Humanities Quadrangle, 203.432.1186
M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.
Laura Barraclough (HQ 314, 203.432.1186)
Director of Graduate Studies
Greta LaFleur (HQ 304, 203.432.1186)
Professors Jean-Christophe Agnew (Emeritus), Laura Barraclough, Ned Blackhawk, Daphne Brooks, Hazel Carby (Emerita), Michael Denning, Wai Chee Dimock (Emerita), Kathryn Dudley, John Mack Faragher (Emeritus), Roderick Ferguson, Glenda Gilmore (Emerita), Jacqueline Goldsby, Inderpal Grewal (Emerita), Scott Herring, Daniel HoSang, Matthew Jacobson, Kathryn Lofton, Lisa Lowe, Mary Lui, Joanne Meyerowitz, Charles Musser, Tavia Nyong’o, Stephen Pitti, Sally Promey, Ana Ramos-Zayas, Marc Robinson, Paul Sabin, Alicia Schmidt Camacho, Caleb Smith, Robert Stepto (Emeritus), Dara Strolovitch, Kalindi Vora, John Harley Warner, Tisa Wenger, Laura Wexler
Associate Professors Crystal Feimster, Zareena Grewal, Greta LaFleur, Albert Laguna, Elihu Rubin
Assistant Professors Julian Posada, Madiha Tahir
Senior Lecturer James Berger
Lecturer Leah Mirakhor
Fields of Study
Fields include American literature, history, the arts and material culture, philosophy, cultural theory, and the social sciences.
Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree
During the first two years of study students are required to take twelve term courses; at least half of these courses must be in American Studies. Two courses, both graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, are required: AMST 600, American Scholars, taken in the first year, and AMST 602, Field Studies, taken in the second year. The student’s program will be decided in consultation with the adviser and the director of graduate studies (DGS). In each of the two years, the student should take at least one seminar devoted to research or requiring a substantial original paper, and must achieve two grades of Honors, with an average overall of High Pass.
Students are required to show proficiency in a language other than English; they may fulfill this requirement by (1) conducting substantial research in the chosen language as part of the course requirements for one of the twelve required seminars, (2) passing a translation test, offered each term by various language departments, or (3) receiving a grade of B or higher in a Yale College intermediate- or advanced-level language course or in a Yale language-for-reading course, such as French for Reading or German for Reading.
Upon completion of course work, students in their third year of study are required to participate in at least one term of a monthly prospectus workshop (AMST 902). Intended to complement the work of the prospectus committee, the workshop is designed as a professionalization experience that culminates in students’ presentation of the dissertation prospectus at their prospectus colloquium.
Students should schedule the oral qualifying examinations in four fields, in the fifth term of study. Preparation, submission, and approval of the dissertation prospectus should be completed by the end of the sixth term, with a final deadline at the end of the seventh term with permission from the DGS. Students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. upon completion of all predissertation requirements, including the prospectus. The faculty in American Studies considers training in teaching to be an important part of the program. Students in American Studies normally teach in years three and four.
Combined Ph.D. Programs
American Studies and African American Studies
The American Studies Program also offers, in conjunction with the Department of African American Studies, a combined Ph.D. in American Studies and African American Studies. This combined degree is most appropriate for students who intend to concentrate in and write a dissertation on any aspect of African American history, literature, or culture in the United States and other parts of the Americas. Applicants to the combined program must indicate on their application that they are applying both to American Studies and to African American Studies. All documentation within the application should include this information. For further details, see African American Studies.
American Studies and Film and Media Studies
The American Studies Program also offers, in conjunction with the Program in Film and Media Studies, a combined Ph.D. in American Studies and Film and Media Studies. Applicants to the combined program must indicate on their application that they are applying both to American Studies and to Film and Media Studies. All documentation within the application should include this information. For further details, see Film and Media Studies.
American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
The American Studies Program also offers, in conjunction with the Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, a combined Ph.D. in American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This combined degree is most appropriate for students who intend to concentrate in and write a dissertation on any aspect of gender and sexuality; transnational politics and security regimes; citizenship and statelessness; public law and sexual violence; public policy and political representation; kinship, reproduction, and reproductive technologies; policing, surveillance, and incarceration; social movements and protest; indigeneity, racialization, and racism; literature, language, and translation; Islam and neoliberalism; colonialism and postcolonialism. Applicants to the combined program must indicate on their application that they are applying both to American Studies and to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. All documentation within the application should include this information. For further details, see Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
Public Humanities Certificate
The Certificate in Public Humanities is granted upon the completion of all requirements. For more details on these requirements, as well as information on courses, projects, and teaching opportunities, see Public Humanities under Non-Degree Granting Programs, Councils, and Research Institutes.
