Introductory Courses

American Studies 10 Our American Life: Stuff, Place, and the Passage of Time

  • day and time TTh 9:30-11
  • location Remote - Synchronous
  • instructor C. Palmer/K. Moran
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 22005

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies exploring a number of ways to approach “America.” We will begin by examining the social history, political economy and “aesthetics” of consumerism in America. Specific topics in the first module will include the language and visual rhetoric of advertising, the development of consumer spaces such as department stores and the meaning of “stuff” in consumer society. The second module will examine how place—landscapes, architecture, and the built environment—both shape, and are shaped by, the tensions between “high” and “low” American cultures. Finally, we will consider various forms of American popular culture (movies, TV, popular music) as symptoms and reflections of specific historical moments, in particular ideologies about race, technology and gender. This course is designed to enable you to think and do research as an interdisciplinary scholar, specifically to give you the tools to do readings of a literary or visual text, a common object, a film, a space. You will also practice gathering and evaluating evidence–as well as practice the skills involved in finding a thesis and arguing it persuasively. You will strengthen both your research skills and cultural understanding of American society.

 

Time Courses

American Studies 102 Indigenous California History, Literature, and Art

  • day and time MWF 12-1
  • location 103 Moffitt
  • instructor H. Wong
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 39445

This course can be used for TIME, PLACE, or PRE-1900 major requirements, depending on the research you do for the course.

In this course, we will examine the indigenous history, literature, and art of California, with an emphasis on northern California. We will read primary works by Native California writers, look at the artwork of Native California artists, and learn about the history and cultures of indigenous people in California. In addition, we will schedule visits to the archives of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Bancroft Library here on campus as well as historic sites and cultural institutions locally. We may also go on a field trip or two.

History 122 AC Antebellum America: The Advent of Mass Society

  • day and time MWF 1-2
  • location 2060 VLSB
  • instructor S. McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 32285

This course examines half a century of life in the United States (roughly from the War of 1812 until the secession of the Southern states), focusing on race relations, westward expansion, class formation, immigration, religion, sexuality, popular culture, and everyday life. Assigned readings will consist largely of first-person narratives in which women and men of a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds construct distinctive visions of life in the new nation.

Place Courses

American Studies 102 Indigenous California History, Literature, and Art

  • day and time MWF 12-1
  • location 103 Moffitt
  • instructor H. Wong
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 39445

This course can be used for TIME, PLACE, or PRE-1900 major requirements, depending on the research you do for the course.

In this course, we will examine the indigenous history, literature, and art of California, with an emphasis on northern California. We will read primary works by Native California writers, look at the artwork of Native California artists, and learn about the history and cultures of indigenous people in California. In addition, we will schedule visits to the archives of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Bancroft Library here on campus as well as historic sites and cultural institutions locally. We may also go on a field trip or two.

American Studies 102 Staging California

  • day and time TTh 11-12:20
  • location 102 Wheeler
  • instructor S. Steen
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 39404

Cross-listed with Theater 126

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, political protests–have played in shaping Californias unique cultural and racial topography. From the theatricalization of Chinatown in Rodgers and Hammersteins Flower Drum Song to that of urban riots in Twilight, from the staging of farmworkers’ 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 American Themescapes

  • day and time TTh 3:30-5
  • location 101 Morgan
  • instructor K.Moran/A.Shanken
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 39409

Sec. 201: M 9-10, 238 Kroeber
Sec. 202: M 10-11, 87 Evans
Sec. 203: W 12-1, 238 Kroeber
Sec. 204: W 1-2, 245 Hearst Gym
Room-shared with Architecture 179

Fom Disney to Las Vegas, Americans frequently encounter environments that are self-consciously themed, rather than unconsciously developed. These spaces have been dismissed as fake, artificial, evidence of postmodern alienation, even of the homogenizing effects of the global economy. This course proposes to expand the repertoire of themed environments in an effort to reevaluate their meaning in American life. Close attention will be paid to the obvious sites of theming: worlds fairs, consumer environments, and suburbs, but also to how theming has penetrated into film, advertising, nature, leisure, historic preservation, and museums.

Pre-1900 Historical Requirement

American Studies 102 Indigenous California History, Literature, and Art

  • day and time MWF 12-1
  • location 103 Moffitt
  • instructor H. Wong
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 39445

This course can be used for TIME, PLACE, or PRE-1900 major requirements, depending on the research you do for the course.

In this course, we will examine the indigenous history, literature, and art of California, with an emphasis on northern California. We will read primary works by Native California writers, look at the artwork of Native California artists, and learn about the history and cultures of indigenous people in California. In addition, we will schedule visits to the archives of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Bancroft Library here on campus as well as historic sites and cultural institutions locally. We may also go on a field trip or two.

History 122 AC Antebellum America: The Advent of Mass Society

  • day and time MWF 1-2
  • location 2060 VLSB
  • instructor S. McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 32285

This course examines half a century of life in the United States (roughly from the War of 1812 until the secession of the Southern states), focusing on race relations, westward expansion, class formation, immigration, religion, sexuality, popular culture, and everyday life. Assigned readings will consist largely of first-person narratives in which women and men of a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds construct distinctive visions of life in the new nation.

Senior Thesis Seminars

American Studies 191 Senior Thesis Seminar

  • day and time M 2-4
  • location 115 Kroeber
  • instructor J. Walker
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15474

American Studies 191 Senior Thesis Seminar

  • day and time T 12-2
  • location 115 Kroeber
  • instructor M. Cohen
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15473

American Studies 191 Senior Thesis Seminar

  • day and time W 2-4
  • location 115 Kroeber
  • instructor J. Walker
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15475

American Studies H 195 Senior Honors Thesis Seminar

  • day and time M 8-10
  • location 115 Kroeber
  • instructor C. Palmer
  • 4 Units

Instructor approval required to enroll.
***NOTE: In order to receive honors in American Studies, a student must have an overall 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 eligibiliity with an American Studies faculty advisor.

Honors Seminar

American Studies H 110 Bay Area in the 1970s

  • day and time MW 12-2
  • location 78 Barrows
  • instructor S. Saul
  • 3 Units
  • Class # 32193

NOTE: Honors seminar. Requires consent of instructor and/or approval of faculty advisor to enroll.
This project-based course is three courses rolled into one, all oriented toward the American Studies-based digital project The Berkeley Revolution. (Any interested students should browse the site at revolution.berkeley.edu to get a sense of what a previous set of students accomplished.)
First, the course delves into the history of the 1970s Bay Area, which was an unusually fertile cultural seedbed: so many features of contemporary life from the cappuccinos we drink to the laptop computers we use to write and think were incubated in it. The region was ground-zero for the revolution in cooking known as California cuisine; ground-zero for new forms of spiritual practice and religious organization; ground-zero for the technological utopianism represented by the Whole Earth Catalog and the computer clubs that produced the first desktop computer; and ground-zero for social movements such as womens liberation, black liberation, gay liberation, and the environmental movement, and for the new cultural forms that were entangled with them, such as disco, punk, and alternative comix.
Second, the course offers students an introduction to the practice of archival research. Our class will explore specific archives at Cal, such as the Chez Panisse Collection, the Berkeley Free Church Collection, the Social Protest Collection, and the Disability Rights and Defense Fund Collection. Students will be asked to explore these sorts of official archives, and will be invited, if theyre interested, to curate their own unofficial archives. You will be approaching these collections with the open eyes of historians looking at fresh documents, and with the goal of plumbing these documents for the insights and stories that they yield.
Third, the course will give students the experience of creating digital history projects of their own, as part of the larger Berkeley Revolution project. Students will work, collaboratively, to create both digital exhibitions and multi-media essays that spring out of the primary research they do.

American Studies H 110 Imagining the Future

  • day and time W 2-5
  • location 332 Giannini
  • instructor C. Palmer
  • 3 Units
  • Class # 32194

NOTE: Honors seminar. Requires consent of instructor and/or approval of faculty advisor to enroll.
This course is an intensive reading seminar in which we will use a range of texts to trace how American writers, photographers, painters, filmmakers, activists, engineers, architects, and city planners have imagined a variety of futures. Topics of consideration may include but are not limited to Afrofuturism; robots, robotics, and artificial intelligence; the gleaming city of tomorrow; utopian communities; and dystopia, prophecy, and apocalypse. Texts may include but are not limited to W.E.B. Du Boiss The Comet; Octavia Butlers Parable series; Ava Duvernays Selma; Charlotte Perkins Gilmans Herland; Michael Crichtons Westworld; N.K. Jemisins The Fifth Season; and clipping.s Splendor & Misery.

