American Studies home page

Spring 2018



Course descriptions for Spring 2018 

Complete list if Spring 2018 AMST courses available here

AMST 150 (FGB) » America and the World

Instructor: Jeffrey Tripp

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.

Required Text(s):

  • Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African
  • Stannard, David.  American Holocaust
  • Kinzer: The True Flag

AMST 201 (W) » An American Experience – Institutions and Movements

Instructor: Taylor Wray

Course Description: This interdisciplinary course examines diversity and changes in American lives and values in a historical context as manifested in social institutions and social movements. It introduces students to various types of primary sources (such as laws, sermons, political manifestoes, memoirs, music, popular culture, et cetera) 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.

Required Text(s):

  • Butler, Octavia E. Kindred.
  • Yang, Kao Kalia. The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir. 
  • Zinn, Howard.  A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present. 

**All books are available at Revolution Books: 2626 King St. #201, Honolulu 96826

**Additional readings will be posted on the course website

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

Instructor: Joshua Uipi 

Course Description: If contemplation of any aspect of America must include a consideration of culture, so too must any study of American culture include a discussion of the arts.  Surveying a variety of cultures practiced by people (s) (with) in America, this course investigates just what may be talking about when we use such words as “America,” “culture,” or “art,” and how our ideas about these words have developed.

Largely focusing on the ways in which power, beauty and belonging have been constructed, contemplated and asserted through the arts, we will conclude the semester by asking the question of whether we might analyze and shape our own lives — as people living (with) in America — as we might a piece of art?

AMST 211 (W) » Contemporary American Domestic Issues

Instructor: Houston Ladner

Course Description: This course explores contemporary American domestic topics by examining the intersectional senses of the “domestic” – the “American” and the “familial.”  Our course will mostly be rooted in the contemporary – from the 1970s to the present – however, the American decade 1950-1960, will inform our readings and academic inquiry.

In the spirit of American Studies, we will implement a wide-ranging archive-drama, short stories, cinematic texts, history, performance and reportage.  Stylistically this course echoes a seminar forum, which means you are expected to actively discuss our texts, as well as intellectually engage with your peers.  Attendance and participation are mandatory.  As a Writing Intensive course, you will need to actively read and write throughout the semester.

In our tour through the senses of American domesticity and its contradictory impulses of conformity and resistance, you will discover the domesticity in all of its rich ramifications is all around us – in the present, as well as significantly celebrated in our past.

AMST 212 (W) » Contemporary American Global Issues

Instructor: Marimas Mostiller 

Course Description: This course explores contemporary global issues within their historical, political, economic, and cultural contexts. It will track the influence of American values and institutions in the world and analyze how globalization has impacted and changed society. Key concepts for this course will include, but will not limited to, international inequality, imperialism, militarism and capitalism.

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

Instructor: Jesi Bennett 

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 exploded, are often discussed in terms of “the distant American past.”  By and large, this constructed history has resulted in 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, Alaskan Natives, and Native Pacific and Atlantic Islanders whose lands are U.S. states, territories, or “freely associated” within the U.S.  We will examine the varied experiences and situations of Indigenous peoples in the United States, how indigeneity is framed 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.

AMST 310 (O) » Japanese Americans

Instructor: Dennis M. 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.

Course Requirements:

  1. Oral Communication Assignments: 46%
  2. Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii Paper: 8%
  3. Quizzes: 6%
  4. Two Tests: 20%
  5. Final Examination: 20%

Required Text(s):

  • Ogawa, Dennis.  Jan Ken Po
  • Ogawa, Dennis.  Kodomo No Tame Ni
  • Various handouts (online)

AMST 318 (E) »  Asian America (Cross-listed as ES 318) 

Instructor: Joyce Mariano 

Course Description: This course situates the experiences and perspectives of Asian Americans within larger historical, social, cultural, political, and economic contexts.  We will examine how the meaning of “Asian America” is shaped – and in turn shapes – phenomenon, categories, and events related to race, class, gender, policy, immigration, war, and citizenship.

