American Studies Requirements
Requirements: A minimum of eleven courses including AMST 0209, AMST 0210, AMST 0400, three AMST electives, four courses in a concentration designed in consultation with a faculty advisor, and AMST 0705 (senior research tutorial). Students writing honors theses will undertake an additional term of independent research and writing (AMST 0710).
Electives: Three AMST electives, two of which must be numbered 0200 or higher. These courses must be listed or cross-listed as AMST courses in the course catalog. Courses may not count toward both the elective and concentration requirements.
Junior Seminar (AMST 0400): Students should normally take this seminar in the Fall of their Junior year. Where compelling circumstances make doing this impossible, arrangements to take the course as a senior may be made with the director of the American Studies program.
Senior Research Tutorial (AMST 0705): Seniors must complete either a one-credit research project and essay of approximately 30 pages, or, if otherwise qualified, a two-credit honors thesis of approximately 70 pages. Equivalent work in other media may be possible. All AMST seniors must enroll in AMST 0705, the senior research tutorial, in the fall of their senior year. This seminar will focus on the development of sophisticated research skills, the sharing with peers of research and writing in progress, and the completion of a substantial research project. Those writing one-credit essays will complete their projects over the course of this tutorial. Students writing two-credit honors theses will complete at least one chapter in the seminar and then continue work on the project over another term (AMST 0710) in consultation with a faculty adviser. To qualify for the writing of an honors thesis, a student must have a GPA of at least 3.5 in courses taken for the major. Faculty will make determinations on the awarding of honors after theses are completed.
Concentrations: Concentrations must bring together coherent clusters of four courses that address particular themes, periods, movements, or modes of thought and expression. In consultation with an advisor and with approval of the program, students will develop an interdisciplinary concentration in one of these areas:
Popular Culture: Students will study popular cultural forms, their reception, and the history of their production in the United States. Courses will especially focus on the conflicts between popular culture as a site of creativity and democratic empowerment on the one hand, and as a product of dominant commercialized cultural industries on the other.
Race and Ethnicity: Students will examine specific groups in depth and in comparison, exploring racial and ethnic history, political struggles, creative and cultural practices, and individual and collective modes of identity formation. By studying how and why racial and ethnic identities have evolved in the United States, students will understand their central place in the formation of the American nation.
Artistic and Intellectual Traditions: Students will focus on literary, religious, philosophical, and social thought and its expression in the United States. They will be encouraged to examine particular currents of thought (e. g. evangelicalism, liberalism, romanticism, modernism, progressivism) or modes of expression (e.g. literature, visual art, or film) that have been important to American culture.
Space and Place: Students will explore the importance of landscape and place in American culture. Course work may include the study of American regional geography, the historical and aesthetic dimensions of the built environment, the impacts of urban growth, suburbanization, or the imagining of utopian spaces.
Cultural Politics: Students will explore the relationship between culture, ideology, and the political system. People create meaning about their personal and public lives through cultural practices, but those practices take place within institutional and ideological structures. Relevant courses might explore ethics and religion; political parties and social movements; feminism and gender studies; and representation and visual culture.
Self-Designed Concentration: Self-designed concentrations must be built in close consultation with a faculty advisor and should focus on a cultural theme or interdisciplinary area of inquiry. Potential topics might include: Gender & American Culture; American Environmentalism; Visual Culture; Industrialization of America; and Immigration and Cultural Exchanges.
Joint Major Requirements: Students may major in AMST jointly with another discipline or program. Students must discuss their rationale for doing so with their advisor in AMST and joint majors must be approved by the faculty in AMST. Required courses for a joint major in AMST are: AMST 0209, AMST 0210, AMST 0400, and AMST 0705, and 2 AMST electives.
Minor Requirements: Students may complete a minor in American Studies by taking the following courses: AMST 0210, AMST 0209, AMST 0400, three AMST electives.
Study Abroad for American Studies Majors: The faculty members of the Program in American Studies recognize the benefits of cross-cultural learning and encourage majors to take advantage of study abroad opportunities. Often students returning from study abroad undertake senior work that responds to their cultural learning while abroad. We encourage students to take courses in their study abroad program that focus on the host culture and thereby allow the best opportunity for cultural comparison.
American Studies majors normally take AMST 0400, a required seminar, in the fall semester of their junior year. Under compelling circumstances that leave only the fall available as an option for study abroad, majors may be able to take AMST 0400 in the fall semester of their senior year. Such arrangements must be discussed in advance with, and approved by, the director of the American Studies program. The American Studies program enjoys being host to exchange students from the American studies programs at the Universities of East Anglia and Nottingham in Great Britain.