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First-Year Guide

As an interdisciplinary department, American Studies draws faculty from, and cross-lists classes with, many other departments. The department offers both a major and a minor. You can decide to double major in American Studies and any other discipline of your choice (or major/minor), for example, history or political science. Cross-listed classes enable you to count credits in both disciplines.

Courses numbered 100-199 are designed for beginning students.

Mid-level courses (numbered 200-299) are also open to new students who have a special background or interest in the subject of the course. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Contact Person: Karin Aguilar-San Juan
Phone Number: 651-696-6148
Hours Available: By appointment
E-Mail Address: [email protected]

General Distribution Requirements

American Studies 110, 128, 210, 224, 230, 232, 233, 249, 331, 354, and 444 count toward the general distribution requirement in humanities. American Studies 100, 101, 103, 112, 203, 240, 250, 254, 264, 285, 300, 305, and 370 count toward the social science general distribution requirement. Any topics courses offered (at any level) require approval by the department to qualify for either distribution. Courses approved for the American studies major offered through other departments meet the general distribution requirements of that department.

Multiculturalism Requirement
Many courses in the American Studies department will satisfy the U.S. Multiculturalism requirement.

Typical First-Year Level Courses

100 Race, Class, and Sexuality in U.S. Feminisms

(Same as Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies 100)
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to a variety of feminist analyses of United States history and contemporary sociopolitical life, figured around the relationship of gender to race, class, sexuality, ability, colonialism, and nationalism. Through analytical reading, writing, and discussion, the course aims to develop an understanding of gender as a tool to organize society on the basis of difference and power and as a performative practice, which is also a mode of agency and activism for positive social change. Materials from history, literature, sociology, anthropology, and film are included. Spring semester. (4 credits)

101 Explorations of Race and Racism

The main objectives of this introductory course are: to explore the historical construction of racial categories in the United States; to understand the systemic impact of racism on contemporary social processes; to consider popular views about race in the light of emerging scholarship in the field; and to develop an ability to connect personal experiences to larger, collective realities. We will engage several questions as a group: What are the historical and sociological foundations of racial categories? When does focusing on race make someone racist? What is white privilege, and why does it matter? All students will be asked to think and write about their own racial identity. This course, or its equivalent, is required for majors and minors. No prerequisites. Spring semester. (4 credits)

103 The Problem of Race in U.S. Social Thought and Policy

This course has been developed as an entry-level exploration of the impact of race on contemporary U.S. public discourse. The course has two principle objectives: to create a forum that encourages individuals to articulate well-informed opinions and attitudes about race; and to locate those ideas in an analytic framework that promotes a shared understanding of race and racial inequality in the contemporary context. Offered Fall 2007 as a First Year Course only. (4 credits)

110 Introduction to African American Studies

This class will explore what it has meant to be African-American in the United States, and how this identity shaped Black community, thought, and life. This course, using a variety of disciplinary approaches, exposes students to issues and problems in the development of African-American identity, and provides students with theoretical tools and contextual sensibilities necessary for advanced courses and independent projects in African American Studies. Spring semester. (4 credits)

112 Sexuality, Race, and Nation: Introduction to Lesbian/Gray/Bisexual/Transgender and Queer Studies

(Same as Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies 110)

This course examines how sexuality, race, and nation relate in the lives of people in the United States, which we read in relation to histories of colonialism and globalization. Course material foreground scholarship, testimony, cultural work, and social movements by LGBT, two-spirit, same gender loving, and queer people of color, and by white LGBT and queer anti-racist allies. Their stories offer a template through which all students may examine how everyday life is shaped by sexuality, race, and nation—both as power relations, and as spaces for creating new identity and action. Every year. (4 credits)