How do we tell the story of Asian America?  In large part, our class will examine these issues through a focus on memoir, working to interpret and understand the forces that shape Asian American politics, subjectivity, and experience.  We will analyze these works with an eye toward the relationships among form and meaning, self and society, and Asian American cultural production within a larger American and transnational context.  As a class, we will analyze our readings to create a vocabulary and framework for discussing the complexity of Asian America.  This is a not a comprehensive survey, but an introduction to the many issues and themes important to the categories under study.  

Required Text(s): 

  • America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan
  • Life Behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawaii Issei by Yasutaro Soga 
  • The Language of Blood by Jane Jeong Trenka 

AMST 320 (W) » American Environments: Survey

Instructor: R. Kam 

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.  Special emphasis on contemporary environmental issues in Hawai’i.  

AMST 325  (E) »  Religion and Law in the United States (Cross-listed as POLS 325)

Instructor: Kathleen Sands

Course Description: This course introduces students to Church-State jurisprudence in the United States, with particular attention to the difficulty of defining religion.  We begin by mastering constitutional concepts that underlie religion jurisprudence.  Then, by studying key Supreme Court cases, we gain perspective on the development and present state of the law.  In the final part of the course, students engage in a group project concerning on a case or controversy that highlights the limitations of, contradictions in, and prospects for “religion” as a constitutional concept.  Your final paper will be your own opinion on the issue presented by your group.

AMST 326 (W, E)  »  American Folklore and Folklife (Cross-listed as ANTH 326)

Instructor: Heather Diamond 

Course Description: Examination of the history and ethics of folklore studies and the dynamics and social functions of traditional culture in diverse communities through topics such as ritual, storytelling, games, gossip, belief, music, and cultural tourism.  

AMST 344 »  American Thought & Culture: 20th Century (Cross-listed as HIST 374)

Instructor: Richard Rapson 

Course Description: Continuation of 343: 20th century. 

AMST 350 » Culture and the Arts of American 

Instructor: Jessica Tan 

Course Description:  Study of the role of the arts in American society and diverse cultural practices historical and contemporary contexts.   

AMST 352 » Screening Asian Americans (Cross-listed as ACM 352) 

Instructor: Bryant Murakami 

Course Description: Survey of Asian and Asian American representations in American film and television from the silent era to the present, with an emphasis on Orientalism and multiculturalism, as well as performance and spectatorship.

AMST 365» American Empire (Cross-listed as HIST 379) 

Instructor: Suzanna Reiss

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. 

AMST 383 » Approaches to American Studies 

Instructor: Jeffrey Tripp 

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

AMST 401  » Filipino Americans: Research Topics (Cross-listed as ES 443) 

Instructor: Roderick Labrador 

Course Description: A research seminar on the study of Filipino Americans.  Special themes in film/video/media, the performing arts, or literature may be offered.

AMST 411 (O) » Japanese Americans: Research Topics

Instructor: Dennis Ogawa 

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

AMST 418 (W) » Hawai’i’s Multiculturalism 

Instructor: Yuka Polovina 

Course Description: Hawai’i has long been imagined as a “racial paradise,” but what does this mean exactly?  For whom is it a “paradise”?  For whom is it not?  What local and national purpose does it served to celebrate Hawai’i’s multiculturalism?  How is multiculturalism similar and different from the continental U.S.’s version of the “melting point”?  This course looks at key historical junctures that informed contemporary understandings of the term “multicultural.”  Some of these moments include: annexation, WWII, statehood, civil rights era, and the Hawaiian Renaissance.  We also look at Hawai’i’s multiculturalism through the lens of tourism, militarization, immigration, localism, language, and food culture.

The goal of the course is to understand multiculturalism as an ideology entangled in power struggles.  This course brings together historical and contemporary perspectives, enabling students to assess, discuss, and develop their own perspectives on Hawai’i’s multicultural successes and failures to achieve ethnic and cultural harmony. 

