American Studies Courses


Upcoming Courses:   SPRING 2010     FALL 2010   SPRING 2011
Past Courses:
FALL 2009  SPRING 2009   SUMMER 2009    FALL 2008    SPRING 2008    FALL 2007    SPRING 2007   FALL 2006    2005-2006


Spring 2010

LECTURE COURSES

Introduction to American Studies (AMST W1010; 3 points)
Professors Casey Blake and Maura Spiegel

Monday, Wednesday 11:00–12:15
Discussion section required. An introduction to fundamental themes and debates that span four centuries of American culture. Beginning with Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, we will explore themes such as the question of national character, immigration, assimilation and the color line, opportunity and the pursuit of property, self-making, meritocracy, consumerism, Americans at work and leisure, American religion and spiritual life, educational ideals, and Americans at war. A partial list of authors includes: John Winthrop, Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, R. W. Emerson, H.D. Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, W.E. B. DuBois, Andrew Carnegie, Horatio Alger, Theodore Roosevelt, John Dewey, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, Thorstein Veblen, Nella Larsen, and Gish Jen. Conducted as a lecture/discussion, with weekly sections.

SEMINARS

Equity in Higher Education (AMST W3931; 4 points)
Monday, 4:10–6:00
Professors Roger Lehecka (Lehecka@columbia.edu)
and Andrew Delbanco (ad19@columbia.edu)

In this seminar, we will examine the roles colleges and universities play in American society, the differential access to those institutions available to high school students based on family background and income, ethnicity, and other characteristics, the causes and consequences of this differential access, and some attempts to make the system more equitable. Readings and class meetings will include a study of the following subjects historically and in the 21st century: the wide variety of American institutions of higher education, financial aid policies (locally and nationally), affirmative action, and the role of the high school in helping students attend college.  Students in the seminar will be required to spend at least four hours each week as volunteers at the Double Discovery Center (DDC) in addition to completing assigned reading, participating in seminar discussions, and completing written assignments. DDC is an on-campus program that helps New York City high school students who lack many of the resources they need to attend college and to become more successful in gaining admission and finding financial aid.  The seminar will integrate its students' first-hand experiences with readings and class discussions.
Application procedures: Students interested in taking this seminar must contact Professor Lehecka (lehecka@columbia.edu) to arrange an interview, preferably in November, but certainly before the beginning of the spring semester.

The New York Intellectuals (AMST W3931; 4 points)
Professor Adam Kirsch
(adam.kirsch@hotmail.com)
Wednesday 2:10–4:00
From the 1930s through the 1970s, the group of writers known as the New York Intellectuals--many, though not all of them, first generation American Jews--created a new style of intellectual discourse in America: politically radical but independent of party dogmas, committed to experiment and complexity in literature, and highly personal even when dealing with abstract issues. In this seminar we will read the major works, in several genres, of the leading New York Intellectuals, including Hannah Arendt, Clement Greenberg, Richard Hofstadter, Irving Howe, Delmore Schwartz, Susan Sontag and Lionel Trilling; and discuss some of the central themes and debates that energized their work, including Communism and anti-Communism, the relation of the avant-garde to the mass audience, the promise of American liberalism, and the influence of Jewishness on the intellectual's vocation.
Application procedures:  To enroll in this seminar students must attend the first day of class and get approval from the instructor.

Race, Poverty, and American Criminal Justice (AMST W3931; 4 points)
Professor Cathleen Price
(cip1@columbia.edu)
Thursday 2:10–4:00
This course will examine the influence of race and poverty in the American system of confronting the challenge of crime.  Students will explore some history, including the various purposes of having an organized criminal justice system within a community; the principles behind the manner in which crimes are defined; and the utility of punishment.  Our focus will be on the social, political and economic effects of the administration of our criminal justice system, with emphatic examination of the role of conscious and unconscious racism, as well as community biases against the poor.  Students will examine the larger implications for a community and culture that are presented by these pernicious features.  We will reflect on the fairness of our past and present American system of confronting crime, and consider the possibilities of future reform.  Readings will include historical texts, analytical reports, some biography, and a few legal materials.  We will also watch documentary films which illuminate the issues and problems.
Application procedures: To enroll in this seminar students must attend the first day of class and get approval from the instructor.

American Culture and Politics in the 1930s (AMST–HIST W4435; 4 points)
Professor Casey Blake (cb460@columbia.edu)
Tuesday 11:00–12:50
A seminar on cultural and political responses to the Great Depression in the United States. Students will read works by historians of the period, as well as examine novels, photographs, films, music, advertisements, and other works of the period. Topics to be considered include: the achievements and limitations of the New Deal; the leftward shift of artists and intellectuals; documentary, social-realist literature, folk music, public art, and theater; the politics of federal arts programs; and the left-liberal “little magazines” of the period
NOTE: Application required. Contact Eleanore Kaye (emk2114@columbia.edu).

Senior Research Seminar (AMST W3990; 4 points)
Professor Casey Blake (cb460@columbia.edu)
Class meets first Thursday 6:10–8:00, individual meetings thereafter
A seminar devoted to the research and writing, under the instructor's supervision, of a substantial paper on a topic in American studies.
NOTE: Open to American Studies seniors only.

GRADUATE COURSE

U.S. Higher Education (ENGL G6631; 4 points)
Professor Andrew Delbanco

Monday 6:10–8:00
Prerequisites: permission of the instructor. This is a course in American intellectual and cultural history focused on issues in higher education. The aim of the course is to deepen historical understanding of the institutions to which today's graduate students plan to devote their professional lives as faculty members and academic citizens. Topics include the origins of the American college and university in the colonial period, the rise of the research university in the 19th century, the invention and evolution of the "Humanities," the principles and practice of admission and financial aid since World War II, the risks and opportunities of today's "on-line" entrepreneurial university, the "pre-history" of the so-called culture wars, and the effects of the current financial crisis on higher education. From time to time, visiting speakers will join us for discussion of these and other issues.


Fall 2010

LECTURE COURSES

Foundations of American Literature (ENGL 3267; 3 points)
Professor Andrew Delbanco
Note: This course satisfies one of the core course requirements for American Studies
Introduction to American thought and expression from the first English settlements to the eve of the Civil War.  Writers include the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Herman Melville. Themes include the rise of an American national consciousness, the transformation of religion, ideas of nature and democracy, debates over immigration, race, and slavery.  The course proceeds through a combination of lecture and discussion—with the aim of deepening our understanding of the origins and development of literature and culture in the United States.  In addition to the two lectures, a weekly discussion section is an integral and required part of the course for all students.

