Note: This page contains all of the regular courses taught by this department. Not all courses are offered every year. Check the searchable schedule to see which courses are being offered in the upcoming semester.
This course is a thematic survey of the United States from the end of the Civil War to the present. Students will examine the transformation of the United States from a rural, largely Protestant society into a powerful and culturally diverse, urban/industrial nation. Topics will include constitutional developments, the formation of a national economy, urbanization, and immigration. The course will also discuss political changes, the secularization of public culture, the formation of the welfare state, World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War as well as suburbanization, the civil rights movement, women's and gay rights, and the late twentieth-century conservative-politics movement and religious revival. No prerequisites. This course is the same as HIST 102D in the history curriculum.
This course introduces students to the principles of American studies through the exploration of American history and culture in the 1960s. We will seek to understand the nature of American society in that critical period through the study of the struggle for political reform, the role of women, the civil rights movement, and the counter-culture. Guest lectures, films, and student presentations complement the course, and students will be asked to engage actively in its development. No prerequisites; not open to seniors.
This course will focus upon the visual culture of the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. Employing an American Studies interdisciplinary model, we shall look at visual imagery within a broad cultural context--in relationship to film, literature, history and politics. In so doing, we shall explore such questions as: What constitutes an American identity in the first half of the twentieth century? How does the notion of cultural nationalism help construct such identities? What are the points of intersection between European and American modernism and modernity? How does race impact modern American expression? Finally, what is the relationship between art, politics and social activism during these years? This course is cross-listed in the Department of Art and Art History. No prerequisite. Open to first year students and sophomores.
The great African American playwright, August Wilson, set his cycle of plays in Pittsburgh's one dynamic neighborhood, the Hill. This seminar will read a series of Wilson's plays, including "Joe Turner's Come and Gone", "The Piano Lesson", and "Fences", and locate them in time and place in African-American history. This course is for first year students with AP or KAP credit in American History or American Studies and a critical aspect of the course will be a three-day field work experience in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.
The course explores the guiding principles, major institutions, and national politics of the American political order. The Founders' view of liberal democracy and of the three branches of our government (presented in the Federalist Papers) will provide the basis for consideration of the modern Supreme Court, presidency, bureaucracy, Congress, news media, and political parties and elections. The course concludes with Tocqueville's broad overview of American democracy and its efforts to reconcile liberty and equality. The themes of the course will be illustrated by references to current political issues, events, and personalities.
This course presents an overview of painting, sculpture, and architecture from colonial times to 1876. It frames the development of American art and architecture within a broad socio-historical context and addresses many of the issues pertinent to American studies. The following questions, among others, will be addressed in the course: Does American culture have a single, identifiable character? How have Americans reconciled their uneasy relationship with European culture? How have American political values, such as freedom, liberty, and democracy, informed the cultural expression of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Prerequisite: ARHS 111 or AMST 108 or equivalent. This course is the same as ARHS 227D in the art history curriculum.
The most fascinating thing about jazz is its vitality. Jazz remains today what it has been since its inception: an art form of intense personal expression in the context of collaborative improvisation. This course is a social and stylistic investigation of the history of jazz, from its African-American origins up to the present. Progressing chronologically, students will investigate through a variety of sources the main jazz styles and musicians and their development and influence upon the jazz scene. Prerequisite: MUSC 101 (or placement by exam). Music 102 is recommended but not required. Declared American studies majors may enroll in this course without the MUSC 101 prerequisite, but it is recommended. Offered every other year. This course is the same as MUSC 302D in the Music Department curriculum.
