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About Us

The Program in American Studies is an interdisciplinary undergraduate major that seeks to convey a broad understanding of American culture and society in all their complexity. Building on a foundation of courses in history and institutions, literature and the arts, and race and ethnicity, students bring a range of disciplines to bear on their efforts to analyze and interpret America's past and present, forging fresh and creative syntheses along the way.

The core requirements illustrate how different disciplines approach the study and interpretation of American life and include three courses each in History and Institutions and Literature, Art, and Culture, as well as one course in Comparative Race and Ethnicity. The required gateway seminar, "Perspectives on American Identity," explores the tensions between commonality and difference from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Beyond the core requirements of the major, American Studies expects students to define and pursue their own interests in interpreting important dimensions of American life. Accordingly, each student designs a thematic concentration of at least five courses drawn from fields such as history, literature, art, communication, theater, political science, African American studies, feminist studies, economics, cultural and social anthropology, religious studies, Chicana/o studies, law, sociology, education, Native American studies, music, and film. At least one of the five courses in a student's thematic concentration should be a small group seminar or a colloquium. With program approval, students may conclude the major with a capstone honors research project during their senior year.

Whether defined broadly or narrowly, the thematic focus or concentration should examine its subject from the vantage of multiple disciplines. Examples of concentrations include:


  • Borders and Boundaries in American Culture
  • Religion in American Life
  • Native American Cultures
  • Urban Politics and Education in the U.S.
  • American Moderns
  • The Politics of War and Peace in the U.S.
  • Hollywood and American Culture
  • Global Perspectives on America’s Role in the World
  • Gender and American Popular Culture
  • Inequality and Social Policy in America
  • The Arts of the Harlem Renaissance
  • Women’s Reproduction in American Culture and Society
  • The West in American Art and Culture
  • The Legacies of the Cold War in the U.S.
  • Race and Racism in American Culture and Society
  • Constructions of Female Identity in America
  • Health Policy in America
  • The Artist in American Society
  • Nature and the Environment in American Culture
  • Politics and the Media in America
  • The African Diaspora in America
  • The Politics of Poverty in America
  • The History and Culture of Early America
  • Art and Culture in the 19th Century
  • America and the Global Economy
  • Technology in American Life and Thought
  • Dissent and Democracy
  • Race and the Law in America