M.Phil. See Degree Requirements under Policies and Regulations.
M.A. Students may apply for a terminal master’s degree in American Studies. For the M.A. degree, students must successfully complete seven term courses, including a special writing project, and the language requirement. The project involves the submission of substantial written work either in conjunction with one course or as a tutorial that substitutes for one course. Students must earn a grade of Honors in two of their courses and an average grade of High Pass in the others. Candidates in combined programs will be awarded the M.A. only when the master’s degree requirements for both programs have been met. Doctoral students who withdraw from the Ph.D. program may be eligible to receive the M.A. degree if they have met the above requirements and have not already received the M.Phil. degree.
More information is available on the department’s website, http://americanstudies.yale.edu.
AMST 600a, American Scholars Lisa Lowe
This required seminar for incoming first-year graduate students in the American Studies doctoral program focuses on varieties of scholarship and research methods employed in the field. The course aims to be both a history of the interdisciplinary American Studies field and an exploration of newer debates, approaches, and frameworks that engage and revise earlier objects, areas, historical timelines, methods, and periods. Beyond the narratives of United States exceptionalism, we engage American Studies scholarship that considers U.S. culture, history, and politics in relation to the histories of slavery, settler colonialism, capitalism, race, gender, sexuality, subcultures, war and empire. To explore the various kinds of approaches and projects, the seminar features visits from Yale scholars. Students will read 100 pages of visiting scholars’ work and collaborate on topical and thematic questions for discussion. Assignments include brief weekly writing assignments. This course is mandatory for first-year American Studies graduate students.
AMST 602b, Field Studies Laura Barraclough, Daniel HoSang, Kathryn Dudley, and Greta LaFleur
Students work with faculty to identify relevant field-specific literature (e.g., in preparation for oral examinations), formulate compelling research questions, explore appropriate interdisciplinary methods, and/or describe intended contributions to the field. On completion of the course, students are prepared to write competitive fellowship applications and to engage in full-time dissertation research (after their transition to candidacy).
AMST 620a, Pedagogy Julian Posada and Madiha Tahir
Faculty members instruct their Teaching Fellows on the pedagogical methods for teaching specific subject matter.
AMST 622a and AMST 623b / CPLT 622a, Working Group on Globalization and Culture Michael Denning
A continuing yearlong collective research project, a cultural studies “laboratory.” The group, drawing on several disciplines, meets regularly to discuss common readings, develop collective and individual research projects, and present that research publicly. The general theme for the working group is globalization and culture, with three principal aspects: (1) the globalization of cultural industries and goods, and its consequences for patterns of everyday life as well as for forms of fiction, film, broadcasting, and music; (2) the trajectories of social movements and their relation to patterns of migration, the rise of global cities, the transformation of labor processes, and forms of ethnic, class, and gender conflict; (3) the emergence of and debates within transnational social and cultural theory. The specific focus, projects, and directions of the working group are determined by the interests, expertise, and ambitions of the members of the group, and change as its members change. The working group is open to doctoral students in their second year and beyond. Graduate students interested in participating should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMST 630a / HSAR 529a / RLST 819a, Museums and Religion: the Politics of Preservation and Display Sally Promey
This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on the tangled relations of religion and museums, historically and in the present. What does it mean to “exhibit religion” in the institutional context of the museum? What practices of display might one encounter for this subject? What kinds of museums most frequently invite religious display? How is religion suited (or not) for museum exhibition and museum education? Permission of the instructor required; qualified undergraduates are welcome.
