American Studies home page

Summer 2015

AMST 202 » 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):  TBA 

AMST 310 » 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

Instructor:  Kelli Nakamura  

Course Description: The term “Asian America” is laden with both historical meaning and contemporary importance.  The large-scale arrival of Asian immigrants in the nineteenth century not only transformed labor practices but interracial relations between Asians and those they encountered.  Specific historical images and stereotypes came to define Asian men and women and that still today are partly ascribed to the Asian population in America.  These stereotypes not only ignore the diversity that exists within the Asian American population but also the various social and ethical issues that currently confront Asian Americans. This course will focus on both the historical and contemporary concerns that Asians Americans have faced and encourage deliberation and discussion of current ethical and social justice issues such as racial profiling, affirmative action initiatives, and immigration that spark heated debate within Asian American communities. As Asian American population in the United States continues to grow, so does the need for a greater understanding of historical and contemporary ethical issues.

The themes in this course build upon each other to address the following:

  • Trace the historical experiences of Asian Americans.
  • Examine the emergence of gendered notions of identity that have been ascribed to Asian American populations.
  • Evaluate both historical and contemporary ethical issues that are important to Asian Americans and address the diversity of the Asian American community.
  • Develop writing and oral presentation skills and ethical decision making.

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

Instructor:  Valerie Lo

Course Description: This course is a survey of Asian American immigration history, social history, labor, politics, and culture from the 1840s through the present.  This course will focus on five major themes: immigration and migration to the United States and Hawai‘i, ethnic Asian communities, transnational Asians within and outside of the United States and Hawai‘i, work and labor, and culture and art.  Part of the course will focus specifically on ethnic Asians and Asian Americans on the continental United States including, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, South Asian/Indian, Hmong and Ameriasians and Mixed Race Asian Americans.  The remainder of the course will focus on Asian ethnic groups in Hawai‘i including Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Okinawans, Filipinos, and ethnically and racially mixed Asians. 

AMST 350 » Culture and the Arts in America: Survey 

Instructor: Sarah Smorol 

Course Description: This course examines the place and roles of the arts in American life and society in both historical and contemporary contexts.  What have the arts meant to Americans?  Who have practiced the arts, and how?  How do the arts function as an economic activity?  What has been the relationship between the arts and the government?  What roles do the arts serve in the community?  We will consider these questions with a particular focus on performing arts (e.g. music, theatre, dance).  In addition to reading and discussion of scholarly materials from various disciplines, students will conduct research on performing arts taking place in the community.

Students will attend several performing arts events and conduct in-depth analysis of the artistic text, production and performance, audience reception, and critical reviews.  They will interview a performing artist about their work.  Students will also conduct a group project in which each group proposes a production of a performing arts event to prospective sponsors.

Course Requirements:  TBA

Required Text (s): TBA 

AMST 352 » Screening Asian Americans

Instructor:  Kevin Lim 

Course Description: This course surveys a history of Asian North American representation on screen.  Through a wide selection of class screenings and reading assignments students will develop a deeper appreciation for the significance and consequence of media representations as they are mediated and influenced by shifting political and social changes.  The course is divided into five sections: Early Asian/Asian-American Representation, Conflict and Violence, Asian American Film, Documentary, Gender/Sexuality, and Asian diaspora.

AMST 451 » Popular Culture

Instructor:  Yohei Sekiguchi   

Course Description: This course examines various aspects of popular culture in late twentieth century America.  What makes “popular culture” popular?  Who have the power to control it–performers, producers, or its consumers?  How did the concept of popular culture transform in this time period?  How does popular culture function as an economic activity?  Drawing on diverse types of critical approach to the study of popular culture, we will consider such questions.  In the spirit of American Studies, this course will focus on various types of materials – history, music, novel, movie, etc.

AMST 453 » Culture, Society, and Literature

Instructor: Yohei Sekiguchi

Course Description:  This course is both a Writing Intensive and Ethics hallmark class.  It explores the intellectual and moral response of Americans to institutions and culture of twentieth century marketplace economy.  Especially, this course will critically examine how (absence of) ethics have helped the development of capitalism in twentieth century America and how American literature has represented such intersection between ethics and market values.  In the spirit of American Studies, this course will focus on various types of materials – novel, short story, autobiography, cultural history, documentary, etc.