American Studies home page

Spring 2016


Course descriptions for SPRING 2016

Complete list of Spring 2016 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
  • Spiegelman, Art.  Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale
  • Spiegelman, Art.  Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale
  • Stannard, David.  American Holocaust

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

Instructor: Jonathan Valdez

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: Jessica Tan

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?

Required Text(s):

The following may be purchased at the UH Bookstore.

  • Alexie, Sherman. Reservation Blues. New York: Grove Press, 2005.
  • Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Vintage International Press, 2007 ed (any older edition acceptable).
  • Yamashiro, Aiko and Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua, eds. The Value of Hawai‘i 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014.

AMST 211 (W) » Contemporary American Domestic Issues

Instructor: Logan Narikawa

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: Tomoaki Morikawa

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.

Course Requirements:

Quizzes: 30% (Two lowest scores will not be counted)
Class Participation discussion and peer review: 20%
Leading class discussion: 10%
Four 4-pages analytical papers: 40%

Required Text(s):

  • Butler, Smedley D. War is a Racket. Washington: Feral House, 2003.
  • Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. New York: Mariner Books, 2011.
  • Louie, Miriam Ching Yoon. Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Factor. Cambridge: South End Press, 2001.
  • Simon, Bryant. Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.
  • Dower, John W. War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon, 1987).
  • Kinzer, Stephen. Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (New York: Times Books, 2006).
  • Sturken, Marita. Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007).

AMST 220  » Introduction to Indigenous Studies

Instructor: Brandy McDougall

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.

Required Text(s):

All readings will be posted as pdfs or links.

AMST 301  » Hip Hop & American Culture

Instructor: Pahole Sookkasikon

Course Description: Survey tracing hip-hop from its Afro-Carribean musical beginnings to contemporary adaptations and interpretations. Students will analyze various materials and will pay attention to the relationships between hip-hop and contemporary social forms. Pre: sophomore standing or consent.

Required Text(s):

No books required

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 317 (W) » American Music and Culture

Instructor: Mari Yoshihara

Course Description: The course examines select genres of music–including classical, ragtime/jazz/blues, and Hawaiian–in American life in both historical and contemporary contexts.  We will explore such themes as the formation and evolution of a distinctively American musical genre, the role of music in shaping and expressing regional, racial, and/or ethnic identities and cultures, the place of musical practices and events in community building, and the relationship between music, commerce, and politics.  In addition to lectures and discussions of assigned readings, students will engage these themes through attendance at live musical performances and listening to recordings.

Required Text(s):

Jim Tranquada and John King, The ‘Ukulele: A History (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2012)

Oliver Wang, Legions of Bloom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews in the San Francisco Bay Area (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015)

Mari Yoshihara, Musicians from a Different Shore: Asians and Asian Americans in Classical Music (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007)

Christopher Small, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Middletown: Wesleyan University press, 1998)

David Grazian, Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003)

AMST 318 (E) »  Asian America

Instructor: Joyce Mariano

Course Description: This course broadens attention to the experiences and perspectives of Asian Americans through interrelated contexts of race, class, gender, policy, immigration, war, and citizenship.  We will work to understand how course materials highlight the dynamic dimensions of Asian America and the implications of how Asian America has been imagined both historically and today.

Required Text(s):

  • Carlos Bulosan, America is in the Heart: A Personal History
  • Yasutaro Soga, Life Behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawaii Issei
  • Jane Jeong Trenka, The Language of Blood: A Memoir 

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.

Required Text(s):


AMST 334  (E) »  Digital America: Online Communities and virtual Worlds

Instructor: Bryant Murakami

Course Description: Seminar on the impact of the digital revolution and virtual communities on American culture and society, with an emphasis on questions of identity and participatory democracy. Open to non-majors. Pre: one DH, DA, or DL course, sophomore standing, or consent.

Required Text(s):


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

Instructor: Richard Rapson

Course Description: Continuation of 343: 20th century. Pre: 150 or 201 or 202 or 211 or 212 or HIST 151 or HIST 152; or consent.

