Introductory Courses

American Studies 10 Going Nuclear!

  • day and time TTh 3:30-5
  • location 2040 Valley Life Sciences Bldg
  • instructor C. Palmer and M. Brlliant
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 20926

101 – M 2-3, 335 CHEIC, Class #20927
102 – M 3-4, 224 Wheeler, Class #20928
103 – Th 10-11, 385 Physics, Class #23948
104 – W 4-5, 115 AAPB, Class #25138

From the moment that scientists first split the atom in the 1930s, “going nuclear” has conjured up dystopian fears alongside utopian hopes—from mushroom clouds, reactor meltdowns, Superfund sites, and planetary annihilation, on the one hand, to cancer treatment, war deterrence, job creation, and planetary salvation through clean energy, on the other hand. Through an exploration of these and other examples of the utopian/dystopian meanings of  “going nuclear” in twentieth century American history and culture, this course will introduce students to the concepts and methods of American Studies as an interdisciplinary field of study.

Letters and Science 40 F Modernity and Its Discontents: American History and Culture at the Turn of the 20th Century

  • day and time MW 2-4
  • location 126 Social Sciences Bldg
  • instructor K. Moran
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 33050

101 - Th 2-3, 6 Evans, Class # 33051
102 – Th 3-4, 4 Evans, Class #33052

In this course, we will move backwards from 1910 to the 1890’s and forward to World War I to discuss modernization, a history of the economic and social processes of industrialization, urbanization, consumerism, mass immigration and bureaucratization as well as modernism, the aesthetic and artistic responses to those developments. This course is meant to enable students to think, do research and write as interdisciplinary scholars: specifically, to give them the intellectual tools to analyze theoretical and literary texts, as well as films, material culture, and images.

Time Courses

American Studies 101 A History of the Present from 9/11/2001 to 1/6/2021

  • day and time MW 2-4
  • location 240 Mulford
  • instructor M. Cohen
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 23957

This interdisciplinary history course explores the origins of our present crisis by studying the history of the United States from 9/11/2001 to 1/6/2021. Using historical and cultural studies methods to study the recent past, we will take on the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and cultural changes that have remade American life in the past two decades. This era has led us to a state of almost permanent crisis in which our democracy, our health and sanity, our jobs and relationships, and our planet all feel on the verge of collapse. Primary topics include the long war on terrorism, the ongoing crisis of global capitalism, race and the culture wars of the Obama era, America’s widening political polarization and the impact of climate change on our bodies, landscapes and culture. Throughout, we will read histories, journalism and novels, listen to popular music, watch important films and TV shows, and generally reconsider the history of a past that we have all somehow survived and must continue to live through. Readings include works by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jia Tolentino, Ling Ma, Elizabeth Kolbert, Adam Serwer, Amia Srinivasan, and Spencer Ackerman.

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

  • day and time Th 3:30-5
  • location 56 Social Sciences Bldg.
  • instructor S. Saul
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 23616

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 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 MW 5-7
  • location 100 Lewis
  • instructor S E. Jones-Rogers
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 31417

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 The Great American City: Chicago in the Nineteenth Century

  • day and time TTh 12:30-2
  • location 141 Giannini
  • instructor S. Gold MCBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 25734

This course will examine Chicago, Illinois, in its first century. When the Town of Chicago was founded in 1833, it had only 200 residents. Sixty years later, when it hosted more than 27 million visitors for the World’s Columbian Exposition, the City of Chicago had 1.1 million residents, making it the second-largest city in the country. What was it like to live in such a rapidly expanding and ever-changing place—and what did Chicago symbolize to Americans living elsewhere in the United States, a country undergoing its own enormous transformations? In this class we will examine the ordinary and extraordinary Chicago: from daily life, labor, and leisure, to the enormous and unprecedented world’s fair held in 1893. By combining history, literature, visual culture, and popular media, our interdisciplinary study of early Chicago will consider what this place can teach us about urban life, race, gender, work, leisure, popular entertainment and popular media, the built environment, and national identity in the nineteenth-century United States. This course fulfills both the Place and the Pre-1900 requirements.

