AMERICAN STUDIES GRADUATE COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
- SPRING 2013
509.001 Cultural Autobiography T 2:00 – 4:30 HUM 424 Melendez
Autobiography has proven to be particularly useful to readers and to contemporary literary and cultural theorists alike. In large measure, this is due to its capacity to inscribe notions of self and to link these to place and history. It is no surprise that autobiography in our own time has become a preferred form of disclosure for elucidating poli-vocal and multiple subject positions in American life. In this course, I wish to survey the ideologies of self, particularly those that represent a discursive space that is intersected by society, culture and ethnicity. I wish to explore the competing constructions of “frontier” and “border” in the American imagination by drawing on an array of personal narratives which disclose the cultural and ethnic self in the fixity and fluidity of social borders and in what Mary Louise Pratt has called “the contact zone.” Our study will include reading and analyzing nine or so life narratives. We will also become familiar with current critical theory on autobiography, ethno-criticism, and cultural studies as these apply to life writing and life narratives. I am particularly interested in theorizing the conjunction of (auto)ethnography, cultural studies, and literary criticism.
512.001 Transnational American Studies W 1:00 – 3:30 HUM 424 Schreiber
Over the past two decades, scholars in American Studies have increasingly begun to decenter the “United States” from its sense of entitlement over the term “America.” Foregrounding hemispheric relations, the history of the U.S. as imperial power, and the larger contemporary fact of the transnationalization and globalization of cultures, this turn to a “post‑nationalist” sense of the U.S. will be a central consideration for the course. In order to fully analyze the significance of this contemporary frame of inquiry, we will discuss the historical articulation and effects of American exceptionalism, as well as the Cold War and its consequences for the concerted alignment of scholarship with the nation‑state.
Transnationalism has become a salient term in a number of ways. It gained currency during the 1970s as a means to indicate the accelerated internationalization of capital and alleged diminution of the nation‑state in the world economy, and signaled many of the trends today identified with “globalization.” It is also used to denote the complex new flow of culture resulting from the current increased mobility of people, capital, and ideas across national boundaries. This course examines social and cultural transnational formations, while attending to the significance of political and economic conditions. We will also consider research and methodology, focusing on how scholars take up the question of the limits of the national frame.
The books that we will be reading include: Chadwick Allen, Trans‑Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies (UMN Press, 2012); Inderpal Grewal, Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms (Duke UP, 2005); Edward McCaughan Art and Social Movements: Cultural Politics in Mexico and Aztlán (Duke UP, 2012); Aihwa Ong, Buddha is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, and the New America (UC Press, 2003); Michelle Stephens, Black Empire: The Masculine Global Imaginary of Caribbean Intellectuals in the United States, 1914‑1962 (Duke UP, 2005); María Josefina Saldaña‑Portillo, The Revolutionary Imagination in the Americas and the Age of Development (Duke UP, 2003); and Shelly Streeby, Radical Sensations: World Movements, Violence, and Visual Culture (Duke UP, 2013).
540.001 Theories & Methods of Pop Culture R 2:00 – 4:30 HUM 424 Tiongson
This graduate seminar is designed to explore various approaches to the study of popular culture and major theoretical debates animating the study of popular culture. More specifically, it focuses on a key debate in critical and cultural theory revolving around issues of cultural origins, ownership and authenticity. What does it mean to claim culture? What are the theoretical and political implications for making such claims? What does it mean for a culture to belong to a particular group? Why is it important that a culture should be credited to a particular group? How do we conceive of cultural boundaries in a way that accounts for power relations and differential? How has the relationship between race and culture configured in critical and cultural theory? How do movement and migration confound the establishment and maintenance of cultural boundaries? The seminar investigates the kinds of claims made in the name of “culture” – what serves as the basis for these claims, what is being accomplished through the deployment of culture, and the stakes – in a way that accounts for the contingencies of power and history. It interrogates what Virginia R. Dominguez has described as “the seeming transparency of the reference to culture.” To accomplish the foregoing, we will focus primarily though not exclusively on hip hop culture.
560.001 Critical SW Regionalism M 2:00 – 4:30 HUM 424 Trujillo
The Southwest seems singularly immune to scholarly pronouncements that insist that “regionalism,” as an academic focus is passé if not an altogether a dead enterprise. Each year dozens of scholarly books on a range of subjects linked to the U.S. Southwest are published around the world. This class will explore the concept of critical regionalism as a theory and method, and its implications for our conceptualizations of the “nation,” “transnational,” and “global.” Two contiguous but profoundly different Southwest regionalisms will serve as case studies: New Mexico and Ciudad Juarez/El Paso. Course materials will also explicitly speak to a broader interdisciplinary audience interested cultural studies, ethnography, and literature. Discussion will explore key texts and juxtapose sometimes opposing frames and theories.
We will begin by asking a number of questions, some deceptively simple, others decidedly complex: How many discourses can a region have? Is a region the sum of its discourses? Why are there so many and such varied discourses on the Southwest? What are these discourses and how do they work? Do these discourses serve political, economic, cultural or social needs? What ideological and analytical frameworks explain the regular scholarly re-assessments of the Southwest that have fueled the creation of borderland studies, Southwest romanticism/orientalism, trans-border and transnational studies and critical regional studies? What is the relation of the regional to broader scales of analysis like the national, the transnational, the hemispheric, and the global?
600.001 Research Methods R 10:00 – 12:30 HUM 424 Goldstein
This seminar critically examines the methods and means by which scholars conduct research and make arguments, focusing on how the conditions of possibility for scholarship are shaped by institutional and disciplinary conventions and the political economy of knowledge and interpretation. The course is comprised of three primary components: an introduction to the practices of research (writing research and funding proposals, preparing IRB applications, the organization and protocols of archival research, the promise and problematic of ethnography, etc.); a broad array of readings that facilitate our inquiry into methodology; guest presentations by UNM faculty working in a range of (inter)disciplines. Readings include texts by Linda Tuhiwai Smith, María Josefina Saldaña‑Portillo, José Rabasa, Tiya Miles, David Kazanjian, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Nayan Shah, Scott Morgensen, Bill Maurer, Mimi Thi Nguyen, and Kara Keeling.