Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
AMST 0101 - Intro to American Studies ▹
Introduction to American Studies: American Representations of Crime and Violence
In this course we will offer an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and identity. Integrating a range of sources and methods, we will examine myths, symbols, values, and social changes that have been used to create and contest ideas of "Americanness." Sources for the course will include movies, fiction, political and religious tracts, advertising, TV shows, video games, music, and journalism. This year, we will focus on American portrayals of crime and violence in a wide range of texts and cultural artifacts that provide us with a larger sense of how these representations function in the formation of categories of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, ethics and religion, as well as socio-economic class in American society. Texts and films will range from True Crime to Pulp Fiction and from street photography to pictures of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. 3 hrs. lect.
Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014
AMST 0104 - Television & American Culture ▹
Television & American Culture
This course explores American life in the last six decades through an analysis of our central medium: television. Spanning a history of television from its origins in radio to its future in digital convergence, we will consider television's role in both reflecting and constituting American society through a variety of approaches. Our topical exploration will consider the economics of the television industry, television's role within American democracy, the formal attributes of a variety of television genres, television as a site of gender and racial identity formation, television's role in everyday life, and the medium's technological and social impacts. 2 hrs. lect./3 hrs. screen.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014
AMST 0105 - Intro to Disability Studies
Introduction to Disability Studies
In this course we will explore the varied and evolving meanings of disability-as condition, lived experience, and analytical framework. Dominant issues -including representation, education, employment, bioethics, institutions, community, and policies and rights will serve as touchstones for research, analysis, and learning. Rigorous attention to the links between disability and other significant social categories, such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation and identification, gender, and age define disability studies and this course. Films, on-line exhibits, music, advertising, popular media, and the material world reflect the wide range of sources on which this course draws. While the United States is highlighted in this class, transnational and global components figure significantly as well. 3 hrs. sem.
AMST 0120 - Disability in American Culture
Body Politics: Disability in American Culture
In this course we will address the meaning of disability in America. We will confront the social construction of disability, its representation, and its changing meaning in society. We will consider how ideas about disability-and normalcy-reflect broad and shifting notions of identity across time and place. Our critiques will consider disability as it relates to issues of gender, community, class, region, and race. This line of inquiry invites us to rethink language, the body, identity, culture, power, and the nature of knowledge itself. We will draw heavily from texts such as The New Disability History and Freakery and will view documentary films like Murderball and Through Deaf Eyes. Oral histories, memoirs, literature, and Hollywood films represent core primary sources for this class.
AMST 0170 - Religion in America
Religion in America
America often has been defined paradoxically as both the "most religious" and "least religious" of nations. This course, a historical survey of American religious life, will trace the unique story of American religion from colonial times to the present. Guiding our exploration will be the ideas of "contact," "conflict," and "combination." Along the way, we will examine the varieties of religious experiences and traditions that have shaped and been shaped by American culture such as, Native American traditions, Puritan life and thought, evangelicalism, immigration, African-American religious experience, women's movements, and the on-going challenges of religious diversity. Readings include sermons, essays, diaries and fiction, as well as secondary source material. 2 hrs. lect. 1 hr. disc.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011
AMST 0175 - Immigrant America ▲
In this course we will trace American immigration history from the late 19th to the turn of the 21st century, and examine the essential place immigration has occupied in the making of modern America and American culture. The central themes of this course will be industrialization and labor migrations, aftermaths of wars and refugees, constructions of racial categories and ethnic community identities, legal defining of "aliens" and citizenship, and diversity in immigrant experiences. To explore these themes, we will engage a range of sources including memoirs, novels, oral histories, and films.
AMST 0202 - The American Mind ▲
The American Mind
We will consider the history of influential American ideas, and ideas about America, from the Revolution to the present, with particular regard to changing cultural contexts. A continuing question will be whether such a consensus concept as “the American Mind” has the validity long claimed for it. Among many writers we will read are Thomas Jefferson, Alexis de Tocqueville, William James, Martin Luther King, Reinhold Niebuhr and Betty Friedan. (Previously taught as HIST/AMST 0426)
Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2013
AMST 0203 - Media, Sports, & Identity ▲
Media, Sports, & Identity
In this course we will examine the relationship between media, sports, and the formulation of one’s identity. We will examine issues pertaining to gender identification, violence, and hero worship. Reading critical essays on the subject, studying media coverage of sporting events, and writing short analytical essays will enable us to determine key elements concerning how sports are contextualized in American culture. Student essays will form the basis of a more in-depth inquiry that each student will then present, using media, at the end of the course. (Not open to students who have taken WRPR 1002)
Spring 2010, Winter 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2013
AMST 0206 - 19th Century American Lit. ▲
Nineteenth-Century American Literature
This course will examine major developments in the literary world of 19th century America. Specific topics to be addressed might include the transition from Romanticism to Regionalism and Realism, the origins and evolution of the novel in the United States, and the tensions arising from the emergence of a commercial marketplace for literature. Attention will also be paid to the rise of women as literary professionals in America and the persistent problematizing of race and slavery. Among others, authors may include J. F. Cooper, Emerson, Melville, Douglass, Chopin, Whitman, Dickinson, Twain, Hawthorne, Stowe, Alcott, Wharton, and James. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013
AMST 0207 - 20th Century American Lit
Twentieth-Century American Literature
This course is a study of the American literary tradition in the Modern and Postmodern periods. Authors may include Henry Adams, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Ralph Ellison, Don DeLillo, and Toni Morrison. Readings will include both primary and critical texts. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
AMST 0209 - Am. Lit. & Cult: origins-1830 ▲
American Literature and Culture: Origins-1830
A study of literary and other cultural forms in early America, including gravestones, architecture, furniture and visual art. We will consider how writing and these other forms gave life to ideas about religion, diversity, civic obligation and individual rights that dominated not only colonial life but that continue to influence notions of "Americanness" into the present day. 3 hrs. lect./dics.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013
AMST 0210 - Mod. American Cult. 1830-1919 ▹
Formation of Modern American Culture I: 1830-1919
An introduction to the study of American culture from 1830 through World War I with an emphasis on the changing shape of popular, mass, and elite cultural forms. We will explore a widely-accepted scholarly notion that a new, distinctively national and modern culture emerged during this period and that particular ideas of social formation (race, class, gender, sexuality, etc.) came with it. We will practice the interdisciplinary interpretation of American culture by exploring a wide range of subjects and media: economic change, social class, biography and autobiography, politics, photo-journalism, novels, architecture, painting, and photography. Required of all American studies majors. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014
AMST 0211 - Mod. American Cult. 1920-2001
Formation of Modern American Culture II: 1920-2001
A continuation of the themes addressed in AMST 0210, tracing the development of a distinctive national and international American culture between 1920 and 2001. The class will highlight the rise of modern mass culture, focusing on the emergence of new cultural forms and media, the increasingly public role played by women and racial minorities, the changing nature of the built environment, and the importance of American popular culture on the world stage. Less a survey of cultural history than an interdisciplinary examination of key issues and conflicts, the course will be organized around a variety of written, visual, and aural texts. Required of all American studies majors. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012
AMST 0212 - American Literature Since 1945
American Literature Since 1945
In this course we will trace the development of the postmodern sensibility in American literature since the Second World War. We will read works in four genres: short fiction, novels, non-fiction (the "new journalism"), and poetry. Authors will include Saul Bellow, Joseph Heller, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O'Connor, Jack Kerouac, Vladimir Nabokov, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, and Don DeLillo. 3 hrs. lect.
