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Bard College Catalogue, 2019–20
Christian Ayne Crouch (director), Myra Young Armstead, Thurman Barker, Alex Benson, Yuval Elmelech, Jeanette Estruth, Elizabeth Frank, Simon Gilhooley, Donna Ford Grover, Christopher R. Lindner, Peter L’Official, Allison McKim, Matthew Mutter, Joel Perlmann, Susan Fox Rogers, Julia Rosenbaum, Tom Wolff
The American Studies Program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of culture and society in the United States. Students take courses in a wide range of fields with the aim of learning how to study this complex subject in a sensitive and responsible way. In the introductory courses, students develop the ability to analyze a broad spectrum of materials, including novels, autobiographies, newspapers, photographs, films, songs, and websites. In the junior seminar and Senior Project, students identify and integrate relevant methodologies from at least two disciplines, creating modes of analysis appropriate to their topics. By graduation, students should have developed a base of knowledge about the past and present conditions of the American experience both at home and abroad.
Before Moderation, students must take American Studies 101, Introduction to American Studies, American Studies 102, Introduction to American Culture and Values, and at least two other courses focusing on the United States. After Moderation, they must take at least two more courses on the United States and at least two courses on non-U.S. national cultures. One post-Moderation course on the United States must be a junior seminar; a second junior seminar in a different division is strongly encouraged. Every junior seminar culminates in a 20- to 25-page paper in which students bring multiple analytical frameworks to bear on a subject of their choice. At least two of the students’ total U.S.-focused courses must emphasize the period before 1900. In order to ensure a variety of perspectives on students’ work, both the Moderation and Senior Project boards must consist of faculty members drawn from more than one division.
Recent Senior Projects in American Studies
- “Graphic Myths: Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 and America’s Media Culture”
- “King Cake: A Look at the Cake that Gave Mardi Gras Its Flavor”
- “The Wife of a General: LaSalle Pickett and the Great American She Created”
Introduction to American Studies
American Studies 101
CROSS-LISTED: AFRICANA STUDIES, EXPERIMENTAL HUMANITIES, HISTORICAL STUDIES
The cries of “No taxation without representation!” and the celebration of the American Revolution make the transformation of English North America into “these United States of America” seem like a seamless process. In reality, the process was fraught, violent, and uncertain. The class traces this history, beginning with English piracy in the Caribbean (the first attempts to claim an empire in the Western Hemisphere) and concluding with the early republic. The implications of colonial history on such flashpoint issues as migration and indigenous rights are also addressed.
Introduction to American Culture and Values
American Studies 102
This course develops the assumption that Americans define their differences more through their culture than their politics or else they politicize their cultural differences. Examples studied include the Scopes trial and battles over drugs, abortion rights, and environmental justice.
Art, Animals, Anthropocene
American Studies 102
CROSS-LISTED: EXPERIMENTAL HUMANITIES
DESIGNATED: THINKING ANIMALS INITIATIVE
From species extinction to radioactive soil and climate change, we are now in the age of the Anthropocene. This recently proposed geologic period refers to the ways in which human activities have dramatically impacted every ecosystem on Earth. What does it mean to visually interpret our more-than-human world and explore the complicated encounters between human and nonhuman animals? Students experiment with interdisciplinary practices of art making in order to grapple with ways in which our understanding of other species relates to human self-understanding.
American Studies 314
This course examines the social, religious, economic, and political forces that helped shape the Spiritualist movement, which began in 1848 with a series of mysterious raps and a pair of young women from Rochester, New York. Readings include works by William James, who attempted to place Spiritualism within the legitimate scientific community; and Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and William Dean Howells, whose novels provide a critique of the movement and demonstrate its cultural impact.