SEMINARS

History of the Supreme Court (AMST W3930; 4 points)
Judge Joseph Greenaway

In this course we consider the origins of the Supreme Court, including how the framers of the Constitution envisioned the function and authority of the judicial branch of the federal government; the importance of judicial independence; and the Supreme Court’s role in the development of American democracy. We examine the lives and work of several individual justices to determine the role that perspective and life experiences have on judicial decision making.  Issues considered include the evolution of the law governing civil rights, from the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.  Readings range from the Federalist Papers to biographies of individual justices to relevant Supreme Court cases.

Gender History and American Film (AMST W3930; 4 points)
Professor Hilary Hallett

This seminar explores the history of American gender in the last one hundred years through American film. Motion pictures have played a unique role in shaping and reflecting new ideals and images of womanhood and manhood in the modern United States. Throughout the twentieth century, movies and their stars have had a complex relationship to transformations affecting the lives of American men and women. We will examine motion pictures and movie stars as primary sources that, when juxtaposed with other kinds of historical evidence, indicate changes in the gendering of work, leisure, sexuality, family life, and politics. Additionally, we will consider how the changing institutional history of American film production during the twentieth century connected to the gendered images it sold. For much of the period under review, Hollywood used specific genres to target particular audiences and movies were not afforded the protection of free speech. This made films and movie stars peculiarly reflective of, and vulnerable to, the nation’s changing fantasies and fears regarding sexuality and gender roles. Students will write several short papers and complete a research project on a film of their choice.


Spring 2011

Race, Poverty, and American Criminal Justice
Cathleen Price
This course will examine the influence of race and poverty in the American system of confronting the challenge of crime. Students will explore some history, including the various purposes of having an organized criminal justice system within a community; the principles behind the manner in which crimes are defined; and the utility of punishment. Our focus will be on the social, political and economic effects of the administration of our criminal justice system, with emphatic examination of the role of conscious and unconscious racism, as well as community biases against the poor. Students will examine the larger implications for a community and culture that are presented by these pernicious features. We will reflect on the fairness of our past and present American system of confronting crime, and consider the possibilities of future reform. Readings will include historical texts, analytical reports, some biography, and a few legal materials. We will also watch documentary films which illuminate the issues and problems.

Hispanic New York
Roosevelt Montás and Claudio Remeseira

New York City contains a wide spectrum of immigrants from all over Latin America and the Caribbean, including a large number of artists, writers, and intellectuals. Because of this rich diversity, New York is both one of the leading Hispanic cities in the U.S. and a pivotal node of Latin American culture. This seminar is a survey of the cultural heritage that sustains this diversity. It explores the history and the demographic evolution of New York's Latino and Latin American population, its racial, ethnic, and religious make-up, and its long-standing tradition in arts, music, and literature. Readings include fiction, non-fiction, and poetry originally written both in English and Spanish (English translations are provided for students who don't read Spanish). The course also analyzes the connections between New York's Hispanic cultural tradition and the broader U.S. culture, as well as New York's place in the Spanish-American intellectual world. Finally, the seminar addresses some of the most pressing sociological issues related to the immigration flow from Latin America and the increasingly decisive role played by Latinos in New York politics.

Equity in Higher Education
Roger Lehecka and Andrew Delbanco

In this seminar, we will examine the roles colleges and universities play in American society, the differential access to those institutions available to high school students based on family background and income, ethnicity, and other characteristics, the causes and consequences of this differential access, and some attempts to make the system more equitable. Readings and class meetings will include a study of the following subjects historically and in the 21st century: the wide variety of American institutions of higher education, financial aid policies (locally and nationally), affirmative action, and the role of the high school in helping students attend college.  Students in the seminar will be required to spend at least four hours each week as volunteers at the Double Discovery Center (DDC) in addition to completing assigned reading, participating in seminar discussions, and completing written assignments. DDC is an on-campus program that helps New York City high school students who lack many of the resources they need to attend college and to become more successful in gaining admission and finding financial aid.  The seminar will integrate its students' first-hand experiences with readings and class discussions. Note: An interview is required for admission to this course.

Past Courses


Fall 2009

LECTURE COURSES

US Intellectual History 1865-Present (HIST S3478; 3 points)
Professor Casey Blake

Note: This course satisfies one of the core course requirements for American Studies
This course examines major themes in U.S. intellectual history since the Civil War. Among other topics, we will examine the public role of intellectuals; the modern liberal-progressive tradition and its radical and conservative critics; the uneasy status of religion in a secular culture; cultural radicalism and feminism; critiques of corporate capitalism and consumer culture; the response of intellectuals to hot and cold wars, the Great Depression, and the upheavals of the 1960's.

American Civilization to Civil War (HIST BC1401; 3 points)
Professor Herbert Sloan

Note: This course satisfies one of the core course requirements for American Studies
The major theological and social concerns of 17th-century English colonists; the political and ideological process of defining an American; the social and economic forces that shaped a distinctive national identity; the nature of the regional conflicts that culminated in civil war.

SEMINARS

American Studies Senior Project Colloquium (AMST W3920; 3 points)      
Professors Casey Blake; Jenna Feltey Alden, Sarah Klock

This course is for American Studies majors planning to complete senior projects in the spring of their senior year. The course is designed to help students clarify their research agenda, sharpen their questions, and locate their primary and secondary sources. Through class discussions, research trips, and a "workshop" peer review process, each member of the course will enter spring semester with a completed 5-8 page prospectus and bibliography that will provide an excellent foundation for the work of actually writing the senior essay.  It will meet every other week at a convenient time for the participants, and it is strongly recommended, though not required, for everyone planning to write a senior essay. 

Topics in American Studies: Seminars (AMST W3930)
History of the Supreme Court (4 points)
Judge Joseph Greenaway

In this course we consider the origins of the Supreme Court, including how the framers of the Constitution envisioned the function and authority of the judicial branch of the federal government; the importance of judicial independence; and the Supreme Court’s role in the development of American democracy. We examine the lives and work of several individual justices to determine the role that perspective and life experiences have on judicial decision making.  Issues considered include the evolution of the law governing civil rights, from the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.  Readings range from the Federalist Papers to biographies of individual justices to relevant Supreme Court cases.

Topics in American Studies: Seminars (AMST W3930)
Disability in American Life (4 points)
Professor Rachel Adams

What historical, political, and social factors have given rise to the way we understand disability in contemporary American culture?  How have philosophers, policy makers, authors and artists framed the political and ethical debates surrounding the status of disability?  How have imaginative representations in literature, film, and the visual arts contributed to and/or challenged those understandings?  Given that nearly every one of us will be disabled at some point in life, these questions could not be more important.  This course seeks to address them by considering a broad array of texts, including philosophical debates about morality and ethics, history, and literary, filmic, and visual representations.

Topics in American Studies: Seminars (AMST W3930)
A Cultural History of Wall Street (4 points)
Prof
essor Steven Fraser
This course will examine the impact of Wall Street on American life from the time of the American Revolution through the dot.com boom of the 1990s, its collapse at the turn of the millennium, and the current financial meltdown.  Class discussions and readings will range widely to explore the ways the Street has been integrated into the country’s economic, political, and cultural affairs, and examine how Americans have handled their fundamental ambivalence about whether the Street has been a force for good or evil.  We will focus on some of the principal iconic representations of the Street as they have appeared in cartoons, political tracts, movies, economic treatises, sermons, novels, histories, and other cultural artifacts.

Topics in American Studies: Seminars (AMST W3930)
Gender History and American Film (4 points)
Professor Hilary Hallett

This seminar explores the history of American gender in the last one hundred years through American film. Motion pictures have played a unique role in shaping and reflecting new ideals and images of womanhood and manhood in the modern United States. Throughout the twentieth century, movies and their stars have had a complex relationship to transformations affecting the lives of American men and women. We will examine motion pictures and movie stars as primary sources that, when juxtaposed with other kinds of historical evidence, indicate changes in the gendering of work, leisure, sexuality, family life, and politics. Additionally, we will consider how the changing institutional history of American film production during the twentieth century connected to the gendered images it sold. For much of the period under review, Hollywood used specific genres to target particular audiences and movies were not afforded the protection of free speech. This made films and movie stars peculiarly reflective of, and vulnerable to, the nation’s changing fantasies and fears regarding sexuality and gender roles. Students will write several short papers and complete a research project on a film of their choice.

American Literature and Culture from 1850-Civil War (ENGL W3975; 4 points)
Professor Andrew Delbanco

In this seminar we trace the growing crisis over slavery and disunion as the United States moved toward war against itself. Readings include fiction, poetry, memoirs, political discourse, and journalism by such authors as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Harriet Jacobs, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Abraham Lincoln, and Herman Melville. We consider the perspectives of slaves and slavemasters, North and South, men and women, committed partisans and neutral observers-- in an effort to understand what was at stake in the rising discord during the decade that preceded Civil War.

Summer 2009

LECTURE COURSE

U.S. Intellectual History 1865–Present (HIST S3478; 3 points)
Professor Casey Blake
M & W 1–4:10 p.m.

Note: This course satisfies one of the core course requirements for American Studies
This course examines major themes in U.S. intellectual history since the Civil War. Among other topics, we will examine the public role of intellectuals; the modern liberal-progressive tradition and its radical and conservative critics; the uneasy status of religion in a secular culture; cultural radicalism and feminism; critiques of corporate capitalism and consumer culture; the response of intellectuals to hot and cold wars, the Great Depression, and the upheavals of the 1960's.

Spring 2009

LECTURE COURSES

Introduction to American Studies
Casey Blake and Maura Spiegel

M & W 11–12:15
T 7-10 (screening)

Inquiry into the values and cultural expressions of the people of the United States. Through an examination of literature, history, social thought, and the arts--with a special emphasis on film--we will explore how modern Americans have understood and argued about their country's promise and perils. Lecture, discussion sections, and weekly film screenings.
Location: 517 Hamilton

Foundations of American Literature
Andrew Delbanco

M & W 10:35–11:50
Introduction to American thought and expression from the first English settlements to the eve of the Civil War.  Writers include the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Herman Melville. Themes include the rise of an American national consciousness, the transformation of religion, ideas of nature and democracy, debates over immigration, race, and slavery.  The course proceeds through a combination of lecture and discussion—with the aim of deepening our understanding of the origins and development of literature and culture in the United States.  In addition to the two lectures, a weekly discussion section is an integral and required part of the course for all students. Click here for the course syllabus.
Location: 516 Hamilton


SEMINAR COURSES
APPLICATION REQUIRED for all American Studies seminars: SEMINAR APPLICATION FORM.

Food and American Life
Sarah Phillips and Rachel Adams

W 2:10–4
This course employs a cross-disciplinary perspective to blend examinations of food’s materiality (production and distribution) with its many meanings and functions (social, cultural, and aesthetic).  Using a place-based approach, it integrates these broader themes with class visits to New York locations and with a class project on food at Columbia University (where it comes from, who prepares it, where it goes).  Specific topics include early American foodways; farm industrialization and agribusiness externalities (environmental costs, labor issues); food processing and branding; gender and ethnicity; the supermarket; race, class, and inequities of access; health and nutrition; food stamps; organic shopping and dining; campus activism; and the overarching cultural significance of food (literary, visual, and filmic representations).  Enrolled students must be able to attend 3 or 4 field trips, the dates for which will not be known far in advance, and to attend the public talks of 2 prominent guest speakers.
Location: 402 Hamilton

Equity in Higher Education
Roger Lehecka and Andrew Delbanco

M 4:10–6
In this seminar, we will examine the roles colleges and universities play in American society, the differential access to those institutions available to high school students based on family background and income, ethnicity, and other characteristics, the causes and consequences of this differential access, and some attempts to make the system more equitable. Readings and class meetings will include a study of the following subjects historically and in the 21st century: the wide variety of American institutions of higher education, financial aid policies (locally and nationally), affirmative action, and the role of the high school in helping students attend college.  Students in the seminar will be required to spend at least four hours each week as volunteers at the Double Discovery Center (DDC) in addition to completing assigned reading, participating in seminar discussions, and completing written assignments. DDC is an on-campus program that helps New York City high school students who lack many of the resources they need to attend college and to become more successful in gaining admission and finding financial aid.  The seminar will integrate its students' first-hand experiences with readings and class discussions. Note: An interview is required for admission to this course.
Location: 401 Hamilton

Hispanic New York
Roosevelt Montás and Claudio Remeseira

W 4:10–6
New York City contains a wide spectrum of immigrants from all over Latin America and the Caribbean, including a large number of artists, writers, and intellectuals. Because of this rich diversity, New York is both one of the leading Hispanic cities in the U.S. and a pivotal node of Latin American culture. This seminar is a survey of the cultural heritage that sustains this diversity. It explores the history and the demographic evolution of New York's Latino and Latin American population, its racial, ethnic, and religious make-up, and its long-standing tradition in arts, music, and literature. Readings include fiction, non-fiction, and poetry originally written both in English and Spanish (English translations are provided for students who don't read Spanish). The course also analyzes the connections between New York's Hispanic cultural tradition and the broader U.S. culture, as well as New York's place in the Spanish-American intellectual world. Finally, the seminar addresses some of the most pressing sociological issues related to the immigration flow from Latin America and the increasingly decisive role played by Latinos in New York politics.
Location: 401 Hamilton

Race, Poverty, and American Criminal Justice
Cathleen Price
T 4:10–6
This course will examine the influence of race and poverty in the American system of confronting the challenge of crime. Students will explore some history, including the various purposes of having an organized criminal justice system within a community; the principles behind the manner in which crimes are defined; and the utility of punishment. Our focus will be on the social, political and economic effects of the administration of our criminal justice system, with emphatic examination of the role of conscious and unconscious racism, as well as community biases against the poor. Students will examine the larger implications for a community and culture that are presented by these pernicious features. We will reflect on the fairness of our past and present American system of confronting crime, and consider the possibilities of future reform. Readings will include historical texts, analytical reports, some biography, and a few legal materials.
We will also watch documentary films which illuminate the issues and problems.