AMST 0215 - Football and Higher Education
Football and Higher Education
Football originated on American campuses, and its 150-year history reflects the vibrant, uneasy relation between sports and higher education. The first "big time" college sport, football became a media spectacle in the 1890s, and since then critics have debated the game's violence, educational merits, commercial trappings, and bearing on college admissions policies. The course will move from the 19th century to the present, tracing the sport's cultural meanings, its relation to class identity and gender roles, and its educational mission, including the sport's regulation by the NCAA. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to these issues, and readings will include literary and secondary works by William Bowen, Robert Lipsyte, Michael Oriard, and Murray Sperber.
Fall 2009, Spring 2012
AMST 0216 - Hist of American West
History of the American West
This is a survey of the history of the trans-Mississippi West from colonial contact through the 1980s. It explores how that region became known and understood as the West, and its role and meaning in United States history as a whole. The central themes of this course are conquest and its legacy, especially with regard to the role of the U.S. federal government in the West; human interactions with and perceptions of landscape and environment; social contests among different groups for a right to western resources and over the meanings of western identity; and the role of the West in American popular culture. 2 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc. (formerly HIST/AMST 0374)
Spring 2012, Spring 2013
AMST 0217 - History of Urban America
The History of Urban America
"The magnification of all the dimensions of life," writes Lewis Mumford, " . . . has been the supreme office of the city in history." Mumford's appraisal of the mission of the city can be debated, but the importance of the city to civilization cannot be denied. This course traces the rise of the city in America from the colonial era to the present. It explores why Americans have huddled in concentrated settlements and the consequences of that clustering. Special attention will be given to the growth of the industrial city of the late 19th century and the modern metropolis of the 20th century. (formerly HIST/AMST 0375) 2 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.
AMST 0218 - Cultural Geography ▹
What do landscapes mean? How are places created and invested with significance? Why do people struggle to control public and private space? In this course we will examine these and similar questions. The main goals are to illuminate the wealth of meanings embodied in the built environment and our metaphorical understandings of landscape, place, space, and geographical identity, and to teach skills for interpreting and representing those meanings. Lectures, course readings, small-group projects, and papers will draw on social theory and empirical approaches, with a regional emphasis on North America. 3 hrs. lect.
Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2014
AMST 0219 - Historical Geog of N. America
Historical Geography of North America
North American society and landscape have been shaped by powerful forces over the last 500 years: conquest, disease, war, migration, the railroad and the farmer's plow, urban growth, and industrial transformation. In the process, new regional cultures formed while older societies were profoundly changed. In this course we will examine the geography of historical change in the United States and Canada, focusing on the themes of territorial control, human settlement, the inscribing of cultural and economic systems on the land, and North Americans' attitudes toward the places they inhabit. Limited spaces available to fulfill college writing requirement 3 hrs. lect.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010
AMST 0221 - Baseball's Negro Leagues
Segregation in America: Baseball's Negro Leagues
Like many aspects of American life, organized baseball was segregated, black and white, from the end of the 19th century to the mid 20th century. In this course we will examine the absorbing chronicle of baseball's "Negro leagues." We will learn about the great players and teams, and consider how this sporting phenomenon reflects American values and represents this period in our history. We will address important questions about sports and their cultural significance. What do sports tell us about ourselves and our past? Can we understand our cultural heritage by looking through the lens of sports, black baseball in this case? We will also consider how art is created from these historical roots. (Student who have taken FYSE 1004 or AMST 0223 are not eligible to register for this course.) 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Fall 2010, Fall 2012
AMST 0223 - Baseball as Narrative:
Baseball as Narrative: Baseball, Literature, and American Culture
In this course, we learn about baseball, and its history and essence. While baseball is a vibrant and longstanding part of our culture, we try to keep in mind that it is not an artifact; it is a game played today too, and the source of some wonderful expression: it has a literature of imaginative depth and quality. The baseball hero in literature and in life, the sports hero generally, is a powerful symbol of youth and vitality; yet he lives in a world of limits and time. The athlete dies twice: once symbolically at the end of his career and then also a literal death. These “deadlines” give meaning to their quests for greatness, and ours too. (Students who have taken AMST 0221 are not eligible to register for this course). 3 hrs. lect./disc.
AMST 0224 - Race and Ethnicity in the US
Formations of Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.
