US Studies Major | Duke Kunshan University

U.S. STUDIES ( TRACKS: HISTORY AND LITERATURE )

US Studies with tracks in History, Literature, Political Science, and Public Policy

America is a unique experiment in self-governance, economic formation, and cultural production. It is rooted in Puritan settlement and the American Revolution and has been reshaped from the beginning by racial, religious, regional, linguistic, and sexual minorities upwardly mobile and on-the-make. U.S. nationality therefore includes both patriotic nationalism and pointed dissent. There is also a long history to U.S. connections with Asia and of Asian—especially Chinese—impact on the United States, which is now taking on ever greater force as China and the United States engage on the global stage. 

US Studies fosters an understanding of the ideas, cultures, art, institutions, aspirations, and realities that have played an important role in the development of American society and public life.  Particular attention is paid to core ideas of American citizenship and to the ways in which institutions have facilitated and constrained efforts by marginalized groups to achieve full citizenship. U.S. Studies is therefore both an appreciation and a critique. It captures the utopian impulse in the American narrative, its far-reaching and inspiring vision, and its many successes including the achievement of a revelatory ironic and self-critical literature.  It also examines ideas of nationhood that transcend national boundaries and forms of nationalist ideology that have produced anti-nationalist dissent. The courses offered in the program examine the formation of historical, philosophical, religious, social, artistic and political traditions that shape American political thought, institutions, culture and literature. Students can choose among four disciplinary tracks with the overall US Studies major: History, Literature, Political Science, and Public Policy.

Major Requirements

(Not every course listed is offered every semester, and the course list will be updated periodically. Please refer to the online Course Catalog for Courses offered in 2019-2020.)

Divisional Foundation Courses 

For tracks of History, Literature

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
SOSC 101 Foundational Questions in Social Science 4
ARHU 101 The Art of Interpretation: Written Texts 4

For Political Science track:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
SOSC 101 Foundational Questions in Social Science 4

ARHU 101

The Art of Interpretation: Written Texts 4
And choose one of the courses below
SOSC 102 Introduction to Research Methods 4
STATS 101 Introduction to Applied Statistical Methods 4

MATH 205

Probability and Statistics (was Mathematical Foundations 3) 4

For Public Policy track:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
SOSC 101 Foundational Questions in Social Science 4

ARHU 101

The Art of Interpretation: Written Texts 4
SOSC 102 Introduction to Research Methods 4

Interdisciplinary Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
LIT 104 The American Romance of Self-Making 4
LIT 106 American Otherness and Otherness in America 4
POLSCI 103 American Ideas and the Idea of America 4
POLSCI 207 Democratic Institutions in America 4
POLSCI 310 America in the World 4
USTUD 390 Junior Seminar: Advanced Topics 4
USTUD 490 Senior Seminar: Advanced Topics 4

Disciplinary Courses 

For History Track:

American History thematic area:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
HIST 201 History Methods and Research 4
HIST 104 American History to 1876 4
HIST 105 American History from Reconstruction to the Present 4
And one course from electives in the thematic area (200-400 level)
And one history course outside of the thematic area (100-400 level)

For Literature Track:

American Literature track:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
LIT 105 The Epic of America (the novel) 4
LIT 205 American Lyric Across Borders (Poetry) 4
LIT 308 American Icons (rhetoric and performance—pulpit /address /theater/ music) 4
And two courses (200 level or above) from the American Literature Electives 8

For Political Science Track:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
POLSCI 101 International Politics 4
POLSCI 201 Political Institutions and Processes 4
ETHLDR 203 Conceptions of Democracy and Meritocracy 4
POLSCI 301 Program Evaluation 4
POLSCI 302 Public Opinion 4

For Public Policy Track:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
STATS 101 * Introduction to Statistical Methods 4
PUBPOL 101 Introduction to Policy Analysis 4
PUBPOL 301 Political Analysis for Public Policy 4
PUBPOL 303 Policy Choice as Value Conflict 4
Choose one course from the following two courses
PUBPOL 304 Microeconomic Policy Tools 4
ECON 201 Intermediate Microeconomics I 4
* Students can take MATH 205 as a substitute for STATS 101.

Electives

Students can choose the recommended electives in their tracks or select other courses in different divisions as electives. The course list will be updated periodically.

For History Track:

Electives in the American History thematic area:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
POLSCI 106 Political Rhetoric, Crisis, and Leadership 4
HIST 120 Writing Historical Fiction 4
HIST 121 Pan-Africanism: Global Story of an American Idea 2
POLSCI 202 U.S. Citizenship: History, Meaning and Conflict 4
HIST 203 America in Asia, Asians in America 4
POLSCI 203 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 4
POLSCI 221 US/China Relations 4
SOSC 301 Religion and Community in America 4
SOCIOL 301 Race, Ethnicity, and Citizenship 4
POLSCI 304 Revolutions and Foundings: A Comparative Perspective 4
POLSCI 305 American Capitalism in the World 4
HIST 306 The United States and China in War and Revolution 4
HIST 307 Cold War America 4

HIST 308

Immigration and the American Experience 4
HIST 311 Documenting Durham and the New South 4

For Literature Track

American Literature Electives:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
LIT 201 Asian-American Arts and Letters 4
LIT 202 African American Literature and Culture 4
LIT 206 Early Literatures from Colonization to Revolution 2
LIT 207 The American Renaissance and Its Rivals 4
LIT 301 The Realist Moment 4
LIT 302 America’s Novel Modernity 4
LIT 303 The Literary Arts of the Cold War 4
LIT 304 The Center Stage of Ethnic and Women’s Writing 4
LIT 305 The U.S. and the Contemporary Global Imagination 4
USTUD 210 American Musicals 4
USTUD 301 The Western Across Boundaries 4

For Political Science Track

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
POLSCI 102 Social Choice and Democracy 4
POLSCI 105 Contemporary Political Ideologies 2
POLSCI 106 Political Rhetoric, Crisis, and Leadership 2
HIST 202 World History and Global Interactions 4
POLECON 202 The Politics of International Economic Relations: America in the World Economy 4
POLSCI 208 Political and Social Inequality 4
POLSCI 209 Democratic Erosion 2
POLSCI 210 International Relations in East Asia 4
POLSCI 211/LIT 211 Politics and Literature 4
POLSCI 212 Pathologies of Modern Society: Foundational Ideas 4
POLSCI 303 International Politics of East Asia 4

For Public Policy Track

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
PUBPOL 102 Introduction to the United States Health Care System 4
PUBPOL 212 Immigrant Dreams, U.S. Realities: Immigration Policy History 4
PUBPOL 216 Civic Participation and Public Policy 4

Disciplinary Courses

Recommended Electives for the Major

Courses listed below are recommended electives for the major. Students can also select other courses in different divisions as electives.

Electives in the American History thematic area:

Career Path

Graduates will be prepared to begin careers in government, education, media and journalism, or to pursue graduate study in history, literature and politics.

International Politics of East Asia

Course explores the economic, political, and security issues in East Asia. Examines respective theoretical and historical backgrounds of the countries in the region (Japan, North and South Koreas, China, southeast Asia, Taiwan). Focuses on issues surrounding the region, including globalization, economic interdependence, nuclear proliferation, territorial disputes, and terrorism. Utilization of some international relation theory and methodological tools for more systematic analysis of these issues. Readings will be drawn from international relations theory, political science and history.

Pathologies of Modern Society: Foundational Ideas

This course introduces the ideas of 4 social theorists: Tocqueville, Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. Described as “the founding fathers” of modern social theory, these thinkers sought to understand modern society, and its pathologies, in order to improve human life. Their ideas – such as public opinion and democratic despotism, alienation and ideology, rationalization and disenchantment, and organic solidarity and anomie – are still used by social scientists today to analyze and frame social, economic, and political problems.

Politics and Literature

In the past, the poet was regarded, not as an antipolitical bohemian nor as a political partisan, but rather as a wise teacher who could help us to understand the drama of human life as a whole and the drama of political life in particular. The goal of this course is to investigate the nature of politics and human nature by studying a number of masterpieces of classical literature. As we study these works, we will consider such themes as the equality of the sexes, democracy and aristocracy, science and politics, religion and politics, love and politics, and ambition and politics.

International Relations in East Asia

This course helps students understand the interactions among states in East Asia since WW II. It surveys the major events, introduces theories from international relations related to the strategic balance, realism and constructivism, international political economy, decision-making, domestic politics, leadership and bureaucratic politics. Part III looks at China’s and America’s relationships with Asian countries while Part IV analyzes key issues, including the Korean nuclear crisis, the South and East China seas, and the future of the region. The course will include a simulation game, when students engage in crisis management, thereby enhancing their understanding of the dilemmas of foreign policy decision making.

Democratic Erosion

The course responds to the widespread media coverage and commentary suggesting that democracies around the world are backsliding into authoritarianism by treating “the threat of democratic erosion as an empirical question, rather than merely a political one”. The first week of the course focuses on definitions—democracy, democratic consolidation, democratic erosion. In each of the next six weeks, the following particular themes will be investigated: institutions, populism, the media, polarization, exclusion, and resistance.

Political and Social Inequality

How do different groups with different levels of political power shape political outcomes? How do gender, racial, environmental, and social inequalities express themselves through the political system? What is a ‘fair’ level of inequality? How do different institutional designs shape and channel inequality? This class introduces students to readings, arguments, and concepts that begin to explore the answers to these questions.

The Politics of International Economic Relations: America in the World Economy

Introduction to politics of international economic relations through an examination of persistent major debates and current events in world politics and global economy. Topics include politics of trade; politics of money and finance; foreign direct investment, multinational corporations, and global value chains; politics of foreign aid and economic development; and corporate social responsibility in a global economy. Examines how material interests, historical and socio-political context, and institutions at domestic and international level shape a country's foreign economic policies. Special focus on U.S. foreign economic policy in comparative perspective.

World History and Global Interactions

This course offers a survey of the history of the world, by which is meant a historical overview of major processes and interactions in the development of human society since its early development some 60,000 years ago, going beyond the fundamental questions and concerns of area studies (such as East Asian studies, South Asian studies). In explaining the large scale processes such as empire building, commerce and religious practices, this course will show how various forms of human interactions, especially migration played a key role. This course will provide deep historical understanding for some of the pressing issues of the contemporary world such as migration, globalization, and imperialism.

Political Rhetoric, Crisis, and Leadership

This course engages in a series of case studies to evaluate the requirements of political rhetoric, especially during times of crisis. Examples are drawn from ancient Greek and Roman history, the American founding, and the U.S. Civil War. Students will be able to identify how political leaders in various contexts use common logical and rhetorical constructions to negotiate political uncertainty and danger.

Political Rhetoric, Crisis, and Leadership

This course engages in a series of case studies to evaluate the requirements of political rhetoric, especially during times of crisis. Examples are drawn from ancient Greek and Roman history, the American founding, and the U.S. Civil War. Students will be able to identify how political leaders in various contexts use common logical and rhetorical constructions to negotiate political uncertainty and danger.

Political Rhetoric, Crisis, and Leadership

This course engages in a series of case studies to evaluate the requirements of political rhetoric, especially during times of crisis. Examples are drawn from ancient Greek and Roman history, the American founding, and the U.S. Civil War. Students will be able to identify how political leaders in various contexts use common logical and rhetorical constructions to negotiate political uncertainty and danger.

Political Rhetoric, Crisis, and Leadership

This course engages in a series of case studies to evaluate the requirements of political rhetoric, especially during times of crisis. Examples are drawn from ancient Greek and Roman history, the American founding, and the U.S. Civil War. Students will be able to identify how political leaders in various contexts use common logical and rhetorical constructions to negotiate political uncertainty and danger.

Writing Historical Fiction

This interdisciplinary course teaches students to use historical research as the basis for imaginative writing. Producing an original work of footnoted historical fiction about some aspect of United States history will teach each student how to research and analyze like a historian, while creating artistically like a novelist. Writing Historical Fiction brings U.S. history to life and encourages students to use both the creative and the analytical sides of their brains.

Pan-Africanism: Global Story of an American Idea

Pan-Africanism began as an idea among ex-slaves and antislavery reformers in America, who believed that Africans and people of African descent across the world had common histories, common experiences, and common struggles against various forms of racism and marginalization. Pan-Africanism, which meant different things to different people, would go on to influence numerous intellectuals and social movements, from Negritude poets to African/Caribbean Independence and the American Civil Rights Movement. This course would survey the growth of this idea in a variety of facets, by looking at is influence upon history-writing, philosophy, poetry, political thought and social movements.

Microeconomic Policy Tools

Development and application of analytical economic tools in a policy environment. Emphasis on application of economic methods in a variety of policy settings and developing testable hypotheses that might be used to guide economic policy. Analytical topics include willingness to pay, derived demand, multi-market interactions, comparative advantage, investment analysis, and decision making under uncertainty. Applications include tax analysis, including incidence, effective protection, shadow pricing, introduction to government expenditures, labor market policy, examples of regulation and pricing externalities.

Intermediate Microeconomics I

Introduction of the concepts of preferences and technologies. Intermediate development of the theory of demand, supply and competitive equilibrium from individual preferences and technologies. Income and substitution effects, uncompensated demand and marginal willingness to pay. Conditions under which competitive markets result in efficient outcomes. Conditions under which government policy has the potential to increase efficiency. Tension between economic efficiency and different notions of equity.

Policy Choice as Value Conflict

Public policy should be informed by evidence and facts, but it cannot be determined by them. People disagree about public policy not only because they disagree about empirical matters but also because they hold different understandings of familiar political concepts and they assign different weightings to competing political values. This course aims both to illustrate these general propositions and, more importantly, to introduce the tools and techniques with which one can construct and critique reasoned arguments about the political concepts and values that underpin policy choice. The course will be divided into four sections, each of which focuses on a set of contemporary policy disputes whose resolution depends upon clarifying and justifying our understanding of an underlying political concept and its associated values. The four concepts whose policy implications we shall explore are: democracy, justice, liberty, and rights. Readings are mostly works of contemporary political philosophy.

Political Analysis for Public Policy

How and why do policies come about? What is the role of media, non-governmental organizations, and politicians? Why do some issues attract the attention of policymakers while others do not? What are the obstacles for policy change? Some of the questions will be answered in this course. This course will examine the political aspects of public policy from an explicitly comparative perspective. Public policy making is not a rational, straightforward process, but is heavily shaped by processes, institutions, and actors. During the course, we will identify relevant official and non-official actors, contextual factors, and particular processes, ultimately learning how these shape public policy.

Introduction to Policy Analysis

Basic concepts of analytical thinking including quantitative methods for assessing the probabilities of outcomes and appraising policy alternatives. Students learn how to define policy options, find sources of information; apply basic qualitative and quantitative measures (e.g. cost benefit analysis) to compare policy options.

Program Evaluation

Examines nature and role of public opinion from a comparative perspective, providing a broad-based introduction to the dynamics of citizens' social and political attitudes. The goal of the course is to help students arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of forces that shape beliefs, attitudes, and opinions of the public, the means by which those views are publicly expressed, and the influence of those opinions on policy outcomes. The course will also offer an introduction to the design, implementation, and analysis of public opinion surveys and election polls with a special focus on cutting-edge survey experiments and online designs.

Program Evaluation

This course introduces students to the approaches used by social scientists to evaluate the implementation and impacts of public policies. Topics covered include reasons for and uses of program evaluations; the different kinds of information gained through implementation analysis and the integration of qualitative and quantitative research; statistical power and effect size; and cost-benefit analysis. The bulk of the course focuses on the techniques, advantages, and drawbacks of experimental and quasi-experimental designs.

Political Institutions and Processes

The purpose of this course is to examine and understand issues related to political institutions and processes. The main topics that will be examined over the course of the semester include the central themes, theories, concepts, and questions of the contemporary study how policy-making processes vary across different institutional arrangements.

Conceptions of Democracy and Meritocracy

This course will examine democracy and meritocracy, exploring specifically the components, strengths, and liabilities of each. Particular focus will be on intersections between virtuosity, democracy and meritocracy. Readings will come from philosophy, political theory, history, and sociology. Potential application of these theories to the United States and to China, among other countries, will be discussed.

International Politics

The theory and practice of international politics and foreign policy; analysis of the various elements of national power and its impact on differing world views and foreign policy behavior, the instruments of foreign policy, and the controls of state/nation behavior across different historical periods and from different national and analytical perspectives.

Immigrant Dreams, U.S. Realities: Immigration Policy History

This course serves as an introduction to probability theory and statistics. It covers basic concepts of the probabilistic description of independent events, some types of probability distributions that frequently arise, some statistical measures used to characterize probability distributions, the central limit theorem, common types of processes and the distributions they generate, the statistics typically employed for testing the explanatory power of a model or hypothesis.

Immigrant Dreams, U.S. Realities: Immigration Policy History

This course will introduce students to common statistics used in social science research articles and the media with the goal of making them informed and critical consumers of research results reported by various sources. Students will gain understanding of the conceptual basis and purpose of different statistics, as well as the formulas for deriving them. The relationship of statistical analysis to other components of the research process will be explicated. The course will be taught using team-based learning with an emphasis on the application of new concepts, knowledge, and skills in the classroom. Application activities will include interpreting statistics presented in tables and graphics in research articles and the media, critiquing conclusions drawn from statistics, and using statistical software, such as SPSS or Stata, to conduct statistical tests and generate tables and graphics. Not open to students who have credits for MATH 205.

Immigrant Dreams, U.S. Realities: Immigration Policy History

Immigrants and immigration policy in the United States from 1850 to the present, with focus on origins and power of immigrant exclusion during three waves of migration: Northern European and Asian migrations between 1850 and 1880, Eastern European, Latin American, and Asian migrations, 1880-1920, and Latin American, African, and Asian migrations, post 1965. Immigrant roles in shaping policy debates, citizenship rights, labor movements, and American culture, past and present.

Introduction to Research Methods

This course provides students with an understanding of research designs and research methods used in the social sciences. Students will learn about the scientific method, research methods and design, measurement, and ethical issues. Topics include quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as mixed methods.

Civic Participation and Public Policy

Overview of patterns in Americans' engagement in and disengagement from civic life. Theories of why people do (and do not) participate. Differences across lines of gender, race, ideology, generation, and class. Role of American interest groups and social movements in policy change. Influence of public policies (e.g., federal tax laws, participation requirements, programs such as AmeriCorps) on civic and political participation. Implications for equality, voice, and the health of American democracy.

