In this course, students will examine the interdisciplinary academic field of American Studies through studying its various histories and research methods. We will investigate the contours of
American Studies through considering its geographic focus on the U.S. and the transnational relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world, categories and understandings of identity in the U.S. (race, class, gender, disability, sexuality, and ethnicity), histories and legacies of colonialism, racism, and discrimination and their role in our American present, and the role of the state, governance, and surveillance in maintaining understandings of legible, productive, and normative citizenship.

We will read various types (methodologically and theoretically) of American Studies texts in order to consider the complexities of the field, in addition to practicing select American Studies methods through critical analytic writing assignments. As this is a required junior seminar for American Studies majors, we will work towards a culminating mini-prospectus project in which students will begin the process of researching and writing about a topic of their choice, which students will continue to pursue for their senior comps project.
Dis/ability encompasses and speaks to identity, health, illness, impairment, addiction, affliction, and survival. Examining theories and histories from disability studies, we will explore how cultures of care and cure in the U.S. advance ability or able-bodiedness as a norm. In this course, we will consider understandings and framings of disability and ability in the U.S., histories of medical discrimination, health activisms advocating for more equitable care, disability justice, and care interventions offered by harm reduction and mutual aid approaches.
In this course we will discuss theories and histories of sexualities and sexuality studies as they emerge in an American context from the colonization of the Americas to the present. This interdisciplinary field of study intersects and overlaps with histories and theories of the body and embodiment, race, disability, and class, and thus necessarily requires us to consider how colonization, science, culture, politics, capitalism, neoliberalism, and social justice movements (women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, Native rights, feminism, disability justice, queer politics) impact the ways in which we conceive of sexuality and the sexed and sexualized body. This 200-level survey course considers sexuality through a range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives, utilizing readings, visual art, and film to assist our understanding of how meanings of sexuality shift in historical, national, ethnic, racial, and gendered contexts.