AMST 640a, Muslims in the United States Zareena Grewal
Since 9/11, cases of what has been termed “home-grown terrorism” have cemented the fear that “bad” Islam is not just something that exists far away, in distant lands. As a result, there has been an urgent interest to understand who American Muslims are by officials, experts, journalists, and the public. Although Muslims have been part of America’s story from its founding, Muslims have alternated from an invisible minority to the source of national moral panics, capturing national attention during political crises, as a cultural threat or even a potential fifth column. Today the stakes are high to understand what kinds of meanings and attachments connect Muslims in America to the Muslim world and to the U.S. as a nation. Over the course of the semester, students grapple with how to define and apply the slippery concept of diaspora to different dispersed Muslim populations in the U.S., including racial and ethnic diasporas, trading diasporas, political diasporas, and others. By focusing on a range of communities-in-motion and a diverse set of cultural texts, students explore the ways mobility, loss, and communal identity are conceptualized by immigrants, expatriates, refugees, guest-workers, religious seekers, and exiles. To this end, we read histories, ethnographies, essays, policy papers, novels, poetry, memoirs; we watch documentary and fictional films; we listen to music, speeches, spoken word performances, and prayers. Our aim is to deepen our understanding of the multiple meanings and conceptual limits of homeland and diaspora for Muslims in America, particularly in the Age of Terror.
AMST 696b / ENGL 906b / ER&M 696b / HSHM 782b / RLST 630b / WGSS 696b, Michel Foucault I: The Works, The Interlocutors, The Critics Greta LaFleur
This graduate-level course presents students with the opportunity to develop a thorough, extensive, and deep (though still not exhaustive!) understanding of the oeuvre of Michel Foucault, and his impact on late-twentieth-century criticism and intellectual history in the United States. Non-francophone and/or U.S. American scholars, as Lynne Huffer has argued, have engaged Foucault’s work unevenly and frequently in a piecemeal way, due to a combination of the overemphasis on The History of Sexuality, Vol 1 (to the exclusion of most of his other major works), and the lack of availability of English translations of most of his writings until the early twenty-first century. This course seeks to correct that trend and to re-introduce Foucault’s works to a generation of graduate students who, on the whole, do not have extensive experience with his oeuvre. In this course, we read almost all of Foucault’s published writings that have been translated into English (which is almost all of them, at this point). We read all of the monographs, and all of the Collège de France lectures, in chronological order. This lightens the reading load; we read a book per week, but the lectures are shorter and generally less dense than the monographs. [The benefit of a single author course is that the more time one spends reading Foucault’s work, the easier reading his work becomes.] We read as many of the essays he published in popular and more widely-circulated media as we can. The goal of the course is to give students both breadth and depth in their understanding of Foucault and his works, and to be able to situate his thinking in relation to the intellectual, social, and political histories of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Alongside Foucault himself, we read Foucault’s mentors, interlocutors, and inheritors (Heidegger, Marx, Blanchot, Canguilhem, Derrida, Barthes, Althusser, Bersani, Hartman, Angela Davis, etc); his critics (Mbembe, Weheliye, Butler, Said, etc.), and scholarship that situates his thought alongside contemporary social movements, including student, Black liberation, prison abolitionist, and anti-psychiatry movements. Instructor permission required.
AMST 701a / AFAM 687a / HIST 751a, Race in American Studies Matthew Jacobson
This reading-intensive seminar examines influential scholarship across disciplines on “the race concept” and racialized relations in American culture and society. Major topics include the cultural construction of race; race as both an instrument of oppressions and an idiom of resistance in American politics; the centrality of race in literary, anthropological, and legal discourse; the racialization of U.S. foreign policy; “race mixing” and “passing,” vicissitudes of “whiteness” in American politics; the centrality of race in American political culture; and “race” in the realm of popular cultural representation. Writings under investigation include classic formulations by such scholars as Lawrence Levine and Ronald Takaki, as well as more recent work by Saidiya Hartman, Robin Kelley, and Ann Fabian. Seminar papers give students an opportunity to explore in depth the themes, periods, and methods that most interest them. Permission of the instructor required.
AMST 702a / AFAM 500a, Global Black Aesthetics Tav Nyong'o
Given the planetary scope increasingly implicit in contemporary art practice and the art world, this course asks after the relationship between politics and aesthetics in the current moment of planetary crisis. Critical discussion of the relation between aesthetics and politics is often framed as solely a question of enhancing democratic participation and emancipating publics. However, this approach is limited and does not sufficiently account for colonial modernity’s role in the construction of the aesthetic, as well as its role in political relegating and regulating populations as dispossessed and disenfranchised. Readings include contemporary black aesthetic theories of refusal, fabulation, and poetics and draw on readings from Denise Ferreira da Silva, Fred Moten, Tina Campt, Saidiya Hartman, Christina Sharpe, John Keene, Dionne Brand, Édouard Glissant, and Sylvia Wynter. Prerequisite: one other graduate African American Studies course, preferably AFAM 505.
AMST 704b / ENGL 886b / WGSS 704b, War and Everyday Life Sunny Xiang
This course thinks together two spatiotemporal phenomena that appear opposed: war and everyday life. Why is war generally thought of as an exceptional phenomenon, a climactic event that disrupts the quotidian rhythms of the everyday? And why does everyday life so often appear parceled off from war, a placid domestic realm that soldiers depart from and return to? The study of war is often a masculine, muscular endeavor. This course's turn to the methodologies that are guided by feminist, anti-imperialist, and anti-racist critique allows us to better contemplate how militaristic logics shape everyday life and how anti-militarism might be lived at the level of daily practices. This notion of everyday militarisms is both the impetus and the frame for our engagement of the special collections at Yale Library. As an impetus, lived experience of militarism requires us to account for our specific institutional location. What has Yale's role been in war-making and empire-building? How might we analyze our own experiences at Yale and in the historical present with these flashpoints in mind? An attunement to the more quotidian aspects of militarisms also provides an alternate frame for rethinking wartime events that may at the outset seem extraordinary or exceptional. What might it mean to understand nuclear bombs, forced migrations, and environmental disasters as ordinary crises? What do people's day-to-day experience of such crises look like? To approach such questions from different angles and at different scales, we need to consult primary source materials in tandem with an array of interdisciplinary scholarship. Considered together, these course materials help us contemplate why everyday wars tend to go undetected—whether because of new kinds of weapons, war crimes that pass as governance, the time lag of slow violence, or the representational norms of popular culture. Of course, the militarization of daily life looks different depending on one’s geographical, historical, social, and disciplinary orientation. So, even though the course tries to assemble a range of materials and examples, it reflects the instructor's orientation as an Americanist scholar of twentieth-century transpacific culture and politics. But the assessment of everydayness is a matter of perception and perspective in a more general sense as well. How does militarism hide in plain sight, and for whom is it hidden? Throughout the term, the power relations embedded in discerning and analyzing everyday militarisms require us to bring an added layer of critical self-reflection to all our research endeavors.
AMST 715a / AFAM 764a / HIST 715a, Readings in Nineteenth-Century America David Blight
The course explores recent trends and historiography on several problems through the middle of the nineteenth century: sectionalism, expansion; slavery and the Old South; northern society and reform movements; Civil War causation; the meaning of the Confederacy; why the North won the Civil War; the political, constitutional, and social meanings of emancipation and Reconstruction; violence in Reconstruction society; the relationships between social/cultural and military/political history; problems in historical memory; the tension between narrative and analytical history writing; and the ways in which race and gender have reshaped research and interpretive agendas.
AMST 716b / ANTH 769b / ARCG 769b / HSAR 716b, Landscapes of Meaning: Museums and Their Objects Anne Underhill
This seminar explores how museums convey various meanings about ethnographic, art, and archaeological objects through the processes of collecting, preparing exhibitions, and conducting research. Participants also discuss broader theoretical and methodological issues such as the roles of museums in society, relationships with source communities, management of cultural heritage, and various specializations valuable for careers in art, natural history, anthropology, history, and other museums.
AMST 721a / AFAM 522a / ENGL 935a, The Beautiful Struggle: Blackness, the Archive, and the Speculative Daphne Brooks
This seminar takes its inspiration from concepts and questions centering theories that engage experimental methodological approaches to navigating the opacities of the archive: presumptively “lost” narratives of black life, obscure(d) histories, compromised voices and testimonials, contested (auto)biographies, anonymous testimonies, textual aporias, fabulist documents, confounding marginalia. The scholarly and aesthetic modes by which a range of critics and poets, novelists, dramatists, and historians have grappled with such material have given birth to new analytic lexicons—from Saidiya Hartman’s “critical fabulation” to José Estaban Muñoz’s “ephemera as evidence” to Tavia Nyong’o’s “Afrofabulation.” Such strategies affirm the centrality of speculative thought and invention as vital and urgent forms of epistemic intervention in the hegemony of the archive and open new lines of inquiry in black studies. Our class explores a variety of texts that showcase these new queries and innovations, and we also actively center our efforts from within the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where a number of sessions are held and where we focus on Beinecke holdings that resonate with units of the course. Various sessions also feature distinguished guest interlocutors via Zoom, who are on hand to discuss the specifics of their research methods and improvisational experimentations in both archival exploration and approaches to their prose and poetic projects.