Historical memories, everyday experiences, and possible futures are powerfully shaped by racial and ethnic differences. Categories of race and ethnicity structure social relationships and cultural meanings in the United States and beyond. In this course we will track the theoretical and historical bases of ideas of race and ethnicity in modern America. We will investigate how race and ethnicity intersect at particular historical moments with other forms of difference including gender, sexuality, nation, and class. The course offers an approach informed by critical studies of race including texts in history, political theory, cultural studies, and anthropology. 3 hrs. lect.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2013
AMST 0225 - Gothic and Horror
Gothic and Horror
This course examines the forms and meanings of the Gothic and horror over the last 250 years in the West. How have effects of fright, terror, or awe been achieved over this span and why do audiences find such effects attractive? Our purpose will be to understand the generic structures of horror and their evolution in tandem with broader cultural changes. Course materials will include fiction, film, readings in the theory of horror, architecture, visual arts, and electronic media. 3 hrs. lect./disc. 3 hrs lect.
Spring 2011, Fall 2012
AMST 0226 - Global American Studies ▲
Global American Studies
The intensification of globalization since the 1980s has transformed the United States and the field of American Studies. In this course we will explore cultural and social changes that are linked to global flows of media, money, and migration in and out of the United States. Contemporary theories of globalization in the humanities and social sciences will be explored through a number of case studies. Some of the themes covered will include: the relationship between globalization and Americanization, imperialism and American militarization, transnationalism and media, and neoliberalism and finance.
Spring 2013, Fall 2013
AMST 0227 - Asian Americas ▹
In this course we will investigate cultural transformations, cultural politics, and the cultural productions of and about Asian Americans. The themes of immigration, nation, and citizenship are central to the construction of the U.S. racial category of Asian. Those addressed within the category are highly diverse and differentiated along class, gender, and generational lines, yet the racial category structures particular kinds of experiences and possibilities for subjects. Historical transformations and contemporary issues in a variety of Asian American contexts will be investigated through a variety of texts including historical accounts, cultural studies, anthropological studies, autobiography, and fiction. 3 hrs. lect.
Fall 2010, Spring 2014
AMST 0228 - Development and the U.S. ▹
Development and the United States
In this course we will explore the relationship between the United States and “Development”--the post-Second World War international project that emerged to help “modernize” the decolonizing world. We will investigate how the American modernization theory came to define the paths and goals of the international development project and how American policies of “nation building,” delineated U.S. relations with the “global south.” Readings will include theories on capitalist development and modernization, and discourses on American developmentalism in practice and their critiques 3 hrs. lect./disc.
AMST 0230 - Gender Images in Pop Am Cult
Gender Images in American Popular Culture
In this course, we will examine representations of gender in American popular culture. Course materials will include nineteenth-century popular music, literature, and theater, early twentieth-century advertising and film, 1950s television, and more recent electronic media. Considering a range of cultural forms over a broad historical period allows us to determine the impact that particular media have had on our conceptions of gender difference. Finally, by becoming critical readers of popular cultural forms that represent manhood and womanhood, we gain a greater appreciation for the complexity, variability, and open-endedness of gender constructions within American life. 3 hrs. lect.
Spring 2010, Fall 2012
AMST 0231 - Tourism in American Culture ▲
See the U.S.A.: The History of Tourism in American Culture
In this course, we will explore the history and evolution of American tourism, beginning in the 1820s, when middle-class tourists first journeyed up the Hudson River valley, and ending with our contemporary and continuing obsession with iconic destinations such as Graceland, Gettysburg, and the Grand Canyon. We will explore how the growth of national transportation systems, the development of advertising, and the rise of a middle class with money and time to spend on leisure shaped the evolution of tourism. Along the way, we will study various types of tourism (such as historical, cultural, ethnic, eco-, and 'disaster' tourism) and look at the creative processes by which places are transformed into 'destinations'. Our texts will come from visual art, travel literature, material culture, and film and television. We will consider their cultural meaning and reflect on our own motivations and responses as tourists, and by so doing contemplate why tourism was-and still is-such an important part of American life. 3 hrs. lect.
AMST 0232 - Music in the United States
Music in the United States
In this course we will examine folk, classical, and popular music in the United States from the 18th century to the present. We will use historical and analytical approaches to gain insight into the music, the musicians, and the social and cultural forces that have shaped them. Students will explore music’s relation to historical events, other artistic movements, technological changes, and questions of national identity and ethnicity. Topics may include music in the British colonies, minstrelsy, American opera and orchestras, the rise of the popular music industry, and the experimentalist composers of the 20th century. (Assumes ability to read music.) 3 hrs lect./disc.
AMST 0234 - American Consumer Culture ▹
American Consumer Culture
For many Americans in the 20th century, consumer goods came to embody the promise of the "good life." Yet mass consumption also fostered economic, political, and social inequalities and engendered anti-consumerist activism. In this course we will pursue an interdisciplinary approach to American consumer culture, focusing on the rise of commercialized leisure and advertising; the role of radio, television, and film in shaping consumer practices; and the relationship of consumerism to social inequality and democratic citizenship. Readings will include works by Veblen, Marcuse, Bordieu, Marchand, Cohen, and Schor. 3 hrs. lect.
Spring 2013, Spring 2014
AMST 0238 - Film Noir
A series of urban crime films and melodramas made in Hollywood between 1940-1960, but concentrated in the decade immediately after World War II, have been understood by critics to constitute the movement of film noir. In this course we will study prominent films from this group as well as contemporary films influenced by them, and the critical literature they have elicited in order to understand the cultural sources, the stylistic attributes, the social significance, and the long-term influence attributed to film noir. 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. screen.
