Major and Minor (revised spring 2020)
In the spring of 2020, the American Studies Program revised its requirements for the major and established a new minor. Students in the class of 2024 and beyond will follow the new requirements. Students in the class of 2023 are encouraged to follow the new requirements; others should determine the best path for them in consultation with their program advisors.
In the revised major, electives are used to cover the following areas relevant to American studies: pre-twentieth century; US in a global or transnational context; praxis (broadly defined as political or civic engagement, digital humanities, public humanities, creative writing, multimedia storytelling, or other relevant experience-based learning). Where appropriate, each elective can fulfill more than one of these required areas. Additionally, for both the major and minor, electives must include two courses focused on social justice, which investigate the ways that social inequities have been produced, maintained, and/or challenged. These courses often examine how power works—historically, spatially, and differentially—across axes of race, Indigeneity, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, religion, and economic class. Students should consult the list of approved elective courses and their program advisors to determine which elective area a course might fulfill.
Another feature of the revised American Studies major is the development of a concentration and portfolio.
A concentration is a thematic or conceptual focus that the student initially proposes to their program advisor. Within one month of declaring that major, the student will submit a narrative of approximately three pages that names and describes the concentration, articulates a rationale for it, and explains how specific courses will support it. To help with their selection, the program provides the following list of examples, although students should tailor these to their individual interests through extensive consultation with their program advisor. Listed in alphabetical order, these examples are intended to stimulate students’ thinking about how they would like to focus their studies and should not be seen as an exhaustive list of possible concentrations.
- American Citizenship and Belonging
- American Countercultures
- American Imperialism
- The American West
- Asian American Culture
- Black Radical Imaginations
- The Built Environment
- Comparative Race and Ethnicity
- Criminality and (In)Justice
- Cultural Geography
- Cultures of Capitalism
- Environmental Imaginations
- Local/Regional Cultures
- Material Culture
- Migration Narratives
- Mass Incarceration
- Music and Culture
- Neoliberalism and Culture
- Popular Culture
- Poverty and Inequality
- Public Humanities
- Queer Identities and Politics
- Revolution and Dissent
- Religion and Culture
- Space and Place
- Urban Planning/Design
- US Political Cultures
- Visual Culture
To encourage a greater sense of intentionality and reflection in the choice of concentration and path through the major, students work with their program advisors to complete an online portfolio. The portfolio begins with the narrative description of the concentration described above. Students complete its other components in response to prompts issued by program faculty within the core courses of the major. These prompts ask students to identify emerging areas of interest, draw connections among courses, draw connections between courses and the concentration, refine the description of the concentration, and pose unresolved questions.
The following tables summarize the changes to the major and requirements for the new minor in American Studies. Students should also consult the checklists for the major and minor.
AMERICAN STUDIES MAJOR
|Requirements||OLD AM major||NEW AM major|
|American Studies Core||AM171; AM393; 1 other AM course||AM171; AM293 (Methods in American Studies); AM393|
|Area 1: American History||1 HI course in American history pre-1865; 1 HI course in American history post-1865|
|Area 2: American Literature/Visual Culture||1 EN course in American literature pre-1865; 1 EN course in American literature post-1865; 1 other course on American literature in translation, or American visual culture|
|Electives*||3 courses at the 200 level or above chosen from an approved list or in consultation with the program advisor||2 AM courses and 5 additional courses from the approved list, fulfilling the areas described above; at least 3 at 300 level or above; no more than 2 outside the program at 100 level|
|Concentration**||Electives normally contribute to the student’s selected concentration|
AMERICAN STUDIES MINOR
|American Studies Core||AM171; either AM293 (Methods in American Studies) or AM393|
|Electives*||5 courses from the approved list; 2 must fulfill the social justice area described above; at least 1 at 300 level or above; no more than 2 outside the program at 100 level|