AMST 724b / PLSC 868b / WGSS 724b, Gender and Sexuality in American Politics and Policy Dara Strolovitch
This seminar familiarizes students with foundational work on and approaches to the study of gender and sexuality in American politics and public policy. It explores empirical work that addresses these topics, a range of theoretical and epistemological approaches to them, and the social scientific methods that have been used to examine them. It explores the history, findings, and controversies in research about gender and sexuality in American politics and political science, examining work within several subfields of American politics (e.g., political development; public law; political behavior; legislative studies; public policy; interest groups and social movements), important work from other disciplines, and research that does not fit neatly into traditional disciplinary categories, paying particular attention to the implications of this “messiness” for the study of gender, sexuality, and politics. We are attentive to the complicated histories of science and social science when it comes to the study of gender and sexuality and to the ways in which gender and sexuality intersect with other politically relevant categories, identities, and forms of marginalization, such as race, ethnicity, class, and ideological and partisan identification.
AMST 725a, Writing the Academic Journal Article Albert Laguna
Graduate students are often told that publishing a journal article is a crucial part of their professional development. This course helps students get it done. Students come to class with a piece of writing—seminar paper, dissertation chapter—that we workshop as a group throughout the course of the term. In addition to personalized feedback, we also have broader discussions about the nuts and bolts of this genre of academic writing: organizing your argument, revision, clarity, framing interventions, etc. We complement this structured approach to writing with discussions aimed at demystifying the process by which an article gets published—the art of selecting the right journal, how to read and respond to reader reports, and general timelines. The goal is for all students to submit their article to the journal of their choice by the end of the term. Students are required to have a piece of writing ready to workshop into an article at the very beginning of the class. Students interested in the course should contact the instructor at email@example.com.
AMST 746a / ANTH 503a, Ethnographic Writing Kathryn Dudley
This course explores the practice of ethnographic analysis, writing, and representation. Through our reading of contemporary ethnographies and theoretical work on ethnographic fieldwork in anthropological and interdisciplinary research, we explore key approaches to intersubjective encounters, including phenomenological anthropology, relational psychoanalysis, affect studies, and the new materialisms. Our inquiries coalesce around the poetics and politics of what it means to sense and sensationalize co-present subjectivities, temporalities, and ontologies in multispecies worlds and global economies. This is a core anthropology graduate program course; others admitted only by permission of the instructor.
AMST 754b / ANTH 757b, The Ethnographic Imaginary Kathryn Dudley
At its best, ethnographic meaning-making is a way of knowing that illuminates social worlds both seen and unseen, said and unsaid, texted and extra-textual. Yet try as we might to convey the truth of our lives lived in concert with others, something more, and something else always exceeds our efforts. When the anthropocentric logics of cultural representation fail us, the imaginary offers a hold, however fleeting and tenuous, on our own and others’ experiential realities. This seminar focuses on the use of images, imagery, and the imaginary in ethnography that explores the hazy uncertainties that surround and underpin what can be both known and unknown by us as well as our interlocutors. Thinking critically about anthropology’s colonial gaze and how its afterlives haunt our ethnographic encounters today, we engage a range of interdisciplinary scholarship that embraces, and troubles, the sensorial imagination as a source of knowledge about cultural histories and immediacies. Final projects are ethnographic in spirit and explore representational/anti-representational practices that may include photography, video documentary, and creative writing, among other artforms. In-class workshops will offer opportunities to share work-in-progress.
AMST 778b / ANTH 666b / ER&M 762b / WGSS 666b, The Study of Privilege in the Americas Ana Ramos-Zayas
Examination of inequality, not only through experiences of the poor and marginal, but also through institutions, beliefs, social norms, and everyday practices of the privileged. Topics include critical examination of key concepts like “studying up,” “elite,” and “privilege,” as well as variations in forms of capital; institutional sites of privilege (elite prep schools, Wall Street); living spaces and social networks (gated communities, private clubs); privilege in intersectional contexts (privilege and race, class, and gender); and everyday practices of intimacy and affect that characterize, solidify, and promote privilege.
