American Studies Courses

Course Offerings in American Studies

In addition to the annual Scherer Center Seminar course for graduate students, the Center helps students coordinate programs of study on American topics. Please note: the course numbers for all American Studies classes are the same as the parent department, but simply substitute the AMER prefix. If you believe that a course should be cross-listed, but it is not listed below, please contact Nigel O’Hearn.

The following courses are cross-listed with American Studies for the Spring and Autumn 2019 terms:


Spring 2019

ARTH 25705 New Worlds: Art and Material Culture of Early America, 1500-1877 (AMER 25705)

This a pre-1877 seminar is focused on the art and material culture of North America from contact to the aftermath of the Civil War.  The course tackles the question of cultural encounter, indexed through the art and artifacts of the period.  The seminar is organized both thematically and chronologically, beginning with post Columbian contact (early French watercolors of Indian life; church architecture of New Mexico), 18th century economic exchange (Chinoiserie, furniture, silver work), politics (revolutionary visual propaganda—in prints), emergence of a merchant class (portraiture of Copley, Stuart, et al.), history painting (West, Vanderlyn, et. al), neoclassicisms (sculpture), Euro-American westward expansion and Indian resistance (itinerant miniature and self-taught artists; hide painting), religion (Shaker furniture and architecture; Hicks), natural history (Audubon) advent of photography (daguerreotypes, ferrotypes, etc.), westward expansion and landscape painting (Cole, Bierstadt, Carlin), slavery, abolition and Civil War (runaway slave ads, Matthew Brady, Winslow Homer).  The course will engage directly with the Special Collections, the Smart Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Autumn 2019

HIST 18703 Early America, 1492–1815 (AMER 18703)

This course explores the development of American culture, society, and politics from the first contact between Native Americans and Europeans to the emergence of a stable American nation by the end of the War of 1812. It emphasizes the diverse experiences of the many kinds of Americans and the different meanings that they attached to the events in their lives. Topics include the meeting of Indigenous, African, and European peoples, the diversity of colonial projects, piracy and the Atlantic slave trade, the surprising emergence of a strong British identity, the coming of the American Revolution, the range of Americans’ struggles for independence, and the role of the trans-Appalachian West in shaping the early republic. This lecture course is open to nonmajors and does not presume any previous history coursework.

A list of past course offerings is available upon request.