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Academics > Majors & Minors > American Studies

Courses

Contact

Konrad Hamilton

Associate Professor & Chair of American Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999

309-341-7159

khamilto@​knox.edu

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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Requirements

Requirements for the major

10 credits as follows:

  • AMST 285: In Search of America
  • PS 245: American Political Thought
  • Four core courses - one from each of the following categories
    • Political Foundations: PHIL 230, PS 101, PS 362, or PS 363
    • History: AMST 259, AMST 267, HIST 122, HIST 160, HIST 161, HIST 263, HIST 363, or HIST 366
    • Social Structure and Institutions: AFST 101, AMST 272, ANSO 103, ANSO 215, EDUC 201, ENVS 228, GWST 101, or JOUR 323
    • Cultural Identity: AFST 233, AFST 235, AMST 227, AMST 243, AMST 260, AMST 307, ANSO 231, ANSO 233, ART 221, ART 225, ART 226, ENG 231, ENG 232, ENG 335, ENG 336, ENVS 232, GWST 206, GWST 325, MUS 210, PHIL 273, or THTR 384
  • Four elective courses, which may be drawn from the core category courses above in any combination
  • At least two courses for the major must focus upon a non-white American culture, history, or literature (one of these courses may include the same course being used to satisfy the college Understanding Diversity requirement, as long as it is drawn from one of the four core categories).
  • No more than four 100-level courses will count for the major.
  • At least three 300-level courses must be taken for the major.
  • Two written projects
    • state of the field essay (completed in AMST 285)
    • capstone research project (AMST 390, 0 credit)
  • Experiential Learning Activity: Majors will be required to choose and participate in one of the following off-campus programs: Washington Semester; ACM Urban Studies program; ACM Chicago Arts program; an approved internship (e.g. museum, government agency, NGO).
  • Oral Presentation (AMST 392, 0 credit)

Requirements for the minor

5 credits as follows:

  • AMST 285: In Search of America
  • PS 245: American Political Thought
  • Three core courses - one course chosen from each of three core categories: History, Social Structure and Institutions, Cultural Identity as listed above.
  • At least one course for the minor must focus upon a non-white American culture, history, or literature (this course may not include the same course being used to satisfy the college Understanding Diversity requirement).
  • No more than two 100-level courses will count for the minor.
  • At least one 300-level courses must be taken for the minor.

No more than two credits from a second major or minor shall be counted for the American Studies major or minor.

Course Descriptions

AMST 227. The Black Image in American Film. (1)

Since the beginning of the American film industry, white, black and other filmmakers have used the black image to interrogate American identity. This course focuses upon the often contentious dialog between white and black filmmakers, critics, and activists over the creation and control of the black image - a struggle that has been a fundamental component of the American film industry since its creation. Examination of this artistic conflict helps students to explore the larger social struggles and issues surrounding race in American society, as well as to experience the richness of African American culture and the vibrant history of American film and criticism. Above all, students learn to see the political, social and economic context in which film is created, viewed, and understood. Some of the issues to be discussed include: the black aesthetic; representations of the black family, religion, and gender/sexuality by Hollywood vs. independent black films; the changing black image in film over time; the business and economics of filmmaking. Prerequisite(s): sophomore standing or permission of the instructor; Cross Listing: AFST 227;FILM 227;HIST 227; DV; M. Roy-Féquière; K. Hamilton;

AMST 241. Social Movements. (1)

Analysis of the origins, strategies and political impact of social movements. Readings focus mainly on American movements including the Civil Rights movement, the Gay and Lesbian movement, the Labor movement and the Christian Right. HSS; Cross Listing: PS 241; DV; D. Oldfield;

AMST 248. Teaching Assistant. (1/2 or 1)

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor; May be graded S/U at instructor's discretion; Staff;

AMST 259. America in the 1960s. (1)