Senior Research Seminar
John Summers
F 1:10-3
A seminar devoted to the research and writing, under the instructor's supervision, of a substantial paper on a topic in American studies. Class discussions include issues in research, interpretation, and writing. No application required.
Location: 401 Hamilton

Fall 2008

LECTURE COURSES

U.S. Intellectual History 1865-Present (HIST W3478)
Casey Blake
M & W 11-12:15
This course examines major themes in the history of thought and culture in the United States since the late nineteenth century.  Among other topics, we will consider the modern liberal-progressive tradition and its radical and conservative critics; the uneasy status of religion in a secular intellectual culture; cultural radicalism and feminism; consumer culture and its interpreters; the implications of American ethno-racial pluralism for national identity; the responses of intellectuals to hot and cold wars, the Great Depression, and the upheavals of the 1960s; and the contemporary “culture wars.”
In addition, course readings and lectures will introduce students to ongoing debates about the public role and responsibilities of intellectuals as a distinct social group. American intellectuals have long struggled to define their vocation as inquirers and critics.  In the process, they have sought to understand how that vocation might best respond to the demands of a broader public sphere.  Their efforts to balance intellectual integrity with civic engagement provide an opportunity to reflect on your own experiences as students and interpreters of the United States and its culture.


SEMINAR COURSES

APPLICATION REQUIRED for all American Studies seminars.  SEMINAR APPLICATION FORM.
Although the seminar application deadline has passed, applications will still be considered.

Gender History & American Film (AMST W3930 sec. 2)
Hilary Hallett

Tu 2:10–4; M 8–10 (screening)
This seminar explores the history of American gender in the last one hundred years through American film. Motion pictures have played a unique role in shaping and reflecting new ideals and images of womanhood and manhood in the modern United States. Throughout the twentieth century, movies and their stars have borne a complex relationship to transformations affecting the lives of American men and women. We will examine motion pictures and movie stars as primary sources that, when juxtaposed with other kinds of historical evidence, indicate changes in the gendering of work, leisure, sexuality, family life, and politics. Additionally, we will consider how the changing institutional history of American film production during the twentieth century connected to the gendered images it sold. For much of the period under review, Hollywood used specific genres to target particular audiences and movies were not afforded the protection of free speech. This made films and movie stars peculiarly reflective of, and vulnerable to, the nation’s changing fantasies and fears regarding sexuality and gender roles. Students will write several short papers and complete a research project on a film of their choice. Please note: A weekly class screening of a film is required for seminarians.

Introduction to the Supreme Court (AMST W3930 sec. 1)
Hon. Joseph Greenaway,
US District Judge
W 4:10–6
In this course we will consider the origins of the Supreme Court, including how the framers of the Constitution envisioned the function and authority of the judicial branch of the federal government; the importance of judicial independence; and the Supreme Court’s role in the development of American democracy.  We will examine the lives and work of several individual justices to determine the role that perspective and life experiences have on judicial decision making.  Issues to be considered include the evolution of the law governing civil rights, from the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.  Readings will range from the Federalist Papers to biographies of individual justices to relevant Supreme Court cases.

The Sixties (AMST W3930 sec. 3)
Todd Gitlin

M 2:10–4, M 6–8 (screening)
"The Sixties" have dwindled into reputation, slogan, and myth.  But were they anything else in the first place?  The effort in this seminar will be to recover that period both from the outside (via history, analyses of demographic, social, political, and economic trends) and the inside (personal reminiscence, music, film, and television), with attention to penetrating accounts from movements, counter-movements, and establishment alike.   Among the topics:  civil rights, affluence, television, youth culture, celebrity, the university boom, Vietnam, the Cold War, party politics, feminism, and gays.  Film and TV footage will supplement class discussion. Please note: A weekly class screening of a film is required for seminarians.

America Through Sight and Sound (AMHS 4574)
Steven Mintz
Th 2:10–4 pm
This course uses audio and visual evidence to explore major themes in American history from early colonization through Reconstruction. Major themes include visual perceptions of the early American landscape and its transformation; contested representations of African Americans, Native Americans, and Mexicans as expressed through visual imagery; shifting attitudes toward childhood, death, the family, and gender as revealed through art and material artifacts; the visual history of slavery, the sectional crisis, the Civil War, and Reconstruction; the evolution of African American, Irish, and Mexican American musical traditions to 1877 and what their songs reveal about these peoples’ lives and values; and the construction, transmission, and contestation of historical memory in popular audio and visual media.
No application necessary. Interested students should attend the first day of class and the roster will be determined from there.

Senior Project Colloquium (AMST W3920)
Rachel Adams, Tamara Mann, Penny Vlagopoulos
This 1-point course is for American Studies majors planning to complete senior projects in the spring of 2009. The course is designed to help students clarify their research agenda, sharpen their questions, and locate their primary and secondary sources. Through class discussions, research trips, and a "workshop" peer review process, each member of the course will enter spring semester with a completed 5-8 page prospectus and bibliography that will provide an excellent foundation for the work of actually writing the senior essay. The colloquium will meet every other week at a convenient time for the participants, and it is strongly recommended, though not required, for everyone planning to write a senior essay.

 

GRADUATE SEMINAR COURSES
APPLICATION REQUIRED for all American Studies seminars.  SEMINAR APPLICATION FORM.
Although the seminar application deadline has passed, applications will still be considered.