Spring 2010, Spring 2013
AMST 0240 - Captivity Narratives ▹
Captivity narratives—first-person accounts of people's experiences of being forcibly taken and held against their will by an "other"—were immensely popular and important in early America; the captivity motif has been perpetuated and transformed throughout later American literature and film. In this course we will explore what these types of tales reveal about how Americans have handled the issues of race and racism, religion, gender, violence and sexuality that experiences of captivity entail. Beginning with classic Puritan narratives (Mary Rowlandson) and moving forward through the 19th and 20th centuries, we will consider the ways that novels (The Last of the Mohicans), autobiographies (Patty Hearst, Iraqi captivity of Pvt. Jessica Lynch) and films (The Searchers, Little Big Man, Dances with Wolves) do cultural work in shaping and challenging images of American national identity. 3 hrs. lect.
AMST 0242 - Film Comedy ▹
A survey of American film comedy from the silent era to contemporary productions. The course will focus on various approaches such as clown comedy, romantic comedy, and satirical comedy. In addition, the course will explore screen comedy in the context of various theories of comedy, including the narrative design, the social dynamics, and the psychological understanding of humor. The filmmakers will include: Chaplin, Keaton, Lubitsch, Wilder, Woody Allen, among others. Screenings, readings and written assignments. 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. screen.
AMST 0245 - American Landscape: 1825-1865
American Landscape: 1825-1865
This course will explore American landscape painting through an interdisciplinary approach, employing art, literature, religion, and history. In studying the landscape paintings of Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, and Frederic Church, we will also consider the commercial growth of New York City; the myths and legends of the Catskill Mountains; the writings of James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, and Henry David Thoreau; the opening of the Erie Canal; and the design and construction of Central Park. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012
AMST 0246 - American Painting to 1920 ▹
American Painting: Beginnings to the Armory Show
This course is an introduction to American painting from 17th century limner portraits to the rise of modernism in the twentieth century, with special attention to Copley, Cole, Church, Homer, Eakins, Sloan, and Bellows. Although we will trace the development of traditional categories of painting (landscape, portraiture, genre), our purpose will be to discover what the paintings tell us about the changing values and tastes of American culture. (Formerly HARC/AMCV 0246) 3 hrs. lect.
Spring 2010, Spring 2014
AMST 0250 - How EL NORTE Became the S.West
How El Norte Became the Southwest
In this course we will study the political and cultural transformation of Northern Mexican/ Southwestern borderlands. Themes and issues will include: Mexican conceptions of frontier, constructions of identity by Tejanos, Californios, and Hispanos, the history of the Mexican American War, demographic transformation, and the role of dispossession and Americanization in cultural change. We will focus on close readings of texts such as: Maria Ruiz de Burton's The Squatter and the Don, The Life and Times of Juaquin Murrieta, Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop, Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona, and the screenplay of the movie Lone Star. (Formerly INTL/AMST 0477). 3 hrs. lect/disc.
AMST 0252 - African American Literature
African American Literature
This course surveys developments in African American fiction, drama, poetry, and essays during the 20th century. Reading texts in their social, historical, and cultural contexts—and often in conjunction with other African American art forms like music and visual art—we will explore the evolution and deployment of various visions of black being and black artistry, from the Harlem Renaissance through social realism and the Black Arts Movement, to the contemporary post-soul aesthetic. Authors may include Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, Toni Morrison, Charles Johnson, and Octavia Butler. 3 hrs lect./disc.
Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2013
AMST 0253 - Science Fiction ▹
Time travel, aliens, androids, robots, corporate and political domination, reimaginings of race, gender, sexuality and the human body--these concerns have dominated science fiction over the last 150 years. But for all of its interest in the future, science fiction tends to focus on technologies and social problems relevant to the period in which it is written. In this course, we'll work to understand both the way that authors imagine technology's role in society and how those imaginings create meanings for science and its objects of study and transformation. Some likely reading and films include Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, Ridley Scott, Blade Runner, and works by William Gibson, Ursula LeGuin, Octavia Butler and other contemporary writers. (Students who have taken FYSE 1162 are not eligible to register for this course). 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Spring 2012, Spring 2014
AMST 0254 - Millennial Media
Millennial Media: Youth Audiences and Commercial Culture
Coming of age narratives speak to both youth audiences and adult viewers, and thus have a pervasive impact on popular culture. In this course, we will explore the commercial construct of the "millennial generation," a generation imagined to span those born from the late 1970s through 2000. We will consider how representations of adolescents circulate in American film, television, and digital media texts such as Harry Potter and Glee, examining their industrial contexts and their audience response. We will interrogate trade and popular publications seeking to define millennials, and consider the social significance of generational discourse more broadly. (FMMC 0101 or FMMC 0104 or AMST 0211) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. screen.
Spring 2011, Spring 2012
AMST 0260 - American Disability Studies
American Disability Studies: History, Meanings, and Cultures
In this course we will examine the history, meanings, and realities of disability in the United States. We will analyze the social, political, economic, environmental, and material factors that shape the meanings of "disability," examining changes and continuities over time. Students will draw critical attention to the connections between disability, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and age in American and transnational contexts. Diverse sources, including films and television shows, music, advertising, fiction, memoirs, and material objects, encourage inter and multi-disciplinary approaches to disability. Central themes we consider include language, privilege, community, citizenship, education, medicine and technology, and representation.
AMST 0263 - American Psycho ▹
American Psycho: Disease, Doctors, and Discontents (II) (AL) *
What constitutes a pathological response to the pressures of modernity? How do pathological protagonists drive readers toward the precariousness of their own physical and mental health? The readings for this class center on the provisional nature of sanity and the challenges to bodily health in a world of modern commerce, media, and medical diagnoses. We will begin with 19th century texts and their engagement with seemingly "diseased" responses to urbanization, new forms of work, and new structures of the family and end with contemporary fictional psychopaths engaged in attacks on the world of images we inhabit in the present. Nineteenth century texts will likely include stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Later 20th-century works will likely include Ken Kesey, /One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest/, Thomas Harris, /The Silence of the Lambs/, Susanna Kaysen, /Girl, Interrupted/, and Bret Easton Ellis, /American Psycho/.
