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

The American Studies major consists of a minimum of 10 courses (40 units).  Students must complete five required courses: one introductory course in U.S. History; one introductory course in U.S. literature; one course on theory and methods (AMST 290); junior seminar (AMST 390) or approved 300-level AMST course; and the capstone senior seminar (AMST 490). In addition to these courses, students will take five electives. These will consist of two courses from each of the two thematic clusters ("cