Graduate Semester Course Offerings

Find the complete American Studies Department course slate on the Registrar's Schedule of Classes. Check back for more course descriptions throughout the registration period.

Fall 2021 Courses

Elaine Peña

M 5:10-7:00PM

CRN: 61799

This course is an intensive introduction to the history, debates, and methodologies that are central to the field of American Studies. Seminar participants will analyze key texts and debates, explore ways to redefine the canon of American Studies scholarship, and design new pathways for research.  This course is restricted to graduate students in American Studies.

Melani McAlister 

W 5:10-7:00PM

CRN: 62981

This course examines a range of theoretical and methodological tools for the study of culture, from Marxism and semiotics to queer theory and affect studies. The course is designed to teach students about the theoretical debates that led into and out of the classical work of the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies in the 1970s and 1980s, showing how Marxism, feminism, and other frameworks helped to shape the field at its founding, then exploring the many directions that “cultural studies” has taken in the decades since. Students will read Stuart Hall, Walter Benjamin, Adorno & Horkheimer, Frederick Jameson, Roland Barthes, and Paul Gilroy, as well as Hazel Carby, E. Patrick Johnson, Donna Haraway, Jennifer Nash, Ramzi Fawaz, Inderpal Grewal, Jaspir Puar, and others.

Theodore Gonzalves 

T 5:10-7:00PM

CRN: 65604

This course uses a comparative method to examine three archipelagic formations of U.S. empire, locations which are not often studied in direct relation to each other. The course hopes to tackle at least two broad themes: How do islands matter in the historical emergence of U.S. continental power, and what are examples of resistance unique to each location? How can the study of U.S. empire's islands inform our understanding of present-day efforts to win sovereignty and sustain memory? Prior experience in Asian American studies, Pacific Islander studies, and/or Latin American studies is preferred.

Suleiman Osman

R 5:10-7:00

CRN: 67693

What is the city? How have writers, reformers, theorists, planners and everyday residents

analyzed, represented and inhabited the modern metropolis? Students will read scholarship on

the social and cultural history of American cities, as well as theoretical works by authors such as Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, Henri Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, WEB DuBois, Doreen Massey and David Harvey.Registration restricted to graduate students

Katherine Ott

W 1:30-3:30PM

CRN: 67694

The world is populated by things. The objects that surround us are as strange, lovable, and scary as the people. People have always used objects to learn about and integrate themselves into the human community. This course explores the world of material culture -- where things come from, why they are made the way they are, their afterlife in recycling and regifting, and how we value them or not. Using history, we'll explore the major theories, issues and diverse viewpoints and practices in the field of material culture. And we meet at the Smithsonian.


Spring 2021 Courses

Suleiman Osman

R 4:10-6:00

CRN: 11890

In this graduate research seminar, students write, discuss and revise a research paper on a topic in twentieth-century American Studies. The 20-30 page final paper will be an article-length essay of publishable quality based on original research.

 

David Bjelajac

M 3:30-6:00

CRN: 17723

This research seminar explores the visual arts in relation to a wide range of aesthetic religious experiences and magical, occult sciences. Trained in occult craft mysteries, spiritually devout artists participated in collective, utopian projects for perfecting humankind and nature from a “fallen” wilderness state as described in the biblical story of Adam and Eve.  Renaissance humanists and early modern (16th-18th century) practitioners of the arts and sciences diverged from the orthodox Christian doctrine of human depravity inherited from the “original sin” of eating forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  European discovery of the Americas, global maritime exploration and capitalist, commercial development of previously “wilderness” territories suggested the possible recovery and perfection of paradise for White colonial settlers and their sponsoring imperial governments, all at the expense of indigenous “savages” and enslaved peoples.  Though White European settlers generally denigrated and dehumanized people of color, some artists painted portraits of Native Americans which suggested not only the semi-nude sitters’ quasi-classical nobility but also their sphinxlike possession of ancient, occult wisdom akin to European folklore secrets.  Boston-born artist John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) painted non-caricatured portraits of black Africans that conjure associations with the mysteries of alchemy, astrology and ancient Ethiopian lore from biblical and classical sources.  The seminar considers the importance of alchemy and astrology for the arts within the larger metaphysical tradition of an ancient theology or divine wisdom (pansophist) literature legendarily originating with the Egyptian god of writing, Thoth, a moon god, whom the Greeks and Romans would identify with the Egyptian magus Hermes (aka Mercurius) Trismegistus.  This “thrice great” Hermes purportedly authored the Hermetica, a collection of theological-philosophical texts that inspired generations of humanists, alchemists, Rosicrucians, scientists, antiquarians, freemasons, theosophists and writers from novelist Laurence Sterne to philosophers G.W.F Hegel and Gilles Deleuze.  Identified with Hermes and Mercury, Greco-Roman gods of all arts and sciences, the Egyptian Hermes envisioned an archetypal “Hermetic Man” comparable to the biblical Adam before the Fall.  The Hermetica’s seminal text, Pymander, or Poimandres, pronounced the Creator’s, or divine mind’s “essential man” as “androgyne because he comes from an androgyne father [god or mind]”. The Hebraic account of Creation similarly suggested that Adam was an androgyne, who embodied both male and female genders, a union of opposites “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). America’s edenic, “primitive purity” purportedly foretold millennial progress toward retrieval of Adam’s god-like wisdom and power in naming all of nature’s creatures.  American artists and collectors tended to privilege White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant values as well as masculine creativity over the feminine.  In alchemy and fine arts, the androgyne ideal traditionally possessed a masculine bias.  Cultivating an androgynous persona, the Harvard-educated artist/writer Washington Allston (1779-1843) painted pictures that blurred material boundaries, thereby inspiring later Gilded Age “tonalist painters”.  Allston claimed the Venetian Renaissance secret of color, the “philosopher’s stone” of painting.  Initiates into Venetian craft secrets transmuted opaque, earthly pigments into luminous oil glazes of ethereal tonal harmonies. Eluding cognitive naming, Allston’s tones analogically alluded to the divine “Word…made flesh” from St. John’s Gospel (1:14), a New Testament book that biblical scholars have interpreted in relation to Hermeticism.

 


Fall 2020 Courses

Elaine Peña

T 1:10-3:00PM

CRN: 51964

This course is an intensive introduction to the history, debates, and methodologies that are central to the field of American Studies. Seminar participants will analyze key texts and debates, explore ways to redefine the canon of American Studies scholarship, and design new pathways for research.  This course is restricted to graduate students in American Studies.

Nicole Ivy

M 5:10-7:00PM

CRN: 53417


This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of how representations of the human physical form as well as ideas about what constitutes appropriate bodies are continually re-shaped by U.S. cultural, political, social, and economic discourse. The assigned coursework will present specific theoretical emphasis on race, gender, sexuality, labor, ability, and class. During the course of this graduate seminar, we will take up key concepts associated with theories of the body in cultural studies including, but not limited to: waste, surveillance, performance, and the embodiment of the citizen/alien dynamic.

Theodore Gonzalves 

T 6:10-8:00PM

CRN: 57107


This course uses a comparative method to examine three archipelagic formations of U.S. empire, locations which are not often studied in direct relation to each other. The course hopes to tackle at least two broad themes: How do islands matter in the historical emergence of U.S. continental power, and what are examples of resistance unique to each location? How can the study of U.S. empire's islands inform our understanding of present-day efforts to win sovereignty and sustain memory? Prior experience in Asian American studies, Pacific Islander studies, and/or Latin American studies is preferred.

David Bjelajac

T 1:00-3:30PM

CRN: 55795

The development of art history as a discipline from the eighteenth century to the present. An  investigation of different art historical methodologies, including formal analysis, iconological, feminist, Marxist, semiotic and deconstructivist approaches.


