Spring 2021

Expand the course offereings below to learn more about the class schedule, theme, cross listing, and major requirements. 

American Studies Courses

AMST 1559 – 001 – The Aftermath of Slavery at UVA and in Virginia

MW 02:00PM-03:15PM | Online Synchronous
Ashley Schmidt & Kirt Von Daacke

AMST 1559 – 002 – Medical Narratives

TR 03:30PM-04:45PM | Online Synchronous
Anna Brickhouse

In this introductory American Studies seminar, we will read American short stories alongside other texts (including film scenes, television, and advertisements) to learn how ideas about ailing and injured bodies and minds; doctors, nurses, and patients; disease and madness as well as health and sanity, normality and abnormality, have been shaped and contested throughout US cultural history. The course will also introduce the medical humanities field and its aims. How can insights drawn from disability studies, critical race studies, and refugee studies, for example, help to create a more robust version of the medical humanities? The course is designed for both pre-med students and those considering a major in American Studies (or both).

AMST 2422-001 – Point of View Journalism

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM | Online Synchronous
Lisa Goff

This course analyzes "point-of-view" journalism as a controversial but credible alternative to the dominant model of ''objectivity" in the U.S. news media. It will survey point-of-view journalists from Ida B. Wells-Barnett in the 1890s to Ta-Nehisi Coates today.  

Cross listed with ENGL 2910. This elective can fulfill the “Historical Approaches” requirement for the major.

AMST 2559-001 – Religion and Pop Culture

MW 03:30PM-04:45PM | Online Synchronous
Allison Kelley

This course examines how the beliefs and behaviors that we commonly classify as “religious” have been an integral part of American popular culture over the last fifty years. The course will have a chronological focus, starting in the 1960s with the Jesus People Movement and continuing to present-day debates centered on gender and sexuality. Along the way, we will analyze television shows, movies, music videos, material culture, and print culture, paying attention to both the ways popular culture has influenced religion and the ways religion has influenced popular culture.

AMST 2559-002 – Commodifying Race and Gender

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM | Online Synchronous
David Coyoca

This course examines narratives of racialized masculinity and femininity in contemporary popular culture. We will analyze how these narratives operate as commodities within the pop culture industry. We will look at a wide range of examples such as hip hop, superhero movies, TikTok dances, and more. We will employ an interdisciplinary approach to think about how racial, gender, and sexual difference is negotiated through media and popular culture. Our goal is to form arguments about the ideological work these texts perform, paying particular attention to ways these texts might reproduce dominant narratives about race and gender even as they work to subvert them.

AMST 2559-100 – Technologies of American Life

MW 10:00AM-10:50AM | Online Synchronous
David Singerman

You might have learned the legends of genius inventors, but in this course we'll explore a different history: how technologies have shaped the lives of most Americans, and how ordinary Americans shaped our common technologies. We’ll explore topics like the amazing capabilities of pre-1492 civilizations, how enslaved people created new species of plants, how photography was like 19th-century time travel, and how Silicon Valley’s innovators may have copied schoolchildren from Minnesota.

AMST 2559-004 – “Bad” Taste in Popular Culture

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM | Online Synchronous
Tanner Greene

What makes "guilty pleasures" so guilty? What does it mean to describe a person as having "bad taste"? In this course, we explore the historical and social importance of taste judgements in popular culture through a variety of case studies including smooth jazz, B-movies, and reality television.

AMST 2660-100 – Spiritual But Not Religious: Spirituality in America

Online - Lecture Asynchronous | Discussions Synchronous
Matthew Hedstrom

What does "spiritual but not religious" mean, and why has it become such a pervasive self-description in contemporary America? This interdisciplinary course surveys spirituality in America, with a particular eye for the relationship between spirituality and formal religion, on the one hand, and secular modes of understanding the self, such as psychology, on the other.

Cross listed with RELG 2660. This elective can fulfill the “Historical Approaches” requirement for the major.

AMST 3180-001 – Introduction to Asian American Studies

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM | Online Synchronous
Jiayuan Huang

An interdisciplinary introduction to the culture and history of Asians and Pacific Islanders in America. Examines ethnic communities such as Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Asian Indian, and Native Hawaiian, through themes such as immigration, labor, cultural production, war, assimilation, and politics. Texts are drawn from genres such as legal cases, short fiction, musicals, documentaries, visual art, and drama.

