Introductory Courses

American Studies 10 Imagining the Future

  • day and time TTh 8-9:30
  • location 141 McCone
  • instructor C. Palmer
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 23167

Sec. 101: M 2-3, 285 Cory
Sec. 102: T 1-12, 56 Hildebrand
Sec. 103: M 3-4, 25 Wheeler
Sec. 104: W 4-5, 238 Kroeber

In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams, I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past, a stance Adams not only declared judicious but also a prophecy that they would soon meet and be better friends than ever. This course considers many of the ways Americans from Jefferson and Adams to a host of writers, photographers, painters, filmmakers, activists, engineers, architects, and city planners have imagined the future. We will consider how the concept of the future influences and determines American politics, economics, architecture, race relations, social policy, and culture. The course will pay particular attention to the special relationship between the past, American memory, and imagined futures. Topics under consideration may include Afrofuturism; robots, robotics, and artificial intelligence; the gleaming city of tomorrow; utopian communities; and dystopia, prophecy, and apocalypse. By focusing on the future as a time, a place, a theory, a fantasy, and a media construct, this course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary study of America.

Letters and Science 20 E Edible Stories: Representing California Food Culture

  • day and time MW 12-2
  • location 277 Cory
  • instructor K. Moran
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 30184

Sec. 101: Th 4-5, 56 Hildebrand
Sec. 102: Th 3-4, 200 Wheeler
Sec. 103: M 10-11, 130 Wheeler
Sec. 104: F 9-10, 104 Wheeler

Focusing on California writers, historians, artists and cooks, this course will include a wide range of food related texts, images and films in order to explore the relationship between representation, interpretation and cultural identity. Students will examine cultural history, fiction, film, photography, food memoirs, paintings, advertising, cookbooks and television to help them think critically about issues of form, medium and audience. Assignments will help students develop humanities skills such as writing personal essays, doing cultural close readings, analyzing literary and visual representations, and organizing and writing materials that contribute to larger conversations about California, food politics and representation.

Time Courses

American Studies C 111 E Age of Noir

  • day and time TTh 3:30-5
  • location 101 Moffitt
  • instructor G. Marcus & K. Moran
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 25304

A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. I didn’t have one. I didn’t care. –Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye 1953
Taking shape and definition in the late 1930s and the first years of the 1940s, when the United States was more than ten years into the Great Depression and the Second World War was either imminent or had already begun, and continuing into the early 1960s, noir was a sensibility and a way of being in the world. It was a critique, an attitude, a mood, a language, and aesthetic of alienation where cynicism was part of a moral code and fatalism a part of democratic faithand it was expressed, developed, and tested at the margins of legitimate cultural discourse: in low-budget or Poverty Row Hollywood movies, crime fiction, and TV police and detective dramas. In this course we will discuss such still-stunning films as Double Indemnity, Detour, and Sunset Boulevard alongside such indelible novels as Raymond Chandlers Farewell, My Lovely, Ross Macdonalds The Way Some People Die, Chester Himess If He Hollers Let Him Go, and Jim Thompsons Nothing More Than Murder, and the prescient as-it-happened film criticism of Manny Farber. Our goal is to explore, as noir artists did, an America within Americaand to illuminate noir within its historical period, to understand why it arose and how it dramatized specific wartime and postwar American traumas about citizenship, gender relations, the reintegration of millions of soldiers into peacetime society, abundance, corruption, and the fear of enemies from abroad and within. And to explore some of the most provocative and lasting literature and film America has produced.

American Studies C 111 E Harlem Renaissance

  • day and time MW 5-6:30
  • location 130 Wheeler
  • instructor B. Wagner
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 30538

The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement of black artists and writers in the 1920s. Centered in the Harlem neighborhood in Manhattan, the movement extended outward through international collaboration. We will be reading works by writers including Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, and Zora Neale Hurston and as well as manifestos about the nature and function of black art. Themes include migration and metropolitan life, primitivism and the avant garde, diaspora and exile, passing and identity, sexuality and secrecy, and the relation between modern art and folk tradition. Midterm and final exam, weekly writing, and one essay anticipated by preparation assignments. Hurston, Zora Neale: Their Eyes Were Watching God; Johnson, James Weldon: Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; Larsen, Nella: Passing; Toomer, Jean: Cane; Wright, Richard: Black Boy
Other Readings and Media Other materials will be available in PDF format on the course website.