AMST 0270 - Thoreau/Lib Relig/Soc Change
Thoreau, Liberal Religion and Social Change AR, WT
Thoreau is best known as a “nature writer,” but his contribution to American religion and culture is much broader. In this course, we will examine Thoreau’s work within the broader context of his deepest concerns, including challenges to Christian orthodoxies, the early study of “world religions,” abolitionism, non-violence, and the critique of capitalism. We will focus on Thoreau’s life and thought including Walden and beyond, reading widely among thinkers who most influenced him. In the second half of the seminar, we will explore Thoreau’s many modern legacies: liberal religion, religious pluralism, non-violent resistance, anti-consumption, environmentalism, and civil rights campaigns. 3 hrs. sem.
AMST 0276 - Religion in the Borderlands
Religion in the Borderlands
In this course we will survey the religious and cultural history of the U.S./Mexico borderlands. Themes and issues to be covered include: the definition of place, the history of religious iconography, ritual performance and community, transformations in forms of belief, and the effects of linguistic pluralism on cultural and religious creativity. Readings will include: Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera, Alberto Pulido's The Sacred World of the Penitentes, and other historical and literary works. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Fall 2009, Spring 2012
AMST 0277 - Watching the Wire
Urban America & Serial Television: Watching /The Wire/
Frequently hailed as a masterpiece of American television, The Wire shines a light on urban decay in contemporary America, creating a dramatic portrait of Baltimore's police, drug trade, shipping docks, city hall, public schools, and newspapers over five serialized seasons. In this course, we will watch and discuss all of this remarkable-and remarkably entertaining-series, and place it within the dual contexts of contemporary American society and the aesthetics of television. This is a time-intensive course with a focus on close viewing and discussion, and opportunities for critical analysis and research about the show's social contexts and aesthetic practices. (FMMC 0104, FMMC 0236, or AMST 0211) 3 hrs. sem./screen
Spring 2010, Spring 2013
AMST 0283 - Social Dance & Popular Culture
From George Washington to John Travolta: Social Dance in Popular Culture
In this course we will examine religion, gender, morality, etiquette, politics, and other cultural and societal issues in American history as they intersect in the public sphere through the activity of social dance. Coursework will involve the investigation of primary source materials including contemporary letters and diaries, dance manuals, newspaper and journal reports, and accounts of social dance in American literature. Students will read texts on dance and cultural history, view images of dance in American art and popular film, and listen to four centuries of American dance music. 3 hrs. lect./2 hrs. screening
Fall 2009, Fall 2010
AMST 0301 - Madness in America
Madness in America
It's a mad, mad course. In this course we will focus on representations of madness from colonial to late 20th century America, emphasizing the links between popular and material culture, science, medicine, and institutions. We will consider how ideas about madness (and normalcy) reflect broader (and shifting) notions of identity. Thus, issues of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, community, class, and region will play significant roles in our discussions and critiques. To complement foundational readings, this course will draw on American literature, documentary and entertainment films, music, and materials from the college's special collections.
AMST 0302 - Love, Sex, Race & Disability
Love, Sex, Race, and Disability
In this course we will explore the connections between gender and sexuality, race, and disability. Culture and representation, understandings of diversity and difference, and contexts (political, social, and historical) will provide central areas of study. Comparing and integrating topics and perspectives, we will critically analyze the constructions and politics of identity (and multiple identities) and historical perspectives on gender and sexuality, race, and disability. We also will consider the impact of education and activism, as well as the meanings of intimate relationships across and between genders and sexualities, races, and disabilities. Our work will foster a fundamental reexamination of American life and history through its study of bodies and minds, identities, languages, cultures, citizenship and rights, power and authority, what is a "natural" and "unnatural." This course will draw on diverse sources, including documentary and Hollywood films, poetry and short fiction, academic texts, such as Freakery, Gendering Disability and Disability and the Teaching of Writing, and memoirs, such as Eli Clare's Exile and Pride.
AMST 0303 - Visions of Citizenship
Visions of Citizenship
Who has access to U.S. citizenship? What obligations and entitlements accrue to individual citizens? How have U.S. civic ideals changed over time? In this course we will examine conflicts and continuities in the definition of U.S. citizenship. Drawing on political theory and on contemporary political discourse, we will interrogate traditional views of U.S. citizenship and consider communitarian, social democratic, feminist, and multiculturalist alternatives. Throughout the course, we will examine how representations of U.S. civic culture in literature, art, film, and other media contribute to larger citizenship debates. 3 hrs. lect.
AMST 0305 - Hollywood Unbound Pre-Code
Hollywood Unbound: The Pre-Code Era, 1930-34
Film historian Thomas Doherty has characterized the films produced in the early "talkie" years, 1930-34, as "the raw stuff of American culture, unvarnished and unveiled." In this course we will explore the cinematic product of that era, by viewing representative films about gender identity and sexual freedom, equality, and "inversion," political corruption, vice, crime, violence, racial and religious transgressions, and how those films reflect the social and cultural realities of Depression America. An understanding of how this period of creative innovation enhanced by sound aroused social and religious indignation leading to Joseph Breen's 1934 enforcement of the Production Code will emerge from our study.
AMST 0308 - Race: Sci, Med. & Diversity ▹
The Power of Race: Science, Medicine, and Human Diversity
In this course, we will explore the manner in which ideologies of race have shaped the histories of science and medicine, and how scientists and medical practitioners have shaped the history of race. Topics will include the role of scientific knowledge in debates about racial slavery in the U.S., eugenics policies in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, tropical medicine in the Philippines, and public health policies in Los Angeles and San Francisco. We will pay particular attention to recent debates regarding the uses of race and genetic ancestry in biomedical research and practice, as well as genetic genealogy. 3 hrs. sem.
