American Studies

Overview

American Studies is an interdisciplinary exploration - with an emphasis on history and literature - of the voices and visions that interpret and in turn shape the American experience. The search for a distinctive American culture has a long-standing tradition. How that experience is represented is influenced by the changing dynamics of domestic affairs and the geopolitics of United States foreign policy. The study of what it means to be "American" both at home and abroad is to understand the often conflicting voices and visions of Americans over time. Therefore, we encourage our majors to apply for international and domestic off-campus study.

The field is concerned with questions such as whether or not there is a national culture. Can we, for example, reconcile the tension between traditional narratives of individualism and self-reliance, and the counter-narratives of community and oppression? This discussion is particularly appropriate as we enter a new century of challenges in a post-Cold War world. The strengths of our department include courses offering multiple perspectives on American history, literature, culture, art, and politics.

Major Requirements

COURSEWORK

The American Studies major consists of a minimum of 10 courses (40 units).

Introduction to History

HIST 101United States Culture and Society I

4

Or

HIST 102United States Culture and Society II

4

American Literature Survey

ENGL 189The American Experience in Literature

4

Or

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4

Methodology

AMST 290Rethinking the the United States: American Studies Theory and Methodology

4

AMST 390Junior Seminar

4

AMST 490Senior Seminar

4

American Studies

Students must select two courses from the list below:

AMST 101United States Redux: Introduction to American Studies

4

AMST 240African American Women Writers

4

AMST 242The Great Migration

4

AMST 260United States Latino Literature and Cultural Studies

4

AMST 270Asian American Literature

4

AMST 272Asian Immigrants in American Society

4

AMST 280The United States and East Asia

4

AMST 295Topics in American Studies

4

Additional Electives

Students must select three additional courses from the list below:

AMST 101United States Redux: Introduction to American Studies

4

AMST 240African American Women Writers

4

AMST 242The Great Migration

4

AMST 260United States Latino Literature and Cultural Studies

4

AMST 270Asian American Literature

4

AMST 272Asian Immigrants in American Society

4

AMST 280The United States and East Asia

4

AMST 295Topics in American Studies

4

AMST 310The American South

4

AMST 320Graphic Narratives: From Pulp Fiction to Comix Literature

4

AMST 346Beautiful Democracy: 19th Century African American Literature

4

AMST 375Sociopolitics of Race: Color-blind/Color-insight

4

HIST 312Race, Rights, and Revolution in the Atlantic World

4

HIST 395Special Topics in History

4

POLS 208Movements for Social Justice

4

RELS 245African American Religious Traditions

4

RELS 347Religious Liberty and the Law

4

WRITING REQUIREMENT

Students majoring in American Studies will satisfy the final component of Occidental College's college-wide writing requirement by successfully completing both:

AMST 290Rethinking the the United States: American Studies Theory and Methodology

4

AMST 390Junior Seminar

4

Students must earn a grade of B- or higher. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the college writing requirement and consult the department chair for additional information.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Completion of a paper and a presentation on a topic in the student's area of emphasis as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the senior seminar (AMST 490).

Research proposals for the senior project are due October 1 of the senior year.

HONORS

Students meeting college requirements for honors may apply for admission to the program by submitting a written proposal for an honors thesis by October 1 of their senior year. Those accepted may register for honors independent study (AMST 499) during the fall or spring semester of the senior year; the thesis should be completed by the end of the senior year.

In general it is expected that honors students will take both:

AMST 490Senior Seminar

4

AMST 499Honors

2 or 4 units

For further information see the Honors Program and the department chair.

Minor Requirements

COURSEWORK

Introduction to History

HIST 101United States Culture and Society I

4

Or

HIST 102United States Culture and Society II

4

American Literature Survey

ENGL 189The American Experience in Literature

4

Or

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4

Methodology

AMST 290Rethinking the the United States: American Studies Theory and Methodology

4

Or

AMST 390Junior Seminar

4

American Studies

Students must select two courses from the list below:

AMST 101United States Redux: Introduction to American Studies

4

AMST 240African American Women Writers

4

AMST 242The Great Migration

4

AMST 270Asian American Literature

4

AMST 272Asian Immigrants in American Society

4

AMST 280The United States and East Asia

4

AMST 295Topics in American Studies

4

Courses

American Studies Courses

Faculty

Regular Faculty

Xiao-huang Yin, Chair

Professor, American Studies; Affiliated Faculty, East Asian Languages and Cultures; Affiliated Faculty, History

B.A., Nanjing University; M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University

Erica L. Ball

Professor, American Studies 

B.A., Wesleyan University; Ph.D., City University of New York

Courtney R. Baker

Associate Professor, American Studies

B.A., Harvard University; Ph.D., Duke University

Amy Tahani-Bidmeshki

Assistant Professor, American Studies, Mellon Post-Doc Fellow

B.A., Occidental College; M.A., CSU Los Angeles; PhD., UCLA


On Special Appointment

Adrienne Tien

Adjunct Assistant Professor, American Studies

B.A., Wellesley College; M.S., Syracuse University

Advisory Committee

Sharla Fett

Professor, History

B.A., Carleton College; M.A., Stanford University; Ph.D., Rutgers University

James Ford III

Assistant Professor, English

B.A., Morehouse College; M.A., PhD, University of Notre Dame

Eric Newhall

Professor, English

A.B., Occidental College; M.A., Ph.D., UCLA

Jaclyn Rodríguez

Professor, Latino/a and Latin American Studies

A.B., Occidental College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Michigan

John Swift

Professor, English; Advisory Committee, Urban and Environmental Policy

B.A., Middlebury College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia

Raul Villa

Professor, English; Advisory Committee, Latino/a and Latin American Studies

B.A., Yale University; M.A., University of Michigan; Ph.D., UC Santa Cruz