Current Course Offerings

Fall 2019

​​AMST 275 / PSPA 251 Politics and Government: USA

Danyel Reiche
Tuesdays & Thursdays 2-3:15 PM  |  NICELY 416

This class reflects on the role of the U.S. in the world. The United States is the most powerful country in the world. Some authors argue that emerging countries like China are in the process of taking the place of the U.S. For this course, we will be focusing on two books. The author of Is the American Century Over, Joseph Nye, argues that the American century is far from over and its military, economic, and soft power capabilities will continue to outstrip those of its closest rivals for decades to come. The authors of How Democracies Die,​ Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, paint a different picture and argue that the United States under Trump is on the verge of collapse. 

In addition to the books, newspaper articles on current events in U.S. politics will be analyzed during the semester in the form of “press reviews". We will discuss these diverging arguments during the semester in order to conclude together whether the “American century" is approaching its end.​ The professor has also invited a guest from the U.S. embassy.

​AMST 215 / HIST 278A Introduc​​​tion to American Studies

​​​​Samar Temsah
Tuesdays & Thursdays 9:30-10:45 AM  |  NICELY 210

“What is America/an American?" We survey cultural encounters between the U.S. and others. The investigation starts with the colonial juxtaposition of Europeans, Native Americans and Africans leading up to subsequent encounters with Latinos, Asians and Arabs. Although cultural fictions and cultural exclusions, where the U.S. & its cultural producers have identified identities and ideologies in contrast to or in interaction with other nations and cultures, have helped sustain unity among many Americans, sub-national and transnational identities have continually called this unity into question. We examine encounters/accounts of the idea of "America" and notions of what it means/it takes to be an “American" as they have evolved over time within the framework of themes that have been considered molding agents of the “American" identity."

​AMST 275 AF Introduction to Americ​​an Popular Culture & Theories

Samar Temsah
Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:30-1:45 PM  |  NICELY 327

Love it or hate it, over the past few decades American popular culture has risen as an inescapable force penetrating most aspects of both Americans and other people's lives. In an attempt to understand the relationship between the “American" cultu​re and the “popular", we look at popular representations of the American culture using theories within popular culture and critical tools. Within the American culture, we mainly consider the r​e/presentation of factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, counterculture, subcultures/youth and ideology by and in popular culture and we study primary texts, such as TV series, film, documentaries, popular music, sports, fashion, artwork and magazines with forays into other types of pop culture like news media, toys, graffiti, social media, phone apps, brochures, holidays, advertisements and​ websites.​

AMST 265D / PSPA 288​K Politics of Sports

Danyel Reiche​
Wednesdays 3:30-6:00 PM  |  NICELY 212

This course focuses on issues around sport and nationality. It is within the architecture of international sports that countries compete with each other. To be eligible to compete for any given country in the Olympic Games and in almost all international sporting events, players must hold citizenship in that country. There are a few exceptions such as rugby, which only requires proof of at least three years residency to be eligible to play for the national team. If the residence criteria in rugby spread to other sports, Palestinians living in Lebanon without citizenship could represent Lebanon internationally. However, i​n a globalized world, national allegiance is becoming more and more a fluid concept. 

Looking at the eligibility criteria of international sporting federations (IF) will be the main emphasis of the class. Topics include Lebanon's sporting boycott of Israel, Qatar's motives behind hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022, and sports betting regulations in the United States. Students are expected to give a class presentation reviewing the press coverage of a topic at the intersection of sport and politics.

​AMST ​265F / MCOM 290Q Scree​ning American Crises

Suzanne Enzerink
Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:30-4:45 PM  |  NICELY 210

​​​What place does film have in addressing some of the most pressing issues facing us in the 21st century? What is the relationship between politics and aesthetics? How do stagings or representations of violence and disaster rework, challenge, or complicate our understanding of them? 