Spring 2013, Spring 2014
AMST 0309 - Tech & Power in American Hist. ▲
Technology and Power in American History
In this course we will consider how technological artifacts and systems have constituted, mediated, and reproduced relationships of power with a particular attention to hierarchies of race, gender, class, and nation. We will examine the relationships between humans and technologies within the context of globalization from early colonial America through the 21st century. We will consider a variety of technologies and social settings such as guns, slave ships, plantations, factories, prisons, physical and virtual border fences, computers, mobile phones, human bodies, and reproduction. We will ask whether technology has produced a better America, and for whom. 3 hrs. sem.
AMST 0310 - Livin' for the City
Livin' for the City
In this course we will engage the idea of the "ghetto" as constructed through literature, film, music, and television. Our exploration will relate this concept to geographic spaces and to a socially-constructed set of ideas about urban African American spaces and communities. We will combine critical textual analysis with fundamental concepts from human geography and social history to explore shifting conceptions of the “ghetto”, consider its impact on urban African American space, and examine how the responses of urban black American artists affect, resist, and change its imaginative geography. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
AMST 0342 - Southern American Literature
Southern American Literature
In William Faulkner's Absolom, Absolom! Canadian Shreve McCannon commands his roommate, Mississippian Quentin Compson, "Tell about the South. What's it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all?" Our course will take on writers who want to "tell about the South" in the post-Civil War era and beyond, as they seek to help re-define and revitalize their region. We will focus our regional exploration on the "Southern Renascence," when writers and theorists like the Agrarians re-examined Southern history and reconsidered their role in relation to their regional community. Authors including William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams developed a new awareness of the restrictions of racial and gender roles, an interest in literary experimentation, and an increasingly realistic presentation of social conditions in the south. We will consider the legacy of these writers in later 20th century texts by authors such as Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Alice Walker, Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Gaines, Randall Kenan and even relative newcomers such as Jackson Tippett McCrea. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
AMST 0347 - Families-American Ethnic Lits ▹
Families in American Ethnic Literatures
In this course we will explore depictions of "the family" by authors of various ethnicities-in every case interaction with/integration into "American life" is at issue. Under that broad rubric, we will discuss a range of topics, including: the processes of individual and group identity erasure and formation; experiences of intergenerational conflict; considerations of the burden and promise of personal and communal histories; examinations of varied understandings of race, class, and gender; and interrogations of "Americanness." Authors include Ronald Takaki, Gloria Naylor, Arturo Islas, Sherman Alexie, Philip Roth, Julie Otsuka, Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz, Gish Jen, and Dinaw Mengestu. 3 hrs. lect.
AMST 0355 - Theories of Popular Culture
Theories of Popular Culture
This course introduces a range of theoretical approaches to study popular culture, exploring the intersection between everyday life, mass media, and broader political and historical contexts within the United States. We will consider key theoretical readings and approaches to studying culture, including ideology and hegemony theory, political economy, audience studies, subcultural analysis, the politics of taste, and cultural representations of identity. Using these theoretical tools, we will examine a range of popular media and sites of cultural expression, from television to toys, technology to music, to understand popular culture as a site of ongoing political and social struggle. (Formerly AMST/FMMC 0275) (FMMC 0102 or FMMC 0104 or FMMC 0236 or AMST 0211) 3 hrs. lect./disc./3 hrs. screen.
AMST 0356 - Chicago Stories
This course offers a survey of literature about Chicago, starting in the 1890s, when America's "shock city" first began to imagine itself in fiction and continue up through the present day and contemporary imaginings of the post-industrial city. Readings will include works by Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, Carl Sandburg, Willa Cather, Richard Wright, Saul Bellow, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, and Stuart Dybek. In addition to landmark examples of Chicago literature, we will consider non-fictional representations of the city's history and culture (e.g. sociology, urban reform writing) as well as critical analyses that illuminate the Chicago literary tradition and urban literature in general. 3 hrs. lect.
AMST 0358 - Reading Slavery and Aboliltion ▲
Reading, Slavery, and Abolition
In this course we will study both black and white writers' psychological responses to, and their verbal onslaughts on, the "peculiar institution" of chattel slavery. We will work chronologically and across genres to understand how and by whom the written word was deployed in pursuit of physical and mental freedom and racial and socioeconomic justice. As the course progresses, we will deepen our study of historical context drawing on the substantial resources of Middlebury's special collections, students will have the opportunity to engage in archival work if they wish. Authors will include Emerson, Douglass, Jacobs, Thoreau, Stowe, Walker, and Garrison. 3 hrs. sem.
AMST 0365 - Art and Lang of the Civil War ▲
The Art and Language of the Civil War
The course will begin with a review of the major historical events of the Civil War. We will then study the conflict through the paintings of Winslow Homer and Frederic Church, the poetry and prose of Walt Whitman, the photographs of Matthew Brady, and the political writings of Abraham Lincoln. Particular emphasis will be placed upon the thoughts and attitudes of the common soldier as reflected in his diaries and journals. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2013
AMST 0370 - Seminar in American Religion
Seminar in American Religion:
Topic is determined by the instructor - refer to section for the course description.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010
AMST 0371 - African American History
African American History
This course will explore the history of the African American people from the slave trade to the present. It will examine the process of enslavement, the nature of American slavery, the meaning of emancipation, the response to the rise of legalized segregation, and the modern struggle for equality. Special attention will be given to placing the African American story within the context of the developing American nation, its institutions, and its culture. 2 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.
AMST 0372 - The Civil Rights Revolution
The Civil Rights Revolution
A study of the quest for a more inclusive American polity in the twentieth century. The modern civil rights movement is the central focus, but this course offers more than a survey of events from Montgomery to Memphis. It explores the pre-World War II roots of the modern black freedom struggle, the impact of the heroic phase of the civil rights movement, and the ambiguous developments since 1970. This course employs a "race relations" perspective, stressing the linkages among the experiences of African Americans, whites, and other groups. 2 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.
