Holly Allen
Office
Axinn Center 245
Tel
(802) 443-2042
Email
hallen@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall 2022: M 10:00-11:45; W 1:35-2:35 or by appointment
Additional Programs
American Studies Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Holly Allen teaches courses on U.S. cultural studies, gender, sexuality, and feminist studies, and digital American studies. Class, race, nationality, and disability are also important categories in Allen’s teaching and research. 

Allen received her Ph. D. in American Studies from Yale University (1996) and her B.A. in American Civilization and Afro-American Studies (1988) from Brown University.  

Allen’s book, Forgotten Men and Fallen Women: The Cultural Politics of New Deal Narratives (2015), examines the interplay between widely-circulating gendered narratives and broader civic developments during the Great Depression and World War II.  Allen’s more recent scholarship has focused on the cultural history and media representation of autism and intellectual disability.  

Allen’s current project is a digital history of public institutions (asylums, prisons, poor houses, industrial and training schools) in which 19th- and 20th-century Vermonters were incarcerated.

Courses Taught

Course Description

U.S. Origin Stories
Some U.S. origin stories cast (white) Americans as chosen people, discoverers of a bountiful continent, their community a beacon of righteousness to the world. Other stories locate the nation's origins in slavery or in settler colonialism. One story celebrates America’s founding commitment to freedom, equality, and justice - principles which, in turn, sustain another origin story – that of America as a nation borne of and welcoming to immigrants. Origin stories might be foundational, but their meanings are never fixed. In this course we will explore the elasticity and persistence of origin stories, evident in current debates about whether U.S. history begins in 1619 or 1776, about migrant rights, about the self-determination of indigenous peoples, about white nationalism, and about U.S. global leadership. 3 hrs. lect./disc. This course is part of the Public Humanities Labs Initiative administered by the Axinn Center for the Humanities.*

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

AMR, HIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

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 and minors. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023

Requirements

AMR, HIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, HIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Class, Culture, and Representation
In this course we will examine the contested meanings of social class in U.S. culture from 1930 to the present. We will ask the following: How have workers, the workplace, and economic inequality been imagined in U.S. film, art, and popular culture? How have categories such as race, gender, and sexuality informed ideas about class? And how do the realities of economic inequality mesh with civic narratives of meritocracy and the “American Dream”? Readings will include works by Barbara Ehrenreich, Studs Terkel, Tillie Olsen, and Helena Maria Vilamontes. Films, music, and other media will supplement written materials. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, HIS, NOR

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Vermont Incarcerated: A Digital History
Course participants will contribute to Vermont Incarcerated, a new digital history project that will curate the nineteenth- and twentieth-century history of Vermont state carceral institutions and the vulnerable persons compelled to live in them. We will use digital technologies to tell the human stories of the Vermont State Prison in Windsor, the State Hospital in Waterbury, the State Industrial School in Vergennes, and the State Training School in Brandon. In addition to digital project work, we will read scholarship on the digital humanities and on the histories of crime and punishment, mental illness, and intellectual disability in the United States. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

AMR, HIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

American Misogyny
In this course we will explore the place of misogyny in U.S. media and politics. Early topics will include film noir, Cold War gender scapegoating, and lesbian pulp fiction. Subsequent topics will include the backlash against second-wave feminism, the rise of “post-feminism,” and the impact of reality TV and social media on feminist and antifeminist expression. We will conclude by examining how misogyny informs U.S. culture and politics in the Trump era. Throughout the course, we will consider how discourses of misogyny are inflected by white, cisgender, ableist, ageist, and class privilege. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, HIS, NOR

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Independent Study
Select project advisor prior to registration.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Work
(Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

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)

Terms Taught

Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Winter 2021, Winter 2022, Winter 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Political Consumerism and the Consumerization of Politics
In the United States, we fashion our identities through the purchases we make. We form communities based on shared loyalty to particular brands and consumer lifestyles. Political campaigns are commercialized and voters choose among prepackaged candidates. For many, the way to participate in social activism is to buy something. But can we solve problems such as globalization, environmental degradation, and excessive consumption through more or different consumption? Our study of current issues in U.S. consumer culture will include culture jamming, boycotts, and the anti-sweatshop and Fair Trade movements, as well as greenwashing, cause branding, and other corporate practices.
3 hrs. sem/disc

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Global Security Studies Senior Thesis
(Approval Only)

Terms Taught

Winter 2023, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog