Spring 2018 Course Offerings


American Studies students in Tulsa and Stillwater have a variety of course options available for Spring 2018. Visit the Course Offerings page, or CLICK HERE to get the complete list of what’s available where. Informational flyers for individual courses are available from the Course Offerings Page.

For Stillwater-based students I would recommend our AMST3950 Topics Course: Jewish Literature and Film and Dr. Lisa Hollenbach’s ENGL4320: Listening to Contemporary Poetry, which is about American poetry since 1950 with an emphasis on performance and sound culture studies.

In Tulsa, I would HIGHLY recommend my own AMST 3683 Intro to Digital Humanities, which will introduce students to digital communication via a project-based approach to skills acquisition. Translation: We’re gonna build digital stuff for one or more partner organizations! It’s hands-on learning with an outcome you can show off on the job market. All that’s required is a basic knowledge of computer skills, an ability to collaborate with others to achieve a common goal, and a willingness to tinker with technology.

NEED ADVICE? I (Dr. Takacs) will have drop-in office hours on Thursday, November 2 from 3-4:30 in Main Hall 2215 on the OSU Tulsa campus for those who have questions about course offerings or degree requirements. Feel free to stop by!

Introducing the Office of Scholar Development

Oklahoma State University students interested in applying for scholarships or research opportunities need to know about the Office of Scholar Development. Housed in Stillwater, it provides assistance and advice to all OSU students–Tulsa-based and transfer-students included. They have recently begun to reach out to Tulsa campus, so I thought it might be useful to say a few words about the office and some upcoming competitions.

The Office is run by Jessica Roark (jessica.roark@okstate.edu) and tasked with assisting students with their research and post-graduate goals. They can help you

  • identify undergraduate research opportunities at OSU
  • identify scholarships to offset tuition at OSU or beyond
  • write those scholarship applications

They offer assistance and practical tools for maximizing your application’s impact. Feel free to visit their website: http://scholardevelopment.okstate.edu/ or stop by their offices on the Stillwater campus (334 Student Union; 405.744.7313).

Some high-profile scholarships are due soon, and the office would like to work with any students interested in applying. Here’s a list and copies of the application instructions (click on the title to get the instructions). The first two are the most apropos for AMST students:

Harry S Truman Scholarship
Created by Congress for those who intend to pursue careers in public service, defined as “Employment in government at any level, uniformed services, public-interest organizations, nongovernmental research and/or educational organizations, public and private schools, and public service oriented non-profit organizations such as those whose primary purposes are to help needy or disadvantaged persons or to protect the environment.”  This $30,000 scholarship is for current juniors who have a good GPA and plans to attend graduate school in the areas above. For additional information, please visit www.truman.gov.

Morris K. and Steward L. Udall Scholarship
Created by Congress to honor Congressman Morris K. Udall and later to include Stewart L. Udall and to award students with career aspirations related to the environment and sustainability.  The $7,000 award is also available to Native American and Alaska Native students who intend to pursue careers in native health care or tribal public health policy.  This scholarship is for current sophomores or juniors who have a good GPA and plans to attend graduate school in the areas above.  For additional information, please visit udall.gov.

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship 
Created by Congress to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater and to encourage excellence in the areas of science, engineering, mathematics, and computer science.  This $7,500 scholarship is for current sophomores or juniors who have a high GPA (generally 3.80 or higher) and plans to attend graduate school in the areas above.  This award is particularly for those students who have a strong record of undergraduate research in one of the fields above as demonstrated by ongoing/completed projects, reports, presentations, publications, etc. For additional information, please visit goldwaterscholars.scholarsapply.org.



September Events

American Studies is sponsoring several exciting events this month. First, Larry O’Dell from the Oklahoma Historical Society will be visiting Dr. Gray’s AMST3550 Tulsa Public Cultures course to talk about “The Tulsa Race Riot, A.J. Smitherman, and the Report of Tulsa Race Riot Commission.” The event is free and open to the public and will be held on Thursday, September 14 at 4:30 in North Hall 212 on the OSU Tulsa campus. 

Later this month American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, the Department of History the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and OSU Tulsa will co-sponsor two visits by renowned LGBTQ activist and scholar, Robyn Ochs.

  • Loosening the Gender Girdle-How Gender Affects YOUon Tuesday, September 26 at 6pm in the French Lounge (270 Student Union) on the OSU Stillwater campus:

What does it mean to be “a man”? What does it mean to be “a woman”? What other options are there? We will look at the ways in which we are limited by a rigid and limited binary understanding of gender, and explore how the politics of gender tie together the feminist, queer and transgender movements. Please join us, and bring your gender with you.

  • Beyond the Binaries–Identity and Sexualityon Wednesday, September 27 at 6pm in the B.S. Roberts Conference Room in North Hall (rm 151 or so) on the OSU Tulsa campus:

How do we assign labels to our complicated and unique experiences of sexuality? In this interactive program we will explore the landscape of sexuality,  conduct a thought-provoking anonymous survey of those present, and look together at the data. Where do we fall on various sexuality continua? How do we label? How old were we when we came to our identities and to our sexualities? How asexual/sexual are we? How well do our friends/family members understand our sexuality? This program will expand your perspective and change the way you think about labels.

Light snacks will be provided at both events, which are free and open to the public.

Ochs is an educator, speaker, award-winning activist, and editor of the Bi Women Quarterly; and two anthologies: Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World and RECOGNIZE: The Voices of Bisexual Men. Her writings have been published in numerous bi, women’s studies, multicultural, and LGBT anthologies and she has presented workshops for hundreds of campus and community groups all over the world. She is a dynamic speaker, and the events are highly interactive, so we hope you’ll join us.

Funding for Ochs’ visits is provided in part by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities (OH), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Fae Rawdon Norris Endowment for the Humanities at OSU. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of OH, NEH, or the Norris Foundation.

We hope you can join us for one or all of these events!

Larry O'Dell on The Tulsa Race RiotOchs, "Loosening the Gender Girdle" EventRobyn Ochs, "Beyond the Binaries" Workshop

Welcome back

It’s time! The new semester is here, and the American Studies Program would like to welcome you all back to OSU for fall semester 2017. If you are still in search of interesting classes, please check our list of offerings, including courses in Stillwater on The Standing Rock protests (AMST3950 – 68943; cross-listed with ENGL 4230) and the Black Lives Matter Movement (AMST3950 – 69367). In Tulsa we’re featuring:

  • Theories and Methods of American Studies  (AMST3223 – 62293 — W 4:30)
  • Globalization & Am Culture (AMST3253 – 62299 — R 7:20)
  • American Popular Culture (AMST3423 — 68914) — in the early afternoon! (T 1:30-4:10)
  • Tulsa Public Arts and Culture (AMST3550 — 64890 — R 4:30)
  • Readings in the Am Experience on the theme of “Work” (AMST3813 — 62303 — T 4:30).

On Thursday, Dr. Takacs will host a drop-in social in Main Hall 2215 from 3-4:30 pm.

Stop in and say hi, and congratulate Dr. Gray on winning the OSU Tulsa Outstanding Professor Award for 2016-2017!

OSU T President Howard BArnett Congratulates Dr. Gray

Summer Reading Recommendations, Part II

Following up on last week’s reading recommendations, here’s advisor Kevin Seymore’s summer reading list, Part II:

6.) Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. This is an academic novel written in the form of letters of recommendation and is quite hilarious. As students you might have asked for letters of recommendation. If you become professors or academic advisors, you will certainly write them someday. Having been in academia nearly my entire adult life, I recognized a lot of what I’ve experienced, but Schumacher has given it a very humorous slant through her narrator, an aging English professor that has become quite the cynic, but still has a hint of idealism inside him to press on and write the next letter. However, some letters are doing the exact opposite of praising the person it is for, and those are often the funniest.

7.) Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams. This novel is a Western in genre, but a very metaphysical one that looks deeply into the American experience and our relationship with nature. Butcher’s Crossing is a frontier town in Kansas near the line with Colorado, and it is a town that exists because of the profit to be made out of killing buffaloes for their hides. A college drop out from Harvard comes West to experience the buffalo hunt, and ends up experiencing something like Moby-Dick on land. There’s a mad buffalo hunter that is very much in the mode of Ahab. Excellent prose, though the description is rather detailed at points, and the first third is pretty slow, but it builds and builds to a rather apocalyptic ending. [Dr. T says: If you like this one, try Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian].

