Undergraduate Courses

Courses that Meet the Early Americas Requirement

AMST 017, Travel Literature of the Americas

AMST 133, Introduction to American Indian History, Ned Blackhawk

AMST 141, The American West, John Mack Faragher

AMST 160, Rise and Fall of Atlantic Slavery, Edward Rugemer

AMST 219, Race, Empire, & Atlantic Modernities, Dixa Ramirez & Anne Eller

AMST 309, Zombies, Pirates, Ghosts,and Witches, Dixa Ramirez

AMST 400, The History of Race in the Early Americas,  Greta LaFleur

AMST 407, Antebellum America,  Edward Rugemer

AMST 418, Social Governance in Early America, Greta Lafleur

AMST 441, Indians and the Spanish Borderlands, Ned Blackhawk

ENGL 278, Antebellum American Literature, Michael Warner

ENGL 430/ AMST 425, American Culture and the Rise of the Environment, Michael Warner

ERM 200, Introduction to Ethnicity, Race and Migration, Alicia Schmidt Camacho

HIST 116, The American Revolution, Joanne Freeman

HIST 133J, The Creation of the American Politician, 1789-1820, Joanne Freeman

HIST 135J, Age of Hamilton and Jefferson, Joanne Freeman

The following is the Fall 2016 course listing for undergraduate majors in the Program in American Studies. For detailed course information, please visit Yale University’s Online Course Information Site

Freshman Seminars for 2016-17

* AMST 020a, The Humanities from Plato to the Corporate University James Berger

Inquiry into the relevancy of the humanities. Consideration of Plato’s dismissal of any study that could not clearly demonstrate its own truth and moral validity, as well as recent focus on the alleged technological obtuseness of the humanities. Debate as to whether academic studies and artistic pursuits, criticized as both anti-modern and postmodern, economically worthless, and politically harmful, can defend themselves. Examination of these debates, from Plato’s Academy to today’s corporate university. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  WR, HU
MW 1pm-2:15pm

* AMST 025a / WGSS 025a, The American Essay Tradition Greta LaFleur

Exploration of the American essay tradition, from some of its earliest moments to more recent iterations. Consideration of the essay as a rhetorical form, a political tool, and a literary tradition. Authors include Thomas Paine, Claudia Rankine, Benjamin Franklin, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Cherrie Moraga, Sherman Alexie, and Hilton Als. Students will write political essays, as well as develop competencies in literary analysis. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

* AMST 060b / AFAM 060b / HIST 016b, Significance of American Slavery Edward Rugemer

The history of American slavery, its destruction during the nineteenth century, and its significance today. Topics include the origins of slavery, the development of racism, the transatlantic slave trade, the experience of enslavement, resistance to slavery, the abolitionist movement, the process of emancipation, and the perpetuation of slavery and other forms of unfree labor in the twenty-first century. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  WR, HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

Gateway Courses for 2016-2017

AMST 125b / AFAM 125b / HIST 136b, The Long Civil Rights Movement Crystal Feimster

Political, social, and artistic aspects of the U.S. civil rights movement from the 1920s through the 1980s explored in the context of other organized efforts for social change. Focus on relations between the African American freedom movement and debates about gender, labor, sexuality, and foreign policy. Changing representations of social movements in twentieth-century American culture; the politics of historical analysis.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:25pm

AMST 133a / ER&M 187a / HIST 107a, Introduction to American Indian History Ned Blackhawk

Survey of American Indian history, beginning with creation traditions and migration theories and continuing to the present day. Focus on American Indian nations whose homelands are located within the contemporary United States. Complexity and change within American Indian societies, with emphasis on creative adaptations to changing historical circumstances.  WR, HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

AMST 135a / HIST 127a / WGSS 200a, U.S. Lesbian and Gay History George Chauncey

Introduction to the social, cultural, and political history of lesbians, gay men, and other socially constituted sexual minorities. Focus on understanding categories of sexuality in relation to shifting normative regimes, primarily in the twentieth century. The emergence of homosexuality and heterosexuality as categories of experience and identity; the changing relationship between homosexuality and transgenderism; the development of diverse lesbian and gay subcultures and their representation in popular culture; religion and sexual science; generational change and everyday life; AIDS; and gay, antigay, feminist, and queer movements.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

AMST 160a / AFAM 160a / AFST 184a / HIST 184a, The Rise and Fall of Atlantic Slavery Edward Rugemer

The history of peoples of African descent throughout the Americas, from the first African American societies of the sixteenth century through the century-long process of emancipation.  HU
TTh 1:30pm-2:20pm

