AMERICAN STUDIES (AMS)
Professor James M. Salem, Chairperson
Office: 101 ten Hoor Hall
AMS 100 Special Topics. One to three hours.
Selected American topics for lower-division undergraduate students offered by American studies faculty members or supervised teaching assistants. Recent examples include Bluegrass Music in America, Contemporary American Youth, The Hollywood Western, Wealth in America, Love American Style, Psychedelic America, Oliver Stone's America, The Boys of Summer, First Freedoms, Murder She Solved, Race, Class, and Gender in Science Fiction, Gay/Lesbian Images in Popular Culture, The World of Robert Heinlein, Homicide: Life on TV, The Many Lives of Frederick Douglass, Murder in Miami, American Youth Culture, Civil War in Fiction, The Dukes of Hazzard, Mythology of Star Wars, Ellison's Invisible Man, Rock and Global Culture, and Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full, Black Masculinity, Jackie Robinson's Legacy, and The Blues.
Exploration of the relation between the arts — popular, folk, and elite — and American culture in four selected periods: Victorian America, the '20s and '30s, World War II and the Postwar Era, and the '60s. Class presentations and discussions revolve around novels, movies, slides, music, artifacts, and readings about the periods. This course, team-taught by all the members of the American studies faculty, is generally offered in the fall semester only.
AMS 151 Contemporary America. Three hours.
An analysis of the changing nature of American cultural values by examining the creative expression of the American people from the 1970s to the 1990. Students examine a variety of cultural "texts" selected from both elite and popular forms of expression in order to explore the values revealed, affirmed, disparaged, or altered by these works. Offered spring semester.
AMS 200 Special Topics. Three hours.
Selected American topics for lower-division undergraduate students offered by AMS faculty members or Americanists from related departments. Recent examples include Baseball in America, the Contemporary South, African-American Performance, Fields of Dreams, Popular Music in America, Southern Lives, Technology and Culture, The American Western, Lives in the Black South, The Asian American Experience, The American Road, Multimedia and Local History, The Arts in America, and The Sporting Life.
AMS 201 Introduction to African-American Studies (same as AAST 201). Three hours.
AMS 205 American Lives. Three hours.
Lecture/discussion course focusing on individual American lives as they are expressed in the personal forms of autobiographies, oral histories, diaries, and letters in order to explore the ethnic, gender, class, and regional richness and diversity of the American experience. Offered fall semester.
AMS 206 American Character. Three hours.
Lecture/discussion class concerned with the question of an American national character. What are Americans like? Are there attitudes and values that are held in common? Major topics include individualism and the community, mobility and change, and materialism and the American Dream. Texts are drawn from classic American literature. Offered spring semester.
AMS 251 American Folklore. Three hours.
Survey and analysis of such genres of American vernacular expression as legends, ghost tales, humor, music, and sermons, as they express and shape particular regional and/or ethnic American identities. Course materials include ethnographic writing, sound recordings, film, and folklore scholarship. Attention also given to the competing and sometimes contradictory definitions of "folk" culture from the 19th century to the present.
AMS 270 Photography and American Culture. Three hours.
Investigation of the history of photography in America from 1839 to the present. Topics include the manner in which Americans and their varieties of experience have been recorded and defined through the works of photographers; the multiple social/economic uses of photography; the beginnings and evolution of the art-photography movement; and the medium's influences on how Americans have perceived the world.
AMS 271 Film and American Culture. Three hours.
Interdisciplinary investigation of American culture through motion pictures, film history, and relevant cultural/historical documents. Focus on the ways in which films have reflected and influenced prevailing American attitudes and values. Variable focus on a specified theme, a genre, or representations of a particular American region.
Interdisciplinary investigation of the American popular music tradition with a primary focus on the evolution of jazz, blues, and the popular song in the context of American culture. Technical musical skills and training are not required.
An interdisciplinary investigation of the American popular music tradition in its commercial rhythm and blues and rock and roll idioms. Emphasis is on the relationship between these unique forms of expression and American culture and character. Technical musical skills and training are not required.
Prerequisite for 300-level courses: 6 hours in the department or permission of the instructor.
