American Studies Program

Courses of Study

AM117j    Fundamentals of Screenwriting An introduction to the craft of writing film scripts, with a strong emphasis on screenplay format and the three-act structure. Besides studying films and screenplays, students will complete exercises in character development, scene construction, dialogue, and description. The final project will be a complete script for a short (no longer than 30 pages) three-act feature film. Two credit hours. Wilson
[AM135B]    Space, Place, and New York City Examines New York City using the twin concepts of place and space. Pivots on the escalating significance of place in a world of modernization and globalization. Explores New York as an economic and cultural control center and considers how New York capitalists produce space near and far. Investigates expressions and consequences (positive and negative) of global capitalism on city streets, and examines how place and the built environment construct cultural and political identity. Discussion-based. Students develop skills of spatial, material, textual, and historical analysis and critical writing. Four credit hours. S, W1.
AM171fs    Introduction to American Studies An introduction to methods and themes in American studies, the interdisciplinary examination of past and present United States culture. A wide selection of cultural texts from all periods of American history explore the dynamic and contested nature of American identity. Literary, religious, and philosophical texts, historical documents, material objects, works of art and music, and varied forms of popular culture are studied, with a focus on what it means, and has meant, to be an American. Prerequisite: First-year or sophomore standing. Four credit hours. U. Lisle, Saltz
[AM214]    African-American Elites and Middle Classes Listed as Sociology 214. Three credit hours. S, U.
AM217s    Religion in the Americas Listed as Religious Studies 217. Four credit hours. H. Harper
AM221s    Mapping Waterville This interdisciplinary humanities lab combines geographical and architectural fieldwork, historical research, digital mapping, and storytelling. Waterville is our learning space. Students work collaboratively to analyze the town's material and spatial character, track and explain changes across time, locate Waterville in broader contexts of urban and social change, and publish interpretations online using a range of digital tools and platforms. Four credit hours. H. Lisle
[AM222]    Maine's Musical Soundscapes: Ethnography of Maine Listed as Music 222. Four credit hours. A.
[AM224]    Practice of Digital Scholarship A humanities lab that explores the concepts, methods, and tools of digital scholarship. Students learn how to create and manage digital archives, map cultural artifacts and landscapes, data-mine textual sources, and produce media-rich online projects. We combine archival investigation (in Colby's Special Collections), ethnographic fieldwork, and technical skill building with interdisciplinary modes of analysis drawn from history, geography, and cultural studies. Students will collaboratively develop research projects, which will contribute to Digital Maine, an online platform for public scholarship ( Four credit hours.
[AM226]    Cultural Geography of Allen Island Places that people design, build, and live in structure their experience and behavior, shaping their ideas about themselves and the world. Students explore how beliefs about Maine, nature, and the past are expressed through Allen Island's cultural geography. We locate the design and use of the island's built environment in the context of mid-coast Maine and explore how human beings have responded to and represented the island across time. This interdisciplinary course combines geographical fieldwork, cultural analysis, and archival research, culminating in a collaborative and public digital humanities project. Four credit hours. H.
[AM228]    Nature and the Built Environment Built environments order human experience and action, shaping people's sense of themselves and the world. We examine how the built environment has influenced and expressed Americans' relationships with nature. We track how ideas about the natural environment emerge in different historical and geographical settings and consider the material and environmental consequences of these beliefs. Topics include park design, suburban development, environmental justice campaigns, and green building. In this reading-intensive discussion course, students develop abilities to interpret material, spatial, visual, and historical evidence. Four credit hours. H.
AM229f    Art, Community, and Ethical Urban Development We explore how buildings and neighborhoods can be platforms for art, culture, and community. How might we ethically redevelop urban spaces, constructing sustainable places that value beauty and resident rights over narrow profit logics? In this interdisciplinary humanities lab that foregrounds experiential and community-oriented learning, we will examine artistic, political, and community-based organizations in other cities as models to help us develop our own projects for a more just and equitable Waterville. Previously listed as American Studies 297 (Fall 2017). Four credit hours. Lisle
AM232s    Queer Identities and Politics Listed as Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 232. Four credit hours. U. Arellano
AM234s    From Rockabilly Kings to Lady Gaga: A History of Rock 'n' Roll Listed as Music 234. Four credit hours. A. Zelensky
[AM236]    Introduction to the Francophone World: The Americas Listed as French 236. Four credit hours. I.
[AM256]    African-American Art Listed as Art 256. Four credit hours. A, U.
AM258f    American Art 1650-1900 Listed as Art 158. Four credit hours. A. Sperling
AM259s    American Art since 1900 Listed as Art 159. Four credit hours. A. Sperling
AM276s    African-American Culture in the United States An interdisciplinary examination of black cultural expression—including folktales, the blues, gospel music, work songs, jazz, sermons, dance, literature, and social institutions—from the slave era to the present, tracing the stages of development of a distinctive black culture in America, its relationship to the historical, social, and political realities of African Americans, and its role in the cultural formation of the United States. Also listed as African-American Studies 276. Four credit hours. S, U. Gilkes
AM285f    History of Photography Listed as Art 285. Four credit hours. A. Saltz
AM297f    Introduction to Asian American Studies Using an interdisciplinary approach, we ask who is Asian American, what does it mean to be Asian American and what are the diverse experiences of Asian Americans in contemporary society? We look at these questions through history, literature, culture, social movements, and the lens of genders and sexualities. Students will discuss the significance of key historical, cultural, social and political moments in Asian American history and experiences; have a deeper understanding of how ethnicity, region and religion in confluence with the co-construction of race, class, gender, sexuality, & citizenship impact Asian American experiences. Four credit hours. U. Fugikawa
[AM313B]    Designing the American Seventies Explores how design expressed and shaped American lives from 1968 to 1980. We assess design at many scales, from regional development to everyday consumer products (in all their polyester and shag-carpeted glory), analyzing objects and their representations in advertising, film, and music. We attend to how design was influenced by economic and energy crises, an emergent ecological consciousness, challenges to gender and sexual norms, and a fascination with "roots" and heritage. In this reading-intensive discussion course, students develop abilities to analyze and interpret material, spatial, visual, and historical evidence. Part of the two-course Integrated Studies cluster, "America in the 1970s." Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in American Studies AM313A. Four credit hours. S.
