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Courses of Study
American studies is an interdisciplinary major that enables students to explore the complex interactions of histories, cultures, identities, and representations that have shaped the experiences of people living in the United States. Building on foundational courses in U.S. history and textual analysis, students design their own courses of study, choosing among the program’s strengths in visual culture, popular culture, gender and sexuality studies, American ethnic studies, and transnationalism.
American studies majors learn multiple approaches that enable them both to draw on and move between traditional academic disciplines. This interdisciplinary methodology informs all aspects of students’ critical thinking about American cultures as they engage in analytical writing, thoughtful discussion, formal oral presentations, and independent research. Our pedagogical goal is to train students to be deeply and critically involved in the texts, forms, and practices that constitute the world around them.
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, selected from a list of appropriate courses and approved by the American studies advisor.
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.
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.
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.”
OTHER APPLICABLE COURSES +
Courses From Other Departments That May Be Applied to the American Studies Major(Not all courses are offered every year; check curriculum for availability.)
Colby College reserves the right in its sole judgement to make changes of any nature in its program, calendar, academic schedule, fees, deposits, or any other matters in this catalogue.