Foundational Questions in Social Science

People everywhere ponder and debate fundamental questions: What does it mean to be human? How is society to be ordered? What is a moral life? Our ancestors asked such questions as well: it is likely that those questions lie at the origins of humanity itself. They also provide the foundations for much of the most important research in the social sciences today. This course examines the ways in which social scientists from a diversity of disciplines approach these fundamental questions. Study material for the course will include foundational texts from across the social sciences, as well as cutting-edge research from the present day. This course will not attempt to answer these vast questions, or provide neat solutions for students: rather, we want to excite students about the social sciences and whet their appetites for further study.

The Art of Interpretation: Written Texts

Training in close reading and analysis of text remains a foundational skill in the arts and humanities, whether the text is literary or documentary. This core course combines practical training in close reading of a variety of texts, with strategies of analysis that are theoretically informed without, however, offering a comprehensive treatment of theory per se. The course will focus both on reading and analysis of literary texts, and on the nuanced unpacking of documents (official, unofficial, personal) with a view to historical method.

American Ideas and the Idea of America

What is the story of the United States? What fundamental ideas of America have been formed as a nation and as an empire? Are there connections we can draw between the US today and its past? What relevance does the US have in China historically and in the present day? What place does the US have in the Chinese imagination? In this course, we address these questions by examining a variety of texts, ranging from important founding documents, political speeches, autobiographies, and travelogues to excerpts of American novels. Through class discussions, team projects, and role plays, we will discuss fundamental concepts of America, its past and present, and explore themes such as politics and religion, race and slavery, immigration and identity, women and economics, and education and citizenship. We will also consider how America is being perceived in the world specifically within the Chinese context.

Democratic Institutions in America

From the framing of the Constitution to the present day, the US has had unique political institutions and political culture, which have long arrested the minds of political theorists, philosophers, writers and academics. Drawing on multiple disciplines, such as sociology, history, philosophy, and literature, this course will explore America’s democratic political structures as well as the various institutions that live alongside them. Students will examine the US Constitution and political system. They will look at the relation of the US political system to American culture, to race, to education, to capitalism, and to empire.

America in the World

This course examines the place of America in the wider world and the nature of American regional and global engagement. It explores how Americans have viewed and defined themselves in relation to numerous other nations and peoples examines the relation between ideology, politics, culture, and foreign policy.

The American Romance of Self-Making

This course foregrounds the Protestant roots of the U.S. literary imagination. It introduces the preeminent form of America’s diverse literatures, which is the narrative, or romance, of the struggle for self-determination, most often a novel or memoir focused on a protagonist’s search for freedom, maturity, and/or bicultural virtuosity. The course begins with examples of the genre including: the Protestant pilgrimage story; its secularization by Franklin; its philosophical working out by Melville and Emerson; its leveraging of ecological attentiveness by Thoreau; its sentimentalization in the fallen women plots and captivity narratives; its political mobilization in the slave narrative and prison memoir; and its apotheosis in Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and Dickinson’s poems.

American Otherness and Otherness in America

The United States of America is founded on the idea of universal equality with respect to moral worth and fundamental rights. This radical idea, which had no precedent in history, has always been fundamental to America’s self-understanding and to its singular place in the community of nations. And yet, the concept of “otherness” has never been far from the surface in American political and cultural life. An official ideology of equality has never been able to eliminate real inequalities and exclusions that have produced, for some, feelings of entitlement or special distinction, and for many others, feelings of solitude, exclusion, or powerlessness. A sense of singularity, non-belongingness, apartness, or exceptionalness characterizes many of the most distinctive aspects of American culture. This tension between what America claims to stand for—a harmonious society in which everyone has equal moral worth and equal rights—and the reality of daily life for those who feel for whatever reason that they stand apart from the whole will be the subject matter of this course. This subject will be approached by reading foundational texts in which the ideology of equality is articulated, and by considering a wide range of other materials in which this ideology is explored, tested, or challenged.

Methods of Historical Research

This course offers an introduction to theories, methods and approaches to historical inquiry and research including the use of archives, the interpretation of visual and textual documents, and the recording of oral histories. Students will be exposed to both the humanist and the social scientific approaches to historical research, as well as broader theoretical questions of history and historiography. As such, students learn what is history, how is it made, and what constitutes valid scholarly approaches to historiography. Students will apply their learning by conducting original historical research on a topic of their own choosing and writing a research paper.

American History to 1876

This course will survey the history of the present-day United States from precolonial times (pre-1500) to 1876. This was a tumultuous era of American, and world history, fraught with conquest and enslavement, revolutions and civil wars, mass migrations and democratization. This course will particularly investigate indigenous societies, European colonization and African slavery, the American Revolution and the founding of the US nation-state, social movements, sectional conflicts, expansionism and the American Civil War, as well as the reconstruction of American democracy in the wake of the Civil War. Throughout, the course will emphasize the place of the US in global history, the growth of American capitalism, tensions between race and democracy, and the various contributions of women, slaves, merchants, planters, Native Americans, and workers to American culture and politics.

