Interdivisional Programs

American Studies

Overview

The American Studies Program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of culture and society in the United States. Students take courses in a wide range of fields with the aim of learning how to study this complex subject in a sensitive and responsible way. In the introductory courses, students develop the ability to analyze a broad spectrum of materials, including novels, autobiographies, newspapers, photographs, films, songs, and websites. In the junior seminar and Senior Project, students identify and integrate relevant methodologies from at least two disciplines, creating modes of analysis appropriate to their topics. By graduation, students should have developed a base of knowledge about the past and present conditions of the American experience both at home and abroad.

Requirements

Before Moderation, students must take one of the two American Studies 101 courses, Introduction to American Studies or Colonial English America, or American Studies 102, Introduction to American Culture and Values, and at least two other courses focusing on the United States. After Moderation, they must take at least three more courses on the United States and at least two courses on non-U.S. national cultures. One post-Moderation course on the United States must be a junior seminar. Every junior seminar culminates in a 20- to 25-page paper in which students bring multiple analytical frameworks to bear on a subject of their choice. At least two of the students’ U.S.-focused courses must emphasize the period before 1900. In order to ensure a variety of perspectives on students’ work, both the Moderation and Senior Project boards must consist of faculty members drawn from more than one division.

Recent Senior Projects in American Studies

  • “An Analysis of the American Memorial: Celebrating Collective Memory and Historic Preservation in American Grief Culture”
  • “Graphic Myths: Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and America’s Media Culture”
  • “The Wife of a General: LaSalle Pickett and the Great American She Created”