AMST 163a / EVST 120a / HIST 120a / HSHM 204a, American Environmental History Paul Sabin

Ways in which people have shaped and been shaped by the changing environments of North America from precolonial times to the present. Migration of species and trade in commodities; the impact of technology, agriculture, and industry; the development of resources in the American West and overseas; the rise of modern conservation and environmental movements; the role of planning and impact of public policies.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:25pm

AMST 193b / HIST 122b, Origins of U.S. Global Power Jenifer Van Vleck

Policies, strategies, and ideas that enabled the United States to become a world power. Manifest Destiny, expansion, and empire; American exceptionalism; nationalism and internationalism; capitalism and consumer culture; technological innovation; the relation between domestic politics and U.S. foreign policy, particularly with regard to race and gender; challenges and resistance to U.S. global power. Focus on the twentieth century, with introduction to critical moments in U.S. and international history during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.  HU
MW 10:30am-11:20am

AMST 196a / AFAM 196a / ER&M 226a / EVST 196a, Race, Class, and Gender in American Cities Laura Barraclough

Examination of how racial, gender, and class inequalities have been built, sustained, and challenged in American cities. Focus on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Topics include industrialization and deindustrialization, segregation, gendered public/private split, gentrification, transit equity, environmental justice, food access, and the relationships between public space, democracy, and community wellbeing. Includes field projects in New Haven.  WR, SO

AMST 197a / ARCH 280a / HSAR 219a, American Architecture and Urbanism Elihu Rubin

Introduction to the study of buildings, architects, architectural styles, and urban landscapes, viewed in their economic, political, social, and cultural contexts, from precolonial times to the present. Topics include: public and private investment in the built environment; the history of housing in America; the organization of architectural practice; race, gender, ethnicity and the right to the city; the social and political nature of city building; and the transnational nature of American architecture.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:25pm

AMST 217b / HSAR 216b, Craft, Design, and Art: American Domestic Architecture and Decorative Arts since 1900 Edward Cooke

A survey of American architecture and decorative arts in the twentieth century. Examination of architecture, furniture, metals, ceramics, and glass. Topics include responses to the reforms of the Arts and Crafts movement, the introduction of modernism, the survival and revival of traditional and vernacular expressions, the rise of industrial designers, the development of studio crafts, and the varieties of postmodern expression.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

* AMST 235b / ENGL 354b, Language, Disability, Fiction James Berger

Portrayals of cognitive and linguistic impairment in modern fiction. Characters with limited capacities for language as figures of “otherness.” Contemporaneous discourses of science, sociology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics. The ethics of speaking about or for subjects at the margins of discourse.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

AMST 238a / AFST 238a / ER&M 238a, Introduction to Third World Studies  Gary Okihiro

Introduction to the historical and contemporary theories and articulations of Third World studies (comparative ethnic studies) as an academic field and practice. Consideration of subject matters; methodologies and theories; literatures; and practitioners and institutional arrangements.  SO

AMST 247a / FILM 244a / HIST 147a / HLTH 170a / HSHM 202a, Media and Medicine in Modern America John Warner

Relationships between medicine, health, and the media in the United States from 1870 to the present. The changing role of the media in shaping conceptions of the body, creating new diseases, influencing health and health policy, crafting the image of the medical profession, informing expectations of medicine and constructions of citizenship, and the medicalization of American life.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

* AMST 257b / ENGL 325b, Modern Apocalyptic Narratives James Berger

The persistent impulse in Western culture to imagine the end of the world and what might follow. Social and psychological factors that motivate apocalyptic representations. Differences and constant features in apocalyptic representations from the Hebrew Bible to contemporary science fiction. Attitudes toward history, politics, sexuality, social class, and the process of representation in apocalyptic texts.  HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 258b / EVST 258b, Wilderness in the North American Imagination Eric Rutkow

The idea of wilderness in American history, art, film, public policy, and literature, from the Puritans to the present. Authors include Thoreau, Faulkner, Jack London, Mary Rowlandson, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson. A weekend field trip is held early in the term.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm


* AMST 267a, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Oral History Narrative Joseph Plaster

Introduction to the theory and practice of oral history and the foundational skills of project design, audio recording, and interviewing styles. Students learn and practice the skills required to conceptualize, conduct, and analyze oral history narratives. Draws on scholarship in performance studies, ethnography, and affect studies to consider the unique forms of evidence produced through the oral history encounter.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

AMST 271b / HIST 171b / WGSS 201b, Women in Modern America Joanne Meyerowitz

U.S. women’s history and the history of gender from 1900 to the present. Changing meanings of femininity, masculinity, sex, gender, and sexuality; intersections of class, race, ethnicity, and gender; women’s labor in industrial and postindustrial economies; women’s participation in politics and social movements; trends in sexual expression, gender presentation, reproduction, child rearing, and marriage; and feminist and other gender-equity movements.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

 During the junior year, students must take two upper-level seminars (AMST 300-390).  At least one of the seminars must fall within the student’s area of concentration.

