American Studies home page

Fall 2013


Course descriptions for FALL 2013

Complete list of Fall 2013 AMST courses available here

Courses are subject to change; last updated 5/17/13.

AMST 150 (FGB) » America and the World

Instructor: Vernadette Gonzalez

Course Description: This course examines formations of “America” in a global context, beginning with its emergence as a European colonial outpost imposed on indigenous peoples, to its emergence as an imperial and military power in the modern era. We will survey major world-historical events in which the U.S. has played key roles as well as consider the significant impacts that other world cultures have had on the American social, political, cultural and economic fabric (and vice versa). Central to the organization of this course is a consideration of race, class and gender as crucial axes for the formation of “America” and Americans. 

Course Requirements: 

Tentative and subject to change:
Class Participation 30%
Short Writing Assignments 40%
Quizzes 30%

Required Text(s): 

-Stannard, David. American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.
-Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 1995 (original, 1789).
-Spiegelman, Art. Maus I and II. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991 edition.

AMST 201 (W) » American Experience: Institutions & Movements 

Instructor: Jeanette Hall

Course Description: This interdisciplinary course examines diversity and changes in American values and lives in a historical context as manifested in social institutions and social movements.  It introduces students to various types of primary materials (such as law, court rulings, sermons, political manifestos, newspapers, etc.) and to different methods of reading and analyzing such materials.  Using social and analytical categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality, the course examines several critical periods in U.S. history as well as situates Hawai‘i in the context of American experience.  This course fulfills a Manoa Core humanities requirement.  

Course Requirements: 

Tentative and subject to change:
Class Participation 30%
Papers (3) 45%
Weekly Blog Posts 15%
Final Presentation 10%

Required Text(s):


AMST 201 (W) » American Experience: Institutions & Movements 

Instructor: Stacy Nojima

Course Description: This interdisciplinary course examines diversity and changes in American values and lives in a historical context as manifested in social institutions and social movements.  It introduces students to various types of primary materials (such as law, court rulings, sermons, political manifestos, newspapers, etc.) and to different methods of reading and analyzing such materials.  Using social and analytical categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality, the course examines several critical periods in U.S. history as well as situates Hawai‘i in the context of American experience.  This course fulfills a Manoa Core humanities requirement.  

Course Requirements: There will be three main essays assigned (this will include one short research paper). Students will also be assigned individual facilitation day(s) and presentations.

Required Text(s):

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave
Reed, T.V. The Art of Protest
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present.
Online readings: Required article readings will be available online through Laulima

AMST 202 (W) » American Experience: Culture and the Arts

Instructor: Billie Lee

Course Description: How do we know–or think we know–what “American” means? How do art and culture shape and construct these meanings and feelings? How do you participate in or create “American art and culture”? What is the role of “American art and culture” in the world? In this course, we will define art and culture as broad categories that not only include the fine arts, performing arts and popular culture, but also rituals, ceremonies, political demonstrations, sporting events, and acts of everyday life. We will take these as our central objects of study in examining formations of “American” identity and experience. Together, we will investigate how art and culture do not simply reflect society, but inform and construct how we think and feel about “America.” Throughout the course, we will explore how these meanings are coded and imbued with history, memory, affect, and values that are not fixed, but constantly shifting for different individuals, in different locations and historical contexts. This course fulfills a writing intensive focus requirement. 

Required Text(s): TBA

AMST 211 (W) » Contemporary American Domestic Issues

Instructor: Yuka J. Polovina

Course Description: American Studies 211 explores contemporary American domestic issues. While many topics fall under the “contemporary American domestic issues” umbrella, for this course we will look closely and critically at consumerism, environmentalism, and foodways. We will approach these topics in relation to one another and in relation to larger domestic concerns such as social and economic inequalities. This course will draw heavily on books, films, social media, primary sources (such as government documents, advertisements, and recorded interviews), and our own personal experiences.

Course Requirements: Rather than sitting in “lecture” this course is seminar-like, which means students are expected to discuss the reading and intellectually engage with their peers. Attendance and participation are mandatory.

