Assistant Professor of American Studies
Holly Allen teaches courses on U.S. cultural history and cultural studies, political culture and theories of citizenship, women’s and gender studies, the history of sexuality, and digital history. Race, ethnicity, nationality, class, and disability are also important categories of analysis in Allen’s teaching and research.
Allen received an M.A. and Ph. D. in American Studies from Yale University (1996). She also holds a B.A. in American Civilization and Afro-American Studies (1988) from Brown University.
Allen’s manuscript, Fallen Women and Forgotten Men: Gender, Sex, and U.S. Public Culture, 1932-1945, examines the interplay between widely-circulating gendered narratives and broader civic developments during the Great Depression and World War II. It is currently being considered for publication by Cornell University Press. She has also published articles on gender and Japanese-American internment and on the cultural politics of labor activism during the Gilded Age and World War II.
Allen’s current project is a cultural history of gender, developmental disability, and institutional care in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Vermont.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
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.
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.
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.
AMST 0230 / WAGS 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 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 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 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.
AMST 0500 - Independent Study ▲ ▹
Select project advisor prior to registration.
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, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
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)
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.
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, Fall 2014
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)
Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Spring 2015
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.
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 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
FYSE 1335 - Cold War Culture
Cold War Culture
“Without the Cold War, what’s the point of being American?” So asks Rabbit Angstrom, the main character in John Updike’s 1990 novel, Rabbit at Rest. In this course, we will examine the Cold War’s impact on American culture throughout the period 1945-1991, with a focus on art, literature, television, film, consumer culture, and politics. Texts will include Luce, The American Century; Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking; Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle; and Plath, The Bell Jar. Films will include The Thing from Another World!/, /Dr. Strangelove, and Terminator. 3 hrs. sem
Fall 2011, Fall 2013