American studies is an interdisciplinary field that is united by both an object of study—American culture—and a mode of inquiry that moves beyond the scope of any single disciplinary approach. Marked by an interplay between cultural history and the examination of diverse creative forms, social analysis, and critical theory, American studies explores primary sources and asks how they might be understood in the broader contexts of aesthetic traditions, political power, and cultural beliefs. While the American studies curriculum is varied in topic and approach, each student in the major will develop a thematic concentration that gives their studies conceptual coherence. These concentrations are: popular culture, race and ethnicity, artistic and intellectual traditions, space and place, and cultural politics.
While sharing a commitment to interdisciplinarity, American studies faculty specialize in a range of subjects and methodologies, including literature, anthropology, history, art history, and communication studies. The American studies curriculum is further enriched by cross-listing courses with other departments, including Religion, History, Film and Media Culture, and English and American Literature.
The American studies program values close faculty-student interaction. Courses utilize a range of collaborative learning strategies, and independent senior work is an integral component of the major.