Introductory Courses

American Studies 10 Love, American Style

  • day and time TTh 9:30-11
  • location 102 Wurster
  • instructor C. Palmer
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 23547

101: W 4-5, 285 Cory
102: Th 4-5, 242 Hearst Gym

On the Private Dancer album in 1984, Tina Turner asked, “What’s love got to do, got to do with it?”—a question that rose to the top of the US Billboard Hot 100. This course proposes to take the reverberations of Turner’s question seriously as a means of approaching the study of American culture and history. We will consider how love has been depicted and deployed in the service of: romance and its concomitant lust and attachment; arguments about sex and sexuality; domestic labor and family organization; friendship; ethnic, racial, and generational differences; the wedding industry; consumer culture; ritualized behavior; and the built environment. By focusing on love as a theory, a fantasy, a place, an event, and a media construct, this course provides an introduction to and a “toolkit” for the interdisciplinary study of American culture.

American Studies 10 American Makers: Workers, Artists, Activists, and Drop-outs

  • day and time MW 2-4
  • location 35 Evans
  • instructor A. Craghead
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 33275

No discussion sections

What does it mean to make? From methods of industrial mass production, to handicrafts positioned as critiques against those methods, to “make” things within American culture is to engage in a struggle over every meaning. The everyday objects of life—food, clothing, shelter—are all made things. So, too are cultures and traditions. Even ideas are said to be “constructed,” which is another way of saying “made.” Questions of what is made, who makes, and who benefits from making have long been salient with American cultures.

By focusing on the concept of “making” as a practice, a process, and a theory of meaning, this course  provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of America. We will look at the historical, political, economic, and cultural meanings of “making” in the U.S as expressed and experienced in literature, popular culture, material culture, and the built environment.

Time Courses

American Studies 101 Explosive Ideologies: American Culture in the Atomic Age

  • day and time MW 12-2
  • location SOCS 60
  • instructor C. Palmer
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 30373

This course is about the evolution of modern American culture between the end of World War II and the end of the Cold War. During these years, the United States was shaped and challenged by the building of the atomic bomb, the decision to use it, and the subsequent nuclear arms race. The threat of nuclear annihilation, the rise of anti-Communist ideology, the development of a powerful military-industrial complex, the reliance on covert and proxy warfare, the intersection of civil rights and foreign policy, changing family dynamics and postwar sexuality, civil defense and social engineering programs, and the Hollywood movie monsters that reveal how deeply nuclear preoccupations penetrated the mass culture of the nation are among the topics this course will consider. A central question of the course is: how did the bomb challenge old assumptions and compel reconsideration of accepted norms? Our task in this course is to figure out how people used and responded to the rhetoric of progress and annihilation in the United States. We will study a variety of literary and visual media, and research scientific and political publications, aesthetic and artistic movements, and spectacular public events.

American Studies 101 Classical Music and American Mass Culture Between the World Wars

  • day and time MW 4-6
  • location 2038 VLSB
  • instructor D. Miller
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 30784

Classical music was big business in the United States in the years preceding the First World War, but not for American composers. As audiences flocked to performances of music by European composers, the most famous work of “American” classical music was not American at all: Czech composer Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony. But all that would soon change. Over the course of the 1920s and 30s, a new wave of composers redefined what American classical music could be by responding to the distinctly American experiences of their time. Black composers like Florence Price and William Grant Still blended symphonic forms with blues and spirituals. “Ultra-modern” composers like Ruth Crawford Seeger and (UC Berkeley alum) Henry Cowell wrote radical music to match their increasingly radical politics. And Aaron Copland crafted what would become known as a quintessentially American sound, but only after drawing inspiration from the folk-music-infused works of Mexican composer Carlos Chávez.

