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Courses

Fall 2015

*Effective Fall 2015, Vanderbilt University has introduced a new course catalog numbering scheme. For assistance with the translation between old (3-digit) and new (4-digit) numbers, please consult the Course Renumbering Lookup Tool.

AMER 1002: Introduction to American Studies - "Race, Space, and Place in the American City"
Shaw, S.

This course surveys race and ethnic relations in 20th century American urban history. Race is a defining feature of the American city; our neighborhoods, suburbs, and highways take unique shape in the presence of racial inequality. Conversely, the American-built environment is itself a cause of continuing racial inequality. In this class we will think sociologically and historically about this dual process. Along the way we will learn about the difference between ethnic enclaves and racial segregation in the depression-era, surburbanization and the ideology of the American frontier in the postwar period, and gentrification and, ironically, the rebirth of the pioneer ethos in the postindustrial urban core. Students will gain an understanding of how the American city and race and ethnic relations are imprinted upon each other, paved and built into the real structures of everyday American life and culture.

Also available as a W class with Shaw or Nelson.

AMER 1200: Introduction to Southern Studies
Shaw, S.

An interdisciplinary approach to southern American culture, character, and life approached from the interrelated perspectives of history and culture (literature, music, religion, images, rituals, material culture).

AMER 3890: Topics in American Studies - "Art of Social Justice"
Lowe, M.

Topics vary. May be repeated for credit more than once if there is no duplication in topic. Students may enroll in more than one section of this course each semester.

AMER 4000: The American Studies Workshop - Blue Gold: Water Rights and Wrongs
Tichi, C

“Earth has aptly been called the ‘water planet.’ It is, like ourselves, 70 percent water…. [and] Earth’s only self-renewing vital resource…. [although] only 2.5 percent of the Earth’s water is fresh….  Repeatedly, leading civilizations have been those that transcended their water obstacles to unlock and leverage the often hidden benefits of the planet’s most indispensible resource.” Steven Solomon, Water, 2010
     Water may be said to hide in plain sight. We Americans turn on the tap without much thought and enjoy recreation in pools, lakes, rivers, creeks, and the coastal seashore. When thirsty, we may easily buy a bottle of water at any convenience store or market. We may think it quaint to know that in ancient times water was considered to be one of four elements (the other three being earth, air and fire).  Perhaps we can name a painting or movie or literary text that features water—such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which is included in the readings for the seminar).
     Water, as we know, comes to public attention intermittently, as when hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf coast and when the British Petroleum (BP) drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and sank, killing eleven crew members and releasing volcanic volumes of crude oil and methane gas into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico throughout the summer of 2010. Americans, in addition, regularly learn of damaging floods, as Nashville itself experienced in May, 2010, when homes excluded from  city floodplane maps nonetheless  were destroyed (including those of Vanderbilt University employees), while the city’s main convention site, the Opryland Hotel, was flooded and closed for months of extensive repair. From time to time, Americans also are made aware of deadly water emergencies elsewhere in the world, as in August, 2011, when torrential, deadly rains flooded Pittsburgh, PA and Thailand. Meanwhile, drought in Texas cost $billions in lost crops and livestock, and the continuing draught in the West causes concern, if not alarm—and hastens planning for a future of greater water conservation.
     In 2010, the United Nations debated the question of whether water ought to be considered a human right (the UN decided in favor after considerable debate).Meanwhile, debates about water have arisen in America on such topics as the purity of commercial bottled water, the treatment of water for drinking, cooking and bathing, the conservation of an ever-scarcer resource as agriculture and industry claim great quantities, the population increases, and so on. Some political scientists and journalists warn that global conflicts in the twenty-first century will focus on water, not oil. It is thus well worth our time in American Studies to spend one semester engaging the complex topic of water.

 

Summer 2015

First Session

AMER 100W: Introduction to American Studies - "Food for Thought: American Foodways"
Kevra, S.

This course will cover a range of topics, including accounts of New World foods, the development of regional food customs, the industrialization of food production, and instances of excess and lack of food in American history. It will be organized chronologically and include topics in literature, folklore, film, popular culture, and women's studies. As a means to understanding American identity, students will learn how food marks social, racial, and gender differences.

 

Maymester

AMER 202: Civil Rights in Northern Ireland and the Southern United States, 1950-1970
Beasley, V. and Cornfield, D.

