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Bachelor of Arts in American Studies

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  • Course description

    Sponsored by the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges, American Studies is a multidisciplinary major that encourages students to think critically and creatively about culture in the United States. The American Studies Program is coordinated by an intercollegiate faculty whose aim is to introduce students to the complexity of the American experience. Majors take courses in a variety of disciplines such as literature, history, sociology, anthropology, political science, music, and the visual arts. In addition, majors take multidisciplinary courses that use materials from different disciplines to explore a particular issue in American life. The interdisciplinary approach to this major affords the student many career choices. Some follow graduate study; other paths include the professions of law, library science, journalism, business and museum curatorship.

    Requirements for the Major

    An essential component of the American Studies curriculum is American Studies 103, a prerequisite course that is team-taught by members of the intercollegiate faculty in the spring semester. This course is an excellent introduction to the themes, concerns and methodologies of American Studies.
    Before the junior year, majors consult with a member of the intercollegiate faculty to plan a program of courses. Beyond the course mentioned above, majors are required to write a senior thesis (discussed below) and to complete ten additional courses approved by an American Studies faculty member. These include:
    • A two-semester survey of U.S. History (History 55 and History 56 at Pitzer, or equivalent courses at the other Claremont Colleges).
    • One other survey-level course focusing on the U.S. in another discipline, such as Art History, Literature, Music, Sociology.
    • One course in Asian American, Black, or Chicano Studies.
    • The American Studies Seminar (180), which is normally taken in the fall of the junior year.
    • The Senior Thesis Seminar (190) taught in the fall and Senior Thesis
      Independent Study (191) in the Spring. The Senior Thesis Independent Study will be directed by the student’s two thesis readers/advisers, at least one of whom must be from the student’s home campus.

    In order to give the program depth as well as breadth, three courses a student takes must be seminar or upper-division level courses in a single discipline (for instance anthropology or English).

    Honors: Students whose GPA equals or exceeds 3.5 both overall and in the four core courses required for the major (AS 103, AS 180, History 55 and History 56) and who have completed the senior thesis with a grade of A, are eligible for honors in American Studies. Candidates for honors also must pass an oral examination on the thesis, administered by a committee consisting of the two thesis readers plus one outside reader. The awarding of honors in American Studies is at the discretion of this oral examination committee.

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