American History from Reconstruction to the Present

This course will survey the history of the United States, from the downfall of Reconstruction (1877) to the present day. Globally, this era was marked by industrialization, the consolidation and collapse of colonial empires, World Wars, socialist revolutions, decolonization, and the emergence of the United States as the world’s pre-eminent geopolitical and economic power. This course will investigate America’s place within these global transformations. It will explore the rise of America’s industry and the expansion of its frontiers (both within and beyond North America). It will explore the impact of immigrants from across the world upon American society. It will explore America’s role in two World Wars and the global Cold War. It will also examine the shifts in American politics, from the expansion of women’s rights, labor rights, and African American rights, to the New Deal and Neo-Conservatism, to Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Documenting Durham and the New South

The course trains students to document and represent Durham past and present with digital media. Students learn how to digitize historical and cultural materials, research in archives and public records and present information through various forms including web pages, databases, maps, video and other media. In addition to producing digital represenations of historical materials, students learn more broadly how to think about and analyze the social impact of new representations of place and space.

America in Asia, Asians in America

This course explores the intersection between foreign relations and the evolution of American society, with a focus on Asian-Americans in different moments of history. It is divided into three main historical eras and themes: (1) the early period of Chinese emigration and the building of American railroads until the Exclusion Acts; (2) Japanese-American society before and after Pearl Harbor; (3) Chinese Americans in modern American science, engineering, and innovation. Through the use of representative cases, the course trains students to understand the lives of Asian Americans in relevant historical, cultural and political contexts.

U.S. Citizenship: History, Meaning and Conflict

What does it mean to be and to become an American citizen? What combination of political principles, cultural identity, and historical experience does and should constitute U.S. citizenship? This course explores the meaning of citizenship and nationhood in different historical contexts, amidst competing constitutional interpretations, and at the center of contemporary policy debates.

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

This course examines the meaning rights and liberties in the American and global context. It considers competing justifications as well as specific legal and policy debates ranging from freedom of speech and the press, religion, sexuality, abortion, and discrimination.

The United States and China in War and Revolution

This course looks at the Chinese-American alliance during World War II from multiple perspectives. What did the partners in this anti-Japanese alliance have in common? What was the level of their mutual understanding? What was the role of key decision-makers in Chongqing, Washington, and Yanan? What was the experience of this alliance from the perspective of ordinary soldiers and the civilians they encountered? How did the various actors imagine Chinese-American relations after the war? What can we learn from a Chinese-American alliance that was at once successful and fragile?

Cold War America

This course explores the nearly 50 year conflict between the superpowers of the US and USSR and considers the domestic impact of America’s “cold war” against communism. It assesses both the ideological clash and the economic conflict between capitalism and state control. Topics include the development of the atomic bomb, George Kennan’s “containment” strategy, the moon race and military and technology competition and the key historical developments such as the Korean War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, as well as relations with China and US influence in Third World countries. (300-400 Level)

Revolutions and Foundings: A Comparative Perspective

This course examines the Founders of the American political order and compares them with the more contemporary founders of other political traditions. This course examines the political thought and careers of key protagonists in the American Revolution and constitutional Founding (such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison) and revolutionaries and founders in other modern settings (such as Mohandas Gandhi, Che Guevara, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Mao Zedong, and Lee Kwan Yew).

American Capitalism in the World

This course examines American economic history and the global reach of capitalist markets. It explores patterns of commerce, the development of the regulatory state, business cycles and crises, the nature of the corporation and the changing of labor markets and the meaning of work. The course considers crises, contradictions, and competitive virtues and drawbacks associated with the modern American economy and highlights key trade-offs and lessons for democratic institutions, business, and culture.

US/China Relations

This course addresses the complex relationship between China and the United States from the eighteenth-century to the present, including the two countries' foreign relations, trade, cultural exchanges, and images and (mis) representations of each other. Starting with the arrival of Europeans and Americans in China, and moving to the Opium Wars and the Unequal Treaties to WWII, and Hollywood depictions of China, the course turns to China since 1949 and its relationship to the United States, covering themes of the Cold War to Nixon and China and the re-engagement of the two countries, including the challenges confronting China and its rise as an industrial superpower, and the environmental challenges thereof.

Religion and Community in America

The U.S. has been characterized as a “nation with the soul of a church.” This unpacks that statement and explores the distinctive role that religious belief and institutions have played in American life. It examines religious figures and movements, the role religion plays in politics and public life, the cultural contours of religious popular and social movements, the racial, ethnic and gendered dimensions of religious life, and the nature of individualism and social solidarity in the U.S.