The 1960s was one of the defining periods in American history, when great conflict served to reveal fundamental elements of the American character. American values and practices regarding sex and race, poverty and justice, apathy and activism, violence and peace, drugs, music, and other issues all came under intense scrutiny during this era. This class immerses students in the "sixties experience" - the events, ideas, values, sights and sounds of this exciting and important decade - and asks what this era reveals about America's past, present and future. HSS; Cross Listing: HIST 259; DV; HSS; K. Hamilton;

AMST 261. American Art, Architecture and Culture. (1)

This course is a selected overview of the history of American art from the late eighteenth century through the mid-twentieth century with an emphasis on art as part of a larger material culture related to political, socio-economic and intellectual trends. A major concern is the contribution of visual culture to the conceptualization of American national identity in light of changing views associated with nature, labor, race, gender and sexuality. A special topical issue is the influence of American Transcendental and Pragmatist philosophy on the development of artistic styles and themes. Prerequisite(s): ART 105 or 106, and/or HIST 160 or 161 are recommended; Cross Listing: ART 261; G. Gilbert;

AMST 267. Great American Debates. (1)

This course examines the way in which debate has informed American history - the issues that inhabitants of the continent have found pressing; the means by which they have articulated and advanced their perspectives; and the consequences of their successes and failures over time. By focusing on one broad issue - such as women's rights, election to political office, or abolitionism - this course examines debate as a cultural creation and explores connections between present-day debates and those of the past. Cross Listing: HIST 267; Course may be repeated for credit. AMST 267B History of Marriage is DV.; C. Denial;

AMST 272. Alternatives to Consumerism. (1)

Many thinkers have criticized the manner in which consumerism, overconsumption, and profit-seeking dominate both American and global culture. This course uses these criticisms as the starting point for an exploration of various alternatives which might lead humans toward not only a more sustainable lifestyle, but one which is also more personally enlivening and socially just. These alternatives include changes in personal lifestyles, economic organization, media practices, and social structures. We discuss not only the scholarly ramifications of these ideas, but how to act upon them in our lives and society more broadly. Prerequisite(s): AMST 285, ANSO 103, ENVS 101, or BUS 280; Cross Listing: ENVS 272; T. Kasser; D. Beck;

AMST 273. American Philosophy and Postmodernism. (1)

A study of the idealist, naturalist, and pragmatist trends in American thought as exemplified in the works of Jonathan Edwards, C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey with special emphasis on their relationship to contemporary trends in postmodernism. Prerequisite(s): Sophomore standing or permission of the instructor; Cross Listing: PHIL 273; B. Polite;

AMST 285. In Search of America. (1)

This course will survey the fundamental issues, methods, and perspectives in the field of American Studies. Course readings include theoretical and methodological works, foundational documents, and selected examples of representative new scholarship in the field. Students will also analyze feature films, music, and radio and film documentaries. This class is intended for American Studies majors, minors, and any student interested in the serious study of American culture and society. Prerequisite(s): sophomore standing or above; K. Hamilton;

AMST 295. Special Topics. (1/2 or 1)

Courses offered occasionally to students in special areas of American Studies not covered in the usual curriculum. Staff;

AMST 307. Identity and Alterity in Latino Literature and Culture. (1)

This course examines the question of identity and alterity as experienced by American-raised Hispanics from the 1940s to the present. This course considers among other things the way they define their cultural, racial and national heritage in relation to that of their parents, and how they conceptualize their identity through the Other. The course also focuses on the bicultural/bilingual experiences of Latinos through the analysis of literary and cinematographic works by Americans of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican origin who have resided primarily in the continental United States. HUM; Cross Listing: SPAN 307E; DV; J. Dixon-Montgomery;

AMST 311. Urban Politics. (1)

Analysis of the origins, strategies and political impact of social movements. Readings focus mainly on American movements including the Civil Rights movement, the Gay and Lesbian movement, the Labor movement and the Christian Right. Prerequisite(s): PS 101 or Sophomore standing; Cross Listing: PS 311; DV; D. Oldfield;

AMST 325. Beyond Stereotypes: Exploring Literature by Chicanas. (1)