American Cultural Criticism (AMST G7020)
Casey Blake and Ross Posnock
W 4:10-6
A graduate colloquium on the history of American cultural criticism since the early nineteenth century.  Themes to be considered include the search for indigenous forms of artistic expression appropriate to a democratic society; the consequences of urbanism and corporate industrialization for American culture and values; the implications of ethno-racial diversity for American culture and national identity; tensions between “popular” or “mass” culture, the avant-garde, and “high” culture; the shift from a modernist to a postmodernist sensibility; and the public role of the critic in the United States. 
Cultural criticism is a difficult genre to define with precision, since it often overlaps with autobiography, journalism, and academic scholarship.  Much of the cultural criticism written in the last century has concerned itself with new developments in the arts, literature, and the media.  The best cultural critics have refused to examine such trends in isolation; instead, they have always tried to interpret “culture” in relation to “society” or “politics,” exploring the connections between changing forms of expression and American social structure, power relations, and ideology.  As a result, cultural criticism often entails social criticism--that is to say a critical inquiry into American social institutions.  Moreover, American cultural critics have long sought to identify the values and meanings that define their country’s moral identity. They have written explicitly as public moralists, and their work has illuminated our understanding
 of the possibilities and limitations of the nation’s civic and moral traditions.  Critics have called upon their fellow citizens to reconsider their most cherished beliefs or to live up to values they profess to hold dear. The cultural criticism they have written has thus served as a spur to self-criticism, both for its authors and for American culture as a whole.

 


Spring 2008

—  LECTURE COURSES

AMST W1010y Introduction to American Studies: Themes in the American Experience (3 points)
Andrew Delbanco & Maura Spiegel
M & W  1:10-2:25

Discussion Section required


An introduction to fundamental themes and debates that span four centuries of American culture. Beginning with Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, we will explore themes such as the question of national character, immigration, assimilation and the color line, opportunity and the pursuit of property, self-making, meritocracy, consumerism, Americans at work and leisure, American religion and spiritual life, educational ideals, and Americans at war. A partial list of authors includes: John Winthrop, Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, R. W. Emerson, H.D. Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, W.E. B. DuBois, Andrew Carnegie, Horatio Alger, Theodore Roosevelt, John Dewey, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, Thorstein Veblen, Nella Larsen, and Gish Jen. Conducted as a lecture/discussion, with weekly sections.


ENGL W4593y The American Novel from the Revolution to the Civil War (3 points)
Ezra Tawil
Tu & Th  1:10-2:25

Discussion Section required

"The American Novel, from the Revolution to the Civil War." A history of the novel form in America from the period of the Revolution to the crisis of the Civil War. We'll look at a broad range of novels including various sub-genres like the gothic novel, seduction novel, historical fiction, frontier novel, and novel of reform. The course begins with the first spate of novels following the Revolution (when American literature charged itself with the task of writing a new national culture into existence), moves through the period of the 1820s (when historical fiction turned to the past in order to resolve crises in the present), and culminates the decade of the 1850s (when American Literature attained its capital L and produced the first acknowledged American masterworks). Throughout the course, we will examine the formal and stylistic properties of the American novel, while keeping our focus on the novel's relationship to historical events surrounding national formation, class conflict, slavery, and the "Indian problem." Readings will include novels by Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, James Fenimore Cooper, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Charles Brockden Brown, Hannah Webster Foster, and Susannah Rowson.
Important note: In addition to two lectures per week, all students are required to enroll in one of two discussion sections. Section times are to be scheduled, but will likely take place on Fridays.



APPLICATION REQUIRED for all American Studies seminars.  SEMINAR APPLICATION FORM.


AMST W3931y TOPICS IN AMERICAN STUDIES (4 points)

Section 1. The Problem of Class in American Literature and Culture
Ross Posnock
W 4:10-6

Through readings in literature, sociology, and cultural criticism, we will explore the status of class in a culture dedicated to the fiction of classless meritocracy most familiarly embodied in the American Dream. Our historical focus will be on the two turn-of-the-century periods (late 19th into 20th and late 20th into early 21st), both of which were eras of tumultuous class realignments. How race and class intersect will be a particular concern. We will establish a theoretical framework with readings by Marx and Engels and Pierre Bourdieu and then begin with the late 19th century rise in the US of the discipline of sociology as a context for Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class, Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, Du Bois' story "The Coming of John," and Henry James' Washington Square. The more recent turn-of-the-century readings will include Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus, Richard Rodriguez's The Hunger of Memory, John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation, Wallace Shawn's The Fever, and Walter Benn Michaels' The Trouble with Diversity, among other texts. 

Section 2. Hispanic New York
Roosevelt Montas & Claudio Remeseira
Th 4:10-6
New York City contains a wide spectrum of immigrants from all over Latin America and the Caribbean, including a large number of artists, writers, and intellectuals. Because of this rich diversity, New York is both one of the leading Hispanic cities in the U.S. and a pivotal node of Latin American culture. This seminar is a survey of the cultural heritage that sustains this diversity. It explores the history and the demographic evolution of New York's Latino and Latin American population, its racial, ethnic, and religious make-up, and its long-standing tradition in arts, music, and literature. Readings include fiction, non-fiction, and poetry originally written both in English and Spanish (English translations are provided for students who don't read Spanish). The course also analyzes the connections between New York's Hispanic cultural tradition and the broader U.S. culture, as well as New York's place in the Spanish-American intellectual world. Finally, the seminar addresses some of the most pressing sociological issues related to the immigration flow from Latin America and the increasingly decisive role played by Latinos in New York politics.

Section 3. The Sixties
Todd Gitlin
M 2:10-4
"The Sixties" have dwindled into reputation, slogan, and myth. But were they anything else in the first place? The effort in this seminar will be to recover that period both from the outside (via history, analyses of demographic, social, political, and economic trends) and the inside (personal reminiscence, music, film, and television), with attention to penetrating accounts from movements, counter-movements, and establishment alike. Among the topics: civil rights, affluence, television, youth culture, celebrity, the university boom, Vietnam, the Cold War, party politics, feminism, and gays. Film and TV footage will supplement class discussion. 

Section 4. Equity in American Higher Education
Roger Lehecka & Andrew Delbanco
M 4:10-6
NOTE: interview required. Students should set aside November 6th or 7th for a brief (15-minute) interview with the instructors.
In this seminar, we will examine the roles colleges and universities play in American society, the differential access to those institutions available to high school students based on family background and income, ethnicity, and other characteristics, the causes and consequences of this differential access, and some attempts to make the system more equitable. Readings and class meetings will include a study of the following subjects historically and in the 21st century: the wide variety of American institutions of higher education, financial aid policies (locally and nationally), affirmative action, and the role of the high school in helping students attend college. Students in the seminar will be required to spend at least four hours each week as volunteers at the Double Discovery Center (DDC) in addition to completing assigned reading, participating in seminar discussions, and completing written assignments. DDC is an on-campus program that helps New York City high school students who lack many of the resources they need to attend college and to become more successful in gaining admission and finding financial aid. The seminar will integrate its students' first-hand experiences with readings and class discussions.


AMST W3990y SENIOR RESEARCH PROJECT SEMINAR (4 points)

Section 1
Casey Blake
M 11-12:50

A seminar devoted to the research and writing, under the instructor's supervision, of a substantial paper on a topic in American studies. Class discussions include issues in research, interpretation, and writing.


Section 2
Roosevelt Montas
M 4:10-6

A seminar devoted to the research and writing, under the instructor's supervision, of a substantial paper on a topic in American studies. Class discussions include issues in research, interpretation, and writing.


—   RELATED COURSES



SPRING 2008

The above link will take you to a partial list of courses approved for American Studies for Spring 2008.  BUT If you are interested in a course that is not on this list, do not discount it. Contact the American Studies office (amd44@columbia.edu) and provide the course name and description, and the course will be reviewed for possible approval.





Fall 2007

—  LECTURE COURSES

AMST W3920x Introduction to American Studies: Colloquium on Theory and Method. 3 points.
Rachel Adams
Tu 2:10-4

What does it mean to do American Studies? What are the theories and methods that have guided American Studies scholarship as the field has developed? This course explores a range of topics, theoretical and methodological approaches, and debates that animate interdisciplinary work within American Studies and related disciplines. The majority of our weekly meetings will involve visits by speakers who will provide students with an opportunity to meet faculty affiliated with American Studies and to learn about the theoretical and methodological principles that have guided their work. The remainder of the class meetings will consist of activities designed to introduce other American Studies methods such as archival research, oral history, and work with material culture. Assigned readings will introduce debates about theory and methods within American Studies as well as the work of faculty visitors. Written assignments will ask students to summarize and evaluate various approaches introduced in class, as well as to put at least one method into practice. Please be aware that, in addition to weekly seminar meetings, the requirements for this course include mandatory attendance on two field trips, which will take place on Friday afternoons. Registered students should plan their schedules accordingly.


—  SEMINARS


AMST W3930x Topics in American Studies (Seminar). 4 points.


Application required. SEMINAR APPLICATION FORM.

Section 1. History of the U.S. Supreme Court: Major Cases
The Honorable Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr., United States District Court, District of New Jersey
W 4:10-6

In this course we will consider the origins of the Supreme Court, including how the framers of the Constitution envisioned the function and authority of the judicial branch of the federal government; the importance of judicial independence; and the Supreme Court's role in the development of American democracy. We will examine the lives and work of several individual justices to determine the role that perspective and life experiences have on judicial decision making. Issues to be considered include the evolution of the law governing civil rights, from the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Readings will range from the Federalist Papers to biographies of individual justices to relevant Supreme Court cases. 

Section 2. War and American Values
Andrew Delbanco
M 4:10-6
In this seminar, we will consider the politics, experience, and aftermath of war—focusing on how Americans have debated the morality of war, justified or protested the act of  warmaking, and come to terms with the pain and sacrifice war brings. Beginning with the Revolutionary War, we will observe the emergence of heroes and villains and the post-war debates over what the nation owes its veterans. We will study how the stated aims of the great war of the nineteenth-century, the Civil War, shifted on both sides of the conflict, and, in the twentieth century, how two world wars and the Vietnam War shocked and transformed American society. Readings will include memoirs, fiction, and films. The seminar will include presentations by visiting faculty on such themes as war and civil liberties and “just war” theory, and we will have the opportunity to meet with practicing journalists and commentators from outside the university who are struggling with the difficult issues presented by America’s most recent war, in Iraq

Section 3. Twentieth Century United States Intellectual History
Shannan Clark
Th 2:10-4
This seminar examines major currents of thought on politics, society, and culture in the United States during the twentieth century. It surveys authors from across the ideological spectrum, with consideration given to the development of the modern American liberal tradition as well as to both radical and conservative critiques of liberalism. Specific topics include the implications of American ethno-racial pluralism for national identity; the emergence of feminism; consumer culture and its various interpretations; the ambiguous role of religion in a secular intellectual culture; the responses of intellectuals to wars and other national crises, such as the Great Depression and the upheavals of the 1960s; and the evolution of thinking about work and class. Note: This class meets 1 AMST core requirement or 1 AMST seminar requirement (but not both)


—  
 RELATED COURSES



FALL 2007

The above link will take you to a partial list of courses approved for American Studies for Fall 2007.  BUT If you are interested in a course that is not on this list, do not discount it. Contact the American Studies office (amd44@columbia.edu) and provide the course name and description, and the course will be reviewed for possible approval.





2006-2007


Spring 2007

—  LECTURE COURSES

AMST W1010y Introduction to American Studies: Major Themes in the American Experience.
3 points.
Andrew Delbanco and Maura Spiegel
M & W 1:10-2:25

An introduction to fundamental themes and debates that span four centuries of American culture. Beginning with Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, we will explore themes such as the question of national character; immigration, assimilation and the color line; opportunity and the pursuit of property; self-making, meritocracy, consumerism; Americans at work and leisure, American religion and spiritual life, educational ideals, and Americans at war. A partial list of authors includes: John Winthrop, Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, R. W. Emerson, H.D. Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, W.E. B. DuBois, Andrew Carnegie, Horatio Alger, Theodore Roosevelt, John Dewey, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, Thorstein Veblen, Nella Larsen and Gish Jen. Conducted as a lecture/discussion, with weekly sections.


ENGL W3268y Foundations of American Literature II: American Literature from Civil War to 1945. 3 points.
Amanda Claybaugh
Tu & Th 2:40-3:55

A survey of the major literary developments of the period. Topics and authors likely to include realism (Henry James, William Dean Howells, Mark Twain), naturalism (Jack London, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton), and modernism (Hart Crane, William Faulkner, Eugene O'Neill, Jean Toomer, Sophie Treadwell, William Carlos Williams), as well as the emergence of African-American poetry and fiction (Charles Chesnutt and Paul Laurence Dunbar).


—  SEMINARS

AMST W3931y Topics in American Studies (Seminar). 4 points.


Application required. SEMINAR APPLICATION FORM.

Section 1. Equity in American Higher Education
Andrew Delbanco and Roger Lehecka
M 4:10-6

Note: Interview required. Students should set aside November 10, 2006, 11:30-5:00 p.m. for a brief (15-minute) interview with the instructors.
In this seminar we will examine the roles colleges and universities play in American society; the differential access to those institutions available to high school students based on family background and income, ethnicity, and other characteristics; the causes and consequences of this differential access; and some attempts to make the system more equitable. Readings and class meetings will include a study of the following subjects historically and in the 21st century: the wide variety of American institutions of higher education; financial aid policies, locally and nationally; affirmative action; the role of the high school in helping students attend college, with special attention to how this works in New York City. Students in the seminar will be required to spend at least four hours each week as volunteers at the East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) in addition to completing assigned reading, participating in seminar discussions and completing written assignments. EHTP is trying to help New York City high school students who lack many of the resources they need to attend college become more successful in gaining admission and finding financial aid. The seminar will integrate its students' first-hand experience with readings and class discussions. 