Race and Ethnicity in the United States

This course provides a critical framework for which to access the origins, manifestations and evolution of race, ethnicity and citizenship. It explores the complex ways that race and ethnicity have operated in American politics and culture, how race and ethnicity have been defined and changed over time. We will approach these issues from a comparative perspective, probing the experiences of differently groups through in-depth analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Immigration and the American Experience

This course studies immigrants and immigration policy in the United States from 1850 to the present, with a focus on the origins and power of immigrant exclusion during three waves of migration: Northern European and Asian migrations between 1850 and 1880; Eastern European, Latin American, and Asian migrations, 1880-1920; and Latin American, African, and Asian migrations, post 1965. The course examines the roels of immigrants in shaping policy debates, citizenship rights, labor movements, and American culture, past and present. The course also considers migration patterns and policies in comparison to other major immigrant destinations.

The Art of Interpretation 1: Written Texts

Training in close reading and analysis of text remains a foundational skill in the arts and humanities, whether the text is literary or documentary. This core course combines practical training in close reading of a variety of texts, with strategies of analysis that are theoretically informed without, however, offering a comprehensive treatment of theory per se. The course will focus both on reading and analysis of literary texts, and on the nuanced unpacking of documents (official, unofficial, personal) with a view to historical method.

The Epic of America (the novel)

This course introduces a range of works from the US canon that engage the concept of travels in relation to the themes of race and slavery, gender and sexuality, and citizenship and empire. Through reading some great American novels, we will explore travels and mobility from pre-Civil War to modern America, and from the slave-holding south to multiracial and multicultural metropolises both within and beyond the US borders. By drawing connections between these great American novels, we will discuss how they collectively cross and challenge national, geographical, and political boundaries of the color line––and importantly––how they resonate with Duke Kunshan University’s core concept of “rooted globalism.”

American Lyric Across Borders (the poetry)

After Whitman and Dickinson’s Romantic call to the world beyond U.S. borders, this course turns to the controversy between the rootedness of Frost, William Carlos Williams, and Langston Hughes and the internationalism of Stevens, Eliot, H.D. (including the Sino-philia of Pound), both of which can also be seen as belated forms of Romanticism. Possible attention to later explorers of such issues as Robert Duncan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sylvia Plath, and Frank O’Hara; to the populist challenge of song lyric (blues, tin pan alley, folk, rock, hip-hop); or to the problems of translation and translatability.

American Icons (rhetoric and performance—pulpit /address /theater/ music)

A study of the works and dramatized presence of any number of iconic figures on America’s cultural stage, which varies each semester according to the expertise of the instructor. The course could have a pre-Revolutionary focus, treating semi-mythic figures such as Bradford, Wild Bill Hickock, Pocohantas, Morton, Adams and Hamilton. It might look at mid-19th century such as Andrew Jackson, Sitting Bull, Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, Fanny Fern, Thomas Dartmouth Rice, “Little Eva,” “Stagger Lee,” and “John Henry.” Or it will focus on more recent icons, from Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Valentino, and Mae West in the early decades to Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Judy Garland (to cite only the singers) at mid-century to Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King in the sixties (to cite only the politicos) or even Madonna, Tupac, Gaga, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar (back to the musicians). A study of the interplay among their arts, their celebrity personae, and their impact on ethnic, national, and international scenes.

Asian-American Arts and Letters

This course examines the history of Asian-descent literature including fiction, memoir, poetry, drama) and, to a lesser extent, expressive cultures (film, martial arts, music) with special emphasis on Chinese America. Topics include broad themes of cultural identity, memory and belonging, gender and class, as well as specific issues of the relationship between diaspora communities in the US and national cultures in Asia. Texts are placed within the context of the history of Asian American acclamation, focusing on tensions between cultural assimilation into mainstream America and the pressure to maintain distinctive cultural identities.

African American Literature and Culture

This course examines the history of African narrative, drama, poetry, and such expressive arts as the sermon, the political address, and popular music. Narratives are placed in the context of the history of slavery, emancipation and the continuing struggle for civil rights. Topics include: questions of self-identity and American citizenship; the reception of African American literature overseas; the construction of pan-African identities and politics; literature of the African American diaspora; and the concept of home. Students will gain a cross-cultural understanding of the African American experience and its ongoing significance in American life and politics.

The Western Across Boundaries

This course studies the film genre that has, for better and for worse, defined what it means to be an American for Americans themselves and for the rest of the world. It places these films in the historical context of the American westward expansion, and the genocide of native Americans. It examines these films through the myths of the American pioneer, rugged individualism, heroic masculinity, and drama of the American landscape. By focusing on the concept of crossing boundaries, the course analyzes the concept of the frontier, the representation of frontier communities including Chinese and Irish immigrants, Hispanic peoples and native Americans.

American Musicals

This course examines the history of American musicals, focusing on the period from Show Boat to Sondheim with attention to poetics, aesthetics, and politics. It demonstrates how the American musical has functioned as a popular representation of key themes such as immigration, race and gender and sexual diversity. Students will learn to identify historical and cultural references, and place the evolution of the musical in its proper social and historical context, including the significance of Broadway and New York in the popular American cultural imagination. Students learn to interpret music as text and understand the relationship of musical theater to other musical forms such as blues, jazz, pop and rock.

