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American Studies core courses


Global Capitalism (AMS100H1F) 

Thursday, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Instructor: Rick Halpern

This course explores the rise of capitalism – understood not simply as an economic system but as a political and cultural one as well. It aims to acquaint students with the more important socio-economic changes of the past 600 years with an eye towards informing the way they think about problems of the present time: globalization, growing disparities of wealth, and the exploitation of natural resources. It seeks to foster a critical approach to the way in which the world is organized. A dual mission stands at its centre: it utilizes a focus on capitalism as a tool of scholarly understanding of the way the world has evolved, and it assists students in developing a critique of capitalism as a system.

Check out the course trailer here.

Introduction to American Studies (AMS200H1F)

Tuesday, 2:00pm - 4:00pm 

Instructor: Leah Montange

This course examines the history, culture, and politics of the U.S. through an engagement with primarily original source materials including speeches, manifestos, songs, essays, paintings, films and more. 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, 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 longstanding debates about citizenship, nationhood, and empire. Required for majors and minors, but open to all who meet pre-requisites.

Razing the Roof and Tearing Down Monuments: Controversies in Public Memory (AMS320H1F)

Monday, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Instructor: Alexandra Rahr

As statues are kicked off their pedestals all around the world, this class reckons with the legacy and future of public memory cultures. We’ll consider the history, geography, aesthetics, bureaucracy, ecologies, and ideologies of both local and U.S. American memorials. And we’ll examine the birth, life, death, and afterlives of both conventional monuments and emerging forms of material and digital alt-memorialization.

Approaches to American Studies: US Democracy at a Crossroads: The 2024 Election in Historical Perspective (AMS310H1F)

Thursday, 2:00 pm- 4:00 pm

Instructor: TBA

What is U.S. democracy? As our neighbor to the south lurches toward another presidential election, U.S. Democracy seems to be at a crossroads. For some Americans, the very survival of democracy is on the ballot. In this seminar, we will examine key periods of U.S. history where Americans defined and contested the meaning of U.S. democracy—periods in which some struggled to expand U.S. democracy while others fought to restrict it.

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

Wednesday, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Instructor: Leah Montange

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 attempt to approach this theme interdisciplinary, by engaging both scholarly works written by historians and social scientists, as well as watching films and reading personal narratives and literary works created by immigrants to America.  For the first half of the course, we will cover the broad arc of immigration and immigration policy making from the 19th through 21st centuries.  In the second half of the course, we will study four immigrations to the US: Vietnamese, Haitian, El Salvadoran, and Filipino/a/x. In doing so, we will unpack major concepts and themes in the study of immigration in the Americas, including integration, exclusion, criminalization, asylum, labour, racialization, gender, nationalism, and transnationalism.


Revolutions (MUN120H1S)

Tuesday, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm 

Instructor: Rick Halpern

This course transcends time and place to delve into the overarching dynamics of revolution. This exploration of revolutions goes beyond simple chronology to uncover common threads that unite these transformative events. From the spirit that ignited the English Revolution to the fervor of the American Revolution, the course navigates through the social and political forces that reshaped societies. Students will dissect the emergence of radical change, tracing its evolution from the French Revolution to the Revolutions of 1848 and the birth of modern political ideologies. The course then navigates through the 20th century, from the Russian and Chinese Revolutions to the Cuban Revolution and the intricate web of Latin American revolutionary movements. Comparative analysis delves into the universal and unique aspects of these revolutions, offering students an understanding of the power and influence of these transformative moments.

Depression Era America: History, Politics, Culture (AMS220H1S)

Thursday, 10:00 am - 12:00pm 

Instructor: Rick Halpern 

This course explores the 1930s on a number of interconnected levels, prompting students to link the economic, political, and cultural planes of Americans’ lived experience in an informed way. It starts with the impact of the 1929 Crash, looking at the ways this reshaped values, and conceptions of race and gender, and also allowed unprecedented critiques and organizational forms to emerge. It then considers local and federal responses to economic catastrophe, emphasizing the emergence of regulatory mechanisms that further reshaped social relations. With this foundation in place, the course turns to consider three forms of artistic production in which the social dynamics of the age found powerful echo: FSA photography and WPA murals; experimental literature; and cinema.

Theories and Methods in American Studies (AMS300H1S)

Wednesday, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Instructor: Leah Montange

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, emphasizing the “transnational turn” and the relationship between American Studies and ethnic studies. Students will gain exposure to key thinkers and frameworks that American Studies scholars draw upon, ranging from the myth and symbol school and the Birmingham School to queer theory and critiques of settler colonialism. This course is required for majors, but is open to all who have met the prerequisites.

Approaches to American Studies: Asia in America (AMS312H1S)

Tuesday, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm 

Instructor: TBA

This course explores the transnational connections between the US and Asia from a unique interdisciplinary perspective. It is open to Students from both American Studies and Contemporary Asian Studies.

Topics in American Studies: Transnational America (AMS330H1S)

Tuesday, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm 

Instructor: Leah Montange

The United States, as a global military, cultural and economic power, has always been a transnational space. Money, people, goods, and culture all transcend its borders, but not evenly.  There are power relations involved. In this course, we investigate how US spaces are shaped by the power-laden, asymmetrical, transnational movement of money, people, goods, and culture through an investigation of one region: Southern California. We begin with readings that help us understand how transnational forces and lives shape landscapes and sites in Southern California, with a decided emphasis on four themes: the US military’s visible and invisible presence; the US-Mexico border as a site for circulation; the logistics industry that coordinates global trade through the region; and transnational cultural production. We then travel together to San Diego and Los Angeles during the February Reading Week. The heart of the field trip is to experience and analyze spaces that had been shaped through transnational forces and lives, including visits to the US-Mexico Border, the Port of Los Angeles, and ethnic enclaves undergoing gentrification processes.  We then reconvene in Toronto to create and present final projects that combine students’ experiences with research to delve into one aspect of Transnational America. 

This course involves a week-long international field trip costing students $200 plus their own discretionary spending. Scholarships are available. Enrollment is limited. Students who would like to register for the course, including those who join a wait list, should email Professor Montange: 

Topics in American Studies: Man of the People, Populism in US (AMS401H1S/ PCJ444H1S)

Monday, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm 

Instructor: Alexandra Rahr

It's no secret that populism is resurgent in many parts of the global West, or that this revival often features unabashed demagogues trumpeting a politics of exclusion. But what do these terms mean, precisely, and what cultures and histories inform them? This class will examine the figure of the demagogue and the ideology of populism, in the context of U.S. America. We'll consider how appeals to ‘the people’ mobilize rage and resentment, dig into populism's progressive Black roots and interrogate the techniques which pit the 'average American' against putatively corrupt institutions and privileged elites. Along the way, we'll read a range historical and contemporary populist texts, from Alexander Hamilton's letters railing against demagoguery, to Occupy Wall Street's aspirational post-capitalist tweets, to the National Rifle Association's TV show 'Armed and Fabulous' and contemporary country music's 'pickup truck' populism.

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