We commonly don't remember that it is, after all, always the first person who is speaking, wrote Henry David Thoreau and indeed, the phenomenon of the first- person narrator is a distinctively American approach to both storytelling and history telling. The class will trace the origins of the essay from Montaigne, the French writer who popularized the essay, through a selection of American writers, including the transcendentalists, civil rights activists, feminists, humorists and environmentalists. In examining each essay, students will ask key questions regarding the interweaving of the historical and the personal. How does the narrator interact with, shape and transform the material presented in the essay? How does the authors personal experience open a window into the larger world? How do the essays tools (form, scene, summary, musings) enable the author to explore truth differently from an historian? In addition to essay reading and analysis, class participants will be responsible for leading class discussions of essays. Participants will author several short personal essays and one extended essay that interweaves personal history with a larger historical and cultural context. The course will conclude with a public reading of original works. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
College and university campuses, from picturesque Gothic and Georgian wonderlands to the starkly modern and utilitarian assemblages of more recent years, have long been a source of fascination for Americans. They play a large role in the romantic ideal of college life, they evoke images of privilege or openness, and they are increasingly seen as a sales tool by marketers. If we look beyond the most superficial aspects of campuses, though, their physical appearances can reveal a great deal about an institution's history, its goals and philosophy, even its relative place in the nation's higher-education hierarchy. This course will look at a variety of campuses and campus types-urban, suburban, and rural, public and private, old and new-and end with a class project involving development of an ideal campus. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
This course will introduce students to the major theoretical writings about education--Dewey, Kozol, Ravitch and Freire. We will inquire about the "global achievement gap" and "cultural literacy"and interview teachers from a broad range of educational backgrounds--public, private, parochial, charter. The seminar will meet weekly with students engaged during the week in Moodle discussions about issues raised in the reading. Students will also have a high school experience in Cleveland, with an introductory day during October break and a ten day residency in early January. Credit only for attending all components of the course. Permission of the Instructor. Limited enrollment. Junior standing.
America is the great, ongoing experiment of modernity, a nation
thoroughly structured by all that is considered new in the Western world: liberal democracy,
science, technology, industry, capitalism. The colonization of America by Europe led to our
nation's status as a laboratory for political, social and artistic theories which otherwise may never
have been attempted. Although the USA is only a small part of the American continent, and there
is a long and rich human history that predates Europe's awareness of it, the focus of a
disproportionate amount of attention from Europe is on our relatively short history as a nation.
From the very beginning of the process, however, Europeans have viewed us and our country
with profound ambivalence. On the one hand, we are the territory upon which the dreams and
aspirations of the boldest visionaries can develop. On the other hand, Europeans justifiably fear
what can happen in a society which is so unencumbered by the authority exerted by previous
generations. The fear of America as a Frankenstein nation without the soul of tradition has been
the preoccupation of many of Europe's leading intellectuals over the last two hundred years. With every passing day, there are more and more others looking at us with ambivalence. As recent history has shown, America is not just a European obsession. Our ties to Europe have weakened in the last few decades, and we now find ourselves in a more multilateral geopolitical environment. The attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 was a brutal awakening for most Americans to the hostility that exists in many parts of the world, not only against our foreign policy, but against our very identity as a people. Is such hostility related to the European ambivalence toward America, or is it a new phenomenon, with separate historical and intellectual roots? This course will be conducted as a seminar. Each week, we will examine texts and films that center on a particular theme of European-American intellectual relations, the emerging complicated relationship between Islam and America, and the longstanding tension with Latin America. While this course will teach us much about our American identity by looking at our society through the eyes of others, it will also teach us as much if not more about these others themselves. Among the texts of European writers included in the seminar are works by Alexis de Tocqueville, Jean Baudrillard, Simone de Beauvoir, Bernard-Henri Levy. The texts of Middle Eastern writers include works by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Sayyid Qutb among the Latin American authors are Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. We will also view and discuss several films by directors such as Wim Wenders, Aki Kaurismaki, Jean-Luc Godard, and Charlie Chaplin. No prerequisites. This course can count towards the major in French (Modern Languages or Area Studies) under certain conditions to be arranged with Prof. Guiney. Enrollment limited.
This advanced seminar will explore topics and issues of the study of American art and architecture. Topics covered may range from the women of Rome to African-American women artists to memory and commemorations: cross-cultural perspectives. Assignments will include seminar reports, class discussion, and a research paper. Prerequisite: .5 unit of Art History (ARHS 111, 227D, 231) or American studies (AMST 108, 109) or equivalent. This course is the same as ARHS 378D, in the Art History Department curriculum.
The course will provide a setting for guided student advanced work in American studies. The participants will work collaboratively to assist one another in the development of individual resarch projects that represent the synthesis of the six courses they have crafted for the major in American studies. The course is required of all American studies senior majors and concentrators.
This course will look at the wide range of representations of the national game in American culture. The course will examine literature, poetry, and drama as well as the visual arts as a way of understanding the power of baseball on our cultural imagination. The seminar will focus on group discussion, collaborative presentations, and individual analysis.
