Undergraduate Courses


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.3 (American History, Institutions and Values)

AMST 300
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.5 (Exploration in Social Science)


AMST 301
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.5 (Exploration in Social Science) and Z (Cultural Diversity)

AMST 301
AMST 320 - Women In American Society (formerly AMST 450)

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: D.5 (Exploration in Social Science), E (Lifelong Learning and Self-Development), and Z (Cultural Diversity)

AMST 324
AMST 324 - American Immigrant Cultures

Prerequisite: completion of G.E. Category D.1. 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.3 (Exploration of Arts and Humanities)

Flyer for AMST 345

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.3 (Exploration of Arts and Humanities)


AMST 395
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.5 (Exploration in Social Science) and Z (Cultural Diversity)

 

Core American Studies Courses (Required for Major)

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.3 (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.5 (Exploration in Social Science) and Z (Cultural Diversity)

AMST 350 - Seminar In Theory & Method of American Studies
Prerequisites: American Studies 201 and 301; or consent of instructor. 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:

AMST 401 Literature
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. 



AMST 401-Adol
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. 

 

AMST 401 LA
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.

 

AMST 401 Gender
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. 

 

AMST 401 Music

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. John Ibson

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. 

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 402 - Religion And American Culture
Prerequisite: Upper division standing. 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 318
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
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
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
AMST 377 - Prejudice and American Culture

Prerequisite: upper-division standing. 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
AMST 390 - Disability and American Culture

Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.1. 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 404
AMST 404 - Americans and Nature

Prerequisites: AMST 201 or completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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

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
AMST 407 - American Humor

Prerequisite: American Studies 201 or completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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
AMST 408 - Gaming and American Culture

Prerequisite: completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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
AMST 409 - Consumer Culture

Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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: AMST 201 or completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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: AMST 201. 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
AMST 413 - The Shifting Role & Image of the American Male

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
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.

Food and American Culture
AMST 418 - Food and American Culture

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
AMST 419 - Love in America

Prerequisites: Upper-division standing or consent of instructor. 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
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.

Flyer for AMST 423
AMST 423 - The Search for Community

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing. 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
AMST 428 - American Monsters

Prerequisites: AMST 201 or completion of G. E. Category D.3. 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
AMST 433 - Visual Arts in Contemporary America

Prerequisites: Completion of general education section on American history, institutions and values. 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
AMST 438 - American Minds: Images of Sickness and Health

Prerequisite: upper-division standing. 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
AMST 439 - American Photographs as Cultural Evidence

Prerequisite: upper division standing. 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: Upper-division standing or consent of instructor. 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.

Flyer for AMST 442

AMST 442 - Television and American Culture
Prerequisite: Completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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
Prerequisites: Upper-division standing or consent of instructor. 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
AMST 445 - The Cold War and American Culture

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
AMST 447 - Race and American Popular Culture

Prerequisite: AMST 201 or completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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: American Studies 201 or 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: American Studies 201 or completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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.

Flyer for AMST 451 Spring 2017

AMST 451 - Fashion in American Culture
Prerequisite: completion of G.E. category D.3.  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
AMST 459 - Technology and American Culture

Prerequisite: completion of G.E. category D.3. 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
AMST 460 - Bohemians and Beats: Cultural Radicalism in America

Prerequisite: American Studies 201 or completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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
AMST 465 - The Culture of the American South

Prerequisite: AMST 201 or completion of G.E. Category D.3. 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
AMST 468 - Culture in Turmoil: 1960's America
Prerequisite: upper-division standing. 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 447
AMST 473 - Sexual Orientations and American Culture

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
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. 

Flyer for AMST 488
AMST 488 - Race, Sex, and American Urban Culture

Prerequisite: AMST 201 or completion of G.E. Category D.3.  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. 

 Flyer for AMST 495

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.

Click here to see descriptions of graduate courses