Required Text(s): 

Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism. By Ozzie Zehner (University of Nebraska Press, 2012).
No Logo: 10th Anniversary Edition. By Naomi Klein (Picador, 2009).
All Over Creation. By Ruth Ozeki. (Penguin Books, 2004).
Fourth book TBA

AMST 212 (W)  »  Contemporary American Global Issues

Instructor: Leanne Sims

Course Description: This interdisciplinary and writing intensive course is an exploration of contemporary American global discourses and attitudes within an historical context.  The course will chronicle the influence of American values and institutions in the world and analyze the effects of U.S. foreign policy, with a particular focus on U.S. military interventions abroad.  Our topics will take into account the diversity of American values and perspectives.  These will include, but will not be limited to, foreign policy, the economy, the environment, national security, international diplomacy, and war.  Concurrently, we will discuss the present role of the U.S. in the world.  Although we will be primarily looking at these issues within their historical context, the course is designed to draw on a variety of materials including film, literature, newspapers, documentaries, current news reports, and other primary source materials such as government documents.


Class Attendance and Participation is essential to student success: 20%
Reading Responses (2 pages each): 20%
Individual Presentation: Twenty minutes: 20%
Group Debate: 10%
2 Essays (6 pages each): Midterm and Final Exams: 30 %

Required Text(s): 

Kinzer, Stephen. Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. New
York: Times Books, 2006.
Chandrasekaran, Rajiv. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone. New York: Random House, 2006.
Ali, Nujood and Minoui, Delphine. I Am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2010.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead Books, 2003.

AMST 220 (W, H) » Introduction to Indigenous Studies

Instructor: TBA

Course Description: The lands that are now known as the United States and its territories have witnessed a long history of conquest against their indigenous peoples and ecologies. Many of the details of this violent conquest are either absent from most American history textbooks, or when they are explored, are often discussed in terms of “the distant American past.” By and large, this constructed history has resulted a relegation of native peoples to the primitive past and/or an ambivalence toward various native groups in terms of their efforts to redress injustices, both historic and contemporary, and to maintain their inherent sovereignty.

Using film, literature and scholarship, this interdisciplinary course aims to overturn these dominant constructions of history in order to explore contemporary issues of indigenous cultural identity, representation, sovereignty, and legal frameworks. For the purposes of this course, Indigenous Americans includes Native American tribes, Native Alaskans, and Native Pacific Islanders whose lands are U.S. states, territories, or “freely associated” with the U.S. We will examine the varied experiences and situations of indigenous peoples in the United States, how indigeneity is framed by dominant American culture, and the complex ways in which Indigenous Americans are made to continuously negotiate between traditional and settler cultures as they struggle for their lands, their rights, and their futures.

Course Requirements: 

Required Text(s):

AMST 310 » Japanese Americans

Instructor: Dennis Ogawa

Course Description: Japanese American life in Hawaii and American society at large. Historical and cultural heritage. Biographical portraits, changing family ties, ethnic lifestyle, male and female relations, local identity and the nature of island living.

AMST 318 » Asian America

Instructor: B. Chung

Course Description: History of selected Asian immigrant groups from the 19th century to the present. Topics include: immigration and labor history, Asian American movements, literature and cultural productions, community adaptations and identity formation. (Cross-listed as ES 318)

AMST 320 » American Environments:  Survey

Instructor: E. Sunny Greer

Course Description: Survey of social, political, and cultural relations in diverse, contemporary American environments, including:  island societies, urban centers, suburbs, Indian reservations, farming communities, and national parks.  There will be a special emphasis on contemporary environmental issues in Hawaii and the Pacific.  Using the theory of “ecocide” as a basis of our learning, this course deals with the ways in which traditional ecological values and ideologies conflict with American values and ideologies.  We will look at various case studies in the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific rim to analyze the impact of U.S. policies on different populations, as well as how these conflicts manifest and are reconciled.