[AM322J]    Imagining Maine This interdisciplinary humanities lab examines Maine's transformation in the American imagination from a barren wilderness to a "vacationland." We will collect and analyze representations of Maine in painting, photography, literature, maps, advertising, travel guides, diaries, and historical documents. For our final project, we will work collaboratively to build a website that showcases this material. Research may include travel to exhibitions and archives around the state. Three credit hours.
[AM331]    The Stadium and the City Stadiums are among our most important social spaces: central to how millions understand and experience the public world and crucial to shaping community identity in inclusive and exclusive ways. We will examine relationships between stadiums, cities, and people in the United States and across the world. We explore how stadiums have been constructed, controlled, and used; how they express sets of values and structures of power; and how users of these stadiums experience them as groups and individuals. Students learn different approaches to interpreting space, write an original research paper, and present their research at the Colby Liberal Arts Symposium. Four credit hours. H.
[AM342]    Political Violence: American Cultures of Radicalism Focuses on the complex history of "revolutionary" American political behavior with emphasis on practices and representations of political violence. Draws together case studies of 20th-century radical and militant political movements and actors to engage the following questions: What is political violence? How and why do different periods and political visions produce different forms of political violence? How have these activists and organizations been represented within the broader context of U.S. political cultures and mythologies about American democracy? Examples include union violence, armed feminist resistant, black militancy, and radical land reclamation movements. Prerequisite: American Studies 171. Four credit hours. U.
AM344f    Black Radical Imaginations Listed as Anthropology 344. Four credit hours. Bhimull
[AM347]    Art and Maine Listed as Art 347. Four credit hours.
[AM348]    Race, Sex, and Violence in Popular Culture Draws together work on histories of racialization, sexual representation, and visual narrative analysis in order to consider how popular culture teaches us to see and understand bodies. With support from Academic Information Technology, we will focus centrally on the production of critical viewing guides (video essays) and the development of a website. Prerequisite: American Studies 171 or WG 201. Four credit hours. U.
[AM355]    African-American Women and Social Change Listed as Sociology 355. Four credit hours. U.
AM357s    Civil Rights, Black Power, and Social Change Listed as Sociology 357. Four credit hours. S, U. Gilkes
[AM358]    Photography and Migration Listed as Art 358. Four credit hours. U.
AM366s    Race, Gender, and the Graphic Novel Engages the lenses of race, gender, and sexuality in an analysis of graphic novels. In the United States visual representations have long played a role in creating meanings associated with racialized bodies. How have writers used this visual and literary genre to address social inequalities and explore gendered experiences of racialization? How have people of color, queer, and trans writers transformed the canon of graphic novels? What knowledge, ideas and effects emerge from reading graphic novels, and what makes the form unique? Four credit hours. L, U. Fugikawa
[AM375]    Representing Difference in American Visual Culture Examines constructions and contestations of racial identity in U.S. visual cultures of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Draws on scholarship on scientific racism, intersectionality, trauma and racial time, and memory and memorials. Visual media include photographs, films, sculptures and monuments, and illustrated books. Emphasizes skills of visual analysis, written argument, and independent research. Prerequisite: American Studies 171 or Art 101, and sophomore or higher standing. Four credit hours. U.
AM393f    Junior Seminar: Theories of Culture Introduces students to major currents in cultural theory, including Marxist, structuralist, poststructuralist, and critical race and gender theory. Emphasizes their application to contemporary cultural objects and events. Analytical and interpretive skills will be demonstrated in frequent writing assignments and a final independent research project. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing as an American studies major or a women's, gender, and sexuality studies major or minor. Four credit hours. U. Saltz
[AM454]    Picturing Nature: American Art and Science Listed as Art 454. Four credit hours.
AM457s    American Gothic Literature Listed as English 457. Four credit hours. L, U. Bryant
[AM458]    American Art in a Global Context Listed as Art 458. Four credit hours. U.
AM483fj    Senior Honors Project Research conducted under the guidance of a faculty member and focused on an approved interdisciplinary topic leading to the writing of a thesis. Prerequisite: A 3.5 major average and permission of the program director. Three or four credit hours. Faculty
AM491f, 492s    Independent Study Individual study of special problems in American studies in areas where the student has demonstrated the interest and competence necessary for independent work. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and the program director. One to four credit hours. Faculty
AM493Cs    Seminar: Space, Culture, and Neoliberalism The spaces we live in are meaningful, shaping our behaviors, experiences, and our senses of ourselves and others. We will examine how ideas, practices, and structures of power are written on our landscapes, focusing particularly on how neoliberalismùas a political, economic, and ideological projectīhas produced our spaces and culture over the last forty years. Students learn different approaches to interpreting space and landscapes, research and write a major paper analyzing neoliberal space, and present that research at the Colby Liberal Arts Symposium. Prerequisite: Senior standing as an American studies major. Four credit hours. Lisle