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American Studies|College of Arts and Sciences

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American Studies
Cooper House
1000 E. University Ave
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766 3898
Fax: (307) 766 3700
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Spring 2015

(Click here for all course offerings in American Studies at UW.)

AMST 2010:  Introduction to American Studies   (CH, WB 3 cr.)

Section 1:  MWF  11:00 am-11:50 am  ED 45 Frieda Knobloch

Section 2:  MWF  9:00 am-9:50 am  ED 45 John Dorst

AMST 2110:  Cultural Diversity in the U.S.   (CS, D 3 cr.)

TR   9:35 am-10:50 am  ED 45 Beth Loffreda

In this course we’ll study how identity, diversity, and inequality are named, debated, and transformed in our own lifetimes, as well as in the nation’s past. We’ll use several fascinating legal case studies as the foundation of our discussions (including the death of Michael Brown and the recent court decisions regarding gay marriage, as well as examples from earlier in American history). We’ll examine what those case studies reveal about American identity formation; and by looking at artistic and literary responses to those cases, we’ll think about how we might create our own responses that represent the complexity of our identities. Requirements for the course will include several short papers as well as creative assignments.

AMST 3400:  Popular Music and Sexualities   (CH, D  3 cr.)

Crosslisted with WMST 3400

T   7:00 pm-9:30 pm   Cooper House  Ulrich Adelt

In this course, we will look at ways in which popular music has intersected with sexual and gendered identities as a means and expression of both oppression and liberation. We will begin with a few theoretical texts discussing the performative qualities of gender and sexuality and then symptomatically analyze constructions of sexual and gendered identities in a number of historical time periods and musical genres (for instance, 1930s blues, 1960s rock, 1970s disco). We will pay particular attention to the “queering” of popular music by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered artists and scholars. Throughout the semester, we will be using film clips and music played in class in order to symptomatically prove or disprove the theories we are discussing. Course requirements include one 5-7 page essay and a presentation of your research, five response papers, a final exam as well as various quizzes.

AMST 4030/5030:  Ecology of Knowledge (3 cr.)

Prerequiste:  3 hours in any interdiscplinary program

TR  11:00 am-12:15 pm     Cooper House  Frieda Knobloch

“Interdisciplinary” work is offered as a valuable emergent approach to complex questions of every kind. But what does it mean to be “interdisciplinary”? Our approach to the question will be ecological, viewing knowledge as a dynamic and interactive web of ideas. Seeking to understand the connections among these ideas, we’ll investigate the notion of “disciplines”—all our majors—to see what separates them, why people reconnect and recombine them, and what kinds of insight are possible when they do. The course is intended to spark your own investigations within wide frameworks of knowledge. We’ll want to be sure people understand what they’ve read, but it’s just as important to talk about what the reading makes you ask or think about, what connections are possible in your own work.

AMST 4040/5040:  Historic Preservation and Sustainability (3 cr.)

W  4:00 pm-6:30 pm   Cooper House   Anthony Denzer

“The greenest building is the one already built.”        

This course will explore the historic preservation and sustainability movements in the United States, and introduce students to contemporary practices in these two inter-related fields. Through reading, lectures, discussions and site visits, students will study the basic tenets of sustainability as they relate to the environment, culture and economics, and learn how existing buildings can meet sustainability goals.

AMST 4300/5300:  American Culture in the Public Sector (3 cr.)

Prerequiste:  12 credits in humanities or social sciences courses having to do with American culture

M  12:00 pm-2:30 pm    Cooper House    Eric Sandeen

The course surveys American culture studies in the public sector. Topics include history and theory of public sector humanities and social sciences; types of public sector jobs and institutions where public humanists work; and public sector work in specific disciplines, such as history, anthropology, folklore, archaeology and art history.

AMST 4500 (section 1):  Visual Studies (3 cr.)

M   3:30 pm-6:00 pm    Cooper House   John Dorst

This class is a general introduction to the field of visual studies. Although it draws on established disciplines that deal with visual material, for example, media studies, film studies, art history and criticism, visual studies is concerned with the general nature of visual experience in its broad cultural context. Not just the things we look at themselves, but how we see these things is what visual studies explores. We will be considering not just visual “texts” (films, photographs, television shows, online sources, etc.), but also the apparatuses and cultural contexts of visual experience in contemporary America. For example, how the spaces of spectacle (arenas, theaters, store windows, museums, etc.) structure the activity of looking falls under the umbrella of visual studies. Among the issues we will spend some time on is the proliferation of screens – from mobile devices to jumbotrons – in our world today.

AMST 4500 (section 2):  Queer Theory  (3 cr.)

Crosslisted with ENGL 4640 and WMST 4500

TR   2:45 pm-4:00 pm    BU 24   Beth Loffreda

This course will explore one of the more provocative approaches to literature and culture to emerge in the last thirty years or so. Queer theory invites us to ask some powerfully interesting questions: how is it possible that seemingly immutable identities are actually quite recent, modern inventions? How do cultures regulate the experience of sexual desire and what role, if any, do art and literature have in that regulation (or its violation)? How have certain literary traditions and eras characterized the nature of sexuality, gender, and desire? Should an author’s sexual identity matter to our understanding of his or her work, and if so, how and when? Why does our culture so love to talk about other people’s sex lives, even as we claim that sex is a private affair? Queer theory investigates all that and more, and also gives us the chance to ask fascinating questions about the basic acts of literary and cultural interpretation, about both the reliability of our methods of inquiry and the limits of viable meaning. Our focus will be mostly on late 19th, 20th, and 21st century American fiction—that tradition will be our primary case study—but we’ll explore other cultures, periods, and texts as well. Course requirements will include two essays as well as the chance to pretend that you are head archivist of a queer museum. This course is required for the undergraduate Queer Studies minor, but all undergraduates with interest in the subject are welcome, regardless of major. The course is interdisciplinary in spirit and open to students of all backgrounds.

AMST 4500 (section 3):  Colonization, Race, and the Construction of the Other (3 cr.)

W   7:00 pm-9:30 pm    Cooper House    Lilia Soto

This seminar course traces the epistemological traditions of colonization and race to understand the continuous construction and Othering of racialized groups.  We will begin the course by centering critical texts on colonization and assess its consequences.  These earlier readings will be coupled with contemporary texts and articles of race and the racialization of groups of color.  Some of the questions we will examine include the following:  what has been the impact of colonization on communities of color?  Is colonization an earlier example of the racialization of the colonized?  What are the links and connections between colonization and race?  What have been its lingering consequences?

AMST 5560:  Black Popular Culture (3 cr.)

Croslisted with AAST 5560

TR   2:45 pm-4:00 pm   ED 06    Ulrich Adelt

In this course, we will approach African American popular culture from theoretical perspectives which include black feminist, postcolonial, and poststructuralist analyses. The texts for this class include primary as well as secondary sources and deal with various aspects of black popular culture, including, but not limited to, minstrelsy, popular music (blues, soul, hip hop), film, science fiction, comic books, hair, and sports cultures. Students are expected to actively participate in class discussions and develop academic research on black popular culture, which they have to document in bi-weekly response papers, a research paper, and a class presentation.

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