Required Text(s):

-Aguon, Julian. What We Bury at Night: Disposable Humanity
-Grinde, Donald A. and Bruce E. Johansen. Ecocide of Native America: Environmental Destruction of Indian Lands and Peoples

AMST 339 » Religions in America

Instructor: Kathleen Sands

Course Description: Examination of American religious traditions, both historical and contemporary, with an emphasis on the principles of religious liberty, non-establishment, and pluralism. Pre: sophomore standing or consent.

AMST 360 (W) » American Cinema

Instructor: Jonna Eagle

Course Description: American Cinema (formerly AMST 250: American Film History) explores the social and cultural development of American cinema from the origins of moving pictures to the latest blockbuster. We’ll screen popular films from a range of genres and periods–including the gangster film, the musical, film noir, melodrama, the western, and the action cinema–with particular attention to how these films work to shape understandings of contemporary social issues and identities. In addition to a knowledge of U.S. film history, students will be introduced to different approaches to the study of film, and a new critical vocabulary through which to analyze onscreen images. The course fulfills a W focus requirement.

Course Requirements: Requirements for this course include weekly film screenings, a film journal, two critical response papers, and a final exam, in addition to regular attendance and participation in class discussion.

 Required Text(s):

-Timothy Corrigan, A Short Guide to Writing About Film
-Additional readings available on Laulima

AMST 365 » American Empire

Instructor: Robert Perkinson

Course Description: Examines the interplay between an “American culture of empire” and the rise of the U.S. as a superpower. Topics: imperialism and political culture, social movements and international affairs, race, gender and class relations. (Cross-listed as HIST 379)

AMST 381» Junior Seminar

Instructor: Sean Trundle

Course Description: Materials and methods for the study of American life and thought. For American studies majors and minors only.

Course Requirements: TBA

Required Text(s):

Prerequisite: Officially declared majors in American Studies. Minors and double majors in American Studies must have a course approval code to be allowed to register for this course.

AMST 411 (O) » Japanese Americans: Research Topics

Instructor: Dennis Ogawa

Course Description: Research and thematic seminar on Japanese American culture, issues, and history.

Prerequisite: Junior standing or consent.

AMST 423 (O) » History of American Architecture

Instructor: William Chapman

Course Description: This is a basic introduction to the history and range of American architecture. Coverage is given to both “designed” and “vernacular” examples of buildings and surroundings, with principle emphasis on well-known American buildings. In addition to buildings and built environments of the continental U.S., the course will also discuss buildings in Hawai‘i, the Caribbean and Panama, the Philippines, and other Asian-Pacific countries and islands influenced by North American architectural traditions and practice. Both lectures and readings will emphasize the ways in which cultural identity and aspirations are expressed in architecture. It will also treat the impacts of materials and technology upon architectural forms. (Cross-listed as ARCH 473)

Course Requirements: 

Participation/discussion (Oral focus)                     5 %
Short presentations (2) (Oral focus) O1, O2, O3    10 %
Quizzes (4)                                                          10 %
Mid-term Exam                                                    10 %
Paper (6 pages, double-spaced)                            20 %
Presentation (Oral focus) O1, O2, O3                    30 %
Jury participation (2), O1, O2                                  5 %
Final Exam                                                            10 %

Required Text(s): 

David P. Handlin, American Architecture, 2nd edition, New York: Thames and Hudson

AMST 431 » History of American Workers

Instructor: James Kraft

Course Description: Survey history of the complex relations between American societies and diverse U.S. ecosystems, from European contact and colonization to the present. (Cross-listed as HIST 477)


AMST 432 » Slavery and Freedom

Instructor:Elizabeth Colwill

Course Description:

The expansion of African slavery in the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries fuelled the global economy as it stripped millions of people of their human rights; it also spawned enduring struggles for freedom. This course places the U.S. experience of slavery and freedom within a comparative frame, highlighting the cultures of opposition that arose in North America, the Caribbean, and the Afro-Latin world to challenge the conversion of persons to property.