Spring 2020 Courses 

Gayle Wald

T 9:10-11:00

CRN: 76035

This new course pairs texts from the African American literary canon with defining works of late 20th-century and contemporary black studies, particularly as they emerge in and through literary studies. We will read a selection of literary texts by writers such as Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Charles Chesnutt, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison. Our critical texts might include works by Fred Moten, Saidiya Hartman, Henry Louis Gates, Hazel Carby, and Hortense Spillers. 

 

 

Amber Musser

T 5:10-7:00

CRN: 76036

Race and Aesthetics uses blackness and colonization as two lenses through which to examine how racialized people have used aesthetics in relation to practices of resistance. We will discuss particular aesthetic strategies in image making, performance, and the literary arts that have been associated by minoritarian subjects in the long twentieth century. Specific attention will be given to the relationship between race, aesthetics, and queerness.  

 

 

Theo Gonzalves

T 5:10-7:00

CRN: 77590

This course uses a comparative method to examine three archipelagic formations of U.S. empire, locations which are not often studied in direct relation to each other. The course hopes to tackle at least two broad themes: How do islands matter in the historical emergence of U.S. continental power, and what are examples of resistance unique to each location? How can the study of U.S. empire's islands inform our understanding of present-day efforts to win sovereignty and sustain memory? Prior experience in Asian American studies, Pacific Islander studies, and/or Latin American studies is preferred.

 

Melani McAlister

W 3:10-5:00

CRN: 78403

This interdisciplinary course examines humanism, human rights, and post-humanism, bringing together historical studies, cultural and political theory, religious studies scholarship, and popular culture. It explores the ways in which “the human” has been a category in political thought and religious life, from the rise of European humanism to the history of human rights thinking in the US and around the world. It explores anxieties about the human/non-human boundary in popular culture, from robots to animal rights. It also considers the emergence of post-humanism in cultural theory, scientific discourse, environmental politics, and speculative fiction. The readings will be broad, including highly theoretical texts, historical scholarship, and fiction/film. We will ask what kind of cultural work the category of the human has done and (perhaps) continues to do, and what are the stakes in challenges to its centrality. Theoretical readings will likely include T. Adorno & M. Horkheimer, J. Bennett, D. Fassin, D. Haraway, B. Latour, A. Tsing, and C. Warren. Cultural texts will range from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein to Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner to Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death. And histories may include work by S. Hartman, L. Heerten, and S. Moyn, among others.

 

Tom Guglielmo

R 4:10-6:00

CRN: 72020

This is a graduate research seminar on the broad subject of American studies. We will focus on individual research and writing—and on reading and commenting on each other’s work. The central course goal is for each student to produce a primary-source research paper that, with slight revision, can be—and will be—submitted to a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal for publication. We will work collaboratively and deliberately—moving from central questions and reviews of relevant scholarship to formal proposals and first and second drafts. At term’s end, you should have produced a paper that you’re not only proud of, but one that you’re ready, or close to ready, to send out into the wider scholarly world.

 

Fall 2019 Courses 

Suleiman Osman

R 5:10-7:00PM

CRN: 92073

This course is an intensive introduction to the history, debates, and methodologies that are central to the field of American Studies. Students will analyze key texts, explore ways to redefine the canon of American Studies scholarship, and begin to formulate ideas for future research. This course is restricted to graduate students in American Studies.

 

Dara Orenstein

M 5:10-7:00PM

CRN: 93770

If it's the economy, stupid, then what's race got to do with it?  How has the accumulation of capital required the reproduction of race, both in and beyond the nation-state?  How has racial commodification shaped the value form of capital and the category of the human? What difference has difference made in the expansion of (and resistance to) global capitalism?  These and other questions inspire Cedric Robinson’s claim that “the development, organization, and expansion of capitalist society pursued essentially racial directions.” We will explore Robinson’s theory of “racial capitalism" in this reading-intensive seminar, first in the context of chattel slavery in the United States, and then across an array of more contemporary sites, from the prison industrial complex to domestic labor.

 

Elisabeth Anker

T 10:40-12:30PM

CRN: 98325

The topic of this year’s seminar will be “Freedom and Domination”.  Freedom is one of the most contested of political terms, and is taken to mean everything from individual self-mastery to the radically collective emancipatory overthrow of domination. This course will examine these varied interpretations of freedom, with specific focus on how the promise of freedom often, paradoxically, justifies war, domination, slavery, and oppression.  We will focus on freedom in relation to slavery, property, settler colonialism and decolonization, black feminism, indigenous political movements, and global empire. We will also examine concepts and practices of freedom that support emancipatory, world-making, and transformative action in historical and contemporary contexts. Readings to include John Locke, Karl Marx, CLR James, Saidiya Hartman, Lauren Berlant, Fred Moten, LeeAnne Simpson, Hannah Arendt, Orlando Patterson, and others.

 

Sylvea Hollis

T 5:10-7:00PM

CRN: 97033

This graduate seminar explores the usefulness of gender and sexuality as categories of analysis in American culture. Focusing on the period since the Civil War, we will read broadly across the field of sexuality and gender studies in US social and cultural history, performance studies, ethnography, media and popular culture studies, and critical theory. We will examine the roles that gender and sexuality have played in shaping American culture from the late- nineteenth to the early-twenty-first century; the extent to which modernity and postmodernity gave rise to new categories of sexual and gender identity and experience; and the historically shifting meanings and cultural representations that have marked sexual difference. We will pay particular attention to the intersection of gender and sexuality with race, class, religion, citizenship, and the body; the spatial organization of gender and sexuality in relation to the city, the suburbs, the state, and globalization; and the role that cultural discourses and products— possibly including music, television, film, print media, stage performances, medicine, science, and the law—play in shaping the popular understanding of sexuality and gender and vice versa.

 

Katherine Ott

W 1:30-3:30

CRN: 91831

The world is populated by things. The objects that surround us are as strange, lovable, and scary as the people. People have always used objects to learn about and integrate themselves into the human community. This course explores the world of material culture -- where things come from, why they are made the way they are, their afterlife in recycling and regifting, and how we value them or not. Using history, we'll explore the major theories, issues and diverse viewpoints and practices in the field of material culture. And we meet at the Smithsonian. 

David Bjelajac

T 02:30PM - 05:00PM

CRN: 97034

The development of art history as a discipline from the eighteenth century to the present. An investigation of different art historical methodologies, including formal analysis, iconological, feminist, Marxist, semiotic and deconstructivist approaches.

Spring 2019 Courses

James Deutsch

Monday 6:10-8:00

CRN: 47295

This graduate-level seminar will explore the intellectual history of the academic field of folklore and folklife study in the United States. It will trace the rise of interpretation starting in the second half of the nineteenth century and conclude with contemporary times. Student presentations and discussions will focus on key figures in folklore theory whose careers illustrate particular interpretive techniques and positions. In addition to participation in class discussions, students will be expected to write a seminar paper (20-25 pages) on some aspect of American folklore scholarship and practice. The specific topic for the seminar paper will be selected in consultation with the instructor. The class will meet at a Smithsonian Institution facility near L'Enfant Plaza SW.

Amber Musser

Tuesday 6:10-8:00

CRN: 47296

This seminar brings together theoretical texts to examine the issue of precarity as a biopolitical formation. This means understanding precarity as a form of structural vulnerability enabled and sustained by neoliberalism, racialization, gender, and sexuality. In order to plumb the complex theoretical and political dimensions of precarity, we will focus on recent texts in affect studies, queer of color critique, and black studies in order to compare and contrast relations to queer theory, methodological commitments, and analyses of biopolitics.

Jamie Cohen-Cole

Friday 11:10-1:00

CRN: 42131

This is a research seminar in which students will write original research papers on an aspect of the cultural role of science, technology and/or medicine (STM) in America. STM has been, variously, a repository of truth and political authority, a means of imagining futures, a source of values, and site of conflict. If STM fields and their products have loomed large in American culture – even, to some, defining it – these fields have not been unmoved movers. The fields are subject to cultural and political forces and themselves have internal subcultures that are accessible to cultural critique just as much as any other aspect of American life. Thus a premise of the class is that STM and American culture, society, and politics mutually constitute one another. In writing original research papers, students may rely on sources ranging from archival materials to literary fiction, visual media, and/or material culture. We will begin by reading exemplary secondary articles that illustrate methods for the cultural analysis of STM. In certain cases, the best expression of methods has been written by historians who have looked at earlier periods. In those instances, we will examine both the methodological exemplars and the studies on American science. Students will then engage in individual research projects of their own choosing that are based in primary sources and that address important scholarly issues related to the role of STM in American culture.

David Bjelajac

Tuesday 3:30-6:00

CRN: 44140

This course explores the visual arts in relation to a wide range of natural/human sciences and socio-economic, ecological phenomena. Common readings will address the manner in which artists, designers and cultural reformers variously envisioned human bodies and nature’s resources in aesthetic terms adapted to capitalist development and transcontinental, transoceanic expansion. Covering several centuries, the course considers American landscapes, seascapes and representations of the West, which privileged white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant values. In vernacular architecture, humble log cabins and elaborate log structures bore conflicting symbolic meanings. The seminar examines Transcendentalist nature religion and post-Darwinian evolutionary theories of human development involving issues of race, class and gender. Inspired by Asian, African, and Native American art, Modernist painters and sculptors cultivated primitive, pre-rational experiences, which mysteriously seemed to correspond with the new subatomic physics of nature’s invisible, alchemical energies. For neurologists and psychologists, the visual arts assumed therapeutic value in treating neurasthenia or nervous disorders caused by the urban, capitalist distancing of American civilization from its mythic rootedness as “nature’s nation”.

 


Fall 2018 Courses

Chad Heap

W, 5:10-7:00

CRN: 22263

This course is an intensive introduction to the history, debates, and methodologies that are central to the field of American Studies. Students will analyze key texts, explore ways to redefine the canon of American Studies scholarship, and begin to formulate ideas for future research. This course is restricted to graduate students in American Studies.

Melani McAlister

T, 5:10-7:00

CRN: 24191

This course examines a range of theoretical and methodological tools for the study of culture, from Marxism and semiotics to queer theory and affect studies. The course is designed to teach students about the theoretical debates that led into and out of the classical work of the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies in the 1970s and 1980s, showing how Marxism, feminism, and other frameworks helped to shape the field at its founding, then exploring the many directions that “cultural studies” has taken in the decades since. Students will read Stuart Hall, Walter Benjamin, Adorno & Horkheimer, Frederick Jameson, Roland Barthes, and Paul Gilroy, as well as Hazel Carby, E. Patrick Johnson, Donna Haraway, Jennifer Nash, Ramzi Fawaz, Inderpal Grewal, Jaspir Puar, and others.

Nicole Ivy

M, 5:10-7:00

CRN: 26932

Interdisciplinary exploration of how representations of the physical form shape and are shaped by U.S. cultural, political, social, and economic discourse. Theoretical emphasis on race, gender, sexuality, labor, ability, and class.

Suleiman Osman

R, 5:10-7:00

CRN: 26934

What is the city? How have writers, reformers, theorists, planners and everyday residents analyzed, represented and inhabited the modern metropolis? Students will read scholarship on the social and cultural history of American cities, as well as theoretical works by authors such as Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, Henri Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, WEB DuBois, Doreen Massey and David Harvey.Registration restricted to graduate students.