AMS 300 Special Topics. Three hours.
Selected American topics for advanced undergraduate students, offered by Department of American Studies faculty members or Americanists from related departments. Examples: Jewish-American Literature, Mobility in America, The American Folk Revival, Jazz and Jazz Life, Lesbian and Gay Cultures, The American West, Divorce and Stepfamilies, American Hobo Subculture, Southern Iconoclasts, Interracial Intimacies, World War II and Modern Memory, and African-American Folk Art.
An interdisciplinary investigation of the complexities of the African-American experience in American culture. The course explores important comparative questions about race and gender relations, the American education system, and the human condition.
AMS 302 The Black Church. Three hours.
A survey of mainstream Christian expressions of black spirituality as well as other forms of sacred collective consciousness. The study of local churches and theology is encouraged.
AMS 303 Education of Southern Blacks. Three hours.
The "miseducation" of Africans in American. This course explores education from West Africa at the middle of the second millennium and early American society down to the emergence of the separate but inferior school system of the 19th and 20th centuries.
AMS 304 Bob Marley: Alabama in Jamaica. Three hours.
A travel-study course that investigates the life of Bob Marley, with an emphasis on the arts of resistance to cultural and material domination as practiced and developed by the poorest people in the Black Atlantic. Immersion in Jamaican history and culture is essential methodology of the class.
AMS 319 P. T. Barnum's Century. Three hours.
Examines 19th-century American popular culture, as epitomized by the famous showman P. T. Barnum (1810-1891), by using Barnum as a prism to focus on how American culture offered spectacular possibilities for self-advancement and self-delusion.
AMS 330 American between the Wars. Three hours.
Explores the first two decades of America's "Modern Times" (1919 to 1941, when Americans redefined themselves and their society, embracing and debating (sometimes hotly) old beliefs, new conceptions, and the implications of a machine-driven modern mass society.
AMS 331 Writer and Artist in American Culture. Three hours.
Interdisciplinary exploration of key movements in 20th-century American literature and visual arts. Course materials will include selected works of literature (fiction, drama, poetry) and visual art (painting, sculpture, performance art), as well as position statements by writers, artists, and critics. Objectives include a better understanding of points of commonality and difference between artistic and literary treatments of similar themes, as well as the factors leading to transitions between distinctive cultural movements.
AMS 332 Popular Culture in America. Three hours.
The evolution of American popular culture since the late 18th century, considering the subject in its broad historical overview, defining and examining the origins of terms (popular culture, mass culture, elite culture, consumer society, culture producers, and culture consumers) and focusing in depth on historical examples that illuminate the content, forms, and functions of the popular culture of specific class, age, gender, and ethnic groups. Various media (theatre, movies, magazines, radio, television) and popular phenomena (manners, fashion, advertising, sport) are analyzed.
AMS 333 Contemporary American Filmmakers. Three hours.
An interdisciplinary investigation of American culture through the films of selected filmmakers working from the 1960s to the present. Their films reflect changes in the business of making films in Hollywood and reveal the changing behavior and values of Americans.
AMS 340 Women in the South. Three hours.
Examination of the cultural concepts, myths, and experiences of black and white Southern women from a variety of economic and social backgrounds. Special attention is given to the interaction of race, class, and gender in Southern women's lives. Texts include historical studies, autobiographies, biographies, oral histories, and novels written by and about women in the 19th- and 20th-century South.
AMS 345 WWII: The "Good War." Three hours.
Examination of selected topics from the American experience during the Second World War. Topics include the home front, the Holocaust, race relations, the emergence of American air power, and the impact of the war on American memory and postwar American society.
AMS 364 The Beatles Era. Three hours.
Interdisciplinary investigation of American culture from the Kennedy assassination in 1963 to the Kent State University massacre in 1970, using the popular cultural explosion of the Beatles as a prism that informs the whole.
AMS 367 The American Game. Three hours.
Lecture topics, readings, and classroom discussions pursue major connections between baseball and American society from 1880 to the present: 1) modernization of America and the rise of an urban, industrial game; 2) baseball and race; and 3) post-war America and the baseball.
