American Studies Courses

Fall 2014 Courses Include:

AMST 0801: Philadelphia Arts & Culture

AMST 0848: American Revoloutions

AMST 0859: Making American Society

AMST 0862: First Person America

AMST 0962: Honors First Person America

AMST 2021: Philadelphia Neighborhoods

AMST 2098: Reading Culture

AMST 2107: Asian-American Experiences

AMST 2900: Honors Topics in American Culture

AMST 3011: Photography in America

AMST 3075: Literature of American Slavery

AMST 3082: Independent Study

AMST 3089: Field Work in American Studies

AMST 3096: American Woman: Visions and Revisions

For more up-to-date course offerings, course descriptions, times, instructors, and crosslistings, please see the class schedule or course catalog. This information is also available in TUportal when you register for classes.

















An introduction to American Studies through the study of autobiographical writings - life stories - that give us insight into American values, conditions, aspirations & conflicts. By looking closely at these American lives, students will meet people of various periods & backgrounds & become familiar with the way history has shaped lives and the way individuals have both created & resisted the forces of change. The conflicting images & realities of American society will be explored.

Note: Satisfies University Core American Culture requirement; does not satisfy GenEd requirements.

  • 1042 - Work in America

















A broad discussion of work in the United States, which takes a historical look at worker-management relationships, the organization of workplaces, the experiences of ordinary workers, and the experiences of different groups of people (e.g., ethnic minorities) in the workplace. The course will provide students with a perspective on major historical & cultural developments in the U.S. from the late 19th century to the present, using primary documents, literature, and secondary readings on the nature of work in America.

Note: Satisfies University Core American Culture requirement; does not satisfy GenEd requirements.


American Culture

  • 2011 - The Arts in America

















This course examines the place of the arts in contemporary America, with an emphasis on the politics of culture. We will take a broad view of “art,” encompassing popular arts, high art & what’s in between. We will look at examples of how artists & writers have functioned within the contemporary art environment, and within a popular culture & material environment that undermines distinctions between reality and fantasy and between past and present (e.g., Disneyland). Representative figures will be examined from various art forms (literature, music, architecture, painting, photography) within an interdisciplinary context.

  • 2022 - Museums & American Culture

The museum holds itself to the preserver of cultural memory, yet museums as we know them are a 19th century invention. Their function as shapers of cultural practice & national identity will be explored through this course, which takes us up to the present, when museums have reached out to represent communities that were previously excluded from the elite culture of museums. How museums work as classifiers of knowledge, how they represent culture, as commodity & experience, will also form part of the course.

  • 2120 - Topics in American Culture: Television & American Culture

  • 3011 - Photography in America, Cross Listed with Art History 2008 & Anthropology 3439.

















Overview of the history of photography in America from its beginning in the 1840s to the present, emphasizing its relation to society & the arts. Course will cover both documentary & aesthetic movements, including such figures as Brady, Muybridge, Riis, Hine, Evans, Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Duane Michals, Cindy Sherman, etc. The cultural meaning of the Civil War, westward expansion, the Great Depression & the Civil Rights movement will be studied in relation to photography. Slides & readings on photography, American culture & how the camera affects our seeing & thinking.

  • 3012 - Film & American Society  

















This course explores the way visual media (film, video, television) have in various ways recorded or documented the social & historical “reality” of American life. A number of issues will be explored: What is the place of documentary within American society, as information & as entertainment? And why are we so attracted to it? How close to “reality” can visual media come? How does documentary compare with non-documentary film in its effort to represent American culture & history?


Place in American Life

  • 2021 - Philadelphia Neighborhoods, Cross Listed with Geography & Urban Studies 2021

Students will be introduced to the development of the city of Philadelphia as seen from a neighborhood perspective. From Colonial times to the present, neighborhood & community are the primary means by which the city’s residents experienced the growth & change of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Using archival resources on the Web, as well as the rich historical legacy of the region’s museums, students will explore the development of the city’s neighborhoods.

  • 2120 - Topics in American Culture: Farm & Country in American Imagination

Diversity in America

  • 2003 - The American Sexual Past

















Explores the history of sexuality in America to familiarize students with important historical events/periods in the development of sexuality in the U.S. and major themes & issues in the American cultural history of sex & sexuality. Surveys the ways in which sexuality has changed & shifted over the course of colonial & American history. Connects sexuality to the social, political, and economic realities that helped to shape it in different eras. Focuses on major themes that illuminate aspects of sexuality in colonial & American culture and history. These may include: censorship, family & sex, marriage & sex, female & male sexuality, homosexuality, birth control, bisexuality, the state use of sterilization, transgender/transsexual sexuality, sex workers, sexually transmitted infections & sex in the media & arts. Course approach will cut across racial, class, gender, transgender & ethnic boundaries. In order to better understand our own society, it is necessary to be aware of events that shaped the world as we know it today.

  • 2071 - Immigrant Experiences in America

Studies major issues concerning immigrant experience in the U.S., such as legislation regarding immigration, anti-immigrant social & political movements, immigrant efforts to assimilate (or to resist assimilation, or to accommodate some degree). Students provided with basic history of the subject and read accounts of life in the U.S. by immigrants & fiction about immigrant experiences. Most of the course will stress 20th century immigration.

