Majors in the American Studies Program approach the elusive concept of culture by beginning with one basic question: what are the stories we (Americans) tell ourselves about ourselves?
Borrowed from anthropologist Clifford Geertz, this question prompts others. Who gets to tell these stories? Who remains silent or invisible in them? How do different texts, artifacts, images, events, spaces, or places tell stories? And how do American stories change over time? You’ll ask these questions and explore the ways that events, spaces, and objects—whose meanings we take for granted—are informed by the race, class, ethnicity, gender, and/or sexuality of their makers. Alongside a faculty of published scholars and dedicated teachers, study the complex interactions of peoples, identities, forms of expression, social structures, and political institutions that have contributed to American life while also exploring the relationship between the United States and the world.
Building on core courses in the American Studies Program, majors draw on the offerings of departments and programs across the College. Students frequently choose to minor in related fields such as African-American studies, cinema studies, or women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.