This course introduces students to key concerns and methods in American Studies by focusing on the significance of place, identity, and rights. While we will focus on the territory known as the United States, our readings and research will trouble the security of that designation. By examining the origins of settler colonialism in the Americas, focusing upon national borders and internal boundaries, and exploring the United States’ global reach, we will study and develop different ways of understanding “America” as a product of civic rights that are extended and denied. In discussing race, gender, and sexuality, we will discuss how marginalized and “illicit” identities have been conscripted into and radically exposed exclusionary ideas of what it means to be American. Our study of captivity and confinement, be it a consequence of enslavement or imprisonment, will further expose just what is at stake in achieving the freedoms encapsulated in the notion of the American Dream.

Learning Objectives
• Practice and refine college-level academic writing skills
• Cultivate and improve research skills
• Think critically about the American nation state and the United States’ relationship to the rest of the world
• Learn multiple approaches to investigating American history and cultural phenomena
• Consider important identitarian configurations including race, ethnicity, gender, class as they play out in the American context