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American Studies core courses


Razing the Roof and Tearing Down Monuments: Controversies in Public Memory (AMS199H1F)

Instructor: Alexandra Rahr
Tuesdays, 2:00pm – 4:00pm; Enrollment Cap: 25 seats

In cities across America, statues of past heroes are being kicked off their pedestals. As the republic grapples with conflicting histories, this course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies by considering the politics, history, aesthetics, ideologies and geographies of public memorialization. We’ll also critically engage with current research on creative acts of public memory – both digital and material – which offer provocative ways to encounter our collective pasts. Restricted to first-year students. Not eligible for CR/NCR option.

Introduction to American Studies (AMS200H1F)

Instructor: Leah Montange
Mondays, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm; Enrollment Cap: 60 seats

This course examines the politics, history and culture of the U.S. In doing so, it will ask the central questions: What is America? and who counts as American? This course concentrates on a series of moments in which different groups of Americans - such as women, African Americans, Indigenous people, immigrants, refugees, and workers - debated, struggled over, and changed the boundaries of who and what counts as American. We will draw from, analyze and contextualize a variety of primary source materials that make up defining moments in the contours of this debate, ranging from political, literary, and visual culture artifacts. Required for majors and minors, but open to all who meet pre-requisites. 

Concepts in American Studies: Comparative Caribbean Literature (AMS210H1F / CAR220H1F)

Instructor: Conrad James
Tuesdays, 1:00pm – 3:00pm; Enrollment Cap: American Studies (20 seats) 

Introduction to the rich and multi-linguistic literary traditions of the Caribbean and its diaspora, focusing on canonical texts of Caribbean literature. Texts not originally written in English are read in translation. 

Approaches to American Studies: Black Art in North America (AMS312H1F / FAH351H1F)

Instructor: Maya Harakawa
Fridays, 10:00am – 12:00pm; Enrollment Cap: American Studies (15 Seats)

This introductory course will survey the interrelated history of Blackness and artistic production in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada. Starting in the eighteenth century with the advent of the transatlantic slave trade and covering up to Black Lives Matter movement, the course proceeds chronologically and considers the Black Art within its larger social context. By discussing the aesthetic qualities of artworks and the careers of Black artists alongside of the history of anti-Black racism in North America, we will explore both how the visual has been used as a tool of domination and how art can challenge or subvert racist ideologies. At the end of the course, students will be familiar with the primary figures, debates, and works of art that constitute the field. They will also be comfortable discussing the history anti-Black racism and its current manifestations. Topics include: the visual culture of slavery and abolition, hemispheric and transatlantic modernisms, the racial politics of "outsider" and "folk" art, the Black Arts Movement, and art and mass incarceration. 

Topics in American Studies: "A Nation of Immigrants?" (AMS400H1F)

Instructor: Leah Montange
Wednesdays, 2:00pm – 4:00pm; Enrollment Cap: 15 seats

This course examines the US’s patterns of welcoming, restricting, including, and excluding immigrants. In doing so, we will interrogate the relationship between immigration and American exceptionalism, nationalism, and empire. We will look at three periods in the US’s immigration history — 1870-1924; 1921-1965; 1965-present. We will examine each of these periods through the lenses of history, law, and cultural representation (novels, films). 


Theories and Methods in American Studies (AMS300H1S)

Instructor: Leah Montange
Wednesdays, 1:00pm – 3:00pm (Tutorials: 3:00pm – 4:00pm / 4:00pm – 5:00pm); Enrollment Cap: 20 Seats 

This course explores a range of the many 'theories and methods' that have animated the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. Students will read and discuss texts that exemplify or explain a wide variety of theoretical orientations and their associated research methods, exploring how scholars use different approaches to illuminate different kinds of questions about American experience(s). By analyzing the methods, history and theories of American Studies, we'll trace the invention of the field. This course is required for majors, but is open to all who have met the prerequisites. 

Approaches to American Studies: Race, Segregation, Protest: South Africa and the United States (AMS310H1S)

Instructor: Rick Halpern 
Thursdays, 10:00am – 12:00pm; Enrollment Cap: 20 seats

Institutionalized racial inequality has decisively influenced the politics, culture, and economy of both the United States and South Africa. In recent years, historians and social scientists have devoted considerable attention to comparing the historical experiences of these seemingly “race based” societies. Slavery and emancipation; the significance of the frontier; the impact of settler colonialism; the role of the state in capitalist development; the relationship between segregation and economic growth; the fragmentation of the working class along racial and ethnic lines all have attracted scholarly investigation. This course explores the origins, consolidation, and unmaking of segregationist social orders in the American South and South Africa. It examines the origins of racial inequality, the structural and socio-political roots of segregation, the workings of racial practices and ideologies, and the various strategies of both accommodation and resistance employed by black South Africans and African Americans from the colonial era up to the twentieth century.

Approaches to American Studies: Mass Incarceration in the United States (AMS311H1S / HIS372H1S)

Instructor: Max Mishler
Thursdays, 11:00am – 1:00pm; Enrollment Cap: American Studies (22 seats)

The United States is home to five percent of the world’s population but twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners, including a disproportionate number of African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. This vast carceral archipelago generates significant profits for private corporations while exacerbating government deficits and wreaking havoc in those communities targeted by systematic policing and imprisonment. It has also provoked public and scholarly debates about the history, ethics, and function of incarceration in the United States. In this course, we will consider the rise of contemporary mass incarceration from an interdisciplinary perspective that draws upon history, sociology, and legal scholarship.