Section 2. The First Amendment: Speech, Religion, and the Constitution
Robert Amdur
Tu 2:10-4
The First Amendment has generated a larger scholarly literature, a larger popular literature, and more discussion at all levels of society than any other part of the Constitution. This seminar will examine the history and philosophical foundations of the speech and religion clauses, along with the Supreme Court's most important First Amendment decisions. How has the Court balanced the rights protected by the First Amendment against values such as public order, morality, equality, and national security?


Section 3. American Cultural Criticism
Casey Blake
W 11-12:50

Examines major interpreters of American culture from the late nineteenth century to the present. Themes include the search for indigenous forms of artistic expression; rise of a consumer culture; religious critics of secularism; ethno-racial pluralism and cosmopolitanism; "mass" culture, the avant-garde, and "high" culture; shift from modernism to postmodernism; and the public role of the critic.

AMST W3990y Senior Research Project Seminar. 4 points.

Casey Blake
F 11-12:50

A seminar devoted to the research and writing, under the instructor's supervision, of a substantial paper on a topic in American studies. Class discussions of issues in research, interpretation, and writing.


AMST G4120y Comics Marching into the Canon. 3 points.

Art Spiegelman
Th 6:10-8

There has been a very recent sea-change in how comics are perceived in America, from the "crime against American children" decried by educators at the beginning of the 20th century through the comic book burnings and Senate Hearings of the early 1950s to the current celebration of the form as museum art, as the new Literature, as the site of academic inquiry (like, say, this seminar). It's a Faustian Deal, dragging comics out of their gutter and into the salon. Using the Masters of American Comics shows as a point of departure and as a point for contention, this course will study the 15 cartoonists exhibited in their historical context, as well as analyzing the work of other artists in their extended circles. (Despite the sociological and historical "through-line" of this seminar, primary focus will be placed on the aesthetic and formal achievements of these artists.)

Application procedure:
E-mail Angela Darling (amd44@columbia.edu) with the subject line "Comics Seminar" by Friday, November 10, and include your name, year of study, school, major / department, relevant course background, and reasons for wanting to take the course.


Art Spiegelman
is one of the world’s best-known graphic artists and the recipient of multiple awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim fellowship and a nomination for the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1992, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his renowned comic-book Maus ­ A Survivor’s Tale, which recasts the Holocaust as an animal fable. With his wife Françoise Mouly, he co-founded the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine RAW and continues a distinguished career publishing in The New Yorker and many other periodicals. His latest book is In the Shadow of No Towers.






Fall 2006


AMST W3920x Introduction to American Studies: Colloquium on Theory and Method. 3 points.
Rachel Adams
Tu 2:10-4

What does it mean to do American Studies? What are the theories and methods that have guided American Studies scholarship as the field has developed? This course explores a range of topics, theoretical and methodological approaches, and debates that animate interdisciplinary work within American Studies and related disciplines. The majority of our weekly meetings will involve visits by speakers who will provide students with an opportunity to meet faculty affiliated with American Studies and to learn about the theoretical and methodological principles that have guided their work. The remainder of the class meetings will consist of activities designed to introduce other American Studies methods such as archival research, oral history, and work with material culture. Assigned readings will introduce debates about theory and methods within American Studies as well as the work of faculty visitors. Written assignments will ask students to summarize and evaluate various approaches introduced in class, as well as to put at least one method into practice. Please be aware that, in addition to weekly seminar meetings, the requirements for this course include mandatory attendance on two field trips, which will take place on Friday afternoons. Registered students should plan their schedules accordingly.

 

AMST W3930x Topics in American Studies (Seminar). 4 points.


Application required. APPLICATION FORM.

Section 1. Hispanic New York
Roosevelt Montas and Claudio Remeseira
Th 4:10-6

New York City contains a wide spectrum of immigrants from all over Latin America and the Caribbean, including a large number of artists, writers, and intellectuals. Because of this rich diversity, New York is both one of the leading Hispanic cities in the U.S. and a pivotal node of Latin American culture. This seminar will be a survey of the cultural heritage that sustains this diversity. We will explore the history and the demographic evolution of New York's Latino and Latin American population, its racial, ethnic, and religious make-up, and its longstanding tradition in arts, music, and literature. Readings will include fiction, non-fiction, and poetry originally written both in English and Spanish (English translations will be provided for students who don't read Spanish). We will also analyze the connections between New York's Hispanic cultural tradition and the broader U.S. culture, as well as New York's place in the Spanish-American intellectual world. Finally, the seminar will address some of the most pressing sociological issues related to the immigration flow from Latin America and the increasingly decisive role played by Latinos in New York politics. 

Section 2. Blacks and Jews
Ross Posnock
M 11-12:50

We will be reading works by Mailer, Bellow, Malamud, Ellison, Roth, Baraka, Baldwin, Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, and others that dramatize the postwar literary representation of blacks and Jews. The fraught, tension filled relation between "the most unalike of America's historic undesirables," as Roth says in The Human Stain, is the source of compelling literature rich in sociological, cultural and psychoanalytic implications.

 

ENGL W3267x Foundations of American Literature I: From the Puritans to the Civil War. 3 points.
Andrew Delbanco
M & W 10:35-11:50

Introduction to American thought and expression from the first English settlements to the eve of the Civil War. Writers include the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Herman Melville. Themes include the rise of an American national consciousness, the transformation of religion, ideas of nature and democracy, debates over immigration, race, and slavery. The course proceeds through a combination of lecture and discussion-with the aim of deepening our understanding of the origins and development of literature and culture in the United States. In addition to the two lectures, a weekly discussion section is an integral and required part of the course for all students.

 

HIST W3478x U.S. Intellectual History 1865 to the Present. 3 points.
Casey Blake
Tu & Th 1:10-2:25

This course examines major themes in the history of thought and culture in the United States since the late nineteenth century. Among other topics, we will consider the modern liberal-progressive tradition and its radical and conservative critics; the uneasy status of religion in a secular intellectual culture; cultural radicalism and feminism; consumer culture and its interpreters; the implications of American ethno-racial pluralism for national identity; the responses of intellectuals to hot and cold wars, the Great Depression, and the upheavals of the 1960s; and the contemporary "culture wars."
         In addition, course readings and lectures will introduce students to ongoing debates about the public role and responsibilities of intellectuals as a distinct social group. American intellectuals have long struggled to define their vocation as inquirers and critics. In the process, they have sought to understand how that vocation might best respond to the demands of a broader public sphere. Their efforts to balance intellectual integrity with civic engagement provide an opportunity to reflect on your own experiences as students and interpreters of the United States and its culture.