The legacies of slavery haunt the 21st century, while debates over race and gender continue to pervade contemporary politics and society. How, we will ask, did the trans-Atlantic slave trade transform the history of the Americas? How did gender shape the experience of enslavement and pathways to freedom? How has the history of slavery been suppressed, recounted, and remembered? Drawing upon slave narratives and planter journals; trial records for witchcraft, sodomy, and insubordination; commemorative rituals, films, and prizewinning historical scholarship, this course traces stories of slavery and freedom that have shaped the modern world.

Course Requirements:

  • (30%) Concept Maps (must complete 8 of 14) on assigned reading
  •  (15%) Primary document analysis (3-4 pages)
  • (20%) Essay on the genre of the slave narrative (4-5 pages)
  •  (15%) Essay on Beloved (3-4 pages)
  • (20%) Final in-class essay examination

Required Text(s):

  • Kathryn Joy McKnight and Leo J. Garofalo, eds., Afro-Latino Voices: Narratives from the Early Modern Ibero-Atlantic World
  • Stephanie Camp, Closer to Freedom
  • Laurent Dubois and John Garrigus, eds., Slave Revolution in the Caribbean
  • Stephanie McCurry, Confederate Reckoning
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved
  • Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince

AMST 438 » Asian Women

Instructor: Mire Koikari

Course Description: History, culture, and contemporary reality of Asian women in Asia and the U.S. Includes critical analysis of American feminist methodology and theory. (Cross-listed as POLS 372 and WS 462)

Prerequisite: one of 310, 316, 318, 373, 455, POLS 339, WS 360, WS 361, WS 439; or consent.


AMST 455 (W) » U.S. Women’s Literature and Culture

Instructor: Elizabeth Colwill

Course Description:  This course highlights the literary production, cultural strategies, and diverse histories of women in the Americas. While the course foregrounds the voices of 20th-century women of color in the U.S., our inquiry crosses boundaries of nation, discipline, and genre to explore how intersections of race and class, slavery and colonialism, sexuality and gender have shaped women’s experiences, identities and forms of expression. Drawing upon a range of theoretical approaches, we’ll examine different genres–novels, oral traditions, poetry, short stories, film, essays, and dance–as modes of self-invention, community creation, political resistance, and historical narration. Readings include essays by Mitsuye Yamada, Chrystos, and Gloria Anzaldúa; poetry by Audre Lorde and Haunani-Kay Trask; science fiction by Octavia Butler; short stories by Sarah Lau, Fae Myenne Ng, Amy Tan; novels by Jamaica Kincaid, Linda Hogan, and Edwidge Danticat; testimonials by Rigoberta Menchu and Joy Kogawa; as well as theatre and dance performances.

Course Requirements:

  • Seminar Participation (15%)
  • Reading Quizzes (20%)
  • Two 5-6 page papers (30%)
  • Final project (35%): creative writing assignment (7 pages) with supporting analytical essay (3-4 pages), and short oral presentation of project.

Required Text(s):

  • Octavia Butler, Kindred
  • Deborah Silverton Rosenfelt, ed.,Tell Me a Riddle, Requa I, and other Works
  • Joy Kogawa, Obasan
  • Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
  • Rigoberta Menchú, I, Rigoberta Menchu
  • Linda Hogan, Power: A Novel
  • Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)
  • Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (NY: Vintage, 1994)

AMST 456 (W) » Art of the United States

Instructor: Joseph Stanton

Course Description: This course examines the development of the visual arts in America from colonial to contemporary periods. (Cross-listed with ART 472)

Course Requirements: Two two-part tests, one in the middle of the semester and the other at the end; fourteen one-page papers; and a six-page research paper.

Required Text(s):
A packet of photocopied articles.
R. Hughes, American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America

AMST 459 W » Sports in America

Instructor: Joseph Stanton

Course Description: This course examines the development of sports in America from colonial to contemporary periods.

Course Requirements: Two two-part tests, one in the middle of the semester and the other at the end; sixteen one-page papers; and a six-page research paper.