AMST 0373 - History of American Women ▲
History of American Women: 1869-1999
This course will examine women's social, political, cultural, and economic position in American society from 1869 through the late 20th century. We will explore the shifting ideological basis for gender roles, as well as the effects of race, class, ethnicity, and region on women's lives. Topics covered will include: women's political identity, women's work, sexuality, access to education, the limits of "sisterhood" across racial and economic boundaries, and the opportunities women used to expand their sphere of influence. 3 hrs lect./disc.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2013
AMST 0400 - Theory and Method ▲
Theory and Method in American Studies (Junior Year)
A reading of influential secondary texts that have defined the field of American Studies during the past fifty years. Particular attention will be paid to the methodologies adopted by American Studies scholars, and the relevance these approaches have for the writing of senior essays and theses. (Open to junior American studies majors only.) 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013
AMST 0408 - Am Art In Context: ▲
American Art in Context: Art and Life of Winslow Homer
Although generally regarded as a popular painter of American life, Winslow Homer often provides a penetrating and sometimes disturbing view of post-Civil War America. Among the topics to be considered: Homer's paintings of the Civil War; his illustrations of leisure and recreation; and his depictions of women and children in the Gilded Age. During the second half of the course, we will turn our attention to Homer's landscape paintings of the Adirondacks, the Caribbean and the Maine coast, as well as his seascapes of the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013
AMST 0417 - Modern Am Indian Social Hist
Modern American Indian Social History
Popular narratives of American Indian history often conclude with the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre and fail to acknowledge the endurance and resurgence of modern Indian nations. In this readings seminar, we will examine Native life and the processes of accommodation, resistance, renewal, and change from the reservation era to the present. Course topics will include: treaty rights and tribal sovereignty, federal Indian policy, pan-Indian movements, reservation governance and economic development, cultural revitalization, conflict over natural resources, identity politics, and urban experiences. We will also reflect upon the various interdisciplinary sources and interdisciplinary methods of American Indian studies. 3 hrs. sem.
AMST 0420 - Visual Culture of the Americas
Visual Cultures of the Americas
From murals to monuments and telenovelas to veladoras, this bilingual [Spanish/English] seminar will explore the role of visual expression in the history of cultural formation throughout the Americas. We will take a hemispheric and transnational approach to our studies. As such, two related premises inform the material we will examine: images traverse the boundaries of nation-states, and they are intrinsically tied to the developments of modern history. We will combine theoretical works with a variety of still and moving images (artifacts of mass culture, photography, artwork, film, mixed media, and performance) to study the relationship between "visuality" and flows of culture throughout Latin and Anglo Americas. This course is equivalent to IGST 0420 and HARC 0420. 3 hr. sem.
AMST 0438 - LatAm Transnational Experience
The Latin American Transnational Experience
In this course we will focus on contemporary Latin American authors writing in the U.S. about transnational identities, bilingualism, migration, and otherness. These authors distinguish themselves from Latino writers, strictly defined by their language choice and by an ironical, playful emotional distance from both their places of origin and the U.S. environment. Through this they question assumptions commonly associated with a perceived Latino identity. Students will produce fiction, one piece of which will be based on service interactions with Mexican immigrants in Vermont. (Senior majors with at least two Spanish courses numbered 0350 or above, or by waiver.) 3 hrs. sem.
AMST 0476 - Disability in a Global Context
Approximately 650 million people currently live with a disability, making this population the largest minority in the world. In this seminar we will explore the meaning of disability (as a condition) as well as the lived experience of people with disabilities in global, continental, and national contexts. Using an integrated perspective that applies knowledge about disability from diverse disciplines and methodologies, we will assess core models of disability: social, medical, linguistic, historical, political, institutional, educational, technological, attitudinal, and economic. Using the term disability within an analytical framework, we will examine the meaning of such fundamental concepts as identity, community, citizenship, and "normalcy." (Approval required) This course is equivalent to IGST 0476. 3 hrs. sem.CMP
AMST 0477 - How EL NORTE Became the S.West
How El Norte Became the Southwest
In this course we will study the political and cultural transformation of Northern Mexican/ Southwestern borderlands. Themes and issues will include: Mexican conceptions of frontier, constructions of identity by Tejanos, Californios, and Hispanos, the history of the Mexican American War, demographic transformation, and the role of dispossession and Americanization in cultural change. We will focus on close readings of texts such as: Maria Ruiz de Burton's The Squatter and the Don, The Life and Times of Juaquin Murrieta, Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop, Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona, and the screenplay of the movie Lone Star. This course is equivalent to AMST 0477. (Approval required) 3 hrs. sem.
AMST 0478 - Global Cities of the U.S
Global Cities of the United States
In this seminar we will engage the study of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles as "global cities." We will explore each as a site of networks that link populations in the United States to people, things, media, money, and ideas beyond the borders of the nation-state. The principal themes and issues covered during the semester will include the formation of transnational communities, flows of labor and capital, cultural production, and religious responses to diaspora. Our interdisciplinary approach to these topics will require students to use methods and theories from both the social sciences and the humanities. 3 hrs. sem.
AMST 0500 - Independent Study ▲ ▹
Select project advisor prior to registration.
Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014
AMST 0700 - Senior Essay
For students who have completed AMST 0400 and are not pursuing an honors thesis. Under the guidance of one or more faculty members, each student will complete research leading toward a one-term, one-credit interdisciplinary senior essay on some aspect of American culture. The essay is to be submitted no later than the last Thursday of the fall semester. (Select project advisor prior to registration)
Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012
AMST 0704 - Senior Seminar:
Topic is determined by the instructor - refer to section for the course description.
Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012
AMST 0705 - Senior Research Tutorial ▲
Senior Research Tutorial
This seminar will focus on the development of sophisticated research skills, the sharing with peers of research and writing in progress, and the completion of a substantial research project. Those writing one-credit essays will complete their projects over the course of this tutorial.