Early Literatures from Colonization to Revolution

Columbus and other narratives of European exploration, conquest, and settlement; the interplay of Puritan literature (Bradford, Winthrop, Wigglesworth, Mather, Bradstreet), Native oral traditions, Phyllis Wheatley’s poetry, and early captivity narratives; the pre-revolutionary novel (Rowson, Foster, C.B. Brown); and the revolutionary texts (The Federalist Papers).

The American Renaissance and Its Rivals

A course on the major antebellum prose writers (Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne), the storytellers of enslavement (Douglass, Jacobs, Equiano, Brown) and Native displacement (Child, Sedgwick), and the poetry (Whitman before and after the war, Dickinson, possibly late Melville) that ensued.

The Realist Moment

This course focuses primarily on realism (Howells, James, Gilman, Harper, Johnson), naturalism (Dreiser, Norris, Crane), and regionalism (Twain, Jewett, Chopin, Chesnutt) during the rise of consumer-managerial capitalism, first-wave feminism, and Jim-Crow Reconstruction. Possible attention to early utopian fiction (Adams, Bellamy, Gilman, Howells) or the impact of journalism (Dreiser, Crane, Henry Adams, Jane Addams, and the muckrackers) on fiction.

America’s Novel Modernity

This course is focused on the fiction, primarily the novel, that distinguishes the American literary response to the phenomena of “modernity” in the 1920s and 1930s: modernization, urbanization, the rise of consumer and finance capitalism, the Harlem Renaissance and “New Negro” Movements, the anti-immigration and Indian citizenship acts, the press of ethnic upward mobility, and the European literary experimentation called “modernism,” the world-entailing crash of the U.S. stock market.  To be drawn from the works of: Stein, Cather, Wharton, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Dos Passos, Larsen, Toomer, Schuyler, Hurston, Barnes, Hammett, Roth, McKay, Faulkner, DiDonato, Steinbeck. 

The Literary Arts of the Cold War

This course focuses on the fictional, theatrical, cinematic, poetic, and new-journalist representation of the Cold War and its “Hot” manifestations ( the Korean and, especially, the Vietnam War, as well as the violent turns in U.S. Radicalism). From the rise of postmodernism and the Beat era (Kerouac, Ginsberg, O’Connor, Williams, Miller) through treatments of the Civil Rights Movement, the New Left, and various manifestations of the Counter Culture (Eastern religions, the sexual revolution, communes, Afro-naturalism, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In), especially the anti-War Movement and Black Protest movements, to whatever of the 1970s (belated Vietnam films, feminist impact, etc.) works for closure.

The Center Stage of Ethnic and Women’s Writing

Women’s, ethnic, and especially ethnic women’s writing from the breakthroughs of Walker, Morrison, Hong Kingston, Bambara, Silko, Joan Chase, and Paule Marshall to the glory days of Erdrich, Naylor, Alvarez, Cisneros, Anzaldúa, Jen, Kogawa, Adrienne Kennedy, Suzan-Lori Parks, and—of course—Morrison again, along with their male dissenters and allies, such as Ishmael Reed, Charles Fuller, Tony Kushner, Charles Johnson, Chang-Rae Lee, Oscar Hijuelos, Richard Rodriguez, David Henry Hwang, Junot Diaz, and Ron Hansen.

The U.S. and the Contemporary Global Imagination

This course treats issues of the globe in the U.S. and the U.S. in the globe, as imagined in both Maximalist fiction of various orders (DeLillo, Wallace, Silko, Butler, Delaney, Chabron) and the auto-ethnographic and multicultural contact novel (Morrison, Lee, Cole, Díaz, Shteyngart, Adichie, Hoessini, Hamid, Beatty, Whitehead) centered in the multicultural U.S.--as well as whatever global anglophone writing (Sebald, Mitchell, Coetzee), the graphic novel (Speigelman, Satrapi, Sacco, Eisner, Bechdel, the Hernandez brothers), or serial television (The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad) works for a particular semester. 

Introduction to the United States Health Care System

This course treats issues of the globe in the U.S. and the U.S. in the globe, as imagined in both Maximalist fiction of various orders (DeLillo, Wallace, Silko, Butler, Delaney, Chabron) and the auto-ethnographic and multicultural contact novel (Morrison, Lee, Cole, Díaz, Shteyngart, Adichie, Hoessini, Hamid, Beatty, Whitehead) centered in the multicultural U.S.--as well as whatever global anglophone writing (Sebald, Mitchell, Coetzee), the graphic novel (Speigelman, Satrapi, Sacco, Eisner, Bechdel, the Hernandez brothers), or serial television (The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad) works for a particular semester.