8.) Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. I am interested in art history, so I enjoyed this opportunity to look at the world of Vermeer through the eyes of a servant girl in 17th century Holland. Like Toibin, the author does a brilliant job of capturing a young person’s view of the world, the journey from innocence to experience. If you’ve taken a Gender and Women’s Study course, or an art history class, or a course in developmental psychology, I think you will bring a good deal to this short novel. And you’ll leave with I believe a greater appreciation for just how hard the twists of fate can be, and at the same time, how the remarkable can emerge from the seemingly ordinary.

9.) The Mandibles: A Family 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver. The more I think about this dystopian novel, the more I disagree with it, haha. But if you want a strange, tough, economic forecast of what the future of the country could look like, then this is the book for you. If you took an ECON course, such as micro or macro, then you’ll probably appreciate the long monologues about economic policy more than the average reader. If you identify as a Libertarian, you will feel like you are at home with Shriver and the travails she takes the Mandible family through, as America becomes a financial wreck where Nevada has left the Union and Americans experience Great Depression level poverty. NOT a feel good story! haha.

10.) The Circle by Dave Eggers. This novel is now a currently showing movie with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. I have not seen the movie, but I can testify to the book being very thought provoking. It too is a dystopian look at the future where privacy has just about completely disappeared thanks to the efforts of a giant media company (combination of google, facebook, youtube, amazon, twitter) that runs by the idea that nothing should be hidden from anybody. As good satire does, it uses an extreme to draw new light upon current circumstances. I contemplated leaving facebook a number of times while reading this story of  young May who goes to work for The Circle thinking she has made it, but discovers that she has to give up more than she expected. A much darker version of Eilis Lacey’s story. [Dr. T says: If you’re taking Dr. Gray’s Readings in the American Experience course on “Work,” you’ll likely be reading this in Fall (or possibly spring?)]

So there you have it. The theme of young people venturing out into the world seems to predominate this list, which I didn’t plan, but seems all the more fitting. One of the gifts that reading gives us is being able to feel less alone in the world. If you ever feel like you are the only one experiencing some thought, anxiety, emotion, loss, you name it, go to a bookshelf, and you’ll find that you are not alone at all – very far from it!

Best wishes, for all your reading ahead . . .


. . . via Dr. Takacs. Thanks, again, Kevin, for some timely recommendations]

Looking for Some Summer Reading Recommendations?

AMST’s Stillwater advisor Kevin Seymore always offers a wonderful set of recommendations for summer reading. He has graciously agreed to allow me to share them via the blog this year, so students in Tulsa can also partake. Here is part one of Kevin’s reading list…

At the end of each school year I like to send out some recommendations for further reading over the summer, and to encourage you graduates not to give up on reading once you’ve graduated. Staying intellectually alive and curious through books is well worth the time spent. Not being a fast reader, I average two books a month, and I keep an actual physical journal of what I’ve read. This is a really neat way to keep up with where my mind has been, and a source for me to draw upon when looking for the next author or subject to read. I’ve been keeping the journal since 1999! I realize that is nearly as long as some of you have have been alive, haha. I plan on keeping it until I am 99, if I am so lucky. : ) So, here are some suggestions. Would love to hear back from you if you take me up on any of these. And if you have a suggestion(s) of your own, I would enjoy receiving it/them:

1.)  Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. I read this volume of history over the 4th of July weekend last year. It is quick and easy prose, but insightful and very hip with its references to popular culture. Far from being a dry history text (!) Vowell, an Oklahoman, examines the Revolutionary period, and namely France’s contribution through General Lafayette. Without the French, we would likely be sipping afternoon tea and driving on the wrong side of the road, haha. They were crucial to our bid for independence. Ever hear of the Battle of the Capes? It was a naval battle that the French fought off the Virginia coast that insured the British surrender at Yorktown and our victory. So after you’ve shot your fireworks this 4th of July, pick up Vowell’s short history. Lafayette was just a teen when he sailed across the ocean to join Washington, and Washington always thought of him as something of an adopted son. [Dr. T says: “Vowell makes a GREAT audiobook if you’re driving anywhere this summer. So funny!]

2.) Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. Junger is not a psychologist, but there is a lot of psychological insight in this book about human belonging and well-being. His basic idea is that Western society is so individualistic, competitive, and lonely that war and natural disasters offer people refuge inside a more tribal, we are all looking out for one another, existence that is much more in line with our evolutionary heritage. If you’ve enjoyed an anthropology course or Dr. Craven’s evolutionary psychology class, I think you would enjoy this slim meditation on what it means to be human in the modern world. [Dr. T says: one could argue, however, that we are already tribalized in debilitating ways; read this and contemplate. Let us know what your take is?]

3.) Listen Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People by Thomas Frank. I finished reading this one the day before Labor Day, 2016. And it is very much about the working class in America and how the Democratic Party has shifted since the 1970s from being the party of the people to being the party of the professional class, Wall Street, and the coastal urban areas. He points to Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as being leaders in this trend. It came out before the election, but you can certainly look at the election in a different light having read Frank’s take on the rise of the Clintons and the move to the center that they took the Dems. Bernie Sanders was a push back to this trend.

4.) Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. I was drawn to this book because I am a first generation college graduate in my family, and this is the story of a first generation student whose family is from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. He didn’t come from the best of circumstances, family wise, but had a very supportive, tough, grandmother who played a large role in his life. You follow his story as his mother gets involved with drugs and a revolving door of boyfriends. He manages to graduate high school, go to the Marines, then Ohio State, and most remarkably, Yale Law School. He writes of being often lost at college and law school because he has not been exposed to people who have had those experiences. His over-all take on class in America could best be described as a “conservative, I did it, others can do it too” tone. More emphasis on individual responsibility and less on societal responsibility. You might not agree with his politics, but I think many of you can relate to some of his experiences as a child, teen, and young adult. [Dr. T says: Students taking AMST3223 Theories and Methods of AMST will be reading this in Fall 2017, so good timing, Kevin]

5.) Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. There was a recent movie made of this novel about a young Irish woman immigrating to America in the 1950s. I first saw the movie and enjoyed it so much that I read the novel it was based on. I was not disappointed in either experience. It is a love story. It is also a story about how making certain choices not only open doors for us, but also closes other doors, and the sadness that can be found in that. It is about hometowns, leaving home, making a new start in a big city. Something which I believe many of you will be able to relate to. Read about Eilis Lacey, and I think you’ll find that you are reading about yourself in a lot of ways.

More suggestions coming next week! Thank you, Kevin.

2017-2018 Degree Sheets now available!

The new degree sheets are here! The new degree sheets are here! That includes the new Pre-Law Option. As always American Studies has reviewed and amended the elective course list to provide students with maximum flexibility and depth in the field. We’ve combed the catalogues so you don’t have to! Know what counts for the major or minor in one quick glance. Here’s a link to the new degree sheets. Scroll down to the American Studies options. And, for those who don’t recognize my opening gambit, it’s a paraphrase of Steve Martin in The Jerk,a classic of American comedy:Steve Martin, in _The Jerk_

The big change for next year involves foreign language requirements. The new requirements read:

The foreign language requirement for the B.A. may be satisfied by 9 hours college credit in the same language, which must include 3 hours at the 2000-level, or equivalent proficiency (e.g., passing an advanced standing examination; TOEFI exam; presenting a high school transcript which demonstrates the high school was primarily conducted in a language other than English; etc.). Computer Science courses may not be used to satisfy this requirement. Currently Arabic and Muskoke are not offered at the 2000-level at OSU.

If you plan to take your languages at TCC, check with your adviser to ensure you are meeting the new “2000-level or equivalent” threshold. The Department of Foreign Languages in Stillwater is in the process of reviewing and approving the equivalencies for TCC courses. I know the Spanish equivalence has been approved, but I’m not sure what else at this point. Be proactive and ask. Don’t assume your coursework will count. And please note that Muskoke and Arabic won’t “get ‘er done.” If you take those courses, it would be purely for your own edification.

Coming soon (we hope–pending approval) will be options for a BS and BS Pre-Law in AMST. Stay tuned! We’ll let you know when and if those options become available. We’re projecting a spring 2018 approval, but approvals can get complicated. Keep your fingers crossed, and knock ’em dead during finals.


What’s Doing with the Faculty (2)

UNT Postwar Colloquium (2017)Several of American Studies’ outstanding faculty were invited to present at a one day symposium on Postwar (as in WWII) Culture at University of North Texas.  Dr. Jeff Menne (Screen Studies, English) presented his work on Hollywood and the Postwar Corporation; Dr. Holly Karibo (HIST) presented new work on Federal Drug Treatment Policies in Postwar America, focused on a treatment facility in Texas; and Dr. John Kinder (HIST) presented his new work on zoos and rebuilding efforts in Europe after WWII. Keynote speakers for the conference were distinguished historians Laura McEnaney (Civil Defense Begins at Home: Militarization Meets Everyday Life in the Fifties) and Thomas Doherty (Teenagers and Teen Pics, Projections of War, and Cold War/Cool Medium, among others).

We thank our colleagues at UNT for inviting us, especially Jacqueline Foertsch, Sean Griffin, Mark Hlavacik, and Laila Amine.

Dr. Menne chats with historian Thomas Doherty


Fall and Summer 2017 Course offerings

American Studies students in Tulsa and Stillwater have a variety of course options available for Summer and Fall 2017. Visit the Course Offerings page, or click on the links below to get the complete list:

Fall 2017

Summer 2017

Flyers for select courses are available in the carousel below or from the Course Offerings Page. I’m including one History course that may be of particular interest to Tulsa students, for it will be offered via simulcast from STW. There was also a late addition to the Honors College offerings (for those enrolled in the Honors College): ENGL1000 Lizzie Borden and American Culture.

AMST 2103 Intro to Am Studies (1)

Preparing for the Job Market III: What if I don’t get a job right away?

This is the third in an on-going series of posts about preparing for the Job Market.  In post 1, we discussed some ways to articulate your skill set. In post 2, we talked about making the most of the interview opportunities available. Today we will discuss what to do if no job is immediately forthcoming after graduation.

First, DON’T PANIC! It is quite common for Liberal Arts majors of all sorts, American Studies majors included, to struggle to land that first big job. Studies show, however, that Liberal Arts majors are quite competitive in lifetime earnings over the long haul. According to a recent story in Inside Higher Ed, “By their mid-50s, liberal arts majors with an advanced or undergraduate degree are on average making more money [than] those who studied in professional and pre-professional fields, and are employed at similar rates.” So, once Liberal Arts students secure that first job, they do succeed and advance beyond their peers. Prepare to be in it for the long haul.

Second, clarify your goals. What is your dream career? What are you good at? What are you passionate about? What are you willing to settle for until you can identify your dream or make it a reality? What are you not willing to settle for? Once you have some sense of your long term goals, take stock of your skills and weaknesses relative to those goals, and . . .

Be willing to do some re-training with those goals in mind.

  • If you’d like to get a job in marketing, for example, what are your plans for learning about the industry and how it works? Are you willing to volunteer for an internship to get that vital on-the-job experience that will put you over the top. Note, again, you can get AMST credit for such an internship if you’re still in the coursework phase; ask Dr. Takacs for details, or see this blog post)?
  • If you want to be a writer, can you also construct a web page, run a blog, insert media into blog posts, etc.? Do you know how to code in Word Press or XHTML? Knowing how to write well is only part of what you need to know these days to succeed as a writer. You also need to be able to get your work out there. So, what can you do to learn the rest of the job? And how can you showcase what you’ve learned? (Go ahead and start a blog, for instance. It’s free, easy, and Dr. Takacs can show you how to do it if you take her Intro to Digital Humanities class in Spring 2018).
  • If you want to teach, you’ll need to get some training and experience in pedagogy, and you may need some additional content courses. Where can you get those skills or that knowledge? Hint: Graduate School in Education is one possibility, but so is Alternative Teacher Certification through the Oklahoma Department of Education. Are you ready to get that process started?

Finally, Professional Certificates are increasingly available from higher education institutions, like OSU, to allow people to specialize a bit more in a particular field. For example, you can get certificates in environmental studies, sustainable business management, customer interface excellence (i.e. sales), international competency, and other fields at OSU, and more are being developed all the time. Certificates may or may not signify excellence to employers, but they DO signify desire and commitment on your part. Better yet, they cost less in time and money than a post-graduate degree and will allow you to cultivate some additional human, cultural and social capital in the process. Translation, you will learn new job skills, gain more knowledge, and make connections that can help you find that first, great job.

In sum, while the job market for Liberal Arts majors remains a bit harder to enter, the good news is that “bachelor’s degree holders [of every sort continue to] earn 60 percent to 80 percent more on average than those without a college degree.” It is worth it, so hang in there, and let your professors in American Studies know how they can help you identify your goals and make useful contacts. We’re here to help.