While all of these composers reached out to audiences by incorporating popular music idioms and/or addressing topical issues, this era also marks the beginning of classical music’s diminished role within mainstream American culture. A century later, classical music is arguably less popular in the United States than ever before. By considering the political, social, and cultural forces that shaped these composers’ music, we will seek to better understand this seeming paradox, and to explore divergent visions of America’s past, present, and future. No prior knowledge of classical music or music notation is required.

 

American Studies C 111 E American Culture in the Age of Obama

  • day and time TTh 3:30-5
  • location 204 Wheeler
  • instructor S. Saul
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 24139

English C136

This course traces, across many forms of American culture, what might be called “the Obama effect.” Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has suggested that the election of Obama prompted a renaissance of black writing, in part by stimulating “curiosity about the community he had so consciously made his home and all the old, fitfully slumbering questions he’d awakened about American identity.” In this course, we’ll examine how a wide range of imaginative writers, in a wide spectrum of genres, took on those questions and offered counternarratives to conventional myths of American innocence, achievement, and glory. We’ll also explore works of music, film, and theater that, like Obama’s autobiography, rewrote the romance of America—whether, say, by adding hip-hop accents to the story of the country’s founding (Hamilton), turning a story of interracial romance into a horror tale (Get Out), or creating an Afro-futurist, queer-inflected story of slave revolt (Janelle Monáe’s Metropolis saga). Along the way, we’ll consider two of the social movements that coalesced and gathered force during Obama’s presidency: Occupy and Black Lives Matter. We’ll investigate how these movements challenged the limits—political, economic, moral—of the “age of Obama” through art and political action, and looked to create new forms of radical community while protesting inequality and state violence

History 136 C Defiant Women: Gender, Power and Violence in American History

  • day and time TTh 5-6:30pm
  • location TBA
  • instructor S E. Jones-Rogers
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 26014

Taking as its focus diverse groups of women who have shaped the course of North American history, this class will explore the relationship between gender, power and violence from the colonial period to the modern era. We will discuss how women have challenged conventional notions of “womanhood” through their words and their deeds, how their respective communities understood their behavior, and we will contemplate the ways in which these women simultaneously constructed narratives of power that do not conform to contemporary conceptualizations of their lives.

Place Courses

American Studies 102 California Stories: Tourism, Labor, and Theater in the Golden State

  • day and time T-Th 11-12:30
  • location 3113 Etcheverry
  • instructor S. Steen
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 31221

Theater 126

How might we characterize California?  What makes us unique?  Who lives here, and what are the stories we tell about them? This course takes our home state of California as the site through which to explore how cultural systems of performance help shape social systems of race.  We will consider the role a range of performance forms – theater, film, pageants, tourism – have played in shaping California’s unique cultural and racial topography.  From the theatricalization of Chinatown in Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song to that of urban riots in Twilight, from the staging of farmworker’s rights to the configuration of the region by Disney in its state-themed park, performance strategies have been used by a variety of agents towards a wide range of social and political goals.  We will use the histories of play productions, films, and para-theatrical performances to interrogate conceptions of California as a “post-racial” state.

 

American Studies 102 The American Southwest: The Construction and Mediation of Regional Identity

  • day and time TTh 330-5
  • location 89 Dwinelle
  • instructor A. Craghead
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 30788

This course explores the relationship between imagination and place in the region we call the “Southwest.” We will interrogate how the region has been defined through geographic strategies of control, representation in art, literature, and film; mediation of everyday life through material culture; and several other means. Examples include the development of national parks and tourist economies; the creation of regional aesthetics and architectural styles; and depictions of the Southwest in novels, Hollywood films, and contemporary streaming television. How are place-based identities formed? Who defines a region, and to what ends? How do ideas shape places, and places in turn give shape to ideas? Class activities include both lectures and in-class discussions, modest reading responses, one midterm, a paper proposal, and a final research paper.

