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 in each of two main areas: History & Institutions; and Literature, Art, and Culture. 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:
- Race and the Law in America
- Gender in American Culture and Society
- Technology in American Life and Thought
- Health Policy in America
- Nature and the Environment in American Culture
- Politics and the Media
- The Artist in American Society