Junior Seminars for 2016-2017

* AMST 310b / AFAM 410b / WGSS 410b, Interdisciplinary Approaches to African American Studies Heather Vermeulen

An interdisciplinary, thematic approach to the study of race, nation, and ethnicity in the African diaspora. Topics include class, gender, color, and sexuality; the dynamics of reform, Pan-Africanism, neocolonialism, and contemporary black nationalism. Use of a broad range of methodologies.  WR, HU, SO

* AMST 311b / ER&M 311b, Latina/o New Haven Alicia Camacho

Introduction to the field of Latina/o studies, with a focus on community-based research in New Haven. Training in interdisciplinary methods of social research, including oral history, interviews, archival research, cultural analysis, and social documentation. Students design collaborative research projects.  SO
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 314a / WGSS 306a, Gender and Transgender Greta LaFleur

Introduction to transgender studies, an emergent field that draws on gender studies, queer theory, sociology, feminist science studies, literary studies, and history. Representations of gender nonconformity in a cultural context dominated by a two-sex model of human gender differentiation. Sources include novels, autobiographies, films, and philosophy and criticism.  RP
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* AMST 330a / ENGL 236a, Dystopic and Utopian Fictions James Berger

Attempts since the late nineteenth century to imagine, in literature, cinema, and social theory, a world different from the existing world. The merging of political critique with desire and anxiety; the nature and effects of social power; forms of authority, submission, and resistance.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 336a / AFAM 336a / ER&M 315a / LAST 336, Haitian and Dominican Literature and Culture Dixa Ramirez

The literature and culture of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and their diasporas in the United States and Canada since 1804. Focus on texts that explore relations between the two nations, with some attention to each country’s individual literary and cultural traditions. Conventional literary texts such as novels and poetry, as well as political documents, orally transmitted texts, and imagery.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 338a / AFAM 225a / THST 304a, Blackface Minstrelsy and the Politics of Power Daphne Brooks

Study of racial performances from Stowe, Twain, Winehouse, and others to explore the history and aesthetics of racial masquerade and cultural appropriation, from the origins of blackface minstrelsy through the present day. Examination of the roots and modern legacies of a form that was once the most popular entertainment attraction in American culture and of the relationship between performance politics and forms of social domination and cultural subversion. The impact of modernity and material histories (slavery and captivity, immigration, labor, development of the culture industry) on blackface minstrelsy’s evolution.  HURP
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 341a / AFAM 399a / ER&M 407a, Race and Capitalism Aaron Carico

This interdisciplinary seminar explores, both theoretically and historically, how racial formations are bound to the formations of capitalism. Focus on the American scene, with sustained inquiry on slavery, its commodity logics, and their residues. Consideration of the effects of immigration and globalization.   SO
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 348b, Space, Place, and Landscape Laura Barraclough

Survey of core concepts in cultural geography and spatial theory. Ways in which the organization, use, and representation of physical spaces produce power dynamics related to colonialism, race, gender, class, and migrant status. Multiple meanings of home; the politics of place names; effects of tourism; the aesthetics and politics of map making; spatial strategies of conquest. Includes field projects in New Haven.  SO
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 353a / HIST 160Ja / WGSS 348a, Selected Topics in Lesbian and Gay History George Chauncey

Readings and discussions focus on recent studies of twentieth-century queer family life, religion, migration, race, urban politics, state regulation, and sexual culture in the United States, and help frame research questions for students to pursue in Yale’s archival collections. Attention to methodology and the craft of historical writing.  WR, HU
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 370a / THST 380a, The History of Dance Jessica Berson

An examination of major movements in the history of concert and social dance from the late nineteenth century to the present, including ballet, tap, jazz, modern, musical theater, and different cultural forms. Topics include tradition versus innovation, the influence of the African diaspora, and interculturalism. Exercises are used to illuminate analysis of the body in motion.  WR, HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