AMST 780b / HIST 734b / WGSS 734b, Class and Capitalism in the Twentieth-Century United States Jennifer Klein
Reading course on class formation, labor, and political economy in the twentieth-century United States; how regionalism, race, and class power shaped development of American capitalism. The course reconsiders the relationships between economic structure and American politics and political ideologies, and between global and domestic political economy. Readings include primary texts and secondary literature (social, intellectual, and political history; geography).
AMST 783a / FILM 783a, The Historical Documentary Charles Musser
This course looks at the historical documentary as a method for carrying out historical work in the public humanities. It investigates the evolving discourse sand resonances within such topics as the Vietnam War, the Holocaust, and African American history. It is concerned with the relationship of documentary to traditional scholarly written histories as well as the history of the genre and what is often called the “archival turn.”
T 3:30pm-5:20pm, M 7pm-10pm
AMST 801b / HIST 700b, U.S. Colonial Present Lisa Lowe
Settler colonialism, slavery, racialized immigration, and military empire have been integral to the emergence of the U.S. nation, state, and economy, and their historical consequences continue today. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we study the relevance of these historical and ongoing formations to the founding and development of the United States, giving attention to the independence of each, as well as to their differences, convergences, and contestations. We consider the strengths and limits of given analytic frames for understanding our current historical crises of public health, economic austerity, and racial state violence. Despite the differentiated histories of settler colonialism, slavery, and empire, contemporary struggles and solidarities can identify links and convergences that colonial logics may disallow. The seminar includes readings in history, anthropology, political theory, and literature, as well as films and other media. Enrollment limited. Permission of the instructor required.
AMST 804a, Religion and U.S. Empire Tisa Wenger and Zareena Grewal
This course draws on perspectives from anthropology, history, American studies, religious studies, Indigenous studies, and postcolonial studies to interrogate the varied intersections between religion and US empire. It asks not only how Christianity and other religious traditions have facilitated imperialism and how they have served as resources for resistance, but also how the categories of “religion” and the “secular” have been assembled as imperial products alongside modern formations of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Through seminar discussions and written assignments, students gain new analytical tools along with critical purchase on an important new area for research in several intersecting fields of study.
AMST 830a / AFAM 771a / HIST 729a, The American Carceral State Elizabeth Hinton
This readings course examines the historical development of the U.S. carceral state, focusing on policing practices, crime control policies, prison conditions, and the production of scientific knowledge in the twentieth century. Key works are considered to understand the connections between race and the development of legal and penal systems over time, as well as how scholars have explained the causes and consequences of mass incarceration in America. Drawing from key insights from new histories in the field of American carceral studies, we trace the multifaceted ways in which policymakers and officials at all levels of government have used criminal law, policing, and imprisonment as proxies for exerting social control in communities of color throughout U.S. history.
AMST 832a and AMST 833b / FILM 735a and FILM 736b, Documentary Film Workshop Charles Musser
This workshop in audiovisual scholarship explores ways to present research through the moving image. Students work within a Public Humanities framework to make a documentary that draws on their disciplinary fields of study. Designed to fulfill requirements for the M.A. with a concentration in Public Humanities.
W 3:30pm-6:20pm, T 7pm-10pm
AMST 835b / HIST 731b, Research in Recent U.S. History Joanne Meyerowitz
Students conduct research in primary sources and write original essays on post-1945 U.S. history. Readings include scholarly articles that might serve as models for students’ research projects.
AMST 836b / HIST 570b, American Religion in the Archives Tisa Wenger
An advanced seminar on archival research methods for historians of American religion. The class begins with readings that theorize the archive, particularly for the study of American religion. What counts as an archive? How are archives constituted and by whom? What are the limits and pitfalls of archives—and the construct of “the archive”—for research in this field? Over the course of the term, students are guided through the process of writing an archivally grounded research paper using Yale Divinity School Library Special Collections and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Enrollment capped at fifteen; meets at YDS Library L104.
AMST 838b / HIST 749b / HSHM 753b, Research in Environmental History Paul Sabin
Students conduct advanced research in primary sources and write original essays over the course of the term. Readings and library activities inform students’ research projects. Interested graduate students should contact the instructor with proposed research topics.
