Courses of Study

American Studies
See course descriptions for this program 

Director, Associate Professor Katherine Stubbs
Advisory Committee: Professors Richard Ammons (College Relations and American Studies), Cedric Gael Bryant (English), Debra Campbell (Religious Studies), Anthony Corrado (Government), James Fleming (Science, Technology, and Society), Cheryl Townsend Gilkes (African-American Studies and Sociology), Elizabeth Leonard (History), Paul Machlin (Music), Sandy Maisel (Government), Phyllis Mannocchi (English), and Robert Weisbrot (History); Associate Professors Jeffrey Anderson (Anthropology), Alec Campbell (Sociology), Margaret McFadden (American Studies), Laura Saltz (American Studies and Art), and Katherine Stubbs (English); Assistant Professors Lisa Arellano (American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) and Sarah Keller (English); Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Julie Caro (American Studies and Art); Adjunct Instructor Kenneth Eisen

American studies is an interdisciplinary major that enables students to explore the complex interactions of peoples, cultures, social structures, and political institutions that have shaped the experiences of those living in the United States. After establishing a foundation in U. S. history and literature, students design their own courses of study, drawing on the program’s great strengths in visual culture studies, popular culture studies, gender and sexuality studies, and American ethnic studies.

The program’s three required core courses introduce students to increasingly sophisticated and challenging approaches to the critical analysis of American cultures, and they foster the development of strong research, writing, and public speaking skills. As they advance through the program, students also begin to consider questions of transnationalism and of the relationship of the United States, and of diverse American cultures, to the rest of the world.
Requirements for the Major in American Studies

The American studies major requires 11 courses—four in American studies (American Studies 171, 393, 493, and one elective), two in American history (History 131 or 231, and 132 or 232), three in American literature and visual culture (one pre-1900, one post-1900), and any other American literature course, or a literature in translation course, or a course in visual culture), and two electives above the 200 level, approved by the American studies advisor, selected from a list of appropriate courses.

Of the required courses, History 131/231 and 132/232 and American Studies 171 should be taken before the end of the second year.

The point scale for retention of the major applies to all courses offered toward the major. No requirement for the major may be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory. No more than five courses taken abroad may be counted toward the major.

Senior Projects

All senior majors will take American Studies 493, which requires them to research, write, and present a significant original project. The presentations are typically made as part of the annual Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Honors Program
Students majoring in American studies may apply during their junior year for admission to the honors program. Permission is required; students must have a 3.5 GPA in the major to be eligible to apply. Successful completion of the work of the honors thesis, and of the major, will enable the student to graduate “With Honors in American Studies.”

Attention is called to the major in African-American studies; requirements are listed under “African-American Studies.”
Courses from other departments that may be applied to the American studies major
(Not all courses are offered every year; check curriculum for availability.)
  • Administrative Science 
    • 212 American Business and Management
    • 333 Marketing in America
    • 354 Business Law
  • Anthropology 
    • 211 Indigenous Peoples and Cultures of North America
    • 213 Human Rights and Ingigenous Peoples
    • 313 Researching Cultural Diversity
    • 354 Native American Religion and Empowerment
  • Art 
    • 285 History of Photography
    • 353 Contemporary Art, 1914 to the Present
    • 493 Seminar (when appropriate)
  • Education 
    • 215 Children and Adolescents in Schools and Society
    • 217 Boys to Men
    • 231 Teaching for Social Justice
    • 235 Multiculturalism and the Political Project
    • 332 Women, Girls, and the Culture of Education
  • English 
    • 241 Introduction to Film Studies
    • 255 Studies in American Literary History I: Puritans to the Civil War
    • 256 Studies in American Literary History: Civil War to the Present
    • 327 Wharton and James in Film and Literature
    • 333 Modern American Drama
    • 336 Early American Women Writers
    • 343 African-American Literature
    • 344 19th-Century American Poetry
    • 345 Modern American Fiction
    • 346 Culture and Literature of the American South
    • 347 Modern American Poetry
    • 351 Contemporary American Poetry
    • 353 American Short Story
    • 360 The Car in Modern American Literature and Popular Culture
    • 364 Buddhism in American Poetry
    • 413 Authors Courses (when appropriate)
    • 426 African-American Women Writers
    • 457 American Gothic Literature
    • 493 Seminar in American Literature
  • Government 
    • 210 Interest-Group Politics
    • 211 The American Presidency
    • 214 Parties and the Electoral Process
    • 273 American Political Thought
    • 313 Constitutional Law I: Federalism
    • 314 Constitutional Law II: Individual Rights
    • 316 Presidential Electoral Politics
    • 318 Money and Politics
    • 320 The Rights Revolution and Its Discontents
    • 331 Business and American Foreign Policy
    • 335 United States-Latin American Relations
    • 371 Foundations of American Constitutionalism
    • 413 Seminar: Policy Advocacy
    • 414 Seminar: Ethics in Politics
    • 432 Seminar: United States Foreign Policy
  • History 
    • 131 Survey of United States History, to 1865
    • 132 Survey of United States History, 1865 to the Present
    • 231 American Women’s History, to 1870
    • 232 American Women’s History, 1870 to the Present
    • 235 The American Family: 1600 to the Present
    • 238 American Political History, 1600 to the Present
    • 239 The Era of the Civil War
    • 247 African-American History, from Slavery to Freedom
    • 337 The Age of the American Revolution
    • 340 Biographies and Autobiographies of Great American Women
    • 342 Crisis and Reform: American Society and Politics in the 1960s
    • 347 America in Vietnam
    • 434 Research Seminar: American Moral Philosophy
    • 435 Research Seminar: The American Civil War
    • 447 Research Seminar: The Cold War
  • Music
    • 232 Jazz History
    • 236  American Musical Theater in the 20th Century
    • 238 Burnt Biscuits and Green Onions: From Rhythm and Blues to Soul
  • Philosophy 
    • 213 Philosophical Inquiries into Race
    • 352 American Philosophy
    • 392 Philosophy Seminar (when appropriate)
  • Psychology 
    • 253 Social Psychology
    • 258 Cultural Psychology
    • 352 Sex and Gender Seminar
  • Religious Studies 
    • 217 Religion in the United States
    • 256 The African-American Religious Experience
    • 257 Women in American Religion
    • 332  Contemporary North American Spiritualit
    • 334 Religion and World War II
  • Science, Technology, and Society 
    • 245 Science, Race, and Gender
    • 271 History of Science in America
  • Sociology 
    • 231 Contemporary Social Problems
    • 233 Crime and Justice in American Society
    • 252 Race, Ethnicity, and Society
    • 255 Urban Sociology
    • 259 Fighting the Power: Social Movements in America
    • 274 Social Inequality and Power
    • 276 Sociology of Gender
    • 337 Childhood In Society
    • 352 American Critics of American Society
    • 355 African-American Women and Social Change
    • 357 Civil Rights, Black Power, and Social Change
    • 358 The Sociology of W.E.B. Du Bois
    • 377 Sociology of Sexualities
    • 493 Senior Seminar in Sociology (when appropriate)
  • Spanish 
    • 264 U.S. Latina/o Literatures
    • 267 Transcultural Journeys: U.S. Latina/o Literature of Resilience
    • 276 U.S. Latina/Chicana Women Writers
    • 493B The Latina Body
  • Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
    • 201 Introduction to Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
    • 217 Boys to Men
    • 232 Queer Identities and Politics
    • 311 Topics in Feminist Theory