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American Studies provides opportunity for majors with demonstrated interest and ability in American Studies to seek honors by writing a senior thesis for 10 to 15 units of credit.

  • A grade point average of 3.5 or higher in the major is required to apply to the honors program in American Studies
  • Students applying for honors must secure a thesis adviser, a Stanford faculty member who is willing and available to direct the thesis project through the ensuing year. Having a confirmed thesis adviser is required for final approval to pursue an honors project. Students will also need to secure a second reader for the honors thesis no later than the start of Winter quarter of senior year.
  • By the last day of classes in the Spring Quarter of the junior year, students hoping to pursue honors should secure an advisor and submit a preliminary 3-5 page proposal describing the anticipated thesis project, and including an initial bibliography, to the program.  
  • An official application form signed by the thesis advisor and accompanied by the revised proposal and preliminary bibliography must then be submitted to the program no later than October 1 in the student’s senior year.  
  • The program may approve the application and proposal, or request that the student resubmit with revisions
  • Students pursuing honors must enroll in the American Studies Pre-Honors Seminar, AMSTUD 198, in the Spring quarter of their junior year, and in the American Studies Honors Seminar  AMSTUD199A, and  AMSTUD199B, during the Autumn and Winter quarters of their senior year, respectively. They must also enroll in AMSTUD250 Senior Research during the senior year. The total units between AMSTUD 198, AMSTUD 199A and B, and AMSTUD 250 should equal 10-15. These units are in addition to the 62 units required for the major and must be taken for a letter grade.
  • The standard length for an undergraduate honors thesis in American Studies is 50-80 double-spaced pages. In some cases, however, the thesis may be shorter or longer as determined by the specifics of the particular topic or project, in consultation with the student’s thesis adviser.
  • The finished essay is due in mid-May (typically May 15th) of senior year. The senior honors experience culminates in Honors Thesis Presentations in May of senior year.
  • The final grade for the essay is assigned based on the evaluations of both the primary thesis adviser and the second reader.
  • Upon satisfactory completion of the project, the student will graduate with a B.A.H., that is, a B.A. in American Studies with Honors.

Download the Honors Handbook

Download the Honors Proposal Cover Sheet

Recent American Studies Honors Theses


  • Baylee Basila "In Search of Queer Ancestors: (Re)Constructing Relationships Among Lesbians of Color in the 1950s and 1960s"
  • Lucy Brewer "Preserving the Past in the Present: The Gandy Collection of Photographs From Natchez, Mississippi"
  • Elizabeth Dowdle "The “Upward Arc of Progress”: Stanford and Howard Universities as Multifunctional State Actors in the Early-20th Century"
  • Valentine Janigian "Separation of the Catholic Church and the United States"
  • Natalie Sada "The Pursuit of Arts Education: A Comparative Analysis of Ruth Asawa and Augusta Savage"



  • Alexis Lefft, “Meanwhile, We Are Not Ruined: The U.S. South as a Surrogate Ancestral Homeland for American Slave Descendants”
  • Caleb Martin, “Getting the Party Started: Gay and Lesbian Activism at the Democratic National Convention, 1972-1984"




  • Ella Klahr Bunnell, “‘Los[ing] the right to have rights’: Making a Case for the Abolition of American Criminal Disenfranchisement”
  • Gabriela Romero, “Statehood Denied: New Mexico and Territorial Incorporation, 1846-1876"




  • Carrie Monahan, “‘A Dream Remembered’: Collective Memory and Ancestral Responsibility in Eufaula, Alabama”  (Winner of the Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in the Humanities and the Creative Arts and the Kennedy Prize, awarded annually to the single best thesis in each of the four areas of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering and applied sciences)
  • Sydney Shepherd Harris, “Finding Mammy: Locating the Iconic Figure in African American Ideologies of Gender”
  • Nathan Weiser, “Slacker: A Film from Austin Texas”




  • Ali Stack, “(You Can’t Tell Us) How to Play Our Music”: Remembering and Forgetting the Place of Detroit Techno”




  • Claire Patterson, “'A stranger in a stranger land'”: Zadie Smith’s Mixed-Race Nation (Winner of the Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in the Humanities and the Creative Arts )
  • Thomas Plank, "Beautiful Form and Shocking Gore: Art and Violence in Blood Meridian and Vietnam War Photography"
  • Sarah Sadlier, "In Search of Red Horse: Interpreting the Lost Life and Times of a Minneconjou Lakota Artist and Warrior"
  • Benina Stern, "Theatre of the Moment: Interpreting the American Avant-Garde Performance Ensemble"




  • Emma Joslyn, "Looking for the Realest Bitch: White Women, Hip Hop and Authenticity"
  • Ivan Marquez, "CHIP, Public Morality, and the Struggle to Define Children’s Health Policy in the U.S. 1997-2015"



  • Taylor Dewberry, "Defining Black Beauty before 'Black is Beautiful': The Establishment, Critique, and Reimagining of Colorist Beauty Standards from 1945 to 1954"
  • Monica Masiello, "Dominican-American Immigrant Spaces: The Complications of Achieving a Decolonial Self in Junot Diaz’s Short Fiction"
  • Will Robins, "Challenges of Illustrating Slavery in Nineteenth-Century American Literature"
  • Molly Vorwerck, "The Presley Paradox: Race, Sex, and Commodified Teen Fantasies"

More on honors theses and awards can be found in the American Studies Newsletters