Academic Programs

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, 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 American Studies 101, Introduction to American Studies, or American Studies 102, The Politics of Culture, 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

  • “Deep Cleaning the Home with Ma Perkins: A Cultural History of America’s Most Trusted Radio Soap Opera”
  • “Lost at Sea: Isolation, Will, and Imagination in the Face of the Sublime in Moby-Dick
  • “Of All Our Relations: Captivity Narratives and the Films They Inspired—American History and Entertainment in Light of Each Other”