* AMST 381b, Queer and Trans Performativity Joseph Plaster

Introduction to the intersections of queer theory and performance studies through examination of key texts that have shaped conversations between these fields, followed by focus on the themes currently under debate such as queer temporalities and history; the anti-social thesis; and the turn to affect. Attention to aesthetics and the performing arts.  
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 385b, Trauma in American Film and Television Christine Muller

Origins, multiple meanings, and influence of the notion of trauma in contemporary American culture. Relations between theories of popular culture and of trauma, particularly in discussions of war, social upheaval, and September 11, 2001. The conditions and implications of engaging trauma through everyday entertainment such as film and television; the ethics of representation.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

AMST 386b / AFAM 403b / THST 431b, Black Women and Popular-Music Culture Daphne Brooks

Forms of musical artistry innovated by black women artists as sites of social, political, and cultural rupture, revision, and resistance. The intersecting politics of race, gender, class, and sexuality in popular-music culture considered through black women’s sonic performances. Examination of voice, lyricism, embodied performance, and spectacle. Artists range from Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and Eartha Kitt to Nina Simone, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, and Janelle Monáe.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 392b / RLST 311b, Religion and Popular Culture Kathryn Lofton

Study of the religious dimensions of popular culture. Religious institutions’ engagement in economic markets; the deployment of religious imagery in the cultural marketplace; consumer culture as a religious space.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* AMST 397b / AFAM 251b, Critical Race Theory Crystal Feimster

Introduction to critical race theory, a radical critique of relations among race, law, and power in U.S. politics and society. Intellectual foundations of the field, with emphasis on African American perspectives; key juridical acts. The centrality of U.S. law in producing social hierarchies of race and racial difference, gender, sexuality, and class. The extension of critical race theory to global analysis of race, immigration, and cultural difference.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 399a  / ER&M 359a, Race and Material Culture  Michelle Morgan

Examination of how certain materials and material objects bear on racial formations and how those formations have changed over time; use of material culture in the construction of the racialized human. Themes include people and things, objects and the performance of race, materiality, posthumanism, media and immateriality, and more.   HU

During the senior year, each student in the major completes work in the area of concentration in one of three ways.  First, the student may enroll in an upper-level seminar within their area of concentration (AMST 400-490).  Second, the student may complete a one-term senior project or essay (AMST 491 a or b). Third, the student may petition to enroll in the Intensive major (AMST 493a, 494b) and work independently for two terms.

Senior Seminars for 2016-2017

* AMST 400b / ER&M 358b / HIST 119Jb, The History of Race in the Early Americas Greta LaFleur

A broad survey of the history of racial thinking in the Atlantic world from the early modern period through the late nineteenth century. Students will denaturalize the idea that race is synonymous with skin color by turning to the long history of racism and racial thinking in the Atlantic world to illustrate the way that current ideas about what race “is” or means is a profoundly twentieth-century idea.  HU

* AMST 402a / ANTH 302a / FILM 324a / WGSS 380a, Gender and Sexuality in Media and Popular Culture Laura Wexler

Investigation of visual media and popular culture in the United States and transnationally. Gender, race, class, and sexuality in relation to the production, circulation, consumption, and reception of media culture. Focus on theories of media and the visual. Significant lab component in which students use media technologies to make and illustrate theoretical arguments.  HU
T 2:30pm-4:20pm

* AMST 403a, Introduction to Public Humanities Ryan Brasseaux

Introduction to the various media, topics, debates, and issues framing public humanities. The relationship between knowledge produced in the university and the circulation of ideas among a broader public, including modes of inquiry, interpretation, and presentation. Public history, museum studies, oral and community history, public art, documentary film and photography, public writing and educational outreach, and the socially conscious performing arts.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 405b / AFAM 406b / ENGL 405b, Autobiography in America Robert Stepto

A study of autobiographical writings from Mary Rowlandson’s Indian captivity narrative (1682) to the present. Classic forms such as immigrant, education, and cause narratives; prevailing autobiographical strategies involving place, work, and photographs. Authors include Franklin, Douglass, Jacobs, Antin, Kingston, Uchida, Balakian, Rodriguez, and Bechdel.  WR, HU
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 407b / AFAM 380b / HIST 111Jb, Antebellum America Edward Rugemer

History of the United States from the Jackson administration through the Civil War. Emphasis on race, slavery, and the coming of the war, with some attention to western expansion.  WR, HU
Th 9:25am-11:15am

* AMST 422b / ER&M 435b / HIST 151Jb, Writing Tribal Histories Ned Blackhawk

Historical overview of American Indian tribal communities, particularly since the creation of the United States. Challenges of working with oral histories, government documents, and missionary records.  WR, HU
T 9:25am-11:15am


