging of public memory and tensions between national identity and local, ethnic and regional identity narratives. 

American Prejudice in Theory and Actuality: Advanced analysis of prejudice as a cultural process:  cultural construction of unreasonably negative perceptions of others.  Etiology of various forms of intolerance in the American past and present.  Common features of prejudice alongside peculiarities of the holder, target, and moment.

Culture and Desire: Theoretical Approaches to the History of the Emotions: Advanced analysis of enduring patterns and innovative shifts in the ways Americans have defined, controlled, and expressed emotions such as anger, lust, shame, pride, fear, jealousy, grief, and joy from the 17th century to the present. 

American Technocultures: Advanced analysis of the relationship between technology and culture in America from industrialization to the present. Explores how technologies have both shaped and been shaped by larger cultural ideas, institutions, values, and processes in America.

AMST 596 - Teaching Tutorial 
Prerequisite: AMST 501. Preparation for community college or university teaching. Small group discussion, lecture-discussion, examinations, teaching strategies. Enrollment requires approval of American Studies Graduate Adviser.

AMST 598 - Graduate Thesis 
Prerequisites: graduate standing in American studies and consent of graduate adviser. The writing of a thesis based on original research and its analysis and evaluation.

AMST 599 - Independent Graduate Research 
Prerequisite: graduate standing in American Studies and consent of graduate adviser. May be repeated for credit.