26.050.501.01 Introduction to American Studies

How has the field of American Studies been defined since its inception in the mid-20th century? This reading seminar will introduce students to the methods, theories, and approaches of this interdisciplinary field. We will examine a combination of classic and cutting-edge texts ranging over a variety of critical topics, such as cultural studies, race, gender, and sexuality. Through this course, students will become familiar with major issues in American Studies, preparing them for graduate work in the field.  

Mary Rizzo M/530-810PM
26.050.502.01 Research Seminar

The Arts & Urban Development

As arts-based development strategies play prominent roles in cities throughout the world, including here in Newark, a consideration of past practices, ways of thinking, and outcomes is timely. Cities have been artistic hubs for millennia. But when did the arts become a prominent sector of urban economies? When was that sector recognized and organized as such, whether through labor unions or professional organizations? How have the arts been mobilized (often cynically) to attract capital and residents? What role have they played in urban inequality and gentrification? In what ways have artists benefited and been harmed by these uses? And how have they and others imagined the arts and development beyond the economic, as, say, forms of community-building and organizing, dissent and protest, solidarity and movement-building? Through all these processes, how have aesthetic traditions shaped and been shaped by these concerns?  

Mark Krasovic T/530-810PM
26.050.521.01 Topics in American Studies

Feminist Theory

The objective of this graduate seminar is to engage critically with the foundational concepts of feminist theory and some of its most historically contentious conversations. We will examine feminism as an evolving set of intellectual and activist movements, grounding its theories in social and historical contexts. This will aid in our efforts to understand the paradigm shifts in feminist theory that have taken place in modernity, and to consider the ways in which discourses of “Western” and “non-Western” philosophies have come to influence feminist debate.  

Theresa Hunt 5:30-8:10PM
26.050.521.02 Topics in American Studies 

History of the Future: History of the Future, Visions of Utopia and Dystopia Since 1865

This class, primarily an intellectual history, surveys critiques of the current order and dreams of a new future from the late 19th century to the present. Our readings include social criticism as well as utopian and dystopian novels.  Our starting point, however, is Thomas More’s Utopia (published in 1516).  This work appeared in the midst of Europe’s transition from a feudal to a capitalist social order within which racism, misogyny and class exploitation were refigured in new ways, ways that would be challenged by later intellectuals and utopian critics.  We then shift to utopian/dystopian critiques of the late 19th century, during a heyday of industrial capitalism; of the 1930s, focusing on technology, fascism, and sexuality; of the 1960s, focusing on progress, consumerism and bureaucracy; and the 1980s and onward, focusing on gender, technology, the state, and “the commons.” 

Beryl Satter  M/530-810PM
26.050.521.03 Topics in American Studies

Managing and Leading Public Humanities Organizations

American historical and cultural institutions are founded on the principle of serving the community through the preservation of and access to the traces of the past. They typically achieve this through their collections, exhibitions, public programs, and other manners of public engagement. These organizations most often operate as nonprofits, and must do so in a manner that is sustainable in the long-term. Explore the principles of managing these important, but complex, organizations including: mission and planning, nonprofit status, transparency, governance, public programming, leadership, finance, fundraising, facilities, legal and ethical issues, technology, and audiences, among other subjects.

Bob Beatty Asynch/Online
26.050.521.04 Topics in American Studies

Food Cultures and Globalization

This seminar will explore the central role of food in shaping global history chronologically, from 1500 to the present. The course considers food both as a tool for investigating global history and the relationships between human beings, and as a very basic human need. The course has two main themes: globalization and food cultures and the interactions between the two. It explores how on the one hand, globalization created a worldwide system of food production, and, on the other, how food served as a marker of social, racial, gender, ethnic, cultural and national identities in world societies.

Geographically, it revolves around Africa, although paying serious attention to the interactions between African food, cooking and culinary culture with those of Europe and the Americas. To understand the interaction of globalization and the change in food culture we will look at some special developments and institutions, most notably: the Colombian Exchange, the slave trade, empire, migration, which followed World War II; and the creation of institutions like restaurants. The readings for critical discussion and review include scholarly works of history, anthropology, and nutrition studies as well as cookbooks. We will go on some excursions to restaurants and grocery stores in Newark for gaining insights about the current trends in food cultures for course discussion.

Habatamu Tegegne  R/5:30-8:10
26.050.530.01 Topics in Race, Ethnicity, and Modern Society

Technologies of the Body: Race, Gender, and Medicine in Latin America 

This course will focus on technologies of knowing, documenting, and transforming the human body from early colonialism to the present with a strong focus on the late nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. Topics will include medicine's role in European expansionism, slavery and nation building; visual representations in print and painting; anthropometry, anthropology and photography; eugenics and architecture; public and maternal health; plastic surgery; and human genetics. This course incorporates Latin American theorizations of race and identity, and draws on both historiographic and ethnographic writing.

Rosanna Dent T/6-9PM
26.050.540.01 Topics in Urban Cultures

Newark History

This course will examine the history of Newark from its origins in the 17th century to the present.  Our goal will be to gain a better understanding of the critical themes in the development of the city as well as the changing approaches of historians in their studies. We will cover Newark’s history chronologically and thematically, giving space to different perspectives, communities, and methods to craft a deeper understanding of the city’s past.  Newark’s rich history allows for the exploration of such subjects as race, ethnicity, gender, labor, and the environment.  In addition to reading and discussing books and articles, students will use the Newark Archives Project to develop an understanding of the city’s rich primary source base and craft a research proposal.

Steven Elliot W/6-9PM - Online
26.050.550.01 Topics in Cultural History and Artistic Production

Queer Latina/o/x Theory and Cultural Narrative

This course introduces students to foundational and contemporary queer Latina/o/x theory and its interpretation of Latina/o/x cultural narratives materializing in a range of forms, such as in film, television, poetry, essays, novels, music, and (new) media. In studying these subjects, we will consider a range of topics, including but not limited to the meaning of “Latinx,” the emergence of queer of color critique, trans Latina/o/x literature and performance, the role of gay Latino literature in third wave feminism, female masculinity, Latina sex workers, queer Latina/o/x engagement with British post-punk, and the queer criminalization of Latino athletes like Sammy Sosa and Aaron Hernandez. Tentative primary texts may include: Ana Castillo’s poetry collection My Father Was a Toltec, Felicia Luna Lemus’s novel Like Son, Arturo Islas’s novel The Rain God, Justin Torres’s novel We the Animals, and the films Southwest of Salem, La Mission, Gun Hill Road, and Bruising for Besos. Tentative scholarly texts may include the work of: Francisco Galarte, T. Jackie Cuevas, Cherríe Moraga, Emma Pérez, Michael Hames-García, Richard T. Rodríguez, Juana María Rodríguez, José Esteban Muñoz, Laura Grappo, and more.  

Frank Garcia R/530-810PM
26.050.550.02 Topics in Cultural History and Artistic Production

Cultural History and Cultural Studies

This graduate seminar explores cultural history—and the history of this field- from a variety of perspectives. We ask how scholars from different disciplinary and interdisciplinary “homes” have made sense of cultural history; we consider older and more recent debates in (and about) cultural history as an approach and method. We also consider relationships between cultural history, American Studies, and cultural studies and the theoretical frameworks that inform these (sometimes) overlapping areas of inquiry.  NOTE: The focus of this seminar is scholarship and not primary sources; however, I am glad to discuss with students the option of taking this class as a research seminar on a case by case basis.