* AMST 441b / ER&M 370b / HIST 130Jb, Indians and the Spanish Borderlands Ned Blackhawk

The experiences of Native Americans during centuries of relations with North America’s first imperial power, Spain. The history and long-term legacies of Spanish colonialism from Florida to California.  WR, HU
M 9:25am-11:15am

* AMST 451a / HIST 174Ja / RLST 260a, Religion, War, and the Meaning of America Harry Stout

The relationship between religion and war in American history from colonial beginnings through Vietnam. The religious meanings of Americans at war; the mutually reinforcing influences of nationalism and religion; war as the norm of American national life; the concept of civil religion; biblical and messianic contexts of key U.S. conflicts.  HU

* AMST 457a / HIST 113Ja, Cultural Capital: New York in the Twentieth Century Jean-Christophe Agnew

An interdisciplinary study of New York City as a global cultural capital in the twentieth century. Social, political, and economic forces shaping the principal institutions of the city’s patrician, popular, and mass cultures. The formation of identifiably “New York” styles in the arts, architecture, photography, literature, and film. The changing geography of cultural creation, reproduction, and distribution in the city.  WR, HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 460b / AFAM 408b / ENGL 443b, African American Poets of the Modern Era Robert Stepto

The African American practice of poetry between 1900 and 1960, especially of sonnets, ballads, sermonic, and blues poems. Poets include Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker, and Robert Hayden. Class sessions at the Beinecke Library for inspection and discussion of original editions, manuscripts, letters, and other archival material.  HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 463a or b / EVST 463a or b / FILM 455a or b, Documentary Film Workshop Charles Musser

A yearlong workshop designed primarily for majors in Film and Media Studies or American Studies who are making documentaries as senior projects. Seniors in other majors admitted as space permits.  RP

* AMST 466b / ENGL 444b, Contemporary Historical Novels James Berger

Attempts of contemporary American authors to put the complexities of history into written form. Narrative as the privileged mode of historical representation; differences between what is regarded as academic history, popular history, and historical fiction; the influence of power and of the writer’s own historical position on historical narrative; effects of ethnicity, gender, and race on the creation and reception of history; writers’ use of historical fiction to change the ways readers think about the present and the future.  HU
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 469b / EP&E 396b / PLSC 251b, Progressivism: Theory and Practice Stephen Skowronek

The progressive reform tradition in American politics. The tradition’s conceptual underpinnings, social supports, practical manifestations in policy and in new governmental arrangements, and conservative critics. Emphasis on the origins of progressivism in the early decades of the twentieth century, with attention to latter-day manifestations and to changes in the progressive impulse over time.  SO

* AMST 475b / ENGL 438b, Performing American Literature Wai Chee Dimock

A broad selection of short stories, poems, and novels, accompanied by class performances throughout the semester, culminating in a term project with a significant writing component. ”Performance” here includes a wide range of activities, from adaptation and staging to the making of videos and films, text encoding and markup, digital geographies, web and game design, and the creative use of social media. Readings include poetry by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Claudia Rankine; fiction by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Junos Diaz. WR, HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* AMST 478a / ENGL 436a, Global Cities, New York, Chicago, San Francisco Wai Chee Dimock

Explore the vibrant openness of New York, Chicago, and San Francisco through study of geographies invoked, literary genres experimented with, sights and sounds produced, collective pasts recalled, and collective futures intimated. Readings examine Upton Sinclair’s immigrant labor force in The Jungle; Teju Cole’s interweaving of Africa, Europe, and America in Open City; the detective fiction of Dashiell Hammett; the science fiction of Philip K. Dick; the poetry of Carl Sandburg; and the generational sagas of Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Amy Tan.    WR, HU

Special Projects and Senior Project

* AMST 471a and AMST 472b, Individual Reading and Research for Juniors and Seniors Michael Denning

Special projects intended to enable the student to cover material not otherwise offered by the program. The course may be used for research or for directed reading, but in either case a term paper or its equivalent is required as evidence of work done. It is expected that the student will meet regularly with the faculty adviser. To apply for admission, a student should submit a prospectus signed by the faculty adviser to the director of undergraduate studies.

* AMST 491a or b, Senior Project Staff

Independent research and proseminar on a one-term senior project. For requirements see under “Senior requirement” in the American Studies program description.

* AMST 493a and AMST 494b, Senior Project for the Intensive Major Christopher Kramaric

Independent research and proseminar on a two-term senior project. For requirements see under “Senior requirement” in the American Studies program description.
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm