American Studies

Faculty
  • Professors Edwards, Fitzpatrick, Goldsmith, Hubbs, Marks (Coordinator); Associate Professors Clark, Hurley, Jaroff, Keita, Mackler, Spencer, Woodstock; Assistant Professor Lott, Onaci. 

  • Knowledge of our own culture, its history, literature, and politics, is indispensable to responsible American citizenship. Furthermore, a deeper understanding of American culture enables us to appreciate the ways in which our own culture affects our perception of other cultures. The American Studies program provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American life through which students can fully appreciate both its unity and diversity. The American Studies major and minor are useful for students interested in graduate study in American Studies and all the participating disciplines, as well as professional study in areas such as law, social work and journalism. It is also an appropriate major for those seeking certification to teach social studies.

    The American Studies major is interdisciplinary. All majors must take AMST-200, a course that demonstrates the possibilities of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American society. Interdisciplinary study works best, however, when the student is well grounded in at least one specific discipline to serve as a point of departure. American Studies majors accordingly choose a disciplinary concentration by taking an introductory or methods course, a capstone course, and two American Studies-related electives from one of the core disciplines of the program (English, History, Media and Communication Studies, Politics, and Sociology), as well as electives from American Studies disciplines beyond the concentration. The American Studies major can easily accommodate a dual major, should a student wish to pursue mastery of more than one discipline, but no more than two courses can count for both majors. The major can be completed with 36 credits.

    Special topics courses relevant to American Studies may be included in the major or the minor with the prior approval of the Coordinator.

    Requirements for Majors

    Required course for all majors: AMST-200 – Issues in American Studies. American Studies majors can fulfill the writing requirement by taking a W course within their disciplinary concentration, and the oral presentation and capstone requirements by taking a 400-level seminar in that same concentration.

    Disciplinary concentration:

    Students will elect four courses in one of the American Studies disciplines, including a methods class, an American-themed capstone, and two electives. At least one course in the disciplinary concentration must be at the 300-level or above. The exception to this rule is the disciplinary concentration, sociology, which requires Sociology 391 as a prerequisite for the capstone. Only one elective is required in this disciplinary concentration.

    English concentration:

    • Methods: ENGL-290W.
    • Capstone: a 400-level seminar in American literature.
    • Electives: two courses in American literature, one of which must be at the 300-level.

    History concentration:

    • Methods: HIST-200W.
    • Capstone: HIST-425W, 426W, or 450W on an American topic.
    • Electives: two courses from HIST-125, 126, 212, 225, 226, 227, 228, 330, 332. If on a relevant topic, HIST-150, 250, or 350 may also count. One of the electives must be at the 300-level.

    Media and Communication Studies concentration:

    • Methods: MCS-292W.
    • Capstone: MCS-460W or 462W or 464W on an American topic.
    • Electives: MCS-205 and one course from MCS-315, 319, 340, 360, 366.

    Politics concentration:

    • Methods: POL-300.
    • Capstone: POL-418W.
    • Electives: POL-218 and one course from 310, 314, 316, 321, 322, 325, 330, 355.

    Sociology concentration:

    • Methods: ANSO-200.
    • Theory: ANSO-210
    • Capstone: ANSO-460W on an American topic.
    • Electives: one course from SOC-100, 220, 255, 258, 263, 288.

    Four electives must be taken from at least three different departments outside of the student’s disciplinary concentration. Students may choose any of the above listed courses (except methods courses); as well as from ART-290; ECON-210, DANC-100, 350A; EDUC-100, 280; ENV-332, 366; MUS-207, 306; RELS-160, 221, 225. Other electives may be taken with the chair’s approval. Students cannot count more than four courses in any one discipline towards the American Studies major.

    Students are strongly encouraged to take more than one version (separate topics) of AMST-200. Students are also encouraged to consider a semester of off-campus study in a national program such as the Washington Semester or the Howard Semester program. The American Studies major is sufficiently flexible to accommodate study abroad.

    Students may elect to fulfill some of the above requirements by doing an internship or research courses (including honors) in American Studies.

    Students who are working on a double major must choose a disciplinary concentration in American Studies that is different from their other major.

    Requirements for Minors

    A minor concentration in American Studies consists of six courses dealing with aspects of American life and culture.

    • AMST 200.
    • One course each from four of the five disciplinary concentrations (English, History, Media and Communication Studies, Politics, Sociology), selected from the courses approved for the major (excluding methods courses: ANSO-200, ENGL-290W, HIST-200W, MCS-292W, and POL-300).
    • One elective selected from any disciplinary concentration or from the electives approved for the major.

Courses

  • AMST-200. Issues in American Studies

    This course will introduce students to American Studies by engaging them in an interdisciplinary examination of a broad theme or question about American society and culture. Topics will vary with the instructor(s), but will always be broad and issues and readings will be drawn from different disciplines. An example might be an interdisciplinary examination of the history of Philadelphia as a microcosm of the American experience, or an interdisciplinary examination of race and ethnicity in American society. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (D)

    AMST-381. Internship

    An off-campus academic/work experience under the supervision of an internship adviser and an on-site supervisor. Discuss details with the American Studies Coordinator.  Open to juniors and seniors. The term during which the internship work is performed will be noted by one of the following letters, to be added immediately after the internship course number: A (fall), B (winter), C (spring), or D (summer). Internships undertaken abroad will be so indicated by the letter I. The intern must complete a minimum of 120 hours of work. Prerequisites: 12 credits in the major and permission of the internship adviser. Three semester hours. (I.)

    AMST-382. Internship

    An off-campus academic/work experience under the supervision of an internship adviser and an on-site supervisor. Discuss details with the American Studies Coordinator.  Open to juniors and seniors. The term during which the internship work is performed will be noted by one of the following letters, to be added immediately after the internship course number: A (fall), B (winter), C (spring), or D (summer). Internships undertaken abroad will be so indicated by the letter I. The intern must complete a minimum of 160 hours of work. Prerequisites: 12 credits in the major and permission of the internship adviser. Four semester hours. (I.)

    AMST-391. Independent Study

    Independent study under the supervision of an American Studies Department adviser. Topic and readings will be decided by the student and the adviser. Substantial reading and writing is required. Prerequisites: 12 credits in the major; and permission of the department adviser. Four semester hours. (I.)

    AMST-400W. Independent Research 

    Independent Research, under the guidance of an American Studies Department adviser, directed toward the production and oral presentation of a research project or paper. Prerequisite: 12 credits in the major and permission of the faculty adviser. Four semester hours.

    AMST-491W. Research/Independent Work

    This course is open to candidates for honors upon consultation with the American Studies Coordinator and with permission of an American Studies faculty adviser. Four semester hours. (I.)

    AMST-492W. Research/Independent Work

    A continuation of AMST-491W. Prerequisite: AMST-491W. Four semester hours. (I.)