“What is America?” and “What does it mean to be American?” The American Studies area encourages students to ask these questions for themselves and to develop well-researched answers rather than to accept conventional defintions. The undergraduate program in American Studies offers its majors and minors the opportunity to explore American traditions, institutions, literature, and arts and exposes students to a diversity of American experiences and perspectives. The graduate program in American Studies provides rigorous yet flexible training in a range of theoretical perspectives and research methodologies building on the interdisciplinary history of our scholarly pursuit.
American Studies Overview
America as place, America as people, America as culture, America as idea—in all these respects America is vast, capacious, complex, and changing. To begin to understand America we need to consider its history, its politics and institutions, and the many and varied cultural products in which Americans express their identities, values, and concerns. Our commitment to interdisciplinary approaches empowers students in the American Studies area to develop critical perspectives on American complexity by engaging with a variety of historical, literary, artistic, political, social, cultural, legal, racial, ethnic, and ethnographic perspectives.
The B.A. major in the American Studies area provides students with a broad foundation in ways of studying and researching American culture, exposure, and the opportunity to explore specific eras and genres in depth. Majors participate in two required courses in interdisciplinary cultural analysis and at least two advanced seminars that focus on topics of faculty expertise and that explore emergent directions in American studies scholarship. Majors may further select relevant electives offered by Americanist faculty in other University departments in order to deepen their interdisciplinary awareness of American traditions, institutions, literature, and arts. Students who earn a B.A. major in the American Studies area graduate with a comprehension of the dynamics of American culture that prepares them to make a responsible and critical difference in a wide range of professions.
You may look through a list of undergraduate courses for this major. You can also look through the course offerings by year and complete course listings. Contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies with any questions.
Graduate Studies In American Studies
The Ph.D. program in American Studies prepares and encourages students to explore the complex, variable, and contested nature of what it means to be American. We recognize that this requires examining many kinds of evidence derived from multiple sources and genres (archival materials, oral history, literature, popular culture, music, art, food, bodily movement and adornment, landscape, architecture, belief), accessed via multiple methodologies (historical, literary, ethnographic, and digital humanities) and analyzed via theoretical perspectives that attend to aesthetics and politics; race, gender, and sexuality; region and transnational connection.