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Upcoming Courses

Spring 2020 Course Descriptions


AMST 201: Introduction to American Studies (Maurantonio)
TR 12:00-1:15pm

This class introduces students to the field of American Studies through an examination of U.S. culture and society. The course focuses on the profound transformations in social institutions, cultural practices, visions of gender, and nationalism, including the rise of mass culture, scientific racism, immigration and migration, and the construction of an America empire. AMST 201 qualifies for Field of Study-Historical Studies (FSHT) credit.


AMST 381:  Collaborative Arts Lab: Dance, Humanities, and Technology (Diaz / Herrera)
W 3:00-5:30pm

This co-taught course explores how to use dance and the arts as a vehicle for, what historical strategist Free Egunfemi calls, Commemorative Justice. Using the University of Richmond as a site of inquiry, we will reckon with the history of our own campus from a plantation before the Civil War to a black-owned land and home of a mutual aid society. Gravesites are constant reminders of people’s living stories. When we deny the existence of a cemetery, we deny the existence of people. We will thus pay particular attention to three burial grounds—the burial ground for enslaved people located behind the administrative offices of UR, the Sons and Daughters of Ham Cemetery on the outskirts of campus and the East End Cemetery in the City of Richmond. We will work on two site-specific commemorative projects that will engage with the history of these burial grounds and honor the lives of black people who are buried beneath the land we walk on. It is in the process of embodying this history that we can collectively grapple with a racial past that still haunts us today.


AMST 391-01:  Gender, Race, and Performance Across the Americas (Herrera / Mendez)
MW 10:30-11:45am

The body serves as a site of negotiation, discipline, and a means of expression and meaning. This co-taught class examines how bodies throughout the Americas articulate race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and gender. Drawing from critical race studies, feminist and queer theory, and performance studies, we will unpack how race, gender, and sexuality are constructed and maintained through performance—both on-stage and off.  We will pay special attention to the politics of the body locally and globally. From commemorative performances to interventionist performances, we will wrestle with issues that invite us to think in new ways about gender, race, and the construction of identities across the Americas. This course is designed for students who have some communicative ability in Spanish. Our readings and discussions will be conducted in English, Spanish, and Spanglish. A cohort of 8-10 students from the class will travel to Cuba to the biennial Havana Theater Festival—Mayo Teatral. Enrollment in the course pending conversation with professors. If you are interested in the class or have any questions, contact Professor Patricia Herrera at pherrera@richmond and Professor Mariela Méndez at


AMST 391-02: Black Hair International (Ashe)
MW 1:30-2:45

“Black hair” is far more than circular strands of matter emerging from black skin: it’s a crucial, essential cultural “site” of black expression. Everyone, in fact, must do something with his or her hair (even if the choice is to do nothing, viewers can observe that choice). Hairstyle choice says something about the individual, as well as that individual’s community. People of African descent, worldwide, now and historically, use their hair to express themselves in three distinct ways: aesthetically, politically, and culturally. Black Hair International will explore novels, film, essays, and music, including Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (England); Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (Nigeria); Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor (USA); JIMI: All Is By My Side (England); Girlhood (France); Oy, “Hallelujah! Hair!” (Germany); KRS-One’s Ya Strugglin’,” (USA); Kobena Mercer’s “Black Hair/Style Politics” (England) and Bert Ashe’s Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles (USA) to discuss ways people of the African diaspora use black hair as artistic expression, as political assertion, and, in the process of shaping and cutting—“doing”—black hair, sites for cultural bonding, connection and communication.


AMST 398: Disrupting School-to-Prison Narratives (Gale)
MW 3:00-4:15 pm

This class will examine narratives about the “school-to-prison pipeline” and will simultaneously explore the power of narrative to disrupt that pipeline. Major questions of the class include: How are schools and prisons interconnected, and how are both systems explicitly racialized? How is the school-to-prison pipeline maintained and who benefits from it? What role can self-reflective narrative play in catalyzing new visions and new structures? This is a community-based learning class; a major portion of the class will involve collaborating with young people incarcerated at the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center, for co-learning sessions and to create life narratives that reflect our collective experiences. Enrollment with permission of instructor only; contact Dr. Gale at