Material Culture and the Built Environment Concentration, American Studies (BA)

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Students in this concentration study the complex interrelationships among the arts, craft, design, ideas, places, and social and cultural life in America. This concentration allows for the encyclopedic study of things in their historical context, drawing on methodologies and approaches from art and design history, economic history, history of technology, philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, and geography.

The curriculum combines two broad approaches: giving objects prime importance and placing objects in wider social and intellectual contexts. Some courses raise issues related to media, techniques, aesthetics, production and consumption, historiography, and theory, while others focus on the role objects and places play in people’s lives: the planning of cities, parks, and gardens; the design of buildings, interiors, and furnishings; clothing; jewelry and body adornment; the material culture of food, decoration, and ornament; illustration and the graphic arts. Students will explore the ways in which Americans have been shaped by and have shaped their physical environments, from “nature” to the urban environment.

Concentration Courses

Please note that the below list of possible courses is not exhaustive and that many courses listed under "TOPICS" headings may also count toward American Studies. Students may take an unlimited number of TOPICS courses, as long as the topic of each course is different.​

Students must choose six courses from the following; however, exceptions may be granted by the Director of the American Studies Program. No more than three courses may be from any one department (AMS notwithstanding); at least two courses should be at the 300-level.​

American Studies

Course Title Quarter Hours
PERSPECTIVES ON AMERICAN IDENTITIES
CHICAGO HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, AND CULTURES
AMERICAN ETHNICITIES 1800-1945
CHICAGO HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, AND CULTURES
TOPICS IN AMERICAN MATERIAL CULTURE AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
THE MATERIAL CULTURE OF MODERN AMERICA
MATERIAL CULTURE OF EARLY AMERICA
ADVANCED TOPICS IN AMERICAN MATERIAL CULTURE AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
ADVANCED TOPICS IN GENDER AND SEXUALITY STUDIES IN THE U.S./AMERICAS 1
ADVANCED TOPICS IN AMERICAN STUDIES 1

African and Black Diaspora Studies

Course Title Quarter Hours
MOVIN' UP: BLACK MIGRATION TO THE NORTH, 1877 - 1941
RECONSTRUCTION AND THE RISE OF JIM CROW

Anthropology

Course Title Quarter Hours
ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELD METHODS
MATERIAL CULTURE OF MODERN AMERICA
MATERIAL CULTURE AND DOMESTIC LIFE
HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY OF CHICAGO
ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELDWORK
ANTHROPOLOGY OF GENDER
ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD MOVEMENTS AND PRACTICES
URBAN ANTHROPOLOGY
URBAN ETHNOGRAPHY
ARCHEOLOGY OF CITIES
ANTHROPOLOGY AND MUSEUMS
MUSEUM EDUCATION
HERITAGE DISPLAYS AND MUSEUMS

Art

Course Title Quarter Hours
MURAL PAINTING
DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY

Community Service Studies

Course Title Quarter Hours
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: ENGAGEMENT WITH THE PRISON
LAW AND POLITICS: PRISON POLICIES AND RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

Environmental Science

Course Title Quarter Hours
NATIONAL PARKS HISTORY
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
CITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Geography

Course Title Quarter Hours
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY
URBANIZATION
URBAN GEOGRAPHY - EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
MAPPING WORKSHOP FOR ONLINE STORYTELLING
GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS I: DIGITAL MAPPING
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY
SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT
RACE, JUSTICE, AND THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT
BOUNDARIES AND IDENTITIES
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY OF CHICAGO
COMPARATIVE URBANISM
GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS II: COMMUNITY GIS
CULTURAL AND POLITICAL ECOLOGY
KNOWLEDGE, PLACE AND POWER
ECONOMIC INEQUALITY AND POLITICAL TRAUMA
TOPICS IN ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM
WORLD OF WINE
GEOGRAPHY, FOOD AND JUSTICE
RISKS, HAZARDS AND NATURAL DISASTERS

History of Art and Architecture

Course Title Quarter Hours
INTRODUCTION TO ARTS OF THE AMERICAS
MODERN LATIN AMERICAN ART
AMERICAN ART
HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY
MODERN ARCHITECTURE
COMPARATIVE URBANISM
MUSEUM PROFESSION AND PRACTICE: CHICAGO MUSEUMS AS CASE STUDY
HISTORIC CATHOLIC CHURCH ARCHITECTURE OF CHICAGO
CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM (WORLD CITIES)
THE EVOLVING MUSEUM: HISTORIES AND CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES
MUSEUM STUDIES INTERNSHIP

History

Course Title Quarter Hours
HISTORY OF CHICAGO
MUSEUMS, MATERIAL CULTURE AND MEMORY: INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC HISTORY
U.S. HISTORICAL LANDSCAPE
HISTORY OF US NATIONAL PARKS
IDEAS OF NATURE IN US HISTORY
MAPS IN HISTORY AND CULTURE
CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM EXPERIENCE
TOPICS IN PUBLIC HISTORY
DOING LOCAL AND COMMUNITY HISTORY
PUBLIC HISTORY INTERNSHIP

International Studies

Course Title Quarter Hours
IDENTITIES AND BOUNDARIES

Media and Cinema Studies

Course Title Quarter Hours
HISTORY OF TELEVISION & RADIO
THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION: HOLLYWOOD IN THE 1960s
SEX IN THE BOX: U.S. TELEVISION, SEX, AND SEXUALITY

Political Science

Course Title Quarter Hours
GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS
URBAN POLITICS

Public Policy Studies

Course Title Quarter Hours
PUBLIC POLICY AND URBAN ISSUES
PUBLIC POLICY AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
ISSUES IN NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT
URBAN POVERTY
NATIONAL PARKS POLICY AND GOVERNANCE
GREEN CITIES
ISSUES IN URBAN REDEVELOPMENT
THE POLICY AND POLITICS OF URBAN HOUSING
GREAT LAKES GOVERNANCE POLICY AND MANAGEMENT
PUBLIC SPACES AND SOCIAL CONTROL

Sociology

Course Title Quarter Hours
RACE AND ETHNICITY IN THE CITY
GLOBAL CITIES
HOMELESS IN THE CITY
STREET GANGS
URBAN ETHNOGRAPHY
CLASS, POWER AND DECISION MAKING IN THE CITY

Portfolio Requirement

Students are encouraged to maintain an active record of documents from their concentration courses, including syllabi, completed written course work, collections of visuals, e.g., photo essays -- whatever is appropriate to the six courses chosen for the concentration. Students will use these documents to aid them in writing reflective essays during the initial weeks of their senior seminar. These essays might ask you to consider “What were the course’s most valuable lessons in research, analysis, writing and communication? How did this course, taken together with the other courses you have chosen for your concentration, influence/develop your understanding of the area of American culture on which you are focusing?” These essays, along with representative assignments, will form the student's American Studies "portfolio." Students turn in their portfolio on the concentration, along with a proposal for the senior seminar project, in the first weeks of the senior seminar, AMS 301. Specific directions for the portfolio can be obtained from your American Studies advisor, from the American Studies Program office, or from the American Studies Program Director.

Open Electives​

Open elective credit also is required to meet the minimum graduation requirement of 192 hours. ​