Katherine Ott

W, 1:30–3:30

CRN: 22000

This class is an introduction to the major theories, issues, and diverse viewpoints and practices in the field of material culture. Material culture refers to the objects and artifacts that populate the tactile and visual environment. Material culture is a form of evidence poorly understood and often dismissed, yet it is the primary component of the sensory world – it is through objects and images that people learn about and integrate themselves into the human community. Material culture carries and creates meaning. Some artifacts, such as the refrigerator, the spinning wheel, and the contraceptive pill, initiate new systems and support cultural transitions. Other objects, such as a wedding ring or a judge’s gavel, convey complex symbolic meanings. Still others, such as photographs and clothing, create personal identity. We will study the range of these relationships with material things. Registration restricted to graduate students. The class is taught by a Smithsonian history curator and meets off campus; contact Professor Ott at [email protected] for location details

 



Spring 2018 Courses

Jamie Cohen-Cole

R, 12:00-2:00

CRN: 34184

It is now commonplace in popular and scholarly discourse to draw metaphors which link humans and their communities, institutions, and forms of governance to the structures of individual machines and the networks works that connect them. By providing a language to describe nature, machines, individuals, and society in common terms, the ideas of cybernetics and computers have been means of conceptual transfer that has enabled a wide range of critical theories in cultural studies including models of the "encoding and decoding" of cultural texts to ideas of post-humanness, classical and neoliberalism, the anthropocene, and object oriented ontology. In so doing, computers and information technologies have facilitated the reimagining and reordering of the individual, the social, the institutional, and the state. So too have the cybernetic and computer sciences been central to the structural evolution of the academic-military-industrial complex and reshaped established a number of disciplines across the humanities, physical, biological, social and human sciences. This course provides an introduction to the human/machine metaphor, to its applications, and of how meanings of the metaphor have varied historically based the specific sub-cultural locations of their origination, application, and interpretation.

Dara Orenstein

T, 6:30-8:20

CRN: 32275

A single book—Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains—anchors this graduate research seminar. In just the five months since its publication in June, Maclean’s intellectual and political biography of the economist James Buchanan has stirred up tremendous controversy, with its arguments and even its author's integrity debated in tweets, blogs, op-eds, petitions, and talk shows. We will work collaboratively to study the book and the furor surrounding it as a way to grapple both with the specific topics that MacLean investigates— conservatism, libertarianism, regionalism, the New South, the Beltway, the Radical Right, state violence, desegregation, white supremacy, massive resistance, education “reform” and school “choice,” think tanks, the Koch brothers—as well as with the general challenges of academic scholarship, such as how to develop a research question, how to identify and interpret primary sources, how to dialogue with other scholars, and how to distill half-baked hunches into clear, persuasive prose. The seminar will function like a laboratory, in that students will pursue individual projects as spin- offs from our collective case study. These projects will touch on MacLean’s historical concerns, however loosely, and/or will explore the meta-problem of what counts as academic authority in the age of fake news. The goal GRADUATE COURSES 2 AMST Spring 2018 will be to produce essays of 7,000-10,000 words, based on original research and intended for submission to journals, and drafts of which we will workshop with each other at the end of the semester. Midway through the semester, we will dialogue with MacLean in person.

Suleiman Osman

W,6:10-8:00

CRN: 32726

Elisabeth Anker

W, 2:00-4:00

CRN: 38199

Each year the course has a different theme, and this year it will be on neoliberalism, a political- economic-social system organized by the politics of freedom...especially the freedom of money over people. We'll ask: what are the cultural practices that have shaped the politics of neoliberalism? This class will examine the history, theory, cultural production and political imaginary of capitalism as and neoliberalism. We will emphasize the gendered and racialized forms of neoliberalism, with a focus on consumption, mass incarceration, work and welfare, the privatization of public life especially in education and politics, transnational capital, global migration, climate change, and self-help literature. The first half of the class will examine central texts for the cultural study of capitalism and neoliberalism. The second half of the class will focus on cutting-edge American Studies scholarship.