Required Text(s):
H. G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights
Ben Finney and James Houston, Surfing: A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport
Benjamin Rader, American Sports: From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Televised Sports
A packet of photocopied articles and other materials.
OPTIONAL: Joseph Stanton, Cardinal Points: Poems on St. Louis Cardinals Baseball

AMST 480 » Approaches to American Studies

Instructor: Mari Yoshihara

Course Description: This course is designed to train American Studies majors in research methods and prepare them for their senior capstone project. Through this class, students will become familiar with how scholars conduct research-e.g. how they formulate a useful research question, how they design the scope of inquiry, how they identify primary sources, how they address existing knowledge and current debates, how they develop an argument, and how they organize their writing. In addition to close reading and discussion of diverse types of scholarship in the field, we will conduct a series of research exercises that train students in identifying and analyzing primary as well as secondary sources. By the end of the semester, students will produce a proposal for a major research project which they will complete in AMST 481.

Required Text(s):

Prerequisite: American Studies majors only.


AMST 500 » Master’s Plan B/C Studies

Instructor: Mari Yoshihara

Course Description:Graduate students are required to register for at least one credit of work (either Directed Studies 500 or any other course) in the semester of graduation.

This course is offered as a one credit course with a mandatory grading of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) but will not carry credit toward meeting credit requirements for the degree.

If degree requirements are fully completed, a Satisfactory grade will be issued and the student will be awarded the degree. If not, a grade of Unsatisfactory will be given and the student will be required to register again for Directed Studies 500 the following semester or until such time that the requirements are completed.

Prerequisite: Contact instructor

AMST 600 » Approaches to American Studies

Instructor: Vernadette Gonzalez

Course Description: This seminar covers the broad historiography of American Studies and introduces students to the theoretical frameworks and methodological tools used in the field. We will examine the field’s concerns and debates by tracing the key “moments” in American Studies historiography from the “myth and symbol” school of the 1950s-1960s to the recent calls for “transnational” approaches to American Studies. Themes include: American Studies and the Cold War; social movements and the crisis of the canon; Marxist traditions and social history; literary theory and “representation”; anthropological turn and the move beyond the “text”; theorizing “identities”; and re-situating American Studies in the age of globalization. We will discuss these themes through the reading of both classic and recent texts in the field.

Course Requirements:

Class Participation 20%
Book Reviews 40%
Book Review Essay 40%

Required Text(s):

• George Lipsitz, American Studies in a Moment of Danger
• Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land
• Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Dover, 1994/1884)
• Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements
• Janice Radway, Reading the Romance
• David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness
• Patricia J. Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights
• George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940
• Penny Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War
• Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera
• Ty P. Kāwika Tengan, Native Men Remade: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai‘i (Duke UP, 2008)
• Melani McAlister, Epic Encounters

AMST 601 » Patterns of American Culture

Instructor: TBA

Course Description: American cultural origins and development. Beginnings to civil war.

AMST 618 » American Sexualities

Instructor: Kathleen Sands

Course Description: Aspects of sexual identity within the context of American culture.

AMST 669 » Advanced Topics: America & the World

Instructor: Robert Perkinson

Course Description: Historical and contemporary issues in America’s global relationships.

AMST 670 » Comparative Methods in American Studies

Instructor: Mari Yoshihara

Course Description: Examines approaches to American studies that use comparison as a primary method. Comparison of histories, institutions, of phenomena between the U.S. and another country as well as among communities in the U.S.

Graduate standing only. Co-requisite: 600 or 601 or 602, or consent. 

AMST 675 » Preservation: Theory & Practice

Instructor: William Chapman

Course Description: The course serves as a basic introduction to the field of historic preservation.  Students will be introduced to the language of the field, will come to understand key concepts and assumptions and will become familiar with the overall background of the subject.  Emphasis will be placed on the history of historic preservation in the U.S. and in other countries, on basic theoretical precepts and on current practice.  Subjects include the role of house museums in historic preservation, historic districts and their regulation, architectural and other resource surveys, the National Register program, historic preservation law, the relationship of preservation to planning, the economics of preservation and landscape and rural preservation.  The course is of interest to those in architecture, urban planning, history, and related fields.  The instructor is Professor William Chapman, Director of the Historic Preservation Program and an experienced architectural historian, archaeologist, and historic preservationist.  For additional information, call Professor Chapman: 956-8826 or (Cross-listed as ARCH 628/PLAN 675)

