American studies is an area studies program focused on the cultural and intellectual life of the United States. Its students analyze the American past and present from the perspectives of several disciplines, learn to synthesize their knowledge, and acquire the habits of mind needed for cultural analysis.
The program offers courses in areas such as American intellectual, cultural, and artistic life; race, ethnicity, and gender; cultural geography and material culture; and the public arts and popular culture.
Specific courses are offered on topics such as immigration, transnationalism, and diaspora; American political theory; property, race, and critical legal studies; religion and psychology; childhood studies; food and foodways; animals; technology and design; social movements and radical political cultures; space and place; and public memory.
The program also invites students to take advantage of the resources of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, the Center for Asian American Studies, the Center for Mexican American Studies, the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Américo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies.
The courses that American studies students take outside the program train them in areas of expertise relevant to their central interests. With the approval of the graduate adviser in American studies, these courses may be in any of the liberal arts or in architecture, business, communication, education, fine arts, law, the sciences, or public affairs.
Master of Arts
The student’s program must total thirty-three semester hours of credit and must have the approval of the graduate adviser. Requirements are fifteen semester hours in American studies, consisting of six hours in the research course (American Studies 390), three hours in the required methodology course (American Studies 393), and six hours in cultural history (American Studies 385 and 386); six semester hours in a field of concentration outside American studies; an additional nine semester hours in that field, another field or fields, or American studies; and the three-hour master’s report course (American Studies 398R). The program culminates in a master’s report, which is expected to approximate a publishable journal article in length and quality.