Ruth Feldstein W/530-810PM
26.050.619.02 Internship in American Studies

Newark Water Crisis

Develop your skills in mutual aid organizing, community-based storytelling, and digital media production through this internship course hosted by the Humanities Action Lab at Rutgers-Newark and Newark Water Coalition. Interns will work with members of Newark Water Coalition–a local advocacy organization–and Humanities Action Lab staff as the two organizations jointly launch Newark Community Voices, a new community-based media project focused on environmental justice issues in the city’s “frontline” communities (those hit hardest by environmental injustice and COVID-19).

Through workshop-style training sessions and on-the-ground practice with a professional videographer and veteran organizers, interns will gain tangible experience:

  • distributing vital resources to local residents through Newark Water Coalition’s mutual aid network
  • conducting public outreach and developing organizing relationships in frontline communities
  • collaborating with local residents to identify potential stories about the environmental challenges, material needs, and public policy priorities of Newark’s frontline communities
  • creating short video documentaries about the above issues for audiences in frontline communities and in collaboration with community members.
Liz Sevcenko By arrangement


26.050.502.01 - Research Seminar: Wealth and Poverty - Monday/530-810PM  

Beryl Satter     

This seminar is devoted to researching and writing a substantial, footnoted research paper (approximately thirty pages in length, typed and double spaced, approximately 250 words per page) that focuses on some aspect of the history of wealth and poverty in America since 1865. For our purposes, “wealth and poverty” is a shorthand for any aspect of inequality in the U.S. since 1865. Since wealth and poverty is intertwined in complex ways with other hierarchies in the U.S. (those of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and disability, for example), topics incorporating those perspectives are welcome and encouraged. We will spend the first few weeks reading articles that present a variety of approaches to the question of wealth, poverty, and inequality in America. Class meetings will lead you through the step-by-step process of writing a research paper, including primary source research and analysis, the presentation of polished project proposals, and the creation of outlines of your thesis. Since revision is a process that is crucial to effective historical research and writing, your research paper will be due in draft form well before the end of the seminar, so that it can go through several major revisions. Students will meet with the professor on an individual basis to discuss their projects and revisions and also work together on their papers, meeting in small groups with other students to discuss and critique each other's work. 

26.050.521.01 - Creating and Funding Public Humanities Projects - Asynchronous/Online

Bob Beatty

Counts toward American Studies Public Humanities Requirement

The operating expenses of a museum, history, or humanities organization come from a variety of sources including earned income (payment for services, gift shop revenue, admissions, licensing, etc.) as well as philanthropy (grants, corporate support, individual donors, etc.) Because so few generate a majority of their income from earned revenue, fundraising efforts are critical to keeping the doors of any museum open, from the local historical society to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In this class you will learn some fundamental elements of museum fundraising, including individual giving, campaigns, fundraising events, and grants.

Success in fundraising includes several key skills:

  • UNDERSTANDING TYPES of FUNDRAISING INITIATIVES museums use (individual giving, annual campaigns, grants, fundraising events) and how to implement them to support your organization;
  • IDENTIFYING FUNDERS using technology and data research for each initiative to provide support to your organization;
  • TELLING THE STORY and effectively communicating your organization's purpose (mission, activities, data sets, accomplishments) to tell your organization’s unique story;
  • CRAFTING THE BEST MESSAGE TO SUPPORT EACH INITIATIVE TYPE and AUDIENCE using critical thinking to understand what information to convey at what time and to what audience – i.e. a foundation will require different information than an individual donor. This course is designed to help you to understand and to begin to master these skills.

26.050.521.03 - Topics in American Studies: Gender and Sexuality - Wednesday/530-810PM

Tim Stewart-Winter

This graduate seminar will examine how transnational approaches have reshaped scholarly understandings of the history of sexuality and gender in the twentieth-century U.S. How does the past look different when we pay particular attention to the flow of people, capital, goods, and knowledge across national borders? How does decentering the nation-state as a category of historical analysis change the way we interpret pleasure, danger, embodiment, and desire? Some key themes in our readings include migration, colonialism, war, social movements, public health, and popular culture.  