Cross listed with ENGL 3740. This elective can fulfill the “Race & Ethnicity” or the “Transnational/Regional” requirement for the major.

AMST 3221-001 – Hands-On Public History

T 03:30PM-06:00PM | Bryan Hall 235
Lisa Goff

The presentation of history to the public--at historic sites, museums, databases--is "public history." This class investigates the public history of slavery and Reconstruction in Virginia with readings, research, and tours of historic sites. Students work with GIS specialists; Special Collections librarians; and local groups using digital mapping and storytelling technologies to document hidden or erased histories of African American life.

Requires permission from instructor. Please contact her at lg6t@virginia.edu . This elective can fulfill the “Historical Approaches” requirement for the major.

AMST 3323-001 – Hemispheric Latinx Literature & Culture

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM | Online Synchronous
Carmen Lamas

This course offers a survey of Latinx literature and film from a hemispheric perspective. Engaging texts from colonial times to the present day, we explore how the histories of the US, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia come together to produce novels, poems, essays and films that are now referred to as distinctly Latinx.

Cross listed with ENGL 3570. This elective can fulfill the “Race & Ethnicity” or the “Transnational/Regional” requirement for the major.

AMST 3427-001 – Gender, Things, and Difference

MW 03:30PM-04:45PM | Online Synchronous
Jessica Sewell

This class explores how material culture, the physical stuff that is part of human life, is used to help to construct and express gendered and other forms of difference. We will look at how bodies and clothes shape our understanding of our own and others' identities, how we imbue objects with gender, how the food we cook and eat carries cultural meanings, and how the design of buildings and spaces structures gender.

Please note, if you have previously taken AMST 3559: Gender, Things, and Difference, you cannot enroll in this course.

AMST 3559-001 – Caribbean Literary and Cultural Studies

W 02:00PM-04:30PM | Online Synchronous
Marlene Daut

Beginning with national literary developments in Haiti, this course expands to consider writing from Barbados, Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Antigua, and Bermuda. We will examine these writings, both fictional and non-fictional, to help us to think about whether and/or how a coherent Caribbean literary tradition exists across geographical, linguistic, national, and indeed, imperial lines.

Cross listed with AAS 3500-005

AMST 3559-002 – Race, Gender, & Empire: Cultures of US Imperialism

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM | Online Synchronous
Penny Von Eschen

AMST 3740-100 – Cultures of Hip-Hop

MW 02:00PM-02:50PM | Online Synchronous
Jack Hamilton

This course explores the origins and impacts of American hip-hop as a cultural form in the last forty years, and maps the ways that a local subculture born of an urban underclass has risen to become arguably the dominant form of 21st-century global popular culture. While primarily focused on music, we will also explore how forms such as dance, visual art, film, and literature have influenced and been influenced by hip-hop style and culture.

Cross listed with MDST 3740-001. This elective can fulfill the “Race & Ethnicity” requirement for the major.

Theories & Methods of American Studies

AMST 3001 – Theories & Methods of American Studies (3 sections)

This seminar course will introduce majors to various theories and methods for the practice of American Studies. The three goals of the seminars are (1) to make students aware of their own interpretive practices; (2) to equip them with information and conceptual tools they will need for advanced work in American Studies; and (3) to provide them with comparative approaches to the study of various aspects of the United States.

Prerequisites: American Studies Major.

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM | Online Synchronous
Lisa Cacho

TR 09:30AM-10:45AM | Online Synchronous
Isaac May

MW 02:00PM-03:15PM | Online Synchronous
Penny Von Eschen

Fourth Year Seminars

AMST 4500-001 – The Haitian Revolution

T 02:00PM-04:30PM | Online Synchronous
Marlene Daut

The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804)—a thirteen-year series of slave revolts and military strikes— resulted in the abolition of slavery in the French colony of Saint-Domingue in 1793 and its subsequent independence and rebirth in January 1804 as Haiti, the first independent and slavery-free nation of the American hemisphere. To this day, Haitian independence remains the most significant development in the history of modern democracy. The theories undergirding it – that no human beings could ever be enslaved – continue to define contemporary political ideas about what it means to be free. But in the early 19th century, Haiti was the only example in the Americas of a nation populated primarily by former enslaved Africans who had become free and independent. Other nations, including France, England, and the United States, were determined to prevent abolition and their colonies from becoming free and thus refused to recognize Haitian sovereignty. While still one of the least well known events in modern history, this course explores the global repercussions of Haiti’s revolution for freedom.

