Course Descriptions

Spring 2022


AMST 1100 - Introduction to Environmental & Social Justice

10:00 AM - 1:30 PM MW | Instructor Alfredo Heredia, heredia@unm.edu | 2nd 8-week

4:00 PM - 6:30 PM M | Instructor Matthew MacDermant, mmacdermant@unm.edu | Full Semester

This class provides an introduction to the theories of the environment, theories of justice in the context of environmental policy and planning, and to histories of poor peoples' struggles around the unequal distribution of toxic waste. We will focus on the ways race, class, gender, sexuality, region, eco-colonialism and their intersections shape environmental and political struggles over natural resource use. Students will learn to examine the ways in which socially constructed representations of Nature shape our interactions with natural environments and shape our perceptions of environmental problems and solutions.


AMST 1130 - Introduction to American Pop Culture

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM TR | Shebati Sengupta, ssengupta@unm.edu | Full Semester

This course considers a range of theoretical approaches to the study of popular culture, including cultural studies and feminist theory as well as key concepts and key debates in the study of popular culture. It explores the ways popular culture is implicated in the formation of social determinants such as race, gender, class, and sexuality and conversely, how these social determinants are implicated in the formation of popular culture. The course also considers the ways in which popular culture serves as a site of ongoing political struggle. The aim of the course is to provide students with a critical vocabulary to make sense of the broader significance and relevance of popular culture—how and why popular culture matters. To accomplish this, we will investigate a number of popular culture examples including the punk movement, youth cultural production and branding, Black science fiction, sport mascots, the Riot Grrrl movement, body positivity, Indigenous pop music, and social media.


AMST 320 - U.S. War on Terror

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM TR | Jennifer Marley, jenm11@unm.edu | Full Semester

This course examines the history, politics, and cultural production of the U.S. War on Terror, a conflict that began following the end of the Cold War and continues today (although officially the war has ended). The War on Terror describes an historical moment in which definitions of U.S. nationalism, legality, and territory are undergoing transformation. We will explore how the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 redefined U.S. engagements in the world, as well as counterinsurgency efforts in the U.S. We will explore the deadly consequences of the War on Terror on so-called enemy combatants in Yemen, Pakistan, and those detained in Guantanamo Bay. Our discussion concludes with a consideration of how the War on Terror has “come home” in the form of increasingly militarized American urban policing.


AMST 321 - Science, Nature & Anxiety in the Zombie Films of George Romero

4:30 PM - 7:00 PM MW | David Correia, dcorreia@unm.edu | 2nd 8-week

This course will examine the social commentary of George Romero’s zombie films. We will consider how Romero’s zombies serve as a vehicle to examine social anxieties regarding gender, race, class and consumerism. Zombies, in the Romero oeuvre, are usually the result of science gone awry, technology out of control, or a frightful consequence of transformed nature-society relations. The zombie threat reorganizes society in ways that reveal deeply buried racial anxieties, class conflict, and social alienation. In each class, we will screen one of Romero’s films and read critical commentaries as a way to explore how Romero uses zombies to complicate established social relations, destabilize social categories such as race and class, and undermine ideas such as progress and nature.


AMST 341 - Indigenous Film

12:30 - 3:00 PM TR | Kara Roanhorse, roanhorse@unm.edu | 2nd 8-week

This course introduces students to the world of Indigenous films, beginning with representations of Indians and how these images are sources of on-going stereotypes and simultaneously, images that Indigenous filmmakers challenge and by creating Indigenous-centered films as sources of Indigenous resurgence. We will explore genres, develop an appreciation for historical and cultural contexts of films, and consider how these films are forms of Indigenous resurgence. We will also learn the basics of media literacy and film analysis. Our key concepts included representations, settler colonialism, decolonization, resurgence, tradition, and gender. No textbooks required, all reading and film reviews are posted on UNM Learn.


AMST 485 - Senior Seminar in U.S. Culture

4:00 PM -6:30 PM M | Rebecca Schreiber, rschreib@unm.edu

This is the capstone course for the American Studies major. It is meant to give students an opportunity to synthesize what they have learned in their American Studies courses and related classes. It is also a chance for students to do their own, original work on a topic that matters to them. We will work together to develop and strengthen skills in research, analysis, and writing, but the major part of the seminar is the work students will do to produce a 20-page original senior thesis.



AMST 501 - Theory & Methods in American Studies

4:00 PM - 6:30 PM T | Francisco Galarte, galarte@unm.edu | Full Semester

This seminar introduces students to the critical intellectual genealogies, theories, and methods that inform contemporary American Studies scholarship. Readings establish connections between key historical intellectual interventions that have served as the ongoing basis of critical inquiry and innovative contemporary scholarship that engages, reimagines, and rethinks these preceding analytics. This seminar is the second course in the required sequence of the American Studies core graduate curriculum. Our focus this semester includes critical transnationalism, histories of capitalism, imperialism, Marxist theory, racial capitalism, women of color feminism, queer of color critique, critical ethnic studies, and Indigenous theory.