During the past two decades Chicana writers have produced an innovative literature that not only dialogues with the male Chicano literary tradition, but vibrantly asserts its own core themes and stylistic and thematic contributions. We examine the innovative narrative, poetry and essay production of Chicana writers such as Gloria Anzaldua, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Elena Viramontes, Sandra Cisneros, Lucha Corpi among many others. HUM; Prerequisite(s): junior standing; Cross Listing: GWST 325; DV; M. Roy-Féquière;

AMST 328. Race & Gender in the U.S. Welfare State. (1)

This course examines how political, economic, and cultural ideologies regarding race and gender work(ed) to frame the conception and creation of both the U.S. Welfare State and U.S. welfare policy. We will engage these ideas through an historical exploration of the ways that the U.S. Welfare State was enacted, framed, and codified through policy. In addition we will analyze how the creation of the Welfare State and its subsequent policies reflect American identity and cultural norms, and reinforce social inequities along racial and gendered lines. Prerequisite(s): ANSO 103 and Junior standing or permission of the instructor; Cross Listing: ANSO 328; T. Gonzales;

AMST 348. Teaching Assistant. (1/2 or 1)

Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor; May be graded S/U at instructor's discretion; Staff;

AMST 362. Themes in African-American Political Thought Since Emancipation. (1)

This course is not intended to be a comprehensive discussion of all black American thinkers since 1865, nor is it meant as a strictly chronological exercise. Rather, the focus is how fundamental themes in black political thought recur, overlap, and intertwine. These themes are studied as they appear in the writings and speeches from a wide spectrum of selected thinkers and activists. Among other themes, we consider how the accommodationism of Booker T. Washington, the Pan Africanism of Marcus Garvey, the Islamic fundamentalism of Malcolm X, and the Afrocentricity of Haki Madhubuti are all connected by a fundamental emphasis upon black capitalism. By contrast, the theme of Marxist influence are studied through the careers and writings of socialist labor leader A. Phillip Randolph, entertainer and activist Paul Robeson, Black Panther founder Huey Newton, and Communist and political prisoner Angela Davis. The themes of assimilation, acculturation, and African-American citizenship are linked through the writings of W.E.B. DuBois and James Baldwin, the direct action protest movement of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson. Additional themes are suggested by the writings of Alexander Crummell, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell, bell hooks, and Molefi Asante. Prerequisite(s): junior standing; also, prior work in Black Studies or U.S. History, or permission of the instructor; Cross Listing: BKST 362;HIST 362; K. Hamilton; F. Hord;

AMST 390. Senior Research Project. (.0)

Majors shall produce a significant research project that addresses the general issues of American identity, uses primary sources, and is consistent with the spirit of the student's educational plan essay. Acceptable examples include an honors project (AMST 400), independent study (AMST 350), or 300-level research project in any department (students will also register their project under the 0 credit designation, AMST 390). All projects must be pre-approved by the chair of the program, and are subject to review upon completion by the chair or designated representative before receiving credit. To be pre-approved the project must meet college standards for writing intensive (W) courses. W; Staff;

AMST 392. Oral Presentation. (.0)

Majors shall acquire the oral presentation skills appropriate to the field of American Studies through completing a project that fosters honest and reasoned discussion on issues of fundamental American values, problems, and issues, outside formal coursework. All projects must be pre-approved by the chair of the program, and are subject to review upon completion by the chair or designated representative before receiving credit (students will register their project under the 0 credit designation, AMST 392). To be pre-approved the project must meet college standards for oral presentation (O) courses. Examples of acceptable presentations could include: debates and panel discussions; individual presentations - e.g. papers, art shows, recitals; radio show production and hosting on Knox radio station (WVKC 90.7). O; Staff;

AMST 395. Special Topics. (1/2 or 1)

Courses offered occasionally to students in special areas of American Studies not covered in the usual curriculum. Staff;

AMST 400. Advanced Studies. (1/2 or 1)

See College Honors Program. Staff;

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