Julia Rosenbaum and Mark Lytle (directors), Myra Young Armstead, Thurman Barker, Christian Crouch, Yuval Elmelech, Simon Gilhooley, Donna Ford Grover, Cynthia Koch, Christopher R. Lindner, Allison McKim, Matthew Mutter, Joel Perlmann, John Pruitt, Susan Fox Rogers, Tom Wolf
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 (novels, autobiographies, newspapers, photographs, films, songs, 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 American experience both at home and abroad, as well as intellectual habits that will enable them to be aware of what surrounds them, wherever they are in the world.
Before Moderation, students must take American Studies 101, Introduction to American Studies, 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 either a junior seminar or a junior tutorial. Every junior seminar or tutorial 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 School Integration through the Works of W. E. B. Du Bois (1890s–1954)”
- “The Pursuit of Pursuit in Infinite Jest and Moby-Dick”
- “A Singing Country: American Folk Expression and the Lomax-Hurston-Barnicle Expedition of 1935”
Introduction to American Studies
American Studies 101
An introduction to the field of American studies, defined both by the range of materials covered (essays, novels, autobiographies, photographs, historical documents, etc.) and by the questions asked about them, including: How have different Americans imagined what it means to be an American? What ideas about national history, patriotism, and moral character shape their visions of being American? How do they draw the boundaries that define who belongs within the nation and who gets excluded?
Introduction to American Culture and Values
American Studies 102
Weighed down with the authority of custom, a national culture imposes a sense of obligation to all who belong to a society, but it affects groups and individuals differently. Students compare and contrast visions of American culture during the 19th and 20th centuries. Works by Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W. E. B. Du Bois, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ralph Ellison, Elvis Presley, and others are reviewed.