American Studies 102 AC Beaches in Mind: The Beach in American Culture

  • day and time MW 2-4
  • location SOCS 60
  • instructor S. Gold McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 24562

This course will explore the meaning, history, and culture of the beach in the United States. From Oahu’s North Shore to the Inkwell on Martha’s Vineyard, to Florida’s “Redneck Riviera” and the Southern California beaches that starred in Beach Boys songs in the 1960s, the beach has loomed large in both the lived experience and the symbolic imagination of ordinary Americans since the nineteenth century. What is the culture of the beach, and why does it matter? By combining history, material culture, and popular media (including literature, music, and film), our interdisciplinary study of the beach will consider what American beaches can teach us about race, gender, indigeneity, class, sexuality, work, leisure, the environment, popular culture, and power in the United States. Our class will also include (public health conditions permitting!) optional class visits to local Bay Area beaches.

This course satisfies the American Cultures requirement.

American Studies C 171 The American Designed Landscape Since 1850

  • day and time TTh 2-3:0
  • location 101 Wurster
  • instructor L. Mozingo
  • 3 Units
  • Class # 20908
  • Fall 2020

Cross-listed with Land Arch C171

This course surveys the history of American landscape architecture since 1850 in four realms: 1) urban open spaces–that is squares, plazas, parks, and recreation systems; 2) urban and suburban design; 3) regional and environmental planning; 4) gardens. The course will review the cultural and social contexts which have shaped and informed landscape architecture in the United States since the advent of the public parks movement, as well as, the aesthetic precepts, environmental concerns, horticultural practices, and technological innovations of American landscapes. Students will complete a midterm, final, and a research assignment.

History of Art 192 G Writing About Berkeley’s Built Environment: Two Residential Neighborhoods

  • day and time T 2-5
  • location 425 Doe Library
  • instructor M. Lovell
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 31217

Interested students should talk to an AS faculty advisor before enrolling.

Students in this writing-intensive upper-division seminar will investigate Berkeley’s residential history with case studies of two distinct neighborhoods, one in the hills and one in the flats. The hills section includes Native American sites, the Southern Pacific Railroad tunnel, and topographically-sensitive platting designed with deeply theorized c. 1910 ideas generated by a group of activist progressive women about the relationship between settlement and topography, as well as houses designed by Berkeley’s most distinguished architects. The residential section in the flats is an historically-Black neighborhood that includes homes in which railroad porter Leon Marsh, newspaper man Thomas C. Fleming, politician William Byron Rumford, police officer Walter Gordon, and WPA artist Sargent Johnson lived. Students will learn about redlining and protective covenants as well as campaigns to establish native species of plants and alleés of street trees and parks. They will learn about and write about evolving transportation systems.

The project of the course is two-pronged: to engage students in developing the skills to write a wide variety of different kinds of research/analytical essays on the one hand, and, on the other, to work as a group toward National Register designations for both these neighborhoods. Students will practice real-world persuasive writing, acquiring life skills that will contribute to our pool of knowledge and a public sense of value in the crafting and ‘reading’ of streetscapes and neighborhoods.

The course investigates the built environment of Berkeley as a collaborative long-term art/design project, the result of generations of inventiveness and repurposing inspired by a sense of community and consensus as well as by raw economic and social forces. Assigned readings are spare (no more than one essay a week) as there are weekly research/writing assignments.

Pre-1900 Historical Requirement

History 136 C Defiant Women: Gender, Power and Violence in American History

  • day and time TTh 5-6:30pm
  • location TBA
  • instructor S E. Jones-Rogers
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 26014

Taking as its focus diverse groups of women who have shaped the course of North American history, this class will explore the relationship between gender, power and violence from the colonial period to the modern era. We will discuss how women have challenged conventional notions of “womanhood” through their words and their deeds, how their respective communities understood their behavior, and we will contemplate the ways in which these women simultaneously constructed narratives of power that do not conform to contemporary conceptualizations of their lives.

