American Studies

About the Major

The Interdisciplinary American Studies program takes as its subject the cultures that have developed in what is now the United States, understanding “American culture” as the interplay of material practices and the realm of ideas. It considers technology, economy, urbanism, and ecology, as well as literature, the arts, and political and geographic history. American Studies takes a particular interest in cultural hybridity, cultural layering, and in American culture exported abroad. The goal of the Interdisciplinary American Studies program is to utilize the enormous and varied resources of the institution to teach students how to ask and answer scholarly questions, to formulate and undertake a focused interdisciplinary course of study, and to design and execute a substantial integrative research project. In doing this, we build upon several generations of scholars across disciplines who have advocated the critical study of race, class, gender, sexuality, and mass culture, as well as the examination of America as part of an increasingly globalized world. In addition to our core courses, students will propose an individualized interdisciplinary area of concentration. As an interdisciplinary major, American Studies allows students the intellectual flexibility of designing their own course of study across disciplines. However, the program is much more than the combination of these courses. American Studies is a critical intervention into the study of America, and as such the major requires sustained and critical self-reflection. As Interdisciplinary American Studies majors, students will learn to think critically about “America” and to analyze the intersections between politics, policy, history, society and culture. Students should explore the wide range of Americanist courses on campus, as well as our website, before proposing an integrated program to a faculty advisor for approval.