The Junior Seminar: The Public

The purpose of the junior seminar is to include work in the public humanities as a vital and unique part of the American Studies concentration at Brown. Each concentrator must take a junior seminar, and each faculty member teaching this seminar will define how the public focus of his or her scholarship will form the basis for the course, whether it is public policy, memorialization, community studies or civic engagement, to give four examples.

We expect that some junior seminars will be contained within the classroom, perhaps with the public as the subject, and that others will work with the public, in a range of ways. They might undertake oral histories, do community work, or produce an exhibition, web site, media or other materials for a public audience.

Junior seminars that include work with the public outside the classroom will take advantage of the resources of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. These can include teaching and project assistance by students in the Public Humanities MA program, up to 10 hours per week; use of exhibition space at the JNBC; consulting with JNBC staff; and whatever other support the JNBC might provide. 

Current and recent Junior seminars have been offered on the following topics:

AMST 1700D  Race and Remembering,  Prof. Monica Martinez
This junior seminar engages debates in Ethnic Studies, History, Gender Studies, and the Public Humanities that grapple with the relationship between historical narratives, memory, and social relations of power. Students will examine current tensions in national memory. Each year the topic of this course will change to consider racial formation through alternating social and cultural institutions. This semester we will consider the history of racial formation through encounters with the judicial system, with policing practices, with detention, and incarceration. Students will collaborate to make these histories publicly accessible using methods in public humanities

AMST 1700I  Community Engagement with Health and the Environment, Professor Elizabeth Hoover
This junior seminar explores how local community organizations are taking up issues of health and the environment in culturally relevant contexts. We will examine issues of environmental justice, health disparities and the basic tenets of community based participatory research. We will then partner with a local community organization and, depending on need, assist in the design, implementation, and/or evaluation of a program designed to improve the local environment and/or health status of the community

AMST 1700F American Publics,   Prof. Susan Smulyan
Americans worry about the quality of their civic life and fear its decline. This junior seminar examines an important concept, the public sphere, in its popular and political dimensions as well as looking at the challenges to the boundaries of American public life. Who is a citizen and thus eligible to participate? The course pays particular attention to concerns about the impact of new media--print, broadcasting, the internet--and offers a range of possible final projects.

AMST 1700G Public Memory: Narratives of 9/11,   Prof. Beverly Haviland
This junior seminar will focus on narratives concerned with the events of 9/11 and their aftermath: documentary, testimony, stories, memoirs, novels, graphic novels and feature films. We will also study and visit some of the memorials and museums that have been proposed or created in connection to 9/11 and consider them in the context of public memory and public art. Course work will require a project or research paper that engages the question of the role of the humanities in the creation of the public memory of catastrophic events.

AMST 1700 J: The Teen Age: Youth, Society and Culture in Early Cold War America,  Prof. Richard Meckel
An interdisciplinary and multimedia exploration of the experiences, culture, and representation of youth in the United States from the end of World War II through the beginning of the Vietnam War