Organized thematically, this course introduces students to representations of pressing social issues across a variety of media, with a focus on the United States and its role in the world. Topics include climate change, terrorism, economic collapse, violence against women, and the refugee crisis. We will focus on narrative cinema and documentary film, but also look at how longform journalism, creative nonfiction, and scholarly writing have represented these delicate and urgent subjects. Students will consider the ways in which fictional landscapes refract deeply-rooted anxieties about race, class, gender, and national belonging.

​AMST 275AN Women and M​adness in American Literature

Vanessa Breeding
Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:30-4:45 PM  |  PHYS 215

Throughout the last century American authors have produced a body of literature that critically and creatively deals with the question of madness and mental illness in women’s lives as a personal, socio-political, and psychological phenomenon. Focusing on the second and third waves of the feminist movement and the contemporary me-too moment, this class asks why and how American women have experienced or been accused of insanity and mental illness in greater numbers than their male counterparts, and how authors have written about the subject as a way of working through assaults on the female psyche and its collapse or perseverance. Why is madness particularly relevant in the work and lives of women writers? Does writing make women crazy or offer them the means to protect and assert their sanity? Is madness a mental illness or a tool of social control? Are women prone to losing their minds or is the female mind inherently lost within gendered western political and linguistic structures? How have American women written about madness and to what end? 

AMST 275AM / ENGL 2​​​18 Poetry

Marilyn Hacker
Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:00-12:15 PM  |  NICELY 103

The virtual hegemony of “free verse” in contemporary poetry in English has produced a generation of student readers and writers to whom the underpinnings of poetry are often foreign. And yet, these linguistic and formal structures are among the primary pleasures of poetry for readers and writers alike, from the first memorized nursery-rhyme to the tenth re-reading of John Donne’s “Holy Sonnets” or Adrienne Rich’s “Atlas of the Difficult World.” Students will examine and assimilate different metrical and formal strategies in the writing and reading of poems in a variety of forms and freedoms. Students will also each do a class presentation and a paper on a book by an individual contemporary poet whose work is relevant to what we’ve been discussing in its uses and transformations of prosodic forms.

CVSP 212 Modern & Cont​​emporary World Theatre

Robert Myers
Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:00-12:15 PM  |  NICELY 414

In this course we will examine various modern theatre traditions, beginning with plays written by Chekhov and Ibsen in the late 19th century and including contemporary works by Federico Garcia-Lorca, Wole Soyinka and Bertolt Brecht. As we read and analyze modern and contemporary plays from a number of traditions (European, Russian, African, etc.) in both written and visual form, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which theatrical forms in the 20th century have crossed cultural boundaries and in so doing created new modes of theatrical expression.


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Summer 2019

AMST 215 Introduction to American Studies: Time and Power

Vanessa Breeding
Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs 12:00-13:15 PM  |  NICELY 323​

This course will begin by establishing a shared language for discussing the concepts of time, historical time, and temporality. We will then read historical and literary texts and watch films with attention to the senses of time which have informed and emanated from the United States since its founding, through its rise as a world super power, and into the present moment. In addition to surveying American history, this course will also be an introduction to philosophies of time and a sampling of contemporary American apocalyptic literature and film. Central questions include; What is time? What is historical time? What sense of time have made America what it is, was, and will be? How can we read for temporality in historical and literary texts and film?​​​

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Spring 2019

AMST 265E / 375M Trump & Trumpism

​Kouross Esmaili

This course will introduce students to a range of disciplinary and intellectual tools for understanding the culture, society, and politics of the contemporary United States. The class seeks to understand and frame the Trump presidency as both symptom and agent of political and cultural shifts that are happening in the United States. We will look at the Trump period as emblematic of post-cold-war structural changes in the American political system, and we will also look at the specific rhetorical and ideological values expounded by Donald Trump and the effects that he has on America's domestic politics as well as internationally — particularly in relation to the Middle East. Specialists in the fields of rhetorical analysis, textual analysis, cultural studies, anthropology, critical media studies, political science, and political economy will expose students to a diverse body of theoretical and disciplinary tools. In order to do this effectively, the class will host a significant number of guest-lecturers from across departments at AUB and beyond. 