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2005-2006

Fall 2005


W3930x Topics in American Studies (Seminar) 4 points
Application required.

American Cultural Criticism (C. Blake)
An intensive seminar on American cultural criticism since nineteenth century.  Readings will consist almost entirely of works by major interpreters of American culture and experience from Emerson and Whitman to the present.  Themes to be considered include:  the search for indigenous forms of artistic expression; the consequences of urbanism and corporate industrialization for American culture and values; the place of religion in a secular culture; ethno-racial pluralism and cosmopolitanism; tensions between “popular” or “mass” culture, the avant-garde, and “high” culture; the shift from a modernist to a postmodernist sensibility; and the public role of the critic in the United States

North American Border Narratives (R. Adams)
In our contemporary moment of globalization, it is sometimes said that national boundaries are eroding.  However, a basic assumption of this course is that borders have become more, rather than less, important in our time.  This is particularly true of North America, where sometimes the best understanding of U.S. culture comes from those who live at and directly on the other side of its borders.  The 150-year history of bi-national conflict and negotiation at the United States’ two land borders will form a backdrop for our study of the cultural expression generated by those who live in or have been inspired by their experiences with the region.  In contrast to most studies of “the borderlands,” which typically focus exclusively on the U.S.-Mexico border, this course takes a comparative look at the Mexican and Canadian borderlands.  Each week we will consider the work of one major border author/artist accompanied by one or more critical articles that will introduce key concepts and contexts to help us frame our discussion.  The first half of the course will be devoted to materials from the U.S.-Mexican border and may include works by Jack Kerouac, Tomas Rivera, Gloria Anzaldua, Sandra Cisneros, John Sayles, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Lourdes Portillo and Karen Tei Yamashita; the second to the U.S.-Canadian border, where and may include works by Ishmael Reed, Lawrence Hill, Thomas King, Tim O’Brien, Guillermo Verdecchia, and Roger Moore.  Comparative perspectives will be encouraged throughout.

W3997x Supervised Individual Research 1-4 points

For students who want to do independent study of topics not covered by normal program offerings or for senior American Studies majors working on the Senior Honors Project independent of W3990y. The student must find a faculty sponsor and work out a plan of study; a copy of this plan should be submitted to the program director.

Related Courses

Fall 2005

This link will bring you to a partial list of courses approved for American Studies for Fall 2005. If you are interested in a course that is not on this list, do not discount it. Contact the American Studies office (amd44@columbia.edu) and provide the course name and description.

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Spring 2006

W1010y Introduction to American Studies. 3 points. (Maura Spiegel) M & W 4:10-5:25
Lecture and discussion. Inquiry into the values and cultural expressions of the people of the United States. Examines literature, history, cultural criticism, social theory, music, the visual arts, and other genres with an eye to understanding how Americans of different backgrounds, in different times, have understood and argued about the meaning and significance of American national identity. (Barnard students: This course has been approved to fulfill General Education Requirement.)

 

W3931y Topics in American Studies (Seminar). 4 points.


Application required.

Section 1. War and American Values (Andrew Delbanco) Tu 4:10-6
In this seminar, we will consider the politics, experience, and aftermath of war—focusing on how Americans have debated the morality of war, justified or protested the act of  warmaking, and come to terms with the pain and sacrifice war brings. Beginning with the Revolutionary War, we will observe the emergence of heroes and villains and the post-war debates over what the nation owes its veterans. We will study how the stated aims of the great war of the nineteenth-century, the Civil War, shifted on both sides of the conflict, and, in the twentieth century, how two world wars and the Vietnam War shocked and transformed American society. Readings will include memoirs, fiction, and films. The seminar will include presentations by visiting faculty on such themes as war and civil liberties and “just war” theory, and we will have the opportunity to meet with practicing journalists and commentators from outside the university who are struggling with the difficult issues presented by America’s most recent war, in Iraq 

Section 2. Philip Roth's America (Ross Posnock) M 4:10-6
This course will examine Roth in the context of major developments in American culture starting in the late 1950s when he published hsi first book "Goodbye, Columbus." The title story, which concerns the post-war arrival of Jews into mainstream (suburban) American culture, raises issues of ethnic identity and assimilation that such African-American writers as Ralph Ellison (one of Roth's literary heroes) and James Baldwin were contending with in this era. With his raucous, outrageous bestseller "Portnoy's Complaint" (1969), Roth reflected the transgressive 60s decade that itself was inspired in part by the Beats and Beatniks of the late 50s, Allen Ginsberg ("Howl") and Jack Kerouac ("On the Road") in particular. The commitment of these figures to a calculated "immaturity"--a flouting of bourgeois restraint--was an important legacy for Roth. Leslie Fiedler's "the New Mutants" (1965) and Norman Mailer's "The White Negro" (1959) are key non-fiction documents of the era, narrating the collective cultural revolt against adulthood that begins in the late fifties and is in full bloom by the mid-sixties. The landmark book of photographs by Robert Frank, "The Americans," depicts the undertow of desolation and loneliness inherent in the American preoccupation with being "on the road." By the late 70s Roth is seeking entrance to genteel (and gentile) high culture, and his memorable short novel "The Ghost Writer" narrates his alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman's ambivalent efforts to come to terms both with his family and with the larger Jewish-American suspicion of those who refuse traditional piety.

Roth, who had been in dialogue with Ellison in the early 60s, when they served on a panel together, devotes a recent major novel, "The Human Stain" (2000) to issues of race, passing, individualism, and art that constitutes an extended conversation with Ellison's 1952 masterpiece "Invisible Man." Reading these novels together will show how Ellison and Roth found an alternative to the sacrifices of assimilation in the notion of appropriation.
           
We will read all of the texts above as well as W. T. Lhamon's "Deliberate Speed," a synoptic cultural history of the 50s.

 

W3998y Supervised Individual Research  [1 - 4 points]
For students who want to do independent study of topics not covered by normal program offerings or for senior American Studies majors working on the Senior Honors Project independent of W3990y. The student must find a faculty sponsor and work out a plan of study; a copy of this plan should be submitted to the program director.

 

W3990y Senior Honors Research Project Seminar  [4 points]
A seminar devoted to the research and writing, under the instructor's supervision, of a substantial paper on a topic in American studies. Class discussions of issues in research, interpretation, and writing. Application required. Application forms will be available in Fall 2005.



Related Courses

        Spring  2006


The above link will take you to a list of Spring 2006 courses, drawn from a wide variety of departments and programs, that have been approved for American Studies majors and concentrators; the list also specifies which American Studies requirements such courses fulfill.

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