This interdisciplinary course, taught by scholars representing four disciplines, offers a comparative study of the Civil Rights movements in Northern Ireland and the American South, principally in the 1950s and 1960s. The course will identify the historical origins and contexts of the campaigns for political and legal equality for African-Americans in the United States (principally in the southern states), and Catholics in Northern Ireland; the role of gender, religion, nationalism, historical consciousness and political leadership in shaping each campaign; the nature and dynamics of 'civil rights' as a political concept; the relationship between political and socio-economic agendas; the tensions between non-violent and revolutionary elements; and the response of states and majority communities to the civil rights campaigns.  It will address parallels, influences and discontinuities between the case studies, encouraging students to assess the nature and outcomes of both through a transnational perspective.  Students will also be encouraged to engage with issues of representation and interpretation of the memory of the civil rights campaigns through study of relevant museum and heritage exhibitions, media representations, and oral history projects.
For more information, click here

AMER 240: Topics in American Studies - "Baseball American Life"
Oppenheimer, B.

 

Spring 2015

AMER 100: Introduction to American Studies - "Race, Space, and Place in the American City"
Shaw, S.

This course surveys race and ethnic relations in 20th century American urban history. Race is a defining feature of the American city; our neighborhoods, suburbs, and highways take unique shape in the presence of racial inequality. Conversely, the American-built environment is itself a cause of continuing racial inequality. In this class we will think sociologically and historically about this dual process. Along the way we will learn about the difference between ethnic enclaves and racial segregation in the depression-era, surburbanization and the ideology of the American frontier in the postwar period, and gentrification and, ironically, the rebirth of the pioneer ethos in the postindustrial urban core. Students will gain an understanding of how the American city and race and ethnic relations are imprinted upon each other, paved and built into the real structures of everyday American life and culture.

AMER 100W: Introduction to American Studies -  "Race, Space, and Place in the American City"
Shaw, S.

This course surveys race and ethnic relations in 20th century American urban history. Race is a defining feature of the American city; our neighborhoods, suburbs, and highways take unique shape in the presence of racial inequality. Conversely, the American-built environment is itself a cause of continuing racial inequality. In this class we will think sociologically and historically about this dual process. Along the way we will learn about the difference between ethnic enclaves and racial segregation in the depression-era, surburbanization and the ideology of the American frontier in the postwar period, and gentrification and, ironically, the rebirth of the pioneer ethos in the postindustrial urban core. Students will gain an understanding of how the American city and race and ethnic relations are imprinted upon each other, paved and built into the real structures of everyday American life and culture.

AMER 100W: Introduction to American Studies - "Food for Thought: American Foodways"
Kevra, S.

This course will cover a range of topics, including accounts of New World foods, the development of regional food customs, the industrialization of food production, and instances of excess and lack of food in American history. It will be organized chronologically and include topics in literature, folklore, film, popular culture, and women's studies. As a means to understanding American identity, students will learn how food marks social, racial, and gender differences.

AMER 101: Introduction to Southern Studies - "History, Culture, and Identity in the American South"
Shaw, S.

An interdisciplinary approach to southern American culture, character, and life approached from the interrelated perspectives of history and culture (literature, music, religion, images, rituals, material culture).

AMER 201: Serving and Learning
Bandy, J.

Meanings of and motives behind community service in the United States. The process of engagement in meaningful service. Challenges in integrating service with academic coursework. A service-learning course.

AMER 240: Topics in American Studies - "Economics of Women's Work Choices"
Hersch, J.

College graduates have numerous choices over how to achieve work-life balance, including the choice to opt out of the workforce entirely for periods of time. This course examines the roles of family status, potential earnings, workplace flexibility, and family-friendly laws in influencing women’s work choices, and the consequence of choices for achieving gender workplace equity. Specific topics include evidence that women with elite education are opting out of employment; the relationships between marriage, children, and earnings; preferential hiring of elite graduates and the consequences of opting out of elite graduates for women’s professional advancement; and employment prospects of returning to the workplace after opting out.

AMER 295: Undergraduate Seminar in American Studies - "Global Warming: Science, Politics, Economy & Culture"
Nelson, D.

Wikipedia reports that “Global warming is the unequivocal and continuing rise in the average temperature of Earth's climate system." "Sorry Global Warming Alarmists, The Earth Is Cooling,” rebuts a Forbes headline. It’s the surface temperature, it’s the atmosphere, linear reactions, adjusted data. The climate is warming; the rate of warming has slowed; it’s over.
There’s a strong scientific consensus. . . or there isn’t. The issue has become deeply politicized, and the economic and social stakes are high.
 
This course will examine the science as well as cultural inputs both to the science and the popular interpretation of the science of global warming in the United States. Our goal will be to understand both the quality of the science, various popular and policy responses to the science, and the main lines of resistance to that science. We will think broadly about evidence for global warming, drawing on class research and your own independent and team research, and will narrow our focus to one or two particular policy issues toward the end of the class. As we go, we will consider carefully the art of persuasion in the light of what we learn.  
 
All viewpoints on this subject welcome in this class. Requirements will include:  reading, discussion, short independent research papers, longer research project, and team reports.

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