26.050.540.01 - Topics in Urban Culture: Space and Place in Contemporary America - Tuesday/530-810PM

Kyle Riismandel 

This is a readings seminar that gives graduate students a foundation in the questions, methods, evidence, and modes of analysis related to the interdisciplinary study of post-1970 American space and place, broadly conceived.

Through critical engagement with secondary sources, students will understand how to research and write about American spaces including not only studies of cities and suburbs but also prisons, cyberspace, office parks, commercial centers, and more.

That work will inform and aid students in researching, writing, and revising their own critical genealogy of scholarship related to the study of space and place. As part of that process, we will work collaboratively to help each other including practice giving and receiving constructive feedback. Ideally, each student’s work will be related to their field of study and stage in their degree program and/or career such as a preparation for Master’s essay, capstone, thesis, dissertation, comprehensive field exam, teaching in a particular subject area, etc.

Draft Reading List (subject to change before Spring semester starts):

  • Kemi Adeyemi, Feels Right: Black Queer Women and the Politics of Partying in Chicago (Duke University Press, 2022)
  • Lucas Bessire, Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains (Princeton University Press, 2022)
  • Megan Black, The Global Interior: Mineral Frontiers and American Power (Harvard University Press, 2018)
  • Lawrence Brown, The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America. (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021)
  • Brett O. Halvorson and Joshua O. Reno, Imagining the Heartland: White Supremacy and the American Midwest (University of California Press, 2022)
  • James A. Jacobs, Detached America: Building Houses in Postwar Suburbia (University of Virginia Press, 2015)
  • Alexandra Lange, Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022)
  • Peter L’Official, Urban Legends: The South Bronx in Representation and Ruin (Harvard University Press, 2020)
  • Cameron Logan, Historic Capital: Preservation, Race, and Real Estate in Washington, D.C. (University of Minnesota Press 2017)
  • Shannon Mattern, A City is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences (Princeton University Press, 2021)
  • Charlton McIlwain, Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter (Oxford University Press, 2019)
  • Louise Mozingo, Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes (MIT Press, 2014)
  • Mary Rizzo, Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore Beyond John Waters and The Wire (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020)
  • Performing Dream Homes: Theater and the Spatial Politics of the Domestic Sphere


26.050.540.01 - Topics in Urban Culture: Urban Education - Thursday/530-810PM

Steve Diner

This course examines the history of urban education in the United States, and provides an historical foundation for understanding urban educational policy today. The course is taught as a colloquium. Each week we will discuss an assigned book. Class attendance and active participation in discussions is required of all students.  Our class discussions will examine the major issues addressed by scholars of the history of urban education, how these issues reflect the changing views in America of the purpose and quality of schools in cities, and the implications of historical scholarship for contemporary urban education policy. Students will write a research paper based on some aspect of the history of public education in Newark or some other local community, or an historiographic essay on some aspect of the historical literature on urban education.

26.050.550.01 - Topics in Cultural History and Artistic Production: Experimental Music, Art, and Performance - Tuesday/230-520PM

Kate Doyle


In this course, we will explore art practices as potential models for the unfolding performances, ontologies, and organizations of life, including the fabulously-complicated system we call "culture." In the interest of participant agency and movement toward models of learning based on heuristics (experimentation, self-discovery), expectations for actions and artifacts (projects, documents, etc.), will be (to a reasonable degree) self-directed (note: directions will be agreed upon by participants and must fall within some constraints of university standards/expectations). That said, class participants may initially expect to practice critical interpretation of historical and contemporary texts and media while developing their own inventive practices in analysis, creative processing, documentation, and curation.

