COVID-19: Essential Information

Susan Burch

Professor of American Studies

Program Director

 work(802) 443-5866
 Fall 2021: Zoom only: Mondays, 2-3:30pm ET; Tuesdays, 3:00-4:15pm ET; Wednesdays, 10:00am-11:30am ET & other times by arranged appointment
 Axinn Center 249

Susan Burch is a professor of American Studies. Before joining the Middlebury faculty in 2009, she taught at Gallaudet University, King’s College (University of Aberdeen, Scotland), and the Ohio State University. Professor Burch also has worked as a research associate at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. She earned her BA degree in history and Soviet Studies from Colorado College and her MA and PhD in American and Soviet history from Georgetown University.

Her research and teaching interests focus on histories of deaf, disability, Mad, race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, and gender and sexuality. Material culture, oral history, and inclusive design play an important role in her courses. Burch is the author of Signs of Resistance: American Deaf Cultural History, 1900 to 1942 (2002) and a coauthor, with Hannah Joyner, of Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson (2007). She has coedited anthologies including Women and Deafness: Double Visions (2006), Deaf and Disability Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2010), and Disability Histories (2014), and also served as editor-in-chief of The Encyclopedia of American Disability History (2009). Burch has received numerous grants and awards for her work, including an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, National Archives regional residency fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities and Mellon Foundation grants, and a Fulbright Scholars award. Her latest book Committed: Native Families, Institutionalization, and Remembering (University of North Carolina Press, 2021) centers on peoples’ lived experiences inside and outside the Canton Asylum, a federal psychiatric institution created specifically to detain American Indians.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

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. AMR HIS NOR SOC

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

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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. AMR NOR SOC

Spring 2021

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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. AMR NOR SOC

Spring 2018

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AMST 0307 - Disability Issues/U.S. & World      

Issues in Critical Disability Studies: U.S. and the World
Disability as a category and as lived experience plays an important but often overlooked role in national, transnational, and global contexts. In this course we will explore disability’s changing meanings in the United States and around the World. Comparative and transnational approaches will draw our attention to disability’s many meanings across wide-ranging historical, cultural, and geographical settings. Foundational concepts and principles, including ableism and Universal Design, shape our critical inquiry. Key themes frame the course: access, language, power, violence, normalcy, identity, community, institutions, and rights and justice. We will engage with diverse primary sources, from memoirs and documentary films to advertisements, material objects, and oral histories. 3 hrs. lect. AMR CMP HIS NOR SOC

Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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AMST 0312 - Disability in Film and TV      

Disability in Film and Television
Investigating film and television representations of disability and disabled people, we will understand how these reflect prominent cultural ideas across US history. Various functions of disability in film and TV, and how disabled people have used these media to express their own lived experiences, will be considered. Key themes include: access, stereotype, spectacle, community, and activism. Our intersectional study involves, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and age. Through readings, screenings, and engaged discussions students will gain insights into ways film and television reflect and shape the understandings of disability in American history and culture. This class includes regular screenings. 3 hrs. lect. AMR NOR SOC

Fall 2017

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AMST 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
Select project advisor prior to registration.

Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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AMST 0701 - Senior Work I      

Senior Work
(Approval required)

Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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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 2018

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AMST 0710 - Honors Thesis      

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)

Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Winter 2021, Winter 2022

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ENAM 0700 - Senior Thesis:Critical Writing      

Senior Thesis: Critical Writing
Individual guidance and seminar (discussions, workshops, tutorials) for those undertaking one-term projects in literary criticism or analysis. All critical thesis writers also take the Senior Thesis Workshop (ENAM 700Z) in either Fall or Spring Term.

Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

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IGST 0500 - EAS Independent Research      

East Asian Studies Independent Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2017

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Program in American Studies

Axinn Center at Starr Library
15 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753