Required Text(s): 

  • Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura, eds. Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai’i
  • David Stannard, Honor Killing: Race, Rape, and Clarence Darrow’s Spectacular Last Case
  • Judy Rohrer. Haoles in Hawai’i 
  • Lee Cataluna. Folks You Meet in Longs and Other Stories 
  • Select readings on course website

AMST 432 » Slavery and Freedom (Cross-listed as HIST 473) 

Instructor: Njoroge, Njoroge 

Course Description: Examines the history of slavery, race, and abolition in the Americas from a comparative, global perspective, and traces the legacy of slavery in the post-emancipation societies of the New World. 

AMST 436 (W) » Gender, Justice and Law (Cross-listed as WS 436 & POLS 368) 

Instructor: Susan Hippensteele

Course Description: Exploration of landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases related to sex and gender.  Topics may include sex discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, privacy, and reproductive freedom.    

AMST 440 » Race & Racism in America (Cross-listed as HIST 476)

Instructor: David Stannard 

Course Description:  During a time of extraordinary racial ethnic turmoil in the United States–from police violence in the cities to sit-ins and protests on college campuses–this course will work to understand these and other current controversies by putting them into cultural and historical context.  Beginning with discussions on the varied meanings of the words “race” and “racism,” the course will proceed to examine the trajectory of racisms in the United States and their presence in contemporary law, medicine, sports, education, media, immigration policy, and more.  This is a discussion seminar with short papers and a final essay.  No exams.

AMST 442 (O) » Social Movements

Instructor: Robert Perkinson

Course Description: Varieties of radicalism that have provided a continuing critique of prevailing values and structures.

AMST 445 (W, E) » Racism, American Culture and Film/Media 

Instructor: C. Pummer 

Course Description: An exploration of the critique of racial ideologies in American film.  The course also examines how aggrieved communities develop cultural sensibilities, aesthetic choices and politicized identities through film, video and media work. 

AMST 451 » Popular Culture 

Instructor: Jonathan Valdez 

Course Description: Major themes, modes, and media of popular of mass culture in the U.S.; emphasis on cultural trends and social implications.  

AMST 457 (E,W) » Museum Interpretations (Cross-listed as ART 481)

Instructor: Karen Kosasa

Course Description: This course focuses on the interpretive practices of museums and related institutions in the continental U.S., Hawai‘i, and other parts of the world. Museum exhibitions can become sites of public controversies and battles over the “politics of representation.” Individual viewers or whole communities may feel that a particular display undermines “traditional family values” or inappropriately challenges long-held beliefs about a nation’s history. Others may feel that a curator’s interpretive framework inadvertently denigrates a minority community or overlooks the importance of ethnic, racial, class, gender, or sexual differences. Thus, museum professionals must carefully consider and examine the ethical dimensions of their institutional practices. Through readings on a wide range of related subjects, brief lectures, discussions, field trips, and writing assignments, the class will engage with theoretical, historical, ethical, and practical issues. Students will develop skills to analyze interpretive programs as well as practice writing labels and developing didactic materials for visitors. The course is structured to weave back and forth between the study of three distinct but related activities: 1) the interpretation or representation of objects and phenomena by museum professionals, 2) the reception of the interpretative materials by museum visitors, and 3) the ethical implications of the interpretive materials produced by museums. Museums are dependent on staff members who combine strong conceptual, analytical, research, and writing skills, along with creative problem-solving abilities and a knowledge of the contemporary ethical issues facing the profession. Multiple opportunities to develop these skills and abilities will be available throughout the semester. Students who take this course may be inspired to work within museums in the future as professionals or volunteers; to develop projects as artists; or to participate in programs as informed visitors and patrons.

Course Requirements:

  • In-class: Learning Log Entries
  • Three 1-2 page: Interpretive Exhibition Texts
  • Four 2 page papers: Response Papers, Interpretive Exhibition Critiques
  • One 3 page Critical Paper (plus rewrite of this paper)
  • One 1 page Peer Review of critical paper
  • One 1/2 page Final Project Proposal Final Project: Development of an exhibition proposal, narrative tour, research paper or related project. This project must be well researched and related to the class material. Students are expected to submit a written proposal to initiate the project and make an oral presentation

Required Text(s):

  • Luke, Timothy. Museum Politics: Power Plays at the Exhibition. 
  • Serrell, Beverly. Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach. 
  • Course Reader. (Instructions for purchasing the reader will be given in class.)