  • 2096 - Asian Diaspora, Cross Listed with Asian Studies 2097.

















Spurred by pressures of colonialism, economic change, nationalism, political repression & war as well as individual needs & adventurism, Asians have migrated from their homelands to new regions of the world. This course focuses on Asians in U.S. society through comparison with their reception into other societies. In considering Asian diasporas, familiar terms such as Asia, American, Community & Nation are called into question by the multiplicity of experiences & identities of those who have ventured out from Eastern regions of the globe.

  • 2107 - Asian American Experiences Cross Listed with Asian Studies 2107 & History 2107.

















Introduction to the varied historical & contemporary experiences of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, South, & Southeast Asian immigrants & their descendants in the U.S. Explores economic, social, political & cultural developments, beginning with the arrival of the Chinese in the 1830s and ending with the experiences of Asian-American immigrants & their communities today.

Note: Satisfies University Core Studies in Race requirement; does not satisfy GenEd requirements.

  • 3096 - The American Woman: Visions & Revisions, Cross Listed with Women’s Studies 3096.

















Looks at images & roles of women in American culture. Using fiction, poetry, & autobiography, we develop an understanding of stereotypes & myths and relate these images to the real-life experiences of American women. The readings include all classes & many ethnic groups, and focus primarily on the 20th century.


Change in America

  • 2031 - Radicalism in the United States

A study of issues & traditions in the history of radical thought & behavior. Emphasizing the 20th century, the course focuses on major social contexts & ideologies such as anarchism, militant unionism, socialism, & communism, each of which has had a long & vibrant history in the U.S.

  • 2052 - The Class Experience in America

Surveys the enduring importance of class in the US as well as the enduring myth of American classlessness. We will start with myths themselves, where they came from & how they were constructed. Examines theories of social class (in some ways attempts to explain why the myths weren’t true) and efforts to objectively measure poverty, inequality, and the distribution of wealth. At the outset, we will also examine social mobility patterns and how these objective categories of class are related to race, region, sex, and gender. Looks at how class is lived and how it is represented in the larger culture. We will explore how social class shapes the daily lives of ordinary Americans in cities, suburbs, small towns, and rural hinterlands through such things as housing, community, work, leisure activities, shopping tastes, dress, diet, language, education, and family. We will examine how class has been represented, reproduced, and contested, in literature, art, music, film, television, and the broader popular culture.

  • 3033 - Courtroom in American Society

Examines the relationship between our legal system & American society. Does the law shape social mores or is it merely a reflection of them? What role should the court play in protecting individual rights? We will study the evolution of American jurisprudence in the area of abortion, affirmative action, freedom of expression, separation of church & state, and examine emerging areas of legal debate including the right to same sex marriage, the legalization of prostitution & the constitutionality of Megan’s law.




  • 4097 - Senior Seminar in American Studies


The capstone class required of all American Studies majors. Open to others with permission of the Director of American Studies. Students write a major paper. Should be taken in the Fall of senior year.

Note: Special authorization required for all students.



General Education

  • 0801 - Philadelphia Arts & Culture

















What and where is the real Philadelphia? How can we get past the clichés to better understand and experience the city’s historic and legendary sense of itself? For more than 3 centuries, Philadelphia’s unique identity has been defined & redefined by a prodigious & prolific creative community: painters, sculptors, writers, performers, architects, planners, thinkers & more. Explores Philadelphia’s evolving sense of itself through a broad range of examples of creative works from the 17th through the 20th centuries. Through this prism of expression, and the institutions that present and protect it, develops a deep understanding of Philadelphia as one of the nation’s most creative cities.

Note: This course fulfills the Arts (GA) requirement for students under GenEd and Arts (AR) for students under Core.


  • 0855 - Higher Education & American Life: Mirror to a Nation

















You have decided to go to college. But why? What role will college, in particular Temple University, play in your life? Reflect on this important question by looking at the relationship between higher education and American society. What do colleges and universities contribute to our lives? They are, of course, places for teaching and learning. They are also research centers, sports and entertainment venues, sources of community pride and profit, major employers, settings for coming-of-age rituals (parties, wild times, courtship, etc.), and institutions that create lifetime identities and loyalties. Learn how higher education is shaped by the larger society and how, in turn, it has shaped that society. Become better prepared for the world in which you have chosen to live for the next few years.

















Note: This course fulfills the U.S. Society (GU) requirement for students under GenEd and American Culture (AC) for students under Core.

Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have successfully completed Educational Administration 0855 or English 0855.

  • 0862 - First Person America

Examine the private and public lives of a diverse cast of Americans over a long sweep of the nation’s history. Along the way, look at how fundamental conflicts—between the local and the national, freedom and equality, inclusion and exclusion, community and the individual—have driven U.S. history from its very beginnings, how they have shaped these individual lives and how these individuals have molded the debates. Learn to use a range of sources—including autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, personal narratives, profiles, bio-pics, self-portraits, visual and performance pieces—as you investigate these American stories and American tensions.

Note: This course fulfills the U.S. Society (GU) requirement for students under GenEd and American Culture (AC) for students under Core.

Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have successfully completed AMER ST 0962.