American Studies majors who wish to do so are encouraged to pursue independent senior work.

Traditionally, that work has taken the form of a one-semester research paper or a two-semester thesis. In recent years, some students have produced non-traditional senior projects, including a graphic novel, a documentary film, an interpretive website, and a portfolio and exhibition of original artwork.

Emily Ballou, class of 2020, poses with a poster for "finally," a play by
Emily Ballou ‘21 poses with a poster for “finally,” a collection of short plays and monologues written by Asian American and Pacific Islander playwrights, which Ballou curated for her senior work in directing. Ballou also produced and acted in the production, which turned a spotlight on the lack of Asian representation in the media and the performing arts. Ballou was a Theater and American Studies double-major.  Ballou’s American Studies thesis was titled, “Authorship, Authenticity, and American Documentary Theatre: A Critique of Journalistic Endeavor in Oral History Preservation.”

Waldron Award

Established in 1997 by family and friends in memory of Ryan Fairman Waldron ’97, the Waldron Award is given annually to an outstanding student majoring in American Studies.

Below are the recipients and their theses. For award winners prior to 2012, please contact the department coordinator.

Year Recipient
2021 Kennedy Coleman
2020 Celia R. Alter
2019 Alexander Gill Tieberg
2018 Katherine DeWolfe Brown

Addie Mahdavi
2017 Maya Doig-Acuna
2016 Tamir Williams
2015 Tyler Boyd
2014 Andrew Guff
2013 Alexandra McAtee
2012 Colleen Carroll

Recent Senior Projects

Kendal Pittman ‘21.5, “Contested Ground: The Battle Over Black Land Ownership and American Identity”

Emily Ballou ‘21, “Authorship, Authenticity, and American Documentary Theatre: A Critique of Journalistic Endeavor in Oral History Preservation”

Celia R. Alter ’20, “Disability and #MeToo”

Ivy Shaelyn Houde ’19, “Bet on Women: Perceptions of Women’s Basketball in American Sporting Culture and the Structural Inequalities that Hinder the WNBA”

Kyle J. Wright ’19, “Dimensions of Whiteness: Middlebury College’s Story of Racism, Ableism, and Wealth”

Alexander Gill Tieberg ’19, “The Red in Your Blood is from the Ore: Connections Between Industry, Culture, and Community on Minnesota’s Iron Range”

Katherine DeWolfe Brown ’18, “The Fourth Wave of Terror TV: Political Renewal and Anti-Terror in Designated Survivor

Addie Mahdavi ’18, “Defectiveness and the Ideal Citizen: Power, Categorization, and Social Control in Vermont’s Eugenics Movement”

Maya Doig-Acuna ’17, “We are all of us its children: Afro-Latinidad and Responses to Colonialism in The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao and Mama’s Girl

Tamir Williams ’16, “Bette, AKA Mammy, Big Momma, Madea, and Others Alike: Constructions of an American Stereotype”

Tyler Boyd ’15, “1000 Shards of the Forever Ending Twilight” (Graphic Novel)

Andrew Guff ’14, “Notions of Identity in Riverside Park’s Pickup Soccer Community” (documentary film)

Tessa Howard ’14, “Decoding Elite Southern Women of the Civil War: When Gender Expectations and Wartime Realities Collide”

Dorrie Paradies ’14, “Seventeen’s Presentation of the Idealized Image of Teen Girls”

Ashlee Bird ’13, “What Makes the Red Man Red: The Figure of the Native American in Modern Literature and Popular Culture”

Alexandra McAtee ’13, “Pseudonyms and Tumblr: Performing Authenticity and Building Intimate Connections”

Oonaugh Ziegler ’13, “Cinema of Representation: A Comparison on Representations of Gender, Race and Disability Between Postwar Era Social Problem Films and Early 21st Century”

Colleen Carroll ’12, “Race, Space, and the Noose: Lynching from 1890-1930”

Grace Waters ’12, “Liberation and Objectification of Women Through Advertising: How Nike and Reebok Have Attempted to Court the Female Consumer”

Georgia Wright-Simmons ’12, “Mining Bodies for Mixed Messages, Eating Disorders and the Cultural Body in Memoir and Literature”

Maria Layman Bourdeau ’12, “Female Athletes in the Spotlight: Contemporary Representations of Female Athletes in the Media”

Harry Morgenthau ’12, “Winslow Homer’s Gulf Stream: A Portrait of Science and Humanity at the End of the Nineteenth Century”

DaVia Walker ’12, “The Effects of Media-Fed Stereotypes on the Individual as Represented by The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Everybody Hates Chris