AMST 856b, American Mobilities Laura Barraclough
The “mobilities turn,” developed primarily in the social sciences since the early 2000s, examines the structured movements of people, ideas, and things; the transportation and communication infrastructures that move them; and the cultural meanings attributed to mobility and immobility. This course integrates critical mobilities scholarship with American studies and adjacent fields to consider the significance of (im)mobilities for the evolution of American history, geographies, society, and culture. Our focus is on American (im)mobilities and mobility justice in relationship to settler colonialism, racism, and capitalism in a variety of regions and from the seventeeth century to the present.
AMST 857b / WGSS 857b, Frailties Scott Herring
An overview of the methodologies and interdisciplinary potentials of critical age studies. After beginning with a recent issue of Radical History Review on “Old/Age,” we spend our weeks discussing topics such as ageism and age discrimination; immigrant caregiving and servitude; black debility; creative iterations of queer and trans aging; age standardizations in the early twentieth-century United States; “deaths of despair” amidst “the new longevity”; feminist critiques of optimal aging; and junctures of disability and aging. The course brings together a range of thinkers including historians such as Corinne T. Field and Nicholas L. Syrett; theorists such as Kathleen Woodward and Margaret Morganroth Gullette; disability justice activists such as Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha; and sociologists such as Mignon R. Moore. Two governing concerns that we answer as a class: How do considerations of age, aging, and gerontophobia featured in our readings amplify the contemporary investments of American studies? How can we chart political and aesthetic formations of the frail that offset their persistent nonrecognition?
AMST 900a or b, Independent Research Staff
AMST 901a or b, Directed Reading Staff
AMST 902a or b, Prospectus Workshop Staff
Upon completion of course work, students are required to participate in at least one term of the prospectus workshop, ideally the term before the prospectus colloquium is held. Open to all students in the program and joint departments, the workshop serves as a forum for discussing the selection of a dissertation topic, refining a project’s scope, organizing research materials, and evaluating work in progress. The workshop meets once a month.
AMST 903b / HIST 746b / PHUM 903b, Introduction to Public Humanities Dicky Yangzom
What is the relationship between knowledge produced in the university and the circulation of ideas among a broader public, between academic expertise on the one hand and nonprofessionalized ways of knowing and thinking on the other? What is possible? This seminar provides an introduction to various institutional relations and to the modes of inquiry, interpretation, and presentation by which practitioners in the humanities seek to invigorate the flow of information and ideas among a public more broadly conceived than the academy, its classrooms, and its exclusive readership of specialists. Topics include public history, museum studies, oral and community history, public art, documentary film and photography, public writing and educational outreach, the socially conscious performing arts, and fundraising. In addition to core readings and discussions, the seminar includes presentations by several practitioners who are currently engaged in different aspects of the Public Humanities. With the help of Yale faculty and affiliated institutions, participants collaborate in developing and executing a Public Humanities project of their own definition and design. Possibilities might include, but are not limited to, an exhibit or installation, a documentary, a set of walking tours, a website, a documents collection for use in public schools.
AMST 904a or b / PHUM 904a or b, Practicum Karin Roffman
Public Humanities students are required to complete a one-term internship with one of our partnered affiliates (to be approved by the Public Humanities DGS or assistant DGS) for practical experience in the field. Potential internships include in-house opportunities at the Beinecke Library, Sterling Memorial Library, or one of Yale’s museums, or work at a regional or national institution such as a media outlet, museum, or historical society. In lieu of the internship, students may choose to complete a “micro-credential.” Micro-credentials are structured as workshop series (3–5 daylong meetings over the course of a year) rather than as term courses, and include revolving offerings in topics such as oral history, collections and curation, writing for exhibits, podcast production, website design, scriptwriting from the archive, or grant writing for public intellectual work.
AMST 905a or b / PHUM 905a or b, Public Humanities Capstone Project Karin Roffman
The course work and practicum/micro-credential lead to a significant project to be approved by the DGS or assistant DGS (an exhibition, documentary, research paper, etc.) and to be presented in a public forum on its completion.
AMST 917a or b, American Studies Professionalization Workshop Staff
This seminar is designed for advanced Ph.D. candidates who are going on the job market. Students draft and revise three full rounds of the five standard genres of job market materials: job letter, CV, dissertation abstract, teaching portfolio, and diversity statement. Students also participate in mock interviewing skills, developing a job talk, and preparing applications for postdoctoral fellowships. Graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.