Fall 2021


Supreme Court in American History, AMST UN3930, Section 1
Mondays, 6:10 - 8:00 pm  

Benjamin Rosenberg

As Tocqueville observed, “scarcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question.” As a consequence, the Supreme Court of the United States has been at the center of many of the most significant developments in American history.  It has played significant roles in, for example, (1) the creation of the young republic and the achievement of a balance between states and the federal government, (2) race relations including the institution of slavery, (3) the rights of workers, (4) civil rights, and (5) elections.  This seminar will explore the Supreme Court’s role in American society by examining its decisions on key issues throughout its history. Join waitlist and attend first class.


Shakespeare in America, AMST UN3930, Section 2
Tuesdays, 10:10 - 12:00 pm

James Shapiro 

The course explores the place of Shakespeare in American literary and political culture from the Revolution to the present. We will explore the ways in which American poets, novelists, presidents, essayists, polemicists, and humorists over the past two hundred years have turned to Shakespeare, time and again, in addressing such divisive issues as race, immigration, gender, and national identity. In this sense, the complex story of Shakespeare in America offers an alternative version of our nation’s past. Readings include works by Washington Irving, John Adams, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Mary Preston, Walt Whitman, Jane Addams, Henry James, Isaac Asimov, Mary McCarthy, and Adrienne Rich. Familiarity with Shakespeare’s major plays is expected. Send Prof. Shapiro (js73) by NOON ON APRIL 2nd a short note expressing your interest and background. Prof. Shapiro will notify accepted students by April 5th. No waitlist. Priority given to American Studies students. 


Gender History and American Film,  AMST UN3930, Section 3
Mondays, 2:10 - 4:00 pm

Hilary Hallett

This seminar explores the history of American gender through the history of the American film industry from the first features in the 1910s through the crumbling of the Hollywood Studio System and Production Code in 1968. The industry’s movies and stars offer important sites to examine transformations associated with the development of modern sex roles and racial attitudes over the half-century comprising Hollywood’s Studio Era. During this period, much of the controversy sparked by the industry stemmed from its depictions of new ideals of womanhood, manhood, and sexuality. Moreover, in this era, Hollywood targeted specific audiences and movies were not afforded the protection of free speech. This made films and movie stars peculiarly reflective of, and vulnerable to, broader societal fantasies and fears about changes involving gender roles, sexuality, and racial attitudes. We will use motion pictures and movie stars as primary sources and consider how the changing institutional history of film production connected to the images it sold. Students will write one short paper and a paper proposal in preparation for a short research-based essay on a topic relating to how some aspect of film history reflected a particular problem in gender history. Join waitlist and attend first class.


Indigenous Peoples of New York and New England, AMST UN3935, Section 1
Wednesdays, 10:10 - 12:00 pm

Ryan Carr

This course provides an interdisciplinary perspective on Native peoples of present-day New York and New England and on their interactions with settler colonial societies (French, Spanish, British, US). Most of the reading will be by Native authors. In order to provide a firm historical foundation for understanding the dynamics of Indigenous and colonial history our emphasis will be on the period between European settlement and the 19th century. Coverage will not be exhaustive; there are too many Native nations in this region for that to be possible. Our focus rather will be on major turning points in Native history which have become flashpoints for controversy among scholars and in the broader public sphere: the relationship between Indians and Pilgrims, King Philip's War, the so-called Indian Great Awakening, and others. We will also familiarize ourselves with present-day debates in Indigenous Studies including those pertaining to the idea of "ethnographic refusal"—i.e., the idea that Indigenous peoples should resist sharing information about their traditional cultures with non-Indian outsiders especially in academic spaces, where the study of Native Americans has often worked against Indigenous interests. The course should appeal broadly to students interested in Native history, literature, religion, and legal studies. Join waitlist and attend first class.


Tocqueville: The Democratic Mind, AMST UN3930, Section 6
Mondays, 4:10 - 6:00 pm  

Mark Lilla

Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is considered a classic study on the United States. But more fundamentally it is an analysis of the democratic human type (l’homme démocratique) with his or her distinctive passions, fears, aspirations, prejudices, and self-image. In this seminar we will focus on Tocqueville’s psychology and the light it might shed on American culture. Join waitlist and attend first class.


Immigrant New York, AMHS UN4462
Mondays, 12:10 - 2:00 pm

Rebecca Kobrin

For the past century and a half, New York City has been the gateway city to millions of immigrants to the United States. This course will compare immigrants' encounter with New York at the dawn of the twentieth century with contemporary encounters of immigrants. How have these newcomers shaped New York and what issues, organizations, and debates have shaped immigrants experiences of New York City? As a service learning course, each student will be required to work 20-25 hours over the course of the semester at organizations such as the Riverside Language Center, Catholic Charities or St. Mary's Church. Join waitlist and attend first class.


Readings in Jewish Literature: American Jewish Literature: A Survey, CLYD UN3500, Section 3
Thursdays, 10:10 - 12:00 pm

Jeremy Dauber

In examining the work of some of the greatest Jewish writers to live in America – writers in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish, some well known, some less so – this course hopes to answer several related questions. How are the changing fortunes of American Jews reflected in their literary creativity? How does Jewish multilingualism – not only seen in different works, but within the same work – affect modes and styles of Jewish writing? And, perhaps most importantly, how does one define American Jewish writing in an age of increasingly complex affiliations and identifications among American Jews? Join waitlist and attend first class.


Multilingual America: Translation, Migration, Gender, CLGM 4600
Tuesdays 6:10-8:00 pm

Karen Van Dyck

This course introduces students to the rich tradition of literature about and by Greeks in America over the past two centuries exploring questions of multilingualism, translation, migration and gender with particular attention to the look and sound of different alphabets and foreign accents – “It’s all Greek to me!” To what extent can migration be understood as translation and vice versa? How might debates in Diaspora and Translation Studies inform each other and how might both, in turn, elucidate the writing of and about Greeks and other ethnic minorities, especially women? Authors include Olga Broumas, Elia Kazan, Alexandros Papadiamantis, Irini Spanidou, Ellery Queen, Eleni Sikelianos and Thanasis Valtinos as well as performance artists such as Diamanda Galas. Theoretical and comparative texts include works by Walter Benjamin, Rey Chow, Jacques Derrida, Xiaolu Guo, Eva Hoffman, Franz Kafka, Toni Morrison, Vicente Rafael, and Lawrence Venuti, as well as films such as The Immigrant and The Wizard of Oz. No knowledge of Greek is necessary, although an extra-credit directed reading is open to those wishing to read texts in Greek. Join waitlist and attend first class.



Hilary Hallett

Required for American Studies students who intend to do a senior research project in the spring. Each student will be assigned a supervisor in the fall. A full draft of the thesis will be due in December. Those drafts will be reviewed by the student's supervisor and faculty. Students will then enroll in the senior thesis seminar for the spring and submit a final draft of the thesis in March.