 

American Studies 102 Photos of America: Technology, Representation, and Landscape

  • day and time MW 12-2
  • location 240 Mulford
  • instructor A. Craghead
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 20930

The camera and the photograph have a unique relationship with the American landscape. No technology has more profoundly shaped the way that we see, feel, and think about North America as a place. In this course, we will look at photography as a social and cultural practice, one engaged in by inventors, scientists, artists, and most of all by the public at large. We will explore issues of science, politics, consumer culture, and entertainment, and examine how photographs may be preparing the way for our perception of the virtual. Most of all, we’ll consider who makes photos and to what purposes, and attempt to understand how those images shape what we think we know about America.

American Studies 102 American Monuments

  • day and time W 2-5
  • location 141 Giannini
  • instructor A. Shanken
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 24833

“There is nothing in the world as invisible as a monument,” writer Robert Musil once mused. Yet recent events have brought them into high relief, both as commemorative infrastructure and as sites of political struggle. This course will offer a primer on the history of monuments (and memorials) in the United States and engage with their recent history. The course will explore the formal strategies, habits of placement, commemorative value, and the social and political meaning of these often maligned, but also revered, interventions in the built environment. Students will explore issues of iconoclasm, appropriation, race, and gender; confront recent controversies; and work together to propose their own memorial or counter-memorial to an issue or event.

Pre-1900 Historical Requirement

American Studies 102 The Great American City: Chicago in the Nineteenth Century

  • day and time TTh 12:30-2
  • location 141 Giannini
  • instructor S. Gold MCBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 25734

This course will examine Chicago, Illinois, in its first century. When the Town of Chicago was founded in 1833, it had only 200 residents. Sixty years later, when it hosted more than 27 million visitors for the World’s Columbian Exposition, the City of Chicago had 1.1 million residents, making it the second-largest city in the country. What was it like to live in such a rapidly expanding and ever-changing place—and what did Chicago symbolize to Americans living elsewhere in the United States, a country undergoing its own enormous transformations? In this class we will examine the ordinary and extraordinary Chicago: from daily life, labor, and leisure, to the enormous and unprecedented world’s fair held in 1893. By combining history, literature, visual culture, and popular media, our interdisciplinary study of early Chicago will consider what this place can teach us about urban life, race, gender, work, leisure, popular entertainment and popular media, the built environment, and national identity in the nineteenth-century United States. This course fulfills both the Place and the Pre-1900 requirements.

 

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

  • day and time MW 5-7
  • location 100 Lewis
  • instructor S E. Jones-Rogers
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 31417

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.

Senior Thesis Seminars

American Studies 191 Senior Seminar

  • day and time W 10-12
  • location 121 Latimer
  • instructor S. Gold McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15451

American Studies 191 Senior Seminar

  • day and time M 4-6
  • location 180 Social Sciences Bldg
  • instructor A. Craghead
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15452

American Studies H 195 Honors Thesis Seminar

  • day and time W 2-4
  • location 7 Evans
  • instructor A. Craghead
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 19311

FACULTY ADVISOR APPROVAL AND/OR INSTRUCTOR CONSENT REQUIRED

« NOTE: In order to receive honors in American Studies, a student must have an overall UC GPA of 3.51, and a GPA of 3.65 for all courses taken in completion of the major (upper- and lower-division). Students should discuss their eligibility with an American Studies faculty advisor.

Special Courses of Interest

American Studies 110 American Media and Culture Since World War II

  • day and time MW 10-12
  • location 3108 Etcheverry
  • instructor C. Palmer
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 23588

This course examines how mass media reflect and shape American history and culture. Tapping a rich collection of primary sources—including popular film, television, magazines, music, and fiction—and secondary sources—including the writings of political theorists and public intellectuals—we will explore the relationship between media and ideas about place, family, freedom, and citizenship. Students will learn to consider media forms and histories in light of theoretical debates about national character, ideology, ethnic and racial identity, gender roles, and the impact of consumerism on American life.

History 133 A History of American Capitalism

  • day and time TTh 12:30-2
  • location 105 Stanley
  • instructor C. Rosenthal
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 31414

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

  • day and time MW 5-7
  • location 100 Lewis
  • instructor S E. Jones-Rogers
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 31417

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.