View the American Studies Faculty.
The American Studies Program
The American Studies program engages students in examination of the culture and society of the United States, past and present, and asks students to consider the United States of “America comparatively in the Americas. As a nation born of immigration and encounter, the United States has always embraced diverse racial and ethnic groups in mutual encounter and conflict. It has also undergone endless change, through transformations wrought by geographical expansion, democracy, industrialization, urbanization, and the pressures of war and international politics. These forces ranged from the removal of Native Americans from their lands, and enslavement of Africans, to the most intimate realms of life, such as the relations between men and women in the home and attitudes toward the body, gender, and sexuality.
Yet, in the midst of these large movements of history, many Americans have forged distinctive cultures–ways of thinking, feeling and acting–that express their basic values and give meaning to their institutions and everyday social practices. Such cultures reflect, in part, the different experiences of people, according to their race, gender, and class. But they may also attest to Americans’ participation in a larger ideological heritage, shaped by ideals of democracy and equality that have been affirmed in major political movements, such as the American Revolution and the civil rights movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, and articulated in art, literature, music, and films.
The American Studies program offers an opportunity to explore the commonalities and differences among Americans through an interdisciplinary course of studies. Working closely with their advisor, students will assemble a set of courses, designed both to represent the diversity of cultures and social forms within the United States and across the Americas and to pursue significant themes or questions in depth. In developing the major, students may also take up comparative perspectives on the United States, considering, for example, African American life within the context of the black diaspora, or the American experience of industrial capitalism as a variant on a general model around the world.
Programs and Course Descriptions