American Studies | Democracy in the Americas
A100 | 25009 | Kathryn Lofton

( 3 cr.) This is the new “gateway” course into the interdisciplinary
American Studies undergraduate curriculum. Using film, art,
literature, history, and music, students will compare and contrast
ideas about citizenship, national identity, and the social contract
in the broader Americas, focusing on the most basic building blocks
of the national identity and the formal terms of membership in civil
society. What we want to figure out is who we are, and to whom do we
offer our political, aesthetic and moral loyalties as democratic
citizens. Our explorations will rotate around the concept of
identity: What makes us “Americans”? What makes someone a citizen of
the United States (as opposed to a Canadian or Brazilian or Peruvian
citizen)? How does national identity compete with, or relate to,
other forms of identity, like religious association or ethnic
description? The purpose of this class is to think through the
problem of nation, and our relationship to that nation. Through the
study of objects of culture and political theory, we will attempt to
decide just who and what makes the “American way,” and whether that
way is one to which we all equally prescribe.