AMS 380 Technology in American Culture. Three hours.
Investigates how computer technology changes the way Americans think about ourselves, interact with the world, and think about our cultural institutions. In turn, by thinking about the computer as a cultural artifact, we can help to shape it, rather than having it shape us.
Prerequisite for 400-level courses: 12 hours in the department or permission of the instructor.
AMS 400 Internship. One to three hours.
Prerequisite: Permission of the departmental chairperson.
Offered pass/fail. An internship opportunity that combines independent study and practical fieldwork experience focusing on a particular problem or topic related to American culture and experience. Examples are internships in archival fieldwork, material culture fieldwork, museum management, and sound recordings, and internship with Alabama Heritage magazine. Credits earned in this course are not applicable to the major or minor in American studies.
AMS 402 Special Topics in African-American Studies. Three hours.
Selected African-American topics for advanced undergraduate students.
Prerequisite: Sponsorship of a faculty member.
Internship opportunity that combines guided and independent study with on- or off-campus research experience involving a particular methodological approach to American culture and experience. Examples are social science methods, oral history, original manuscript research, and technology.
AMS 405:406 Directed Study. One to three hours each semester.
Prerequisite: Sponsorship of a faculty member.
AMS 430 Special Topics. One to three hours.
Selected American topics for advanced undergraduate majors in American Studies, offered by AMS faculty members or Americanists from related departments.
AMS 450 Women in America. Three hours.
A lecture/discussion course on the role of women in American culture focusing on some of the major social and cultural contributions of women from all backgrounds and walks of life. The class will question the historic roles of women in America and discuss how the status of women reflects on society as a whole. Most of the readings center on the 20th century and the relationships between individual women and the cultural networks in which they participate and which they help create.
AMS 485 American Experience, 1620-1865. Three hours.
An exploration of the formative years of the American cultural experience, from early European encounters with the New World to the attainment of continental nationhood. The course will draw upon insights from many disciplines and will include several kinds of cultural evidence (for example: literature, art, and photography; religious, political, and social thought and behavior; economic, technological, and geographical development) as well as consideration of recent major synthetic works of cultural scholarship. Topics covered include the growth of colonial societies; the Revolutionary movement and the political foundations of the American republic; the Market Revolution and the rise of middle-class culture; the antebellum South and the emerging West; and the origins and evolution of American cultural diversity. Offered fall semester.
AMS 486 American Experience, 1865-1960. Three hours.
An exploration of the development of American cultural experience since 1865, focusing on the major material forces and intellectual currents that helped to shape American attitudes, assumptions, institutions, behavior, and values. The course will draw upon insights from many disciplines and will include several kinds of cultural evidence (for example: literature, art, and photography; religious, political, and social thought and behavior; economic, technological, and geographical development) as well as consideration of recent major synthetic works of cultural scholarship. Topics addressed and readings assigned are chosen to enlarge awareness of the transformation of America to a diverse, metropolitan, industrial society. These will include the relationship between nature and the city, the industrial revolution and changes in the workplace, immigration, changing class and gender relationships, the rise of leisure, and the development and triumph of modern corporate/consumer culture. Offered spring semester.
AMS 491 American Period Seminar. Three hours.
In-depth study of a particular period or era in American historical experience. Recent examples include the Ragtime Era, the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, the Season of 1954-55, the '60s, Contemporary America, the Romantic Revolutionaries (1905-14), the Postwar Era, American Avant Garde, the South and '30s Expression, the Civil Rights Movement, the '50s, the American '20s, America between the Wars, the Colonial Period, and the Aspirin Age.
AMS 492 American Topic Seminar. Three hours.
Study of special topics within the American cultural experience. Recent examples include American Thought, Sports in American Life, American Perspectives on the Environment, Women in America, the Civil Rights Movement, the Picture Press, Music and Ethnicity, the Politics of Culture, Regionalism, the Changing American Family, Homelessness in America, American Autobiography, American Monuments, Southern Popular Culture, Politics and Culture, Historical Memory, America by Design, The Other in America, Women in America, and Race in America.