Broad goals for the course include the development of skills in project management, organizational strategy and ideation, curation, data visualization, creative archiving, media production (including writing), curriculum building, teaching practice, and conversation design. While developing these skills, class participants will likely acquire significant knowledge of avant-garde and experimental American arts after 1900 (and the cultural/social/scientific theories and histories that influenced them); however, the specifics of this knowledge will depend upon particular participant's interests and self-direction

26.050.550.01 - Topics in Cultural History and Artistic Production: EcoArt Curatorial Seminar - Thursday/230-520PM

Alexandra Chang


This course will introduce students to the history of EcoArt from the 1960s-70s Land Art movement to contemporary global EcoArt activisms. We will explore current issues and thematics in environmental and climate art activism— studying the work and practices of artists based in the New Jersey/New York area to those working across the U.S. and globally. This class will also delve into the current literature on human relationships to nature and the environment including on the topic of climate disaster. The course will incorporate intensive arts writing practice, critical reflections, and hands on curatorial practice. Students will gain experience working on projects with artists and will participate in the curation of an exhibition related to the Rutgers Honors Learning and Living collection in collaboration with two other collaborating Rutgers classes. The class will also engage in special visits with artists engaged with EcoArt practices and have outside visits to spaces in relation to the curatorial project. The course can be taken by those who have little to no background in art history.

26.050.619.02 - Internship in American Studies: Humanities Action Lab & Newark Water Coalition - Friday/830-950AM

Liv Sevcenko

Develop your skills in mutual aid organizing, community-based storytelling, and digital media production through this internship course hosted by the Humanities Action Lab at Rutgers-Newark and Newark Water Coalition. Interns will work with members of Newark Water Coalition–a local advocacy organization–and Humanities Action Lab staff as the two organizations jointly launch Newark Community Voices, a new community-based media project focused on environmental justice issues in the city’s “frontline” communities (those hit hardest by environmental injustice and COVID-19).

Through workshop-style training sessions and on-the-ground practice with a professional videographer and veteran organizers, interns will gain tangible experience:

  • distributing vital resources to local residents through Newark Water Coalition’s mutual aid network
  • conducting public outreach and developing organizing relationships in frontline communities
  • collaborating with local residents to identify potential stories about the environmental challenges, material needs, and public policy priorities of Newark’s frontline communities
  • creating short video documentaries about the above issues for audiences in frontline communities and in collaboration with community members.



Introduction to American Studies
Drew Ciccolo
Tuesday and Thursday, 1-220PM

As an interdisciplinary field, American Studies employs countless lenses to explore competing definitions of “America.” Therefore, it does not have a standard set of practices that defines its approach. Instead, as an interdisciplinary field, American Studies allows us to start with a given problem or question and use the approaches, theories, and sources that best address it. 
In this course, we will begin by analyzing discussions about America writ large. Then, we will move (for the most part) chronologically from the pre-Columbian era through the present. Though we will be anchored by historical narratives, we will expand beyond history into other disciplines, including English, African American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Anthropology, Economics, and more in order to critically and carefully read and write about primary and secondary sources. Through our studies, we will focus on the following themes: oppression and resistance, identity and difference, and inclusion and exclusion.

Our goals are not just to gain greater perspective on U.S. history and culture, but also to think about how American Studies, in comparison to other fields, allows for such perspectives. 
Our work in this course will mirror the diversity (and, at times, the dissonance) of the field and the country itself. That is to say, you will be not just encouraged, but required, to find your own individualized path into a deeper understanding of “America.” To do so, you will first need to be aware of how others have created their paths. Then, following your curiosities, you can begin to map your own.  

Introduction to American Studies
Mike Pekarofski
Tuesday and Thursday, 4-520

Rather than a survey of all of American history, in this course, we will examine various ways in 
which groups have attempted to define what is America and who is an American. we will begin 
with the premise that identity, including that of America and of Americans, is always contingent 
and contextual. Using interdisciplinary methods, we will analyze how groups contested and 
shaped these categories at key moments in the history of North America. To do so, we will use 
the interpretive tools of different disciplines central to the analysis of American culture to 
understand the stakes and implications of defining Americaness. 