Richard Longstreth

M, 3:30-6:00

CRN: 37354

During the fifteen-year period after World War II, the shape and character of the American landscape experienced profound changes. The highly centralized organization of cities that had dominated growth patterns since the early republic began decisively to shift to more diffuse patterns.Industrial production became ever more scattered and relied on sophisticated technological processes. Corporate offices likewise were relocating into what were formerly considered rural or quasi-rural sites. Retail activities regrouped along arteries far removed from the city center. Suburban residential development occurred at an accelerated pace and for the first time lay within reach of a major segment of the populace. At the same time, the urban core was experiencing accelerated decay and became subject to massive clearance programs. Central and outlying sections alike were shaped and reshaped by massive highway construction programs. A variety of renewal programs captured the limelight, but few proved effective in reversing the prevalent trend. Design was also experiencing significant changes. Only recently cast as extreme and freakish, avant-garde modernism rose to the fore in architectural training and also in building campaigns for commerce, industry, and education. The United States now led the world in fostering a rich spectrum of approaches to design that made the environment of preceding decades seem markedly dated. Among other topics explored are the impact of widespread motor vehicle use on the metropolis, the rise of a mass consumer market for goods and housing, fundamental shifts in popular taste, critical views of the city, and the undercurrent of persistence in traditional patterns of settlement. This year the seminar will focus on the dualities of the boom in outlying areas and the decline of inner-city areas. The growth of the 3 AMST Spring 2018 periphery beyond the traditional scope of bedroom communities (suburbs in the nineteenth century sense) will be explored. No less attention will be given to efforts at urban revitalization through commercial and institutional projects as well as efforts to lure the middle-class in-town and to segregate the poor. Participants may choose from a wide range of topics concerning architecture, landscape, and urbanism, as well as cultural, economic, social, and technological factors that have an impact on the built environment for their research paper.

David Bjelajac

T, 3:30-6:00

CRN: 34639

Four decades ago, Edward Said’s seminal book Orientalism (1978) established a binary analytical paradigm for explaining how academicians and governments in the West constructed cultural “otherness” or subordinating stereotypes of “the Orient.” This ideology of western superiority served to justify European and American imperialism in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia as a whole. More recent, revisionist scholarship, has transformed the dualistic model of western Orientalist constructs to comprise a heterogeneous range of cultural, ideological positions that are dependent upon the contingencies of specific historical traditions, geo-political interests and aesthetic, religious practices. Americans from the colonial period onward have defined themselves in relation to the ancient Israelites and the biblical history of the Holy Land. The pyramid decorating the Great Seal of the United States and the obelisks of the Bunker Hill and Washington Monuments suggest national rootedness in ancient Egyptian wisdom. On the other hand, the seminar will also explore Orientalism in terms of political resistance to oppression. African-Americans identified with Hebraic opposition to slavery, but they also later celebrated Egyptian art and architecture in conjunction with civil-rights activism and Ethiopia’s victory over Italian colonialism at the Battle of Adowa (1896). The seminar will also consider nineteenth-century feminist sculptors’ sympathetic representations of powerful, yet tragic, orientalist heroines such as Cleopatra and Zenobia, the third-century Queen of Palmyra resisting Roman domination of the Middle East. In commissioning history paintings, landscapes and sculptures for the United States Capitol, Supreme Court and other public buildings, politically dominant white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) fused the traditional imperial trope of civilization’s westward course with Christian and Masonic transnational notions of millennial progress to forge the expansionist ideology of America’s Manifest Destiny, which undergirded “open-door” world trade or “dollar diplomacy.” The seminar will end by exploring the visual culture of Orientalism in relation to U.S. imperial conquest of the Philippines, the post-WWI propaganda campaign against communism, and, finally, the the advent of the Cold War marked by the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In response to the atomic bombings and the wartime internment of Japanese-American citizens, many painters, sculptors and Beat Generation artists campaigned against nuclear weapons. African-American civil rights activists linked their use in Japan to American segregationist policies and to the nation’s pervasive domestic racism, which further fueled the Cold War and U.S. imperial ambitions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.