American Studies Major

Program Director: Dr. Christopher Borick, Professor of Political Science

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 and gender studies.

Major Requirements

Majors complete eleven courses, including the core requirements, the senior seminar, and six electives.  To remain an American studies major, a student must maintain a 2.00 grade point average in all courses designated as meeting the major requirements.

Required Courses:

  • AMS 101 - Introduction to American Studies 1 course unit

  • ENG 115 -  American Writers 1 course unit

  • PSC 101 - Introduction to American National Government 1 course unit

  • HST 100-149 - Introduction to History 1 course unit (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 focusing on American cultural issues in any discipline, spread over at least two different 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 topics courses,, including sophomore seminars, that, while not required, can be taken as electives for the major.

  • Major designated writing intensive courses will be determined in consultation with the Director of American Studies.

Students are encouraged (but not required) to use the courses in the elective field to build a concentration in such areas as ethnic studies, gender studies, or a field that reglects the particular student's interests, for example law and literature, art and politics, or media and society.

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 conentrated, 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 year-long independent study that engages approximately two different academic disciplines and a thesis that, in its final draft, will consist of at least 40 pages.


AMS 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 semester to semester, 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 HU.

AMS 970 - American Studies Independent Study/Research
Each independent study/research course is to be designed in consultation with a vaculty sponsor.