Topics in American Studies: Transnational America (AMS313H1S)

Instructor: Leah Montange
Tuesdays, 2:00pm – 4:00pm; Enrollment Cap: 12 seats

The United States, as a global military, cultural and economic power, has always been a transnational space. This class will study Transnational America through an exploration of Southern California. In this class, students will read texts that emphasize the transnational dimensions of the US, learning about borders, global supply chains, food cultures, and the reach of the US military. In what ways does the United States and its people exceed their national boundaries? And in what ways are the United States and its people shaped by “elsewhere”? We will explore these topics through an exploration of Southern California. 

Note: This course includes a February Reading Week field trip to San Diego and Los Angeles. The cost of this field trip is $200 per student, with scholarships available. Students who enroll in this course should also commit to attending this field trip. Reach out to Professor Leah Montange with questions:

Courses eligible for Major and Minor

NOTE: The list below is not exhaustive. In general, courses with 50% or more American content may be allowed. Please seek early approval of program credit for such courses by contacting the CSUS Director at

American Studies
  • AMS200H1 Introduction to American Studies
  • AMS300H1 Theories and Methods in American Studies
  • AMS310H1 Approaches to American Studies
  • AMS311H1 Approaches to American Studies
  • AMS312H1 Approaches to American Studies
  • AMS313H1 Approaches to American Studies
  • AMS400H1 Topics in American Studies
  • AMS401H1 Topics in American Studies
  • AMS402H1 Topics in American Studies
  • AMS403H1 Topics in American Studies
  • AMS494H1 Independent Studies
  • AMS495Y1 Independent Studies
Cinema Studies
  • CIN211H1 Science Fiction Film
  • CIN230H1 The Business of Film
  • CIN270Y1 American Popular Film Since 1970
  • CIN310Y1 Avant-Garde and Experimental Film
  • CIN334H1 The Origins of the Animation Industry, 1900-1950: A Technosocial History
  • CIN335H1 American Animation after 1950
  • CIN374Y1 American Filmmaking in the Studio Era
  • CIN431H1 Advanced Study in Cinema as Social and Cultural Practice
  • CIN490Y1 Independent Studies in Cinema
  • CIN491H1 Independent Studies in Cinema
  • CIN492H1 Independent Studies in Cinema
  • ECO306H1 American Economic History
  • ENG250H1 Introduction to American Literature
  • ENG235H1 The Graphic Novel
  • ENG270H1 Introduction to Colonial and Postcolonial Writing
  • ENG355Y1 Transnational Indigenous Literatures
  • ENG360H1 Early American Literature
  • ENG363Y1 American Literature to 1900
  • ENG364Y1 American Literature 1900 to the present
  • ENG365H1 Contemporary American Fiction
  • ENG368H1 Asian North American Literature
  • ENG484H1 Advanced Studies Seminar: Black Epics in the Americas
  • ENG379H1 Special Topics: North American Jewish Fiction
  • GGR240H1 Geographies of Colonialism in North America
  • GGR254H1 Geography USA
  • GGR336H1 Urban Historical Geography of North America
  • GGR339H1 Urban Geography, Planning and Political Processes
  • GGR359H1 Comparative Urban Policy
  • GGR458H1 Selected Topics in Urban Geography
  • HIS106Y1 The African Diaspora in the Americas, 1492-1804
  • HIS202H1 Gender, Race and Science
  • HIS221H1 African American History to 1865
  • HIS222H1 African American History from 1865 to the Present
  • HIS271Y1 American History Since 1607
  • HIS300H1 Energy and Environment in North American History
  • HIS310H1 Histories of North American Consumer Culture
  • HIS343H1 History of Modern Espionage
  • HIS345H1 History and Film
  • HIS366H1 Aboriginal Peoples of the Great Lakes from 1815 to the Present
  • HIS369H1 Aboriginal Peoples of the Great Lakes from 1500 to 1830
  • HIS374H1 American Consumerism – The Beginnings
  • HIS376H1 The United States: Now and Then
  • HIS377H1 20th-Century American Foreign Relations
  • HIS378H1 America in the 1960s
  • HIS379H1 Vietnam at War
  • HIS389H1 Topics in History
  • HIS389Y1 Topics in History
  • HIS396H1 The Progressive Era and Rise of Big Business in America
  • HIS400H1 The American War in Vietnam
  • HIS401Y1 History of the Cold War
  • HIS404H1 Topics in U.S. History
  • HIS411H1 Great Trials in History
  • HIS463H1 Cloth in American History to 1865
  • HIS464H1 Religion and Violence in Comparative Perspective
  • HIS465Y1 Gender and International Relations
  • HIS473H1 The United States and Asia since 1945
  • HIS479H1 US Foreign Policy Since World War II
  • HIS484H1 The Car in North American History
  • HIS487H1 Animal and Human Rights in Anglo-American Culture
  • HIS497H1 Animal Politics and Science
Indigenous Studies 
  • INS302H1 Indigenous Representation in the Mass Media and Society
  • INS341H1 North American Indigenous Theatre
  • MUS306H1 Popular Music in North America
Political Science
  • POL326H1 The Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy
  • POL327H1 U.S. Foreign Policy in a Complex World
  • POL347H1 U.S. Government and Politics: Constitutional Structure and Development
  • POL377H1 Truth, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism
  • POL379H1 Topics in Comparative Politics III
  • POL386H1 U.S. Government and Politics
  • POL443H1 Land and Indigenous Politics
  • RLG315H1 Rites of Passage
  • SOC306H1 Economic Sociology
  • SOC386H1 New Topics in Sociology: Sociology of Hip Hop
  • SOC429H5 Disability, Politics and Society
Caribbean Studies
  • CAR324H1 The Contemporary Caribbean in a Global Context
  • JLN427H1 Advanced Topics: The Hispanic Caribbean – Revolution and Culture in Cuba
Canadian Studies
  • CDN368H1 Canada’s Borders
Areas of focus - Victor Dementiev/Unsplash



Events and Program Coordinator, Centre for the Study of the United States