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Skidmore College
American Studies Department


AM 101 - Introduction to American Studies 

American Cultural Geographies

An introduction to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and the ways that a geographic approach informs our understanding of American cultural practices.  Students will examine how questions of American culture are also questions of landscape, identity, politics, economics, history, and place, and how a geographic approach to such questions helps us understand the world in more critical ways.

J. Micieli-Voutsinas


An introduction to American cultural values and themes using basketball as a lens to consider the politics of race, class, and gender formation, identity, and relations. Invented in 1891 by a Canadian of Scottish parentage, basketball is a locus of complicated cultural exchange-on playgrounds, in schools, on television, and online. This is not a class about basketball; rather, it is a class that uses basketball to think critically about American culture.

D. Nathan

Civil War in American Memory

A consideration of how Americans have remembered and commemorated the Civil War from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Drawing on depictions of the war in fiction, film, popular history, television, music, and re-enactors' conventions among other cultural sources, students will focus on how memory and history interact in the popular imagination to shape the cultural legacy of the conflict.

G. Pfitzer

A Humorous (Dis)Course

An investigation of the history, theories, and functions of laughter and humor and use of comedic cultural forms to think critically about American culture while exploring key moments and transitions in American history. Students will examine the history of comedic cultural production in America through cultural forms such as blackface minstrelsy, vaudeville, and stand-up comedy. Course assignments will focus on how cultural forms have been influenced and shaped by shifts in social consciousness, changing economy, industrial and technological innovations, political events, public/popular discourses, and global conflict and relations.

B. Krefting

Myth and Symbol in America

An introduction to the ways myths and symbols function in American culture. Students will study how myths develop as mirrors for reflecting and testing cultural experience; how they gradually change over time to accommodate altering cultural conditions; and how they eventually outlive their usefulness. The course focuses on the pervasive mythology of the American frontier, paying special attention to how, once the physical frontier disappeared in the late nineteenth century, Americans transferred their ambitions for the West to imperial outposts in the Caribbean and the Pacific in the early twentieth century, and then to outer space in the late twentieth century, where astronauts replaced cowboys as the archetypal American heroes and where the successes and failures of Western frontier development were recapitulated in space exploration and development.

G. Pfitzer


An interdisciplinary study of American culture centered on 1968. For many people, 1968 seemed like a historical and cultural pivot or a line of demarcation between the past and the present, a moment when the United States and much of the world changed irrevocably. Students will use the events of 1968 as a laboratory to think critically about American culture.

D. Nathan

The Wizard of Oz

An examination of the cultural impact of L. Frank Baum's novel The Wizard of Oz (1900) and its various twentieth and twenty-first century adaptations, including MGM's 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the African American musical The Wiz, the novel Wicked, and the SyFy Channel miniseries Tin Man. Students will study the original novel and its sequels, reflecting on the social, economic, and political contexts of each. They will also consider how revised and reinvented versions of the Baum narrative reflect and shape cultural anxieties as they intersect with gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, age, spirituality, and consumerism as categories of analysis. A variety of methods and approaches will be employed, especially myth/symbol theory, feminism, queer theory, and performance studies.

G. Pfitzer

Eating in America

This course is an interdisciplinary analysis of the evolution of American cuisine, foodways (these are diverse) and food politics. Beginning with Native American foodways and the impact of colonization on them, we will study regional food patterns of the colonial period, consider the development of distinctively American styles of cooking and eating in the 19th century with special attention to the effect of immigration, and explore the impact of science, business, technology, globalization and changing family patterns on U.S. food in the 20th and 21st centuries.


AM 200 - Issues In American Culture

AM 201 - American Identities: Pre-1870s

AM 202 - American Identities: Post-1870s

AM 221 - American Studies: Methods and Approaches

AM 231 - Ethnic and Immigrant Experience

AM 232H - New England Begins

AM 233 - Representations of the American Past in Film

AM 234 - American Sports/American Culture

AM 235 - Post-Apocalyptic Film and Literature 

AM 237 - Americans in Outer Space 

AM 241 - Mark Twain's America

AM 242 - The Funny Thing About History... 

AM 251 C or D - Regional Culture

AM 252 - The Hudson River

AM 253 - The West

AM 254 - The South

AM 255 - New England

AM 261C - Themes in American Culture 

AM 261 C or D - Themes in American Culture

AM 262 - Civil Rights in Twentieth-Century United States

AM 263 - The Machine in the Garden

AM 264 - The African-American Experience

AM 265 - Popular Culture

AM 266 - Diversity In The United States

AM 267 - American Bestsellers and Popular Culture

AM 268 - Gaming in American Society and Culture 

AM 299 A-D - Professional Internship In American Studies

AM 331 - Critical Whiteness In The U.S.

AM 332 - Global Perspectives of the United States

AM 340 - Women and Work in America

AM 342 - Black Feminist Thoughts 

AM 345H - Disorderly Women 

AM 346 - True Crime in America 

AM 351 C or D - Topics In American Culture 

AM 352 - City 

AM 354 - Religion 

AM 355 - Magazines and Modernity 

AM 356 - Sports Cinema 

AM 365 A -D - American Cultural Periods

AM 366 - 1920s

AM 367 - 1950s

AM 368 - 1960s

AM 361 - American Material Culture

AM 362 - American Autobiography 

AM 363 - Women in American Culture

AM 371 A-D - Independent Study

AM 374 - Senior Seminar

AM 375 - Honors Thesis

AM 399 A-D - Professional Internship In American Studies