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The Curriculum in American Studies was established in 1968 and became the Department of American Studies in 2008. It was one of the first interdisciplinary programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since then, American Studies has developed a tradition of vigorous teaching and innovative curriculum that offers students stimulating opportunities to study the United States and the diversity of its peoples, institutions, texts, performances, places, and influence. The Department’s commitment to interdisciplinary approaches empowers students to value the nation’s complexity by engaging with a variety of historical, literary, artistic, political, social and ethnic perspectives. American Studies graduates gain a comprehension of these dynamics of American culture that prepares them to make a responsible and critical difference in the variety of professions they choose to pursue.

Spotlight on Student Research: Visualizing the Red Summer of 1919

Rising senior Karen Sieber has received a SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) award to research and visualize the deadly Red Summer of 1919, an important but underdocumented series of racially motivated riots and lynchings that took place across the United States in the wake of World War I.

omaha police car burning

A mob gathers around a burning police car during a Red Summer riot in Omaha.

Karen will use her fellowship to discover and digitize primary source material from local archives around the country. She will use DH Press, the Digital Innovation Lab‘s digital humanities toolkit, to create a set of interactive visualizations to illuminate this troubling history. Her research will enrich her American Studies honors thesis, which she is undertaking under the direction of Professor Robert Allen.

Karen’s work will take her from the Chicago Public Library, to the South Carolina Historical Society, to the Library of Congress. And that wide-ranging original work will both strengthen and reflect the traditions of inquiry in our department.

Karen’s work on the Digital Innovation Lab’s Loray Mill project was showcased at a gala reception in Gastonia on March 26.