Digital copying and internet file-sharing have given rise to a heated national debate over the ownership of art and ideas. On the one hand, we have the film and recording industries aggressively protecting and enlarging their holdings; on the other, we have a range of open-source initiatives, not just in software but in cultural production generally (as with, for example, scholars, scientists, and artists who post their work for free on the internet). The particulars of this contest are new, but its roots are very old, going back at least to the seventeenth-century, when publishers and governments first attempted to strike a balance between private incentive and the public good. Students in this seminar will trace the history of such attempts from their beginnings into the present; special emphasis will fall on how the founding generation in the United States imagined the circulation of knowledge. Through this history, students will become familiar with the several frames of reference within which this cultural debate has been held; they will thus explore the philosophical, economic, legal, and ethical issues that surround what has come to be called "intellectual property." Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Offered every two or three years.
Normally, students who wish to pursue individual study in the American Studies Program should be aware of the following procedures:
1. Individual study is an exceptional opportunity available to junior or senior majors who find that the ordinary course offerings at Kenyon do not meet their needs for the major. Individual study may be taken only for .5 unit of credit.
2. Students must have the prior approval of the program director in order to apply.
3. They must present a detailed reading list and syllabus, including a schedule of assignments/projects and due dates, to the faculty member with whom they choose to work.
4. The American Studies faculty member will confirm the syllabus and schedule in writing to the director of the program.
5. The student project must culminate in a public presentation
6. Evaluation is a combination of student self-evaluation and faculty evaluation, both of which will be reported to the program director with a recommendation for a final grade.
The Honors Program in American studies entails a two-semester sequence of independent work integral to the elective-study program in the major, taken during the senior year.
Additional courses that meet the requirements for this concentration:
ARHS 227D: American Art to 1876
ARHS 377: Topics in Modern Art
ARTS 229: Documentary Photography
ENGL 270: American Fiction
ENGL 280: American Literary Modernism
ENGL 283: Introduction to Native American Literature
ENGL 288: Introduction to African-American Literature
ENGL 372: The Gilded Age
ENGL 378: Race in the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination
ENGL 379Y: American Literature
ENGL 380Y: American Literature
ENGL 382: The Jazz Age
ENGL 384: Imagining America in the Novel
ENGL 385: Contemporary American Poetry
ENGL 388: Studies in Twentieth-Century African-American Literature
ENGL 471: Hawthorne: Nation and Transnation in Hawthorne's Fiction
ENGL 472: The Confidence Game in America
ENGL 473: Faulkner
ENGL 483: Contemporary Indigenous American Poetry
ENGL 486: The Little Magazine in America
ENVS 112: Introduction to Environmental Studies
FILM 111: Introduction to Film
FILM 267: The Documentary
HIST 101D: United States History, 1492-1865
HIST 102D: United States History, 1865-Present
HIST 175: Early Black History
HIST 176: Contemporary Black History
HIST 205: U.S. Political History: the Great Depression and World War Two
HIST 208: U.S. Women's History
HIST 209: Native American History through History, Autobiography, Literature, and Film
HIST 210: History of the South, 1607-Present
HIST 275: World War II
HIST 310: The Civil War
HIST 312: Blacks in the Age of Jim Crow
HIST 313: Black Intellectuals
HIST 316: Jazz Age: 1900-1930
HIST 317: Gilded Age America: 1877-1900
HIST 356: Vietnam
HIST 391: Special Topic
HIST 400: American Revolution
HIST 411: The Civil Rights Era
PSCI 200D: Liberal Democracy in America
PSCI 301: The American Presidency
PSCI 304: News Media and American Politics
PSCI 309: American Political History
PSCI 310: Public Policy
PSCI 312: American Constitutional Law
PSCI 332: African-American Political Thought
PSCI 461: U.S. Defense Strategy Seminar
RLST 230: Religion and Society in America (U.S.)
RLST 232: Afro-Caribbean Spirituality
RLST 242: Afro-American Religions
RLST 332: African-American Religions
SOCY 104: Identity in American Society
SOCY 229D: Social Movements
SOCY 231: Issues of Gender and Power
SOCY 232: Sexual Harassment: Normative Expectations and Legal Questions
SOCY 244: Race, Ethnicity, and American Law
SOCY 246: American Folk Music
SOCY 250: Systems of Stratification
SOCY 421: Gender Stratification
SOCY 440: Blackface: The American Minstrel Show
SOCY 463: Intersectional Theory
SPAN 380: Introduction to Chicana/o Cultural Studies