AMST 4500-002 – Visions of the Apocalypse in American Culture

MW 03:30PM-04:45PM | Online Synchronous
Matthew Hedstrom

Prophets may envision the future, but their visions are always comments on the present. End-time scenarios—whether of ultimate destruction or eternal bliss—help us make sense of unspoken hopes and unspeakable fears, express outrage, mobilize movements for change, and relate our individual lives to a larger order. In this course, we will study some of the many ways Americans have envisioned the end (of the world? of civilization? of history?) and what those visions have to teach us about them and the America they inhabited. The course, therefore, is an exercise in religious and cultural history and contemporary cultural studies.

We will begin with a broad introduction to apocalypticism in Western religious traditions dating back to biblical literatures, but will soon narrow our focus to the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Our explorations will take us from slave revolts to UFO cults to Dr. Strangelove, from Edward Bellamy to genetic engineering, from the space program to Left Behind, and from the Great Disappointment of the 1840s to the New Age of the present. We will meet a host of Americans—black and white; Roman Catholic and Protestant; members of new religious movements and adherents to secular ideologies of doom or bliss—and ask: what can the imagined futures of yesterday teach us about the hopes and fears of previous generations? In what ways are social, political, and economic tensions reflected in visions of apocalypse? How have ideologies of the end, whether religious or secular, shaped social movements, politics, and popular culture?

AMST 4500-003 – Race in American Places

T 05:00PM-07:30PM | Online Synchronous
Kenrick Grandison

Cross listed with ENGL 4580-001

AMST 4500-004 – Sports & Transnational Culture

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM | Online Synchronous
Sandhya Shukla

Requires permission from instructor. Please contact her at ss9fp@virginia.edu.

AMST 4500-005 – The Religious Left in America: Progressive Faith

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM | Online Synchronous
Isaac May

Considerable attention has been paid to the impact of the religious right on American politics, but its opposite, the American religious left, has been just as impactful. This course examines the history and theology of the religious left in the United States from the nineteenth century until the present. It charts how liberal religion shaped both electoral politics and activism around issues that include abolition, women’s suffrage, the peace movement, civil rights, the labor movement, and immigration. It also explores the impact of theology and religious modernism on the American left.

AMST 4500-006 – Critical Race Theory

R 05:00PM-07:30PM | Online Synchronous
Marlon Ross

Cross listed with ENGL 4580-002

AMST 4500-007 – Sexual Politics in the United States

TR 12:30PM-01:45PM | Online Synchronous
Gillian Frank

Who should be educated about sex and how? Who has the right to be sexual and with whom? How can the media portray sex? Questions such as these have underpinned intense political and cultural struggles in the 20th century United States. In this course, we explore how sexuality has been a central facet in American history through topics such as: same- and opposite-sex sexualities, reproduction, commercialized sexualities, and inter- and intra-racial sexualities.

Distinguished Major

AMST 4999-001 – DMP Thesis Seminar

T 04:00PM-06:30PM | Online Synchronous
David Coyoca

This workshop is for American Studies majors who have been admitted to the DMP program. Students will discuss the progress of their own and each other's papers, with particular attention to the research and writing processes. At the instructor's discretion, students will also read key works in the field of American Studies.

Prerequisites: admission to DMP

Graduate Courses

AMST 8001-001 – Approaches to American Studies

TR 02:00PM-03:15PM | Online Synchronous
Lisa Cacho

This course introduces graduate students to the field of American Studies, the interdisciplinary study of US culture. Students will be exposed to a variety of influential theoretical and methodological interventions that have occurred over the field's history, and will also be introduced to some of the principal intellectual, political, and professional issues they will face while pursuing a career in the field.


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