AMST201W-1: Intro. to American Studies


August 23, 2017 - December 5, 2017
DaysTimeLocationInstructorGERCreditOPUS #
10:00am - 11:15am
Emerson Chemistry Bldg. E103
Ngoh, Catherene

An interdisciplinary, historically grounded introduction to scholarly approaches to the U.S. and the broader Americas, with emphasis on issues of class, ethnicity, gender, and cross-cultural studies. Pre-requisite: ENG 223 Rhetorical Grammar (1 credit), which can be taken simultaneously.

AMST 201W Intro to American Studies (co-requisite:  ENG 223).

Becoming American: Perspectives from Outside

                                             MW 10-11.15


What does it mean to be American in an increasingly globalized world? What does it mean to belong, or not, to America at a time when the very concept of the nation state has become conceptually inadequate to account for the flow of people, culture, and language across nations? Indeed, how do nation states arrest that flow? Through a combination of theoretical and literary texts exploring the complexities of contemporary American life, this course investigates the notion of becoming American from the perspective of those who do not exactly (yet) belong: immigrants; foreigners; class-, ethnic-, gender-, and sexual- minorities for whom the concept of being American is perpetually out of reach.In addition to three writing assignments and a colloquium, this course requires that students participate in a semester-long research and publish their reflections on a collaborative website on the politics of home, security, and detention in America.

Texts Considered

Claudia Rankine Citizen

Gloria Anzaldúa Borderlands: the new mestiza=La frontera

Chang-Rae Lee Native Speaker

Viet Thanh Nguyen The Refugees

Okada No No Boy

Alison Bechdel Fun Home 

Tony Kushner Angels in America

Phlip Metres Sand Opera

Judith Butler “Indefinite Detention” in Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning



Assignments: Two 2-page response papers (5% each) and One 10-page paper developed throughout the semester (30%), presentation at end of semester colloquium (10% )


Attendance 15% 


Class Participation 15% 


Collaborative website 20% 


The schedule of courses on O.P.U.S. is the official listing of courses, including days and times they meet and the General Education Requirements they satisfy. Students should use course descriptions as general guidelines. Course requirements, grading details, book lists, and syllabi are subject to change.