American Studies Core Topics: Mutual Aid and Storytelling

Leora Fuller

Thursday, 230-520PM
Fulfills General Education Learning Objective - Understand Past And Present Interrelationships among Diverse Political, Social, Racial, Ethnic, and/or Gender Groups
In our highly colonized, late capitalist world marked by massive environmental destruction we all have needs that aren’t being met; from lack of access to housing, food, and safety to the absence of deeply connective relationships. This reality can feel overwhelming, paralyzing, and depressing, but alternative ways of being, living, and collectively supporting each other exist in communities across the world. In this unusual learning space organized by the Humanities Action Lab, we will learn about radically different ways of moving through our lives from mutual aid practitioners, environmental justice organizers, and Indigenous lifeways. 

Together we will begin from the simple idea of the story. Not a traditional hero’s story or three act narrative, but the everyday stories we all tell about ourselves, our needs, and our dreams. We’ll conceive of our own stories as important, impactful experiences that collectively shape the larger world. We’ll learn from others across the hemisphere about the hyper local stories they tell and the ways they draw together shared stories to radically change their material conditions and challenge systemic oppression. 

All participants in this space will act as teachers and learners to develop and expand accountable, transformative, and community-centered pedagogies and practices that challenge what teaching and practicing justice-centered public history can and should be.  Along the way, we’ll create, share, and explore multi-media hyperlocal narratives that explore the historical roots of current problems and imagine alternative visions for the future that center around mutual aid and community care. These narratives may either be drawn from, or contribute to, existing Humanities Action Lab projects such as Climates of Inequality, States of Incarceration, and the Rikers Public Memory Project. Together we’ll ground ourselves in intentional, reciprocal mentoring relationships to facilitate a lasting learning community and change the ways we approach our lives.

American Studies Core Topics: Queer Immigration in American Culture

Keish Kim

Monday/Wednesday, 10-1120AM

Fulfills General Education Learning Objective - Understand Past And Present Interrelationships among Diverse Political, Social, Racial, Ethnic, and/or Gender Groups

Immigration has long been portrayed in the U.S. as a concern on the U.S.-Mexico border in the 20th and 21st centuries. National narratives of the southern border depict large groups of people climbing over barbed wires or waiting in ports of entry. Immigrants themselves are rarely able to share their stories, particularly women and queer people. This course explores queer and feminist im/migration literature and history. Throughout the semester, we will examine novels, memoirs, poems, and films by queer and feminist im/migrants alongside historical documents to understand the role of race, gender, sexuality, and nationality. The goal of this course is to contextualize migrant experiences across intersections of power. As a class, we will ask and answer questions such as: how the nation constructs who is a desirable citizen and why? How do gender and sexuality shape narratives of migration? And whose migration stories are remembered? Our shared purpose is to understand how power operates within local/global inequalities of race, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and disability. The class will focus on how ordinary people resist violent structures of power. 

Topics in Race and Ethnicity: Afro-Asia in Literature


Gaiutra Bahadur

Wednesday, 6-9PM

This course explores the multiple ways that African and Asian political struggles, personal lives and creative vocabularies have intersected in the 20th and 21st centuries. Our guides to this topic will be diverse "texts" that illuminate relationships of romance and kinship, conflict and coalition between people of African and Asian origin globally. We'll pay particular attention to the Americas, especially the United States and the Caribbean, as settings for Afro-Asian encounter. We'll read some poetry, nonfiction and fiction, including the novel Dark Princess by W.E.B. Du Bois; listen to Cathy Park Hong's episode on Ibrahim X. Kendi's podcast "Be Antiracist"; scroll the Instagram account of the Blindian Project; and watch film adaptations of Vivek Bald's In Search of Bengali Harlem and Anna Deavere Smith's Twilight, Los Angeles. Other assigned writers may include Pat Rosal, Nyssa Chow, David Chariandy, M. NourbeSe Philip. Phinder Dulai and Lawson Inada.