Fall 2012, Fall 2013
AMST 0710 - Honors Thesis ▹
For students who have completed AMST 0705, and qualify to write two-credit interdisciplinary honors thesis. on some aspect of American culture. The thesis may be completed on a fall/winter schedule or a fall/spring schedule. (Select a thesis advisor prior to registration)
Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014
AMST 1002 - American Studies Web Museum
American Studies Web Museum
In this course, we will use materials from Special Collections to create exhibits for the American Studies Web Museum. This year’s theme is “The History of Race at Middlebury College.” We will examine the history of Middlebury students of color; the role of race in the College curriculum; and the College’s response to broader racial issues such as eugenics, anti-Asian racism during World War II, and civil rights activism in the fifties and sixties. Students will learn scanning and web design. Our work will contribute the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity’s program on race and education in 2011-2012.
Winter 2010, Winter 2012
AMST 1003 - Cultural Studies of Sports
Cultural Studies of Sports
Sports operate as a central cultural institution in communities throughout the world. In this course we will offer a critical investigation into the social and cultural roles of sports in the contemporary United States and beyond. We will analyze the role of sports in shaping cultural meanings by asking the following questions: What constitutes a sport? How should sports be defined? What role do sports play in people’s everyday lives? How do sports reflect and reproduce social differences? Students will be expected to write about sports informed by their own fieldwork observations.
Winter 2010, Winter 2013
AMST 1004 - American Crime and Violence
American Representations of Crime and Violence
In this course we will study American portrayals of crime and violence through a variety of media and in a number of historical contexts. We will assess cultural artifacts (fictional and non-fictional texts, music, movies, magazines, art, television shows, video games, and material objects) that provide us with a larger sense of how these representations function in the formation of categories of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, ethics and religion, as well as socio-economic class. Texts and films will range from detective fiction to Pulp Fiction and from the street photography of Weegee to pictures of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
AMST 1005 - Cultural Hist/Everyday Objects
A Cultural History of Everyday Objects
In this course, we will examine the relationship between everyday objects, on the one hand, and cultural values and ideas, on the other. We will explore theories and methods of material culture studies in the United States. Students will also work individually and in groups to collect, interpret, and exhibit an original group of artifacts. Throughout the term, students will acquire web skills appropriate to the online exhibition of their artifact collections.
AMST 1006 - American Travel Writing
Innocents Abroad: American Travel Writing, 1818-1918
In this course we will examine 100 years of travel writing of Americans abroad through selected published works and unpublished primary source materials. Selected readings from Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad, the most popular travel book of the 19th century, will initiate our discussion of essential aspects of travel writing genres including tourist (the Grand Tour) vs. traveler, diplomatic envoys, exploration and scientific expeditions, missionary journals, maritime voyages and shipwrecks, and letters and journals of American soldiers in foreign combat. These works will serve to illuminate cultural constructs including colonialism, nationalism, racism, eroticism, and gender formation. (Approval required)
AMST 1007 - Designing a Field House Museum ▹
Designing a Field House Museum for Middlebury College
In this course students will help design a museum space dedicated to the history of athletics at Middlebury College. The work we accomplish will contribute to plans for the new Field House, to be erected in 2013-14. Students will conduct archival research on the history of Middlebury athletics, and they will design interpretive exhibits utilizing digital and analog formats for inclusion in the new museum space.
Winter 2013, Winter 2014
AMST 1008 - Evolution of Work in America ▹
Evolution of Work in America: Industrial Revolution through Post-Industrial Society and Beyond
From farm to factory to office to virtual, work in the United States has dramatically changed since the turn of the last century. In this course we will examine the evolution of work and the struggle of unions, governments, workers, and employers who shape and are shaped by these changes. We will also assess forces framing the work of tomorrow. Through books such as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, movies such as Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and episodes of The Office, we will assess both the impact of work on culture and culture’s impact on work.
AMST 1009 - Asian Americans and the Cinema ▹
Asian Americans and the Cinema
In this course we will examine Asian American cinematic representations, from classic Hollywood to contemporary independent Asian American films. We will explore how Asian Americans have been depicted in mainstream films as well as how Asian Americans are framing themselves through independent films. We will approach the topic both chronologically and thematically as well as examine a number of cinematic genres and film forms, with films ranging from the Charlie Chan detective series (1920s-40s) to the musical Flower Drum Song (1961), the experimental Chan Is Missing (1982), and the documentary Seeking Asian Female (2013). Key issues will include: stereotypes of Asian Americans in classic Hollywood cinema; oppositional practices of Asian American independent films; intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality; and documenting selves and history through documentaries.
AMST 1010 - U.S. Latino Visual Culture
U.S. Latino Visual Culture
In this course we will study the development of U.S. Latino visual culture in the 20th century and how this ethnicity is constructed and visualized in relation to the mainstream Anglophone culture of the United States. Topics will include the early and problematic blackface representations in Hollywood (Touch of Evil and West Side Story), the emergence of narratives that problematize border concepts (El Norte), Ghetto narratives (Stand and Deliver), Hispanic graffiti art and graphic novels, superstars in the media, and the emergence of important U.S. Latino characters in contemporary television (Lost, Six Feet Under). The class will use texts and films written in English.
AMST 1012 - The West on Film
Hollywood’s West: The American West on Film
From its beginnings the Hollywood western has presented an imaginative geography, a powerful popular fantasy expressing deep truths, and perhaps still deeper desires about American identity. Initially the western reasserted 19th century America’s optimistic vision of manifest destiny; ultimately, many westerns challenged that optimism, often explicitly presenting racial, sexual, and political tensions. Over time, westerns have been re-defined, re-invented and expanded, dismissed, re-discovered, and spoofed. Working with a broad range of films, including Stagecoach, High Noon, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Unforgiven, Lone Star, Blazing Saddles—and perhaps even the recent Cowboys vs. Aliens—we will explore the ways in which westerns have both shaped and reflected the dominant social and political desires and anxieties of their respective eras.