The concentration in American Studies seeks to understand American society and cultures as emerging from historical and contemporary processes at work in local, national, and global contexts. Concentrators study four broad themes: social structure and the practices of identity, space and place, production and consumption of culture, and science, technology, and everyday life. The concentration is predicated on the ideal of scholarly engagement with the public, so students take junior seminars that engage some aspect of the public humanities such as public policy, memorialization, community studies or civic engagement. Study abroad is supported and encouraged.
Students in this concentration will:
- Develop an understanding of the United States in its global contexts
- Become fluent in methods of cultural and social analysis
- Gain a critical awareness of different media and their societal impacts
- Produce original research that engages the public
Honors and CapstonesView Honors website
All concentrators complete a capstone in which their interdisciplinary skills are applied during a semester-long in-depth study on a particular topic, or in a year-long senior thesis. For some, the seminar taken in the senior year serves as part of the capstone experience. In addition, all seniors must submit an electronic portfolio highlighting the student's achievements in writing and analysis. The compilation of the online portfolio is advised and monitored by the Director of Undergraduate Studies; students will publicly present their portfolios during reading period in their last semester.
Students who wish to write a senior thesis based on original research may be considered for the Honors Program. Prospective thesis writers should arrange to do a directed reading with a faculty member during the second semester of the junior year in order to define a topic and research question and complete a thesis prospectus. In each semester of the senior year, students register for a thesis writing course under the supervision of their advisor. Please visit the department website for more information on the Honors and online portfolio requirements.
This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:
- Enhance your aesthetic sensibility
- Expand your reading skills
- Collaborate fully
- Understand differences among cultures
- Embrace diversity
- Engage with your community
- Learn what it means to study the past
- Evaluate human behavior
- Work on your speaking and writing
Graduates with an A.B. in American Studies are working in journalism, publishing, business, education, community arts, union organizing, and social welfare organizations, as well as graduate study in every field in the social sciences and humanities. Check out American Studies' Facebook page!
Dept. Undergraduate Group
- Nathaniel Wardwell
- Margaret Hanson