Requirements for the Major

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 0701 or one additional elective numbered 0200 or higher.   


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 Project (AMST 0701)

AMST majors may enroll in AMST 0701, where they will complete a substantial research project in consultation with an AMST faculty adviser. Research projects are subject to approval by the AMST faculty, who will pair each approved project with an appropriate faculty adviser. Students who envision an AMST 701 project requiring collaboration must be granted departmental approval.  Normally, AMST senior projects will be completed in one semester. The senior project may take the form of a formal written document, a multi-media project such as a video, a web project, a creative activity such as a performance, or an installation project. An oral defense is part of senior work. Senior work is one of the requirements for departmental honors (see Honors section of AMST major requirements).


Honors will be based on a student’s cumulative AMST record and the quality of their AMST 0701 project.


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: 

For students who matriculate in Fall of 2023 or later

The Production and Consumption of Culture  

How do people represent their experiences and ideas? How is culture transmitted, appropriated and consumed? How are everyday cultural practices connected to wider social formations and to global flows of people, goods and ideas?  Students who choose this concentration will explore the role of artists and the expressive arts, as well as the products, practices, and institutions of commercial culture. Finally, they will develop an understanding of culture as a site of struggle over resources, identities, and the organization of daily life.  

Archives, Artifacts, and Sites of Memory  

How do material objects illuminate the cultural practices of people?  What can we learn about cultural formation within a given group by studying material objects created by members of that group?  Students who choose this concentration will engage with a broad range of material objects, studying both how they are produced and vested with significance by their producers.  Students may also study the places (museums, archives, monuments) where material objects are preserved, considering the complexities involved in preserving, creating, and presenting them to the public.

Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity  

How do race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity play an important role in everyday lives, institutions, and societies? Deeply examining, comparing, and exploring racial, ethnic, and Indigenous histories, political struggles, and creative and cultural practices opens space to understand individual and collective modes of identity formation.  Topics include settler colonialism, racism, and other structures ofintra-racial dynamics.

Politics, activism, and civic formation  

How do individuals and communities interact with state policies and institutions? How are power, wealth, and authority distributed, and how do social groups struggle to effect political change? What role do the arts, music, stories, and traditions play in social and political movements? In this concentration, students can explore critical intersections of cultures and social movements; past and present political crises and events; issues of civic identity, cultural diversity, and social justice; tensions between capitalism, media, and democratic governance; and/or practices of community resistance and empowerment. 

Global and Transnational

How is United States culture shaped through global processes of colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and/or war? How does an understanding of global connections foster engagement with the complex diversity of the United States? In this concentration, students can also explore the impact and articulation of American culture beyond the United States. Topics include settler colonialism, militarism, migration, global flows of commodities, transnationalism, and cultural and intellectual exchanges across borders.

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.

For students who matriculated prior to Fall 2023

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 3 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

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.