History 7 A Introduction to the History of the United States: The United States from Settlement to Civil War

  • day and time TTh 3:30-5
  • location Internet/Online
  • instructor B. DeLay
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 21740

This course introduces the history of North America through the era of Reconstruction. Usually U.S. history surveys follow the expanding sphere of English colonization; that is, the geographic scope of the course widens as English speakers occupy more and more of the continent. The problem with this approach is that it consigns everyone else to the margins, as if they were merely waiting for English-speakers to bring history to them. We’ll pursue a different approach. Our unit of analysis will be the continent. English colonies will emerge as part of a larger international system, one comprised of Spanish, Dutch, and French colonies, and, especially, of the scores of indigenous polities that controlled most of the continent for most of the period we’ll be studying. Major themes will include slavery, Native American history, inter-imperial rivalry, revolution, inequality, democracy, white supremacy, and the economic and political development of the early United States. Primary sources will be the main focus of weekly readings and of the two paper assignments. The midterm and final exams will assess your ability to mobilize material from lecture in the service of historical arguments. Lectures will be remote and asynchronous. Success in this class requires command of the lecture material, but the asynchronous format will mean you can watch them on your own weekly schedule. Attendance in discussion sections is required, so please choose a section time that you can attend. Free digital versions of three of the required texts—The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca, They Were Her Property, and Attitudes Toward Sex in Antebellum America—will be available via bCourses.

Native American Studies 71 Native Americans in North America to 1900

  • day and time TTh 9:30-11
  • location 108 Wheeler
  • instructor E. Lima
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 23992

An ethnohistorical analysis of America’s original inhabitants and their interactions with Europeans and Euro-Americans emphasizing an Indian perspective.

Senior Thesis Seminars

American Studies 191 Senior Thesis Seminar

  • day and time W 10-12
  • location 41 Evans
  • instructor S. Gold McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15079

American Studies H 195 Honors Thesis Seminar

  • day and time W 10-12
  • location 89 Dwinelle
  • instructor A. Craghead
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 19147

Special Courses of Interest

Architecture 170 A An Historical Survey of Architecture and Urbanism

  • day and time TTh 11-12:30
  • location 112 Wurster
  • instructor A. Shanken
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 20614
The first part of this sequence studies the ancient and medieval periods; the second part studies the period since 1400; the aim is to look at architecture and urbanism in their social and historical context.

English 137 B Chicana/o Literature and Culture Since 1910

  • day and time MWF 12-2
  • location 224 Wheeler
  • instructor M. Gonzalez
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 30985

This course will focus exclusively on the study of Chicanx/Latinx novels published over the last fifty years. The themes and formal features in these novels have been influenced to a large degree by a broad range of experiences, including: living in the borderlands of nationality, language, and culture; growing up female in a male-centered environment; standing up against racism, sexism, and homophobia; engaging in class struggles; encountering various forms of organized state repression; migrating and immigrating; getting involved in political movements; sometimes becoming complicit with the forces of domination; responding to internal ideological conflicts; and expressing these experiences in art and literature. Because this is a reading-intensive course, we will spend considerable time in class discussing the novels and conducting collective close readings of selected passages. Class participation is required and will be factored into the course grade. We’ll read and discuss a few works of literary criticism to help us analyze the aesthetic qualities of these novels and to understand how Chicanx novels expand and enrich the American literary tradition generally.

English 178 A Literature and Law

  • day and time MWF 1-2
  • location 222 Wheeler
  • instructor B. Wagner
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 32037

This course is an introduction to the field of law and literature. It begins with a survey of foundational work by H. L. A. Hart, Robert Cover, Cheryl Harris, Martha Nussbaum, and others before turning to a series of United States Supreme Court cases read in tandem with contemporaneous literary works addressing matters of slavery, citizenship, and equity. The course concludes with a three-week collaborative research and writing workshop that will allow students the opportunity to pursue questions of their own design in a 15-page essay.