Required Text(s):

  • Collins, Gail.  When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present
  • Heilbroner, Robert.  An Inquiry into the Human Prospect
  • Nash, Roderick.  From These Beginnings
  • Rapson, Richard.  Magical Thinking and the Decline of America
  • Spiegelman, Art.  Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History / and Here My Troubles Begin‘
  • Toffler.  The Third Wave

AMST 349 (O) » Contemporary American Design

Instructor: Will Temple

Course Description:  Design is an essential feature of everyday life.  Major changes in the ways we work, communicate, and produce and consume goods and services have elevated the significance of design, both as a physical artifact and as a professional occupation.  In this course we will investigate the varied ways design contributes to contemporary American culture.  We will approach these contributions from three directions: from the individuals who practice design, from the technologies that make and distribute designed products and experiences, and from the finished products and experiences themselves.  In each direction, we will situate contemporary design practices, technologies and products, within the broader social and economic forces that propel them.

Required Text(s):

  • Julier, Guy.  The Culture of Design

AMST 382 » Junior Seminar (Research Major)

Instructor: Joyce Mariano

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

Required Text(s):

  • Rick Baldoz, The Third Asiatic Invasion: Migration and Empire in Filipino America
  • Erika Doss, Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America
  • Vernadette Gonzalez, Securing Paradise: Tourism and Militarism in Hawai‘i and the Philippines 

AMST 405 » Native Literatures and Cultures

Instructor: Brandy McDougall

Course Description: The purpose of this course is to further our understanding of the histories and contemporary issues of Indigenous peoples and their social, economic and political realities through critically reading and analyzing literature and film productions.  Through Indigenous-authored literary texts (novels, short fiction, poetry, and Spoken Word), films, discussions and critical texts, we will discuss issues of colonial overgeneralization and misrepresentation (native stereotypes, ascribed identities, fatal impact theory, the Noble Savage, hegemonic caricatures, etc.) and how native peoples actively resist and negotiate these disparaging examples of colonial ideology through counter-hegemonic literature.  We will also examine Indigenous self-representations and discuss how these cultural productions can be understood as expressions and assertions of cultural, rhetorical, and aesthetic sovereignty.

Required Text(s):

  • Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer
  • Leslie Marmon Silko’s Storyteller
  • Emelihter Kigleng’s My Urohs
  • Craig Santos Perez’s from unicorporated territory [guma]
  • Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl’s Murder Casts a Shadow
  • Matt Dembicki, ed. Trickster 

AMST 411 » Japanese Americans: Research Topics

Instructor: Dennis M. Ogawa

Course Description:  Ethnic identity and Japanese media. Comparative study of American and Japanese media as related to Japanese American ethnic identity.

Course Requirements:

  1. Final: Written/Oral: 30%
  2. Two Oral Communication Assignments (30% each=60%) (Regarding Japanese films screened in class and insights on Japanese identity)
  3. Class Discussions: 10%

Required Text(s):

Various online readings

AMST 432 » Slavery and Freedom (Crosslisted as HIST 473)

Instructor: Elizabeth Colwill

Course Description: The Expansion of African slavery in the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries fueled the global economy while 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 cultures of opposition that arose in North America, the Caribbean, and the Afro-Latin world.  How did the trans-Atlantic slave trade transform the history of the Americas?  How did gender shape the meanings of slavery and pathways to freedom?  How has the history of slavery been suppressed, recounted, and remembered?  Drawing upon slave narratives and trials records, festivals and films, prizewinning novels and historical scholarship, this course traces stories of slavery and freedom that have shaped the modern world.

Required Text(s):

Tiya Miles, Ties that Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom; Cassandra Pybus, Epic Journeys of Freedom; Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and their Global Quest for Liberty; Laurent Dubois & John Garrigus, Slave Revolution in the Caribbean; Stephanie McCurry, Confederate Reckoning; Toni Morrison, Beloved; The History of Mary Prince

AMST 436 (W) » Gender, Justice, and Law (Crosslisted as POLS 436 and WS 436)

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. A-F only. Pre: one of WS 151, WS 175, WS 176, WS 202, WS 360, WS 381, or consent.