AMST 519 - Displacement and Migration in the Americas

10:00 AM - 12:30 PM W | Rebecca Schreiber, rschreib@unm.edu | Full Semester

In this seminar we focus on the conditions facing migrants/refugees from the “Northern Triangle” of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras) during the current wave of mass migration in the early 21st century. We start by examining the root causes that have led people from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to migrate and/or seek refuge in Mexico and the U.S. since the late 20th c. We also study theoretical approaches to understanding displacement and migration in the Americas as well as how gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities, and Indigenous belonging shape experiences of transnational and transborder migration. In addition, we look at the ways that transborder and transnational communities maintain aspects of their culture across national boundaries. We also investigate the efforts of U.S. and Mexican government agencies to police migrants/refugees as well as how they have responded to these policies.

AMST 520 - Law's Violence

1:00 PM - 3:30 PM M | David Correia, dcorreia@unm.edu | Full Semester

Law, to be lawful, must be enforced. And enforcement doesn’t just imply force, it requires It. Law, as the legal scholar Robert Cover famously wrote, is “staked in blood.” The violence to which Cover refers is required, and made legitimate, by law and the liberal state: mass incarceration, torture, everyday police violence, the death penalty, and so much more. Whether by the lethal injection of an executioner's syringe or by the blow of a police officer's truncheon, law is never far from violence and always operates, as Cover argues, “in a field of pain and death.” This seminar is designed as an interdisciplinary approach to the study of law and its relation to violence. We are interested in the freedoms promised and brought to life by law and liberalism, and the ways that these freedoms always require or include organized violence in their first instance. Law's freedoms are always paired with forms of unfreedom. Individual liberty based on mass incarceration, “security” and “peace” accomplished by police and accompanied by war and repression; the promise of justice amid historic and ongoing injustice.


AMST 550 - Women in Cinema

4:00 PM - 6:30 PM R | Andrea Mays, amays@unm.edu | Full Semester

This seminar course will offer an introduction to the roles and influence women have had in cinema as a site of cultural production, resistance, and expression. The films for this course will consider US, transnational, and international cinema projects. Works by, for, about, and starring women (in the broadest and most anti-essentialist sense of the word) are to be examined through an interdisciplinary approach which includes American Studies, Film Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies as critical terrains for the learning outcomes. As the construct woman—a social, biological, legal, and material manifestation of being, is to be engaged as the central focus of this film course, we will not only examine films by, for, and about women who occupy the conventional meanings associated with this term, we will also examine films which take on interrogating this concept as the central focus of their cinematic projects.



For more information, special technology fees and computer requirements please go to the EU Website.

AMST 1140- Introduction to Race, Class, & Ethnicity

Section 1: Michael Trujillo, mltruj@unm.edu | 1st 8-week

Section 2: Nathan Leach, nleach@unm.edu | 2nd 8-week

This course introduces students to the historical and contemporary significance of race, class and ethnicity in the context of what is currently the United States from the interdisciplinary perspective of American Studies. Beginning with the formative role of slavery and colonialism in the making of modern understandings of race and racial difference, this course focuses on race, class, ethnicity, and gender as key organizing categories of U.S. social, legal, cultural, and political life. Throughout the course we will consider the interdependent, intersectional, and relational dynamics of race, class, and ethnicity rather than approach each as discrete or stand-alone categories. We likewise examine how capitalism is a historically specific racialized and gendered social relation of inequality. Although our primary concern is the U.S. context, the course situates this context within the broader framework of global history and geopolitics in order to show how and why the U.S. cannot be studied and understood in isolation from the rest of the world. Course readings provide an analytic and historical basis for addressing questions of power, inequality, identity, collective struggle, and social movements.


AMST 1150 - Introduction to Southwest Studies

Section 1: Michael Trujillo, mltruj@unm.edu | 2nd 8-week

Section 2: Melissa Bertholf Bendt, mbbendt@unm.edu | Full Semester

This course provides both an introduction to the complex history and culture of the southwestern United States and a demonstration of the possibilities of the interdisciplinary study of regional American culture. It is multicultural in content and multidisciplinary in methodology. It examines cross-cultural relationships among the peoples of the Southwest within the framework of their expressions and experiences in art, culture, religion, and social and political economy. More specifically, this course will consider: What is this place we call the Southwest? How is it defined- geographically, politically, and culturally? Who are the people that live there? How have their lives been transformed by social and historical forces into the cultures we see today? At the same time, how have these same groups retained their traditions, customs, and beliefs in response to change? This course will explore contemporary Southwestern cultures, their multiple voices and culture expressions, using an interdisciplinary approach that draws from geography, anthropology, history, literature, and the arts.

Jennifer Denetdale

Department Chair
Humanities Building - Room 430
Phone: 277-3929


Alyosha Goldstein

Graduate Advisor
Humanities Building - Room 436 
Phone: 277-3929


Rebecca Schreiber

Undergraduate Advisor
Humanities Building - Room 426
Phone: 277-3929