Oberlin College: Introduction to Comparative American Studies
Introduction to Comparative American Studies
At the annual meeting of the American Studies Association, the president of the association makes a “Presidential Address” that limns current trends or issues in the field of American Studies. As you might imagine, the set of concerns changes as each president endeavors to properly discipline the field of American studies. In 2008, Phil Deloria’s address exhorted scholars and students not to be seduced by current trends in American studies, but to explore quieter and less traversed modes of analysis; in this way, he argued, the field will be opened up to other disciplines and methodologies, rather than remaining caught up in its familiar self. All of this is to say that we may not know at any given moment how to define American studies because it is a field with a long history (much of which Deloria tracks in his address) and many disparate theories as to what we mean by American studies. Fortunately, in this course, we get to complicate American studies with comparative. Throughout, we will turn to this term and consider carefully what it really means as a modifier to American Studies. Although we might be able to locate a disciplinary “transnational turn” in American studies, we begin with the premise that at any given historical moment, the United States itself is transnational. The course will draw from ethnic, queer, gender, and postcolonial studies to examine and analyze keywords in comparative American studies. We will analyze how these keywords shape and are shaped by constructions of sexuality, race and ethnicity, and class.
Collaboratory Leads: Kara Thompson, Oberlin College
Other Visitors to the Site: If you're not enrolled in this class, you can still read and comment on the work that we're generating throughout the quarter. This will be a work in progress, so please check back for new additions and developments. You're also welcome to email me with any questions or comments about our course.