Course Requirements: 

The course combines lectures and in-class discussions, together with short field exercises and a research project. Students will be expected to attend class sessions and participate in discussions and question periods. Weekly reading assignments will serve as a basis for classroom discussions; so students are expected to come to class prepared. The course includes a mid-term exam, submission of the results of the field exercise and preparation of a National Register nomination, which will substitute for a term paper, and a Final Exam. The grading will be based on the following:

1. Participation 30%
2. Mid-term Exam 30%
4. Research Project 40%

Required Text(s):

-William J. Murtagh, Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America, Revised ed., New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1997. [original edition (Sterling Publishing/Main Street) may be used].

-Robert E. Stipe, A Richer Heritage: Historic Preservation in the 21st Century, Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2003.

-A Course Reader is also required and is available for purchase at Marketing and Publications Services (MAPs), Curriculum Research & Development Group.

AMST 679 » Elements of Style in American Architecture, Furniture and Decorative Arts 

Instructor: William Chapman

Course Description: The course will examine the visual characteristics and social/cultural meaning of “style” in American architecture and decorative arts from the early settlement period through the present.  It will cover the basic issues, such as “what is style?” (or is there such a thing as “style”?), the terminology of architectural description and the persistence of classical tradition in both architecture and furniture and furnishings. It will also introduce students to some of the key architects, furniture makers, and decorators in each period, while the focus will be on the twentieth-century architecture of the “modern” period.  The course is of interest to those in architecture, urban planning, history, and related fields. The instructor is Professor William Chapman, Director of the Historic Preservation Program and an experienced architectural historian, archaeologist, and historic preservationist.  For additional information, call Professor Chapman: 956-8826 or 

Course Requirements:

This term the focus will be on the twentieth-century architecture of the “modern” period. Students will be expected to choose one building from this period, and discuss furniture, style, architects or designers and something of the building’s history and use. Student projects will be presented in class and submitted as term papers. Students will be evaluated on the basis of class attendance and participation, the quality of their presentations and papers, and exam as follows:

1. Participation 10%
2. Powerpoint 25%
3. Mid-term exam 25%
4. Paper/Presentation 40%

Required Text(s):

1. Joseph T. Butler. A Field Guide to American Antique Furniture, New York: Roundtable Press, 1985.

2. Virginia McAlester and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses, New York: Knopf, 1984.
All available at Bookstore

3. Leland Roth, American Architecture: A History. 2nd Edition. CO: Westview Press, 2003.

AMST 683 » Museums: Theory, History, Practice

Instructor: Karen Kosasa

Course Description: This class is designed to introduce students to a range of theoretical, historical, and practical issues important to the study of museums and related places (art galleries, historic sites, aquariums, and parks). Museums are knowledge-producing institutions that orchestrate the experiences of visitors through the collection and organization of exhibition materials. Students will utilize theories and methodologies from a wide range of fields (museology, art history, anthropology, geography, cultural studies, literary criticism) to analyze the links between the function and practices of museums and the production of cultural knowledge, especially by privileged social groups. In the past, successful exhibits effaced all evidence of the pedagogical objectives and efforts of their makers. Hence, museums appeared to simply present and not interpret what they exhibited and their institutional authority allowed their interpretations to be accepted as “universal truths.”

In recent years, museums have undergone significant changes. Along with shifts in the study of collections, design of exhibitions, and educational programming, museums are rethinking their relationship and obligations to the communities represented in their collections. According to Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, museums are moving from being “sites of authority” to becoming “sites of mutuality.” Many are actively soliciting the views and needs of social groups previously ignored or considered unimportant. Some have actively or inadvertently challenged widely-held social practices and beliefs. In these instances, they have been at the frontlines of “culture wars,” becoming embattled sites over the role of public institutions, government funding, and diverse viewpoints. This course will examine these recent shifts and some of the theoretical and pragmatic issues that underlie them—the politics of representation, the importance of visual practices/culture, and legal and ethical problems concerning access to and ownership of cultural objects and collections.

