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Fall 2019 Courses

Fall 2019 Courses

AMER 1002: Introduction to American Studies: An interdisciplinary approach to American culture, character, and life.

Section 1: MW 8:45-10:00a Gabriel Torres-Colón

Section 2: TR 2:35-3:50p Alexander Jacobs

Section 3: TR 9:35-10:50a Alexander Jacobs

 AMER 1002W: Introduction to American Studies: An interdisciplinary approach to American culture, character, and life.

TR 9:35-10:50a Sarah Gorman

AMER 3890: Topics in American Studies – American Spirituality and its Discontents: One of the most prominent features of contemporary American life is the growing number of Americans who identify as “spiritual but not religious.” What do Americans mean when they describe themselves this way, and what the historical significance is of so called “seeker culture?” Is it part of a broader trend towards secularization or a democratization of religious experience? In answering these questions, we’ll range widely across American history, meeting eighteenth century deists and nineteenth century ghost hunters, while examining yoga, mindfulness, and psychotherapy as modern forms of religious practice.

TR 1:10-2:25p Alexander Jacobs

AMER 3890: Topics in American Studies – The American Dream: This course analyzes common perceptions and misperceptions of success in American culture. How is the American Dream defined and understood? And is it truly attainable for all? We will draw on Andrew Delbancos the Real American Dream as well as Timothy Carneys Alienated America. Other readings include William Deresiewiczs Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of Americas Elite and Jonathan Haidts the Happiness Hypothesis. As we educate Americas future leaders at prestigious universities like Vanderbilt, are we creating false expectations for living the American Dream? What does and should success look like both individually and culturally? Are we preparing young people to live balanced lives of meaning and purpose? Class sessions will explore themes of value, sacrifice, spirituality, humility, resilience, and relationship from a variety of perspectives. The course will take up concepts like character and integrity and encourage self-reflection about the search for success in American culture.

MW 2:10-3:25p Clay Stauffer

AMER 3890: Topics in American Studies – Mass Incarceration in the U.S.: Mass incarceration is a problem in the US that has begun to get more attention with the publishing of Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow, which focuses on the disproportionate amount of people of color — particularly black Americans– under carceral control. However, there has been a long history of prison abolition and prison reform in the US. In this course we will study the history of prisons, theory about prisons, autobiography and letters from people on the inside, and the role of race and gender in mass incarceration. We will also study the different forms that carceral control takes such as immigration detention camps, youth detention and the school to prison pipeline, and the role of disability and mental health in prisons–since LA County Jail, Cook County Jail, and Riker’s Island have been said to be the “largest mental institutions” in the US.

TR 4:00-5:15p Sarah Gorman

AMER 3890: Topics in American Studies – Writing the Blues: Bluesed Narratives and the Written Word: This course will explore the tradition of blues literature. How do we define the blues and its work? What is a blues poem? A blues novel? Over the course of the semester we will seek to navigate the liminal spaces between the blues as a feeling (“I have the blues”), the blues as a genre of music inspired by said feeling, and the rich body of literature inspired by the intersection of the two.

W 9:10a-12:00p Caroline Randall Williams

AMER 4000: Research Methods Workshop: Interdisciplinary methods for qualitative research. Examines approaches to the study of culture, history, and aesthetic experience. Students will have an opportunity to apply methods through projects. 

T 9:10a-12:00p Gabriel Torres-Colón

There are many courses in other departments that count for American Studies credit. When searching for courses on YES, students should do an advanced search, open the “Class Attributes” drop down menu, and check the option, “Eligible for American Studies Major.”







*Courses not listed as eligible for American Studies credit may count towards a student’s major or minor, but approval from the DUS is needed before taking the course.