History 133 A History of American Capitalism

  • day and time TTh 12:30-2
  • location Internet/Online
  • instructor C. Rosenthal
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 32061

What is capitalism? And when did it come to characterize the American economy? This course will explore the economic history of the United States, from the colonial period to the present. We will analyze the dramatic changes that catapulted a chain of colonies from the fringe of the global economy to its center. As the semester progresses, we will seek out the sources of this dramatic transformation, exploring a variety of overlapping and sometimes conflicting explanations. Is this primarily a story about ideas and economic outlook? Is it about entrepreneurship and innovation? Or about exploitation and expropriation? What role did the government play? What role the individual? Major themes will include the rise of the factory system, slavery and emancipation, immigration and labor, the development of banking and finance, and economic inequality. In addition to building their knowledge of American history, students will gain theoretical familiarity with three subfields of history: business history, economic history, and labor history. We will explore the ways each of these fields has generated different narratives that celebrate and/or critique American capitalism. And at every turn we will consider how these different narratives alternately highlight and minimize the important roles played by business elites, enslaved people, laborers, women, and immigrants. Rarely was the “invisible hand” colorblind or gender neutral. The course will discuss both famous businessmen and largely-forgotten workmen, women, and slaves. We will examine capitalism both from above and from below, seeking to understand the causes and consequences of economic change for different groups of Americans.

History of Art 192 G Writing About Berkeley’s Built Environment: Two Residential Neighborhoods

  • day and time T 2-5
  • location 425 Doe Library
  • instructor M. Lovell
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 31217

Interested students should talk to an AS faculty advisor before enrolling.

Students in this writing-intensive upper-division seminar will investigate Berkeley’s residential history with case studies of two distinct neighborhoods, one in the hills and one in the flats. The hills section includes Native American sites, the Southern Pacific Railroad tunnel, and topographically-sensitive platting designed with deeply theorized c. 1910 ideas generated by a group of activist progressive women about the relationship between settlement and topography, as well as houses designed by Berkeley’s most distinguished architects. The residential section in the flats is an historically-Black neighborhood that includes homes in which railroad porter Leon Marsh, newspaper man Thomas C. Fleming, politician William Byron Rumford, police officer Walter Gordon, and WPA artist Sargent Johnson lived. Students will learn about redlining and protective covenants as well as campaigns to establish native species of plants and alleés of street trees and parks. They will learn about and write about evolving transportation systems.

The project of the course is two-pronged: to engage students in developing the skills to write a wide variety of different kinds of research/analytical essays on the one hand, and, on the other, to work as a group toward National Register designations for both these neighborhoods. Students will practice real-world persuasive writing, acquiring life skills that will contribute to our pool of knowledge and a public sense of value in the crafting and ‘reading’ of streetscapes and neighborhoods.

The course investigates the built environment of Berkeley as a collaborative long-term art/design project, the result of generations of inventiveness and repurposing inspired by a sense of community and consensus as well as by raw economic and social forces. Assigned readings are spare (no more than one essay a week) as there are weekly research/writing assignments.

Music C 138 Art and Activism

  • day and time W 10-1
  • location 250 Morrison
  • instructor T.C. Roberts, C. Lucas
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 23159

Cross-listed with LS C138

This course explores the intersections between aesthetic practice and social change. Students will investigate—in both theory and practice—the capacity of art making to cultivate transformation of themselves, their relationships, their practices, their institutions, and the larger economic and socio-political structures in which they function, locally and globally. Focusing on historical and contemporary artists and political issues, we ask: 1) How is art impacted by social change? 2) How has art been used toward social change? and 3) How can we, as course participants, use art to bring about social change? Rooted in interdisciplinary scholarship, students will engage theoretical debates and historical analyses regarding the role of the arts in social change and examine the particular capacities of the arts to negotiate across and between cultures, languages, and power-laden lines of difference. Taking a broad view of activism, we will consider the ways in which artistic practices foster radical imaginations that can expand our sense of the possible. Case studies will span media including visual arts, theater, dance, poetry/spoken word, literature, and music.