In an early section students will briefly look at the history of museums in Western Europe, especially the emergence of large exhibition halls in the nineteenth century which offered new state-sanctioned forms of entertainment and education to lower- and middle-class visitors. In another section it will review issues pertinent to museums and colonial history in Hawai‘i, and efforts to consider the “Host Culture” and Native Hawaiian views on museums, collections, and the growth of cultural tourism. Finally, students will consider pragmatic issues concerning museum governance, management, planning, ethics, and public policy. While this class will focus most of its attention on museums in Western Europe and the United States, it will also examine institutions and cultural centers in other geographic locations.

AMST 684 » Museums and Collections

Instructor: Karen Kosasa

Course Description: Museums and related institutions (e.g., art galleries, historic homes, archives) are invaluable sites of knowledge in our society. They are charged with caring for important cultural resources, mounting exciting exhibitions, making their collections available to researchers or the public, and providing learning opportunities for a wide range of visitors. This class will focus on the “nuts and bolts,” the pragmatic aspects of running museums and related institutions. It will provide both a broad overview of the responsibilities of museums and museum professionals and an in-depth look at how the latter interact and function within their institutions. A significant component of the class will include on-site visits where registrars, archivists, collections managers, conservation specialists, curators, and exhibition designers will speak about their responsibilities and concerns, offer up-to-date information on their field of specialization, and provide a glimpse of the problems and challenges facing them. Among the topics to be covered: collection policies, accession and deaccession processing, registration and cataloguing systems, emerging technologies and the digitizing of collections, conservation treatment and documentation, preservation awareness/management, curatorial research, exhibition design and installation, and development of interpretive materials for displays.

Site visits will include trips to large and small museums as well as to different types of institutions (e.g., natural history museum, historic home). Students will be asked to visit museums on their own and participate in a volunteer program. During the semester students will learn about the Hawaii Museums Association as well as its national and international counterparts. The class itself will importantly reflect a collaborative partnership between the University of Hawaii, the Hawaii Museum Association, and local museums.

An important section of this course will review the concerns of Native communities in the U.S. and abroad regarding heritage preservation. In recent decades, the interactions between Native peoples and non-Native museum professionals (including conservators and curators) have led to important discussions over divergent views on the collection, handling, and exhibition of Native cultural resources. These discussions have led to innovative collaborative projects, changes in museum policies, and a rethinking of the professional discipline of museum conservation and collections management.

During the semester students will be introduced to the importance of grants and grant writing. Some students may choose to work on a grant application as part of their final project. Other students may want to involve themselves in curatorial research or the development of interpretative texts in conjunction with a local museum professional. At the end of the semester, students will submit a formal research paper on a topic of interest related to the course material.

AMST 686 (Restriction: Instructor Approval) » Museum Studies Practicum

Instructor: Karen Kosasa

Course Description: This course is designed as the final requirement for the Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. It is generally taken as the last course in the sequence of required courses for the certificate, although students may be enrolled simultaneously in the Practicum/Internship and other courses in the program. This course is restricted to “majors” in the Museums Studies Graduate Certificate Program.

The Practicum/Internship is intended to advance the student’s knowledge of the field of museum work and to provide an opportunity to research areas of special interest. Since the course is meant to be of a practical character, students are encouraged to take advantage of work-related opportunities in museums and related places (art galleries, historic sites, parks, zoos, aquariums, festivals, etc.). Students should consider new areas of exploration, or build on and consolidate projects in which they have had prior involvement. The Practicum/Internship may include research reports for non-profit organizations, research projects for museum exhibits or collections, or other similar activities.

AMST 695 (Restriction: Instructor Approval) » Historic Preservation Practicum

Instructor: William Chapman

Course Description: The Practicum/Internship is the final requirement for the Certificate in Historic Preservation. It is restricted to “majors” in the Historic Preservation Program and is generally taken as the last course in the sequence of required courses for the certificate, although students may be enrolled simultaneously for the Practicum/Internship and other courses in the program. Students not enrolled in the program may take the Practicum/Internship as part of their other studies, with the permission of the Director, although this is not encouraged.