AMST 459 (W) » Sports in America

Instructor: Joseph Stanton

Course Description: Sports as reflected in literature, films, and TV.

AMST 474 (O-Focus) » Preservation: Hawaii, Asia, and the Pacific (Cross-listed as ARCH 474)

Instructor: William Chapman

Course Description: This O-focused course is an overview of issues in conservation and historic preservation facing peoples of Hawai‘i, Asia, and the Pacific.  The course covers the range of historic and cultural resources found in the region, steps taken in the past to preserve these resources and present threats to their preservation.  Issues of past colonial interventions, the rights of indigenous peoples to have a say in what is preserved and how, and the means by which traditional cultures might best be saved and recognized are treated in detail throughout the course.

Although significant emphasis is placed upon examples of tangible cultural and historic resources-buildings, structures, landscapes, and archaeological sites-more recently identified cultural preservation issues, as embedded in language, food, ceremonies, and other cultural practices, will also feature in course readings, lectures, and discussion.

Course Requirements: 

  • Preparation and participation in class discussions: 25%
  • Response papers: 15%
  • Moderation of class discussion: 10%
  • Local museum reports: 20%
  • Presentation of final research topic: 5%
  • Final research paper: 25%

AMST 484 (W) » Senior Research Seminar (Restriction: Major)

Instructor: Joyce Mariano 

Course Description: AMST 484 guides majors in American Studies through the process of completing their Senior Capstone Projects.  Students will refine the formal proposals they designed in the Fall Semester and pursue research strategies appropriate to their project ideas.  This course provides students a structure to produce an original research project.  In so doing, students will work toward expertise in their own designated subfields. 

AMST 601 » Patterns of American Cultures

Instructor: David Stannard

Course Description: American cultural origins and development.

AMST 603 » Advanced Research & Prof Development 

Instructor: Kathleen Sands 

Course Description: This is a practical, collaborative seminar, geared to developing the skills for a successful academic career in the humanities.  With the guidance of some excellent how-to-manuals and the sage advice of more experienced academics, we’ll address issues such as finding a mentor, seeking grants and fellowships, preparing for exams, presenting papers at academic conferences, teaching, publishing and balancing the various components of academic life (not to mention “life” life).  The primary work product of the semester will be a major piece of scholarly writing, which you will develop in stages with the feedback of the instructor and other students.  

AMST 625 » Material Culture 

Instructor: Karen Kosasa

Course Description: Physical artifacts considered as documents of American cultural and regional development.  

AMST 638 » American Punishment (Cross-listed as SOC 638) 

Instructor: Robert Perkinson

Course Description: Examines the history of American criminal punishment, from the birth of the penitentiary to the rise of the prison-industrial complex.  

AMST 645 (W) » Historic Preservation (Cross-listed as ANTH 645)

Instructor: William Chapman

Course Description: This course serves graduate students in the Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation program and students in Anthropology, Geography, History, Planning, Architecture, Tourism and any other field with an emphasis on Cultural Heritage Management and Historic Preservation.  It also serves students in the Applied Archaeology and Anthropology programs in the Department of Anthropology.  The focus of the course is federal, state and local historic preservation laws and their impacts on the protection and recording of historic and cultural sites.  A major component will be the existing series of federal laws and Hawai‘i State laws pertaining to cultural resource management.  The course will also discuss case law, particularly zoning and land-use laws, as they impact historic preservation in Hawai‘i and elsewhere.

The course includes lectures, student presentations, videos, guest speakers and discussion.  Students will be expected to contribute strongly to the class sessions, making presentations on the existing laws and completing a term paper and class presentation.  There is also a take-home Mid-Term Exam.

Course Requirements:

Participation: 15%
Short presentations: 15%
Book Report: 20%
Midterm: 15%
Project and Final Presentation: 35%

Required Text (s):

  • U.S. National Park Service. Federal Historic Preservation Laws:  The Official Compilation of U.S. Cultural Heritage Statutes. Washington, D.D. National Park Service, 2006. (Available on-line)
  • Thalia Lani Ma’a. Laws of Historic Preservation in Hawai‘i: Kanawai Mau Mo‘olelo. Honolulu: Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 1998.
  • Thomas F, King.  Cultural Resource Laws and Practice. 3rd ed. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Altamira Press, 2008

AMST 650 » Field Mastery

Instructor: Kathleen Sands 

Course Description: AMST 650 is designed for Ph.D. students to reinforce and deepen content knowledge in the general field of  American Studies and in specialized subfields within American Studies.  By the time that Ph.D. students begin their dissertations, students are expected to have engaged at a sophisticated level with the major themes, problems, and interdisciplinary methods of the field of American Studies, and to have developed specializations in two subfields that will serve as their professional teaching and research fields.

AMST 650, offered each semester with variable content, aims to provide students with a defined pathway toward field mastery, and thus to facilitate progress to degree.  To prepare for the qualifying examination, students read 40-50 texts in their major field, and in each of two subfields under the supervision of a faculty member.  Each of the three fields requires intensive preparation.  By consequence, advanced Ph.D. students will be permitted to register for this course, with different content, up to three times (up to 9 credits)–each with a separate field adviser.

AMST 650 involves substantial intellectual content and regular meetings with a faculty member, receives a letter grade, and counts toward the 45-credits required for the Ph.D. It requires the approval and signature of the supervising instructor and the graduate chair prior to receipt of the CRN.

To register:

  • Obtain the 650 Form and the Ph.D Qualifying Exam Fields Approval Form from the graduate coordinator or the AMST website;
  • Obtain the consent of professor who will supervise the field, in person or via email;
  • Consult with the supervising professor concerning the specific texts and writing assignments required for completion of AMST 650 in that field.
  • Complete the forms, and obtain first the professor’s, and then the graduate chair’s signatures;
  • Give the forms to the graduate coordinator, who will provide the CRN needed to register for one or more 650s.

AMST 676 » Recording Historic & Cultural Resources (Cross-listed as ANTH 676 & PLAN 676)

Instructor: William Chapman 

Course Description: Techniques in recording and evaluation of historic buildings and other resources, with an emphasis on field recordings and state and federal registration procedures. 

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

Instructor: TBA

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 690 » Research Sem (Comparative Indigenous Rights) (Dual listing with LWPA (Law) 582E)

Instructor: M. MacKenzie

Course Description: Themes, problems, issues not addressed in other American studies graduate courses; emphasis upon research methods.  

AMST 695 » Historic Preservation Practicum (Restriction Major)

Instructor: TBA

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.

AMST 699 » Directed Readings/Research 

American Studies 699 is a directed reading/directed research course. AMST 699 is not intended as a routine alternative to regular course offerings.  As a general rule, 699 should not substitute for graduate seminars before completion of course requirements, except when the 699 provides content essential to the student’s program of study and unavailable either in the Department of American Studies or elsewhere at UHM.

The 699 should not be used for field mastery in preparation for qualifying exams, since AMST 650 fulfills this purpose.  699s are occasionally authorized for students who have completed coursework but need one semester to complete thesis or dissertation proposals, or when special needs arise. 

AMST 699 may be taken either for a letter grade, or Credit/No Credit.  Only courses taken for a letter grade, and only 3 credits of 699, can count toward total American Studies graduate credit requirements. 

Registration requires completion of two forms, available on the website or from the American Studies graduate coordinator.  The 699 Consent form requires a full course plan signed first by the supervising professor with expertise on the topic, and next by the graduate chair.  Forms must be completed and submitted to the graduate coordinator in Moore 324 prior to the receipt of a CRN.  

AMST 700 » 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 800 » Dissertation Research