History 122 AC Antebellum America: The Advent of Mass Society

  • day and time MWF 11-12
  • location 277 Cory
  • instructor S. Gold-McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 25303

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 New Orleans

  • day and time M 2-5
  • location 315D Wurster
  • instructor B. Wagner/A. Brand
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 39404

Cross-listed with Landscape Architecture 154

How can a city’s past become a meaningful platform for its future? How can city planners and community organizations work to answer this question in historic neighborhoods destabilized by environmental catastrophe, gentrification, multi-scaled development and the privatization of schools and social services?
In this Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Research Studio, students will answer these questions by working in groups to create “paper monuments” (poster or other medium) proposing a public monument to a particular person, event, or movement from the history of New Orleans. Projects will consider setting as well as the substance and design of the proposed monument and will interface with Paper Monuments in New Orleans. The class will also produce a collaborative, interactive digital map of North Claiborne Avenue, representing public art (murals), street performance venues (Mardi Gras and second lines), and past and present neighborhood institutions (anchor businesses, parks, and community centers).
Fulfills the studio requirement for the Undergraduate Certificate in Global Urban Humanities. Travel to New Orleans will happen shortly after the spring semester for approximately 5-7 days; dates to be announced prior to the beginning of the semester.
Priority enrollment to students pursuing the Certificate.

Application required. Download – Word docx DUE OCT 5

American Studies 102 Staging the American City: A Cultural History of Broadway, 1800-present

  • day and time TTh 2-3:30
  • location 105 Northgate
  • instructor S. Steen/D. Henkin
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 21371

Cross-listed with Theater 125 and History 100D, Sec. 2

This course weaves together two stories that are ordinarily told separately: the history of popular theatrical productions in the United States and the history of American urban life. Both stories focus on New York, and on the meaning of Broadway not just as a theatrical genre, but as a place, an institution, and a cultural symbol. What does the history of Broadway from the early nineteenth century to the present day teach us about popular culture, big city living, racial and ethnic identity, mass spectacle, and everyday life in modern America?
Course requirements include regular attendance, timely completion of reading assignments, two midterms, and one cumulative final exam (with a take-home and an in-class component).

American Studies 102 Wall Street/Main Street

  • day and time TTh 9-10:30
  • location 160 Kroeber
  • instructor M. Brilliant/S. Solomon
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 26136

Sec. 301 T 2-3, 245 Hearst Gym
Sec. 302 W 4-5, 83 Dwinelle
Sec. 303 W 11-12, 1115 Kroeber
Sec. 304 Th 3-4, 238 Kroeber
Cross-listed with Legal Std 110 and History 100D, Sec. 1

As longstanding metaphors in American history and culture, Wall Street and Main Street typically refer to streets that intersect at right angles and places that represent the antithesis of each other. In this rendering, Wall Street is home to nefarious big banks and greedy financiers, while Main Street is home to wholesome mom-and-pop shops patronized by ordinary people of modest means. Whats good for one is not good for the other. This course, which will be co-taught by a historian and corporate law professor, will examine critical junctures in the intersection of Wall Street and Main Street in American history and culture, how and why Wall Street and Main Street have been understood to point in opposite directions, the extent to which that understanding makes sense, and how and why the relationship between Wall Street and Main Street has evolved over time.

American Studies 102 Oakland | City

  • day and time MW 12-2
  • location 110 Barrows
  • instructor J. Winet
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 26447

Oakland | City will investigate the unique dynamics of the Bay Areas third largest city, closest to the Campanile, and home to many Cal students.

In concert with in-class lectures and presentations highlighted by visits from civic and community leaders, students will direct individual and collaborative public digital humanities research in areas to include but not limited to the Citys sports teams, emerging film scene, political activists, cultural organizations, museums, DIY initiatives, galleries and music clubs, library, police department, neighborhood business improvement districts, advocates for the homeless, and city government.
Class activity will also include technical training on audio, video and photography production.
Integral to the class are one or two fieldtrips to Oakland, and final public and online multimedia research presentations.

History of Art 190 G UC Berkeley Campus Architecture

  • day and time MWF 10-11
  • location 106 Moffitt
  • instructor M. Lovell
  • 4 Units

Tuesdays, 1-2pm, 104 Moffitt
Tuesday, 2-3pm, 104 Moffit

This course takes as its subject the U. C. Berkeley campus as a product of many disparate visions about the nature of the institution and the role of the built environment in instruction, and in envisioning a landscape of learning. Our emphasis will be on the core campus buildings, those built between 1880-1930, and especially those designed by John Galen Howard, Bernard Maybeck, and Julia Morgan. Each student will become expert on several buildings, and will serve as guide for a public campus architectural tour scheduled for the afternoon of May 7.

Pre-1900 Historical Requirement

History 122 AC Antebellum America: The Advent of Mass Society

  • day and time MWF 11-12
  • location 277 Cory
  • instructor S. Gold-McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 25303

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 W 4-6
  • location 115 Kroeber
  • instructor A. Craghead
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15495

American Studies 191 Senior Thesis Seminar

  • day and time M 2-4
  • location 115 Kroeber
  • instructor M. Cohen
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15493

American Studies 191 Senior Thesis Seminar

  • day and time Th 2-4
  • location 45 Evans
  • instructor C. Palmer
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15494

American Studies H 195 Senior Honors Thesis Seminar

  • day and time M 10-12
  • location 115 Kroeber
  • instructor M. Cohen
  • 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 What is This?!

  • day and time T 9-11
  • location 489 Wurster
  • instructor A. Shanken
  • 3 Units
  • Class # 32193

NOTE: Honors seminar. Requires consent of instructor and/or approval of faculty advisor to enroll.
The word thing comes from proto-Germanic words like thingam that surprisingly are about assembly, council, and discussion. Things, those inert objects we place on shelves, throw in drawers, and jettison on trash heaps, have their roots in action, communication, and space. There is no thing without its corresponding behavior and there is no behavior without its corresponding place. This class looks at the relationship between things, actions, communication, and place, and it does so particularly within the modern American context of production, consumption, and obsolescence. It is primarily a class in writing creative non-fiction (and reading it). Students will be asked to write short weekly essays about stuff: bricks, paper clips, bras, marbles, collectibles, junk; the places we keep them: mantles, boxes, boutiques, attics; and what they say to us and about us. The class is intended as a supportive workshop environment for students to observe closely and write incisively about the things around them.

Special Courses of Interest

American Studies C 172 History of American Business

  • day and time TTh 11-12:30
  • location N100 Chou
  • instructor C. Rosen
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 26112

Cross-listed with UGBA C172

UGBA-AS 172 is an undergraduate elective in the history of American business that is cross-listed with UGBA 172. It covers an amazing history of creative innovation, growth, structural change, challenge, trouble, travail and more growth, more change, challenge, and trouble. Less than two hundred years ago, the U.S. was just starting to transform itself from a country of farmers and village craftsmen into a nation based on large scale, mechanized, corporate controlled industry. By the late 20th century the nation was an industrial colossus dominated by huge multinational corporations that operated in markets around the world. Now its corporations are experiencing many forms of disruptive innovation, and its richly paid executives are dealing with a wide range of new national and international challenges. They must manage, find economic opportunities, and politically maneuver in a marketplace that is being constantly shaped and reshaped by international competition, technological and financial innovation, the ever insistent demands from the investor community for maximal profits every quarter, and new forms of financial, economic, social, and environmental regulation, here and abroad, as well as the ongoing rise of new generations of dynamic competitors in China, India, and other parts of the developing world.
How has American business gotten to where it is today? How can historical insight help us understand the strategic, organizational, geo-political, economic, social, and environmental challenges facing the managers of todays global businesses? The purpose of AS – UGBA C 172 is to give you historical perspective on business and management today, to illuminate the parallels and continuities as well as the differences between current and past developments in corporate evolution, management problem solving, technological innovation, business-government interaction, and businesss impact on American culture and society.

History 133 A History of American Capitalism

  • day and time TTh 11:30-12
  • location 2040 VLSB
  • instructor C. Rosenthal
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 30754

For sections, see:

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.

Music C 138 Art and Activism

  • day and time Th 9:30-12:30
  • location 250 Morrison
  • instructor T. Roberts/C. Lucas
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 26603

Cross-listed with LS C138

This course explores the intersections between aesthetic practice and social change. Students will investigatein both theory and practicethe 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.