The class is open enrollment and available to undergraduate and graduate students. Graduate students will not be expected to take any exams, but they will be expected to write a longer research paper and they will have the option to act as TA's in grading and leading discussion sections.

​​ENG 216 Drama: Modern American Theater​​ / AMST 275AK Modern American Theater

Robert Myers

In this course we will examine various plays written by American authors in the 20thcentury. We will begin with canonical works from the first half of the century such as The Glass MenagerieDeath of a Salesman and Long Day's Journey Into Night. We will also read more recent works such as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and True West that employ techniques from the European avant-garde and the theatre of the absurd. In addition to analyzing the various forms and idioms that modern American playwrights have used, we will also focus on theatrical representations and critiques of American mythologies and themes related to ethnicity, gender, class and sexuality in Execution of JusticeRaisin in the SunTrue West and Joe Turner's Come and Gone.

​​AMST 275 / PSPA 251 Politics and Government: USA

Danyel Reiche

This class reflects on the role of the U.S. in the world. The United States is the most powerful country in the world. Some authors argue that emerging countries like China are in the process of taking the place of the U.S. For this course, we will be focusing on two books. The author of Is the American Century Over Joseph Nye, argues that the American century is far from over and its military, economic, and soft power capabilities will continue to outstrip those of its closest rivals for decades to come. The authors of How Democracies Die,​ Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, paint a different picture and argue that the United States under Trump is on the verge of collapse. 

In addition to the books, newspaper articles on current events in U.S. politics will be analyzed during the semester in the form of “press reviews". We will discuss these diverging arguments during the semester in order to conclude together whether the “American century" is approaching its end.​ The professor has also invited a guest from the U.S. embassy.

AMST 215 / ​​HIST 278A Introduction to American Studies

Samar Temsah​

“What is America/an American?" We survey cultural encounters between the U.S. & others. The investigation starts with the colonial juxtaposition of Europeans, Native Americans & Africans leading up to subsequent encounters with Latinos, Asians & Arabs. Although cultural fictions & cultural exclusions, where the U.S. & its cultural producers have identified identities & ideologies in contrast to or in interaction with other nations & cultures, have helped sustain unity among many Americans, sub-national & transnational identities have continually called this unity into question. Taking this into account, we examine encounters/accounts of the idea of “America" & notions of what it means/it takes to be an “American" as they have evolved over time within the framework of themes that have been considered molding agents of the “American" identity."​​​

AMST 275 AF Special Topics in American Humanities: Introduction to American Popular Culture & Theories

Samar Temsah

Love it or hate it, over the past few decades American popular culture has risen as an inescapable force penetrating most aspects of both Americans & other people's lives. In an attempt to understand the relationship between the “American" cultu​re & the “popular", we look at popular representations of the American culture using theories within popular culture & critical tools. Within the American culture, we mainly consider the re/presentation of factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, counterculture, subcultures/youth & ideology by & in popular culture & we study primary texts, such as TV series, film, documentaries, popular music, sports, fashion, artwork & magazines with forays into other types of pop culture like news media, toys, graffiti, social media, phone apps, brochures, holidays, advertisements & websites.​

​SOAM 293E Digital Ethnography & Filmmaking

Kouross Esmaili

​(This is a Media Studies course and is not cross-listed with AMST)

This is a practice-based course meant to both introduce students to the possibilities and problematics of documenting human social phenomenon through digital technology, and to challenge t​hem to think actively and critically about their use of digital tools for documentary and ethnographic purposes. The course will first provide an overview of the ethnographic documentary tradition; it will then explore the practical and ethical questions that digital devices and the internet present as both tools and sites of studying human societies and sociality; finally, the course will challenge students to use digital tools (smart phones, cameras, sound recorders, the internet) to gather and produce digital documentation on an ethnographic topic. The course works best for students with some understanding of their interests and ideas who will use digital methods and field sites to further their projects. Possible final projects could be: a video documentary, an ethnographic audio soundscape, an ethnographic study of an online community, the internet as a component of multi-sited fieldwork, or a critical analysis of a case of the digitization of social or institutional processes.