This course is intended as an introduction to interdisciplinary thought, to American studies as a field, and to the hemispheric and transnational intellectual direction of the American Studies Program at Wesleyan. Its goal is to answer the question, What IS American studies? The focus for this semester is the emerging scholarship on sound and aurality that addresses, as a special issue of AMERICAN QUARTERLY argued recently, the following questions: What role can sound play in analyzing contemporary debates around empire, immigration, and national culture? Where is sound in the cultural and political legacies of American culture and where is it in the long history of nation-building? What role have hearing and listening played in American formations of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and class, and how has the birth of recorded sound in the late 19th century informed those formations? How are new sound technologies and sonic media practices impacting American identities in the age of globalization? What are the political economies of sound? Does citizenship have a sound? Over the course of the semester, we will listen to archived sounds as well as sample new ways of interpreting the enculturated nature of sound, from the howling wilderness of the colonial era to the aural pluralism of digital media and music in the Internet era.