To enroll in AmSt 695, you must submit a practicum/internship topic and proposal to the Director for approval. Upon receipt of approval, the student will be given a special approval code for registration.

The Practicum/Internship is intended to advance the student’s knowledge of the field and to research areas of special interest. Since the project is meant to be of a practical character, students are encouraged especially to take advantage of work-related opportunities in the field. Past Practica/Internships, for example, have included research reports carried out for Cultural Resource Management firms, studies conducted for non-profit organizations, research and exhibits undertaken for museums, and results of ongoing advocacy projects. Students should view the Practicum/Internship as an opportunity to explore areas they have never had an opportunity to consider, and to build on and consolidate projects in which they have had prior involvement.

Course Requirements:

  • The practicum should seek to apply general preservation theory to the student’s specific discipline.
  • Internships must be taken with an organizational entity such as a public or private agency or an architectural or planning firm which is involved in some aspect of preservation.
  • Selection of internship program and affiliated organization or agency must be approved by the director.
  • Internship activities shall involve exploration and application of knowledge gained in course work of the Historic Preservation Certificate Program.
  • Students are expected to devote between 8-10 hours per week to the internship plus a biweekly meeting with the faculty member in charge, alternating with a biweekly meeting with the contact of the sponsoring entity.
  • The individual shall record the process undertaken.
  • At the completion of the internship, the student shall submit a copy of the internship report or project to complete the practicum to the Director.
  • The practicum may be taken at any time after the completion of American Studies 675 (628/421/410). It may be undertaken during the academic year or during summer.

AMST 699V Directed Readings/Research

American Studies 699V is a directed reading/directed research course. Such courses are not intended as routine alternatives to regular course offerings but rather as opportunities to explore themes and topics that are not covered in any available course within the American Studies Department or other departments within the University.

A directed reading/research 699 will be counted as a course towards an American Studies degree only if it carries 3 credits.

Students must first discuss with the graduate chairperson what is to be studied and with whom as well as justify why a 699 is the only feasible alternative.

Master and doctoral students are limited to three (3) credits to count towards their degree.

To enroll in a 699, you must obtain the consent of a particular professor with an expertise on the topic you wish to pursue. This professor may be in American Studies or in any department. Within a week after registration, you must submit to the department office a one-page account of the work to be done. This account must contain the following:

a. The theme or topic to be explored
b. The nature of the work to be done
c. Grade Options (letter grade or CR/NC)
d. Justification as to why 699 is the only feasible alternative
e. The list of books to be read (if a directed reading course)
f. The number of credits to be awarded
g. The basis upon which the credits are to be awarded–a paper, exam, or whatever. Include information on the frequency of student/professor meetings.

This one-page account must be signed by you, the professor, and the graduate chair and submitted to the American Studies Department Office (Moore 324). Without it, you will lose the right to have your directed work count towards your degree. Procedure for Registration: You may obtain appropriate forms/approvals from the American Studies Department office (Moore 324) or download these forms.
Directed Reading Consent Form
Directed Reading Approval Form

AMST 700V Thesis Research

Before registering for a Thesis 700 (for Plan A students only), the student must have completed and obtained an approved thesis committee approved/thesis topic/proposal progress form from Graduate Division

If the above have not been submitted and approved by Graduate Division, the CRN for AmSt 700 WILL NOT BE ISSUED. Please see graduate chair (in Moore 324) one month prior to registration to process the necessary forms.

NOTE: Master’s Plan A students MUST register in 700 in the semester they plan to graduate.

AMST 800V Dissertation Research

Before a doctoral student can register for a Dissertation 800 course, the student must have achieved the following:

a) passed the written and oral qualifying examination
b) received approval of doctoral committee/dissertation topic/proposal
c) passed the oral comprehensive examination

The CRN for AmSt 800 WILL NOT BE ISSUED unless all the above have been completed.

NOTE: Doctoral students MUST register in 800 in the semester they plan to graduate.



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