Required Text(s):


AMST 440 » Race and Racism in America (Crosslisted 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.

456 (W) » Art of the United States (Crosslisted as Art 472 W)

Instructor: Joseph Stanton

Course Description: This course will examine the development of the visual arts in America from colonial to contemporary periods.  There will be an emphasis on nineteenth-century painting.

Required Text(s):

  • Hughes, Robert.  American Visions
  • A packet of photocopied articles

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 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:

Readings/discussions (O-focus): 10% (O-focus 5%)
Book report (O-focus): 20% (O-focus 10%)
Country/Regional Reports (O-focus): 20% (O-focus 10%)
Mid-term exam: 10%
Research paper/Final Pres. (O-focus): 30% (O-focus 15%)
Final exam: 10%

Required Text(s):

  • Norman tyler.  Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice, 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2009.
  • UNESCO Office Bangkok and Regional Bureau for Education in Asia and the Pacific; University of Hawai‘i (USA). School of Travel Industry Management, IMPACT: The Effects of Tourism on Culture and the Environment in Asia and the Pacific; Tourism and Heritage Site Management, Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, Bangkok: UNESCO Office Bangkok, 2004. Available on line.
  • COURSE READER on-line on Laulima
  • Bannick, Nancy and David Cheever. A Close Call: Saving Chinatown. Honolulu: Hawaii Architectural Foundation and Historic Hawaii Foundation 2005. Reserve. Available on Laulima

AMST 481 (W) » Senior Research Seminar (Restriction: Major)

Instructor: Jeffrey Tripp

Course Description: This course guides American Studies majors to complete their senior capstone projects. Students who have designed their projects and begun their research in AMST480 will complete their research and writing that will result in an approx. 20-page paper. The course will take the students through the steps of analyzing primary sources, situating their ideas in relation to secondary sources, developing a clear and coherent thesis, organizing their ideas, and polishing their prose. We will have a series of workshops with writing exercises and peer editing as well as one-on-one consultations with the instructor.

Course Requirements: 

Participation 20%; Draft assignments 30%; Oral presentation 10%; Final paper 40%

Required Text(s):

No books required

AMST 490B (ETH, W) » Topics in AmSt: War & Manhood

Instructor: Mickey Weems

Course Description: This course examines how masculinity is related to war and violence, how we imagine the hero, and the repercussions of the battlefield experience on men’s identities (physical injury, PTSD, adrenaline rush, the bonds of trust in combat).  Fulfills Ethics and Writing focuses.

Required Text(s):

Only two inexpensive books required!

  • Warrior Ways: $12 new, as low as $2.02 used online
  • For Cause and Comrades: $18 new, $5 used

AMST 490D » Art and Social Change

Instructor: Sonny Ganaden

Course Description: This course attempts to validate the work of artists in American culture, law, and policy.  through readings, discussions, guest presentations, field trips and research focused on the work of individuals and groups of artists in the United States in Hawaii, within social, legal and cultural context, students will learn the ways in which artists shape conversations regarding law and policy Students will trace the ways in which cultural movements develop on the periphery of the American experience and move to its core, shaping history.

AMST 601 » Patterns of American Cultures

Instructor: David Stannard

Course Description: American cultural origins and development.

AMST 616 (W) » Gender and the African Diaspora in the Americas

Instructor: Elizabeth Colwill

Course Description: The trans-Atlantic slave trade that initiated the largest forced migration in history reconfigured the social, economic, and political landscape of the Americas.  It also spawned forms of cultural and political contestation that have influenced he meanings of modernity.  This course on the African diaspora draws upon a diverse array of disciplines and cultural sources–fiction, foodways, film, poetry, spiritual practices, music, and dance–to explore the ways in in which women and men of African descent have shaped the cultures and histories of the Americas over the last four centuries.  In the process, we will explore concepts such as creolization, hybridity, mestizaje, and exile, asking throughout how a focus on gender transforms our understandings of the Afro-Atlantic diaspora.