Special Courses of Interest

African American Studies 142 AC Race and American Film

  • day and time MW 2-4
  • location 160 Kroeber
  • instructor M. Cohen
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 21951

Lab (Section 101): Monday, 6-8, 160 Kroeber, Class #: 39422

This course uses film to investigate the central role of race in American culture. Through the study of film history, from silent film of the Jim Crow era to the digitized dystopias of the 21st century, this course explores the relationship between art and politics, race and representation. Looking at both Hollywood and independent cinema, the course charts the continuities and varieties of representations of race in cinema, considering the overlapping histories of African Americans, whiteness and ethnicity, American Indians, Mexican Americans, the Third World and Multiculturalism in film. Films screened include: The Birth of a Nation (1915), The Jazz Singer (1927), Salt of the Earth (1953), The Searchers (1956), and Imitation of Life (1958).

History 100 AC American Business History from Cotton to Foreclosure

  • day and time MWF 12-1
  • location 145 Dwinelle
  • instructor D. Robert
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 32323

NOTE: AS majors have priority for this course.
When President Calvin Coolidge declared in 1925 that the chief business of the American people is business, he was not making a historical argument, though it would have been a defensible one. Nearly a century earlier, French visitor, Alexis de Tocqueville, made a similar observation. Indeed, America was colonized by joint-stock corporations! Understanding the history of American business can therefore unlock a great deal about America itself. How did capital exchange become capitalism and how did capitalism affect American lives? How have capitalist markets been constructed socially and legally? What has been the historical relationship between capitalism and gender, race, freedom, and inequality? We will explore these questions on a chronological journey from seventeenth-century cotton trading to twenty-first century foreclosure.

History of Art 185 B American Architecture: Domestic Forms

  • day and time TTh 11-12:30
  • location 106 Moffitt
  • instructor M. Lovell
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 39356

Tuesdays 2-4 104 Moffitt

Taking as a point of departure specific exemplary houses, both vernacular and high-style architectural forms are studied from the perspectives of the history of style, of technology, sustainability, and of social use. We look at space (interior space, the relationship of structure to site, the relationship of site to environmental and economic context), and we look at interior design, decorative arts, and infrastructure. We consider materials as well as plan, elevation, and expressive form. Both the class as a whole and the student research projects take a case-study approach. Considering examples from the 17th and 18th centuries as well as from the 19th and 20th, the class will provide students with a broad background in habitation in what is now the United States, as well as experience in hands-on original research concerning the built environment today. While much of our attention will focus on unknown builders, we will also study some of the best-known houses (and most widely-dispersed models). Architects whose work we will consider include Thomas Jefferson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Henry Greene. One all day Saturday field trip.

Theater 125 Performance and History: The Presence of the Actor - A History of the American Theatrical Avant-Garde

  • day and time TTh 12:30-2
  • location 209 Dwinelle
  • instructor P. Glazer
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 40838

The place of the actor in the theatrical event has evolved over the centuries, and some of the most revolutionary changes in the US took place in the 1960s, when society itself was undergoing dramatic upheaval. Theater and performance became urgent sites of political and social commentary. The avant-garde and experimental theater movement that began in the late 1950s and extended into the 1970s drastically reconsidered the theaters role in society, its relationship to the audience, and how acting itself should function. Theater collectives formed, devising works together; rigorous attention was given to movement and voice; theatrical space was re-imagined; minority voices took center stage. Many theater makers were activists for these new approaches, among them Joseph Chaikin, founder of the Open Theater, whose seminal 1972 book The Presence of the Actor, gives this class its name. Though striking and unsettling performances like the Open Theaters The Serpent, or the Living Theaters Paradise Now! may have seemed to arrive out of nowhere, seeds had been planted by the politically, artistically and methodologically provocative work of European theorists such as Brecht, Artaud, and Grotowski, who saw acting in entirely new ways. Taken together with American avant-garde experiments beginning in the 1930s by the likes of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, which questioned the nature of art itself, these practitioners laid the groundwork for twentieth century innovation in western theater and performance. They blurred lines between genres, introduced new kinds of voices and techniques, and challenged once comfortable barriers between character and self, performer and audience, stage and street, text and object, narrative and abstraction, art and real life. Collectives, and individual playwrights and performers, such as the Living Theater and the Open Theater, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, El Teatro Campesino, the Wooster Group, At the Foot of the Mountain, Amiri Baraka, Meredith Monk and Rachel Rosenthal each driven by new and particular priorities on theater, culture, and the performative act altered our understanding of the theatrical experience and its relationship to the world at large. Weekly readings, screenings, lectures, and group discussions will be used to grasp this fascinating period, and help students understand how the countrys social and political history, and these aesthetic innovations, were inseparable. A mid-term, final exam, and research paper will be required.