American Studies

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American Studies Major

Director: Professor Christopher Borick
The discipline of American Studies is aimed at exploring American society and culture(s) from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students are invited to shape their majors by choosing, based on their strengths and interests, among courses in a variety of fields, for example: history, literature, political science, anthropology, sociology, art, music, theatre, economics, religion, philosophy, communication, and women’s studies. Majors complete eleven courses, including four core requirements: AMS 101 Introduction to American Studies; ENG 215 American Writers; PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government; HST 100-149 Introduction to History (the topic must be American history). In addition, students must take a Capstone Seminar, chosen in consultation with the Director of American Studies. This seminar, chosen from those offered by participating departments, will examine a particular topic in American culture, society, or history, with readings and research designed to cover a variety of competing and contested viewpoints.

Beyond the core courses and the senior seminar, students take at least six electives in areas focusing on American cultural issues. These courses should engage at least two different disciplines, and at least three of them must be numbered at the 300 level or above. No 100 level courses can be counted among the electives.

If they choose to, students may use the six courses in the elective field to build concentrations in such areas as, for example, the American legal system, gender studies, Native American studies, or artistic developments in the United States. Major designated writing intensive courses and acceptable seminars will be determined in consultation with the Director of American Studies.  Special topics sophomore seminars in American Studies are offered each year.  Although these are not required for the major, American Studies students are encouraged to take them if the topic meets their interests.

To remain an American studies major, a student must maintain a 2.000 grade point average in all courses designated as meeting the major requirements.

Major Requirements
Required Courses:

AMS 101 Introduction to American Studies
ENG 215 American Writers
PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government
HST 100-149 Introduction to History (topic with American history focus)
CUE: Senior Seminar (chosen in consultation with faculty advisor from seminars on topics in American culture(s) offered by the American Studies Program and by other participating departments). For students seeking Pre K-4 or 4 - 8 teacher certification this requirement may be met through EDU 101 History & Politics of American Education.
Six electives in areas focusing on American cultural issues, in any discipline, spread over at least two different disciplinary areas with at least three of them numbered 300 or above. No 100 level courses can be counted among the electives. The program offers special topic courses, including sophomore seminars, that, while not required, can be taken as electives for the major.

Honors in American Studies
The honors program in American Studies is designed for majors who are interested in doing graduate work in American Studies or in another, cognate field. Students must be especially motivated and committed to the interdisciplinary intellectual work that this concentrated, intensely focused experience demands. Students are invited by a faculty member during the spring semester of junior year to participate in the American Studies Honors Program. The course work includes two semesters of independent study in the senior year devoted to the development and completion of an honors thesis. Students submit a prospectus for their honors program by the end of the spring semester of junior year. The prospectus should describe a yearlong independent study that engages at least two different academic disciplines and a thesis that, in its final draft, will consist of at least 40 pages. Upon completion, the student will present their work to a committee of American Studies faculty.

101. Introduction to American Studies
This course will provide an introductory exposure to the study of American culture through the interdisciplinary methods of American Studies. It will examine a particular topic concerning American cultural and social formations from a specific set of disciplinary perspectives that will change from term to term, depending on the instructor’s scholarly orientations. Topics for Introduction to American Studies in different semesters would include, for example, “Representations of the American City”, “American Cultural Landscapes”, “The Romance of Nature in America”, “Performing Class in America”, “Americans Abroad”, “The Veteran in American Film and Literature”, and “Immigration in the Twentieth Century”. The common methodology will be, first, the focus on American cultural and social formations and, second, the deployment of at least two different disciplinary perspectives that will supplement as well as complement each other in the process of framing critical investigation of the topic. Pluralizing the perspective of study is intended not only to intensify the engagement with the given topic, but to emphasize that identifications of America and of American national culture are contested and changeful. The introductory course will give students the opportunity to become familiar with influential theories in the development of the field that will help prepare them for more advanced course work in American Studies in addition to offering them the chance to investigate the particular topic at issue. The course will be required for majors in American Studies and open to all students. Meets general academic requirement H.

398-498. Special Topics in American Studies
Each year the American Studies Program offers a special topics course or seminar with an interdisciplinary focus that reflects the research and writing of the faculty member. Topics might include, for example, Literature and Film of the Cold War, The American City, Suburban Nation, Literature and Globalization, and Irish American Literature and Film.