Unit I–“History, Trauma, Displacement”–opens with an autobiographical account of one woman’s 20th-century journey along the Atlantic slave route, and introduces the conceptual terrain of scholarship in diaspora studies and gender studies.

Unit II–“From Slavery to Freedom in the Americas”–explores the diverse historical experiences and cultural practices of enslaved women and men within different Afro-Latin, Caribbean, and North American plantation societies, focusing on movements for slave emancipation, national independence, civil rights, and citizenship.

Unit III–“Homelands, Hybridity, and Twentieth-Century Diasporas”–examines the relationship among gender and race, cultural production, and political identities in the past century.  Themes include: The Black Atlantic/Queer Atlantic; Gender; Negritude, and Black Internationalism; New World Ethnography and the Arts.

Unit IV–“Ritual and Remembrance”: travels from the study of foodways among the Gullah in the Sea Islands to vodou in New York, and concludes with Edwidge Danticat’s meditation on diasporic writing: Create Dangerously.

Required Text(s):

  • Lisa Lowe, Intimacies of Four Continents (2015)
  • W.E.B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk (1994)
  • Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2008)
  • Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness (March 8, 1993)
  • Katherine Dunham, Island Possessed (1994)
  • Jennifer L. Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery (2004)
  • Jenny Sharpe, Ghosts of Slavery: A literary Archaeology of Black Women’s Lives (2003)
  • C.L.R. James, Black Jacobins (Viintage, 2nd ed)
  • Rebecca Scott and Jean M. Hébrard, Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation (September 1, 2014)
  • Camillia Cowling, Conceiving Freedom: Women of Color, Gender, and the Abolition of Slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro (2013)
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (2006)
  • Angela Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (Vintage Books, 1999)
  • Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (2005)
  • Karen McCarthy Brown, Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn (April 5, 2011)
  • Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (Vintage, 2011)

AMST 618 (W) » American Sexualities

Instructor: Kathleen Sands

Course Description: This seminar will focus on the production of American sexualities as they are linked to the rise of modernity and to American empire in both its colonial and neo-colonial forms.  Students will explore how the conceptual category of sexuality is generated, enacted, and transformed in relation to the other key constructs such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, science, law, and class.  How have American society, politics, international relations, and economic relations shaped and been shaped by sexual desires, activities, identities, technologies, and discourses?  How is sexuality crucial to the project of nation-building and American identity formation?

Required Text(s):


AMST 624 » Wilderness in America

Instructor: Joseph Stanton

Course Description: In Wilderness and the American Mind Roderick Nash notes that “wilderness was the basic ingredient of American civilization.  From the raw materials of the physical wilderness Americans built a civilization; with the idea or symbol of wilderness they sought to give that civilization identity and meaning.”  This seminar will examine how the fact and the idea of wilderness have been and continue to be important to the culture of America.  Past students have developed ideas for their theses, dissertations, art projects, and creative writings from this exciting class.  The readings will include Gary Snyder, Jon Krakauer, Roderick Nash, Barbara Novak, James Dickey, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Annette Kolodny, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Bill Bryson.

Required Text(s):


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.  A-F only.

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

Instructor: Sara Collins

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

Instructor: William Chapman

Course Description: The course is intended to familiarize students with the basic techniques used in the recording and evaluation of historic buildings and other cultural features.  Emphasis will be on field survey methods, the compilation of inventories, and evaluations of significance and/or integrity.  Students will become familiar with State of Hawai‘i own survey and registration process, with both inventories and methodologies for field surveys of cultural resources in other states and countries, and will also be introduced to the requirements of the National Register of Historic Places Program of the federal government.  There will be further introductions to basic architectural and other historic resource descriptive terminology, methods of researching the history and contexts of historic properties, and some training in the preparation of site plans.

AMST 685 » Museums and Education (Cross-listed as EDCS 685)

Instructor: Williams, B.L.

Course Description: Overview of museum education including museum learning theories, informal learning programs, audience research, national and international policies and reports, and community projects.

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.

Required Text(s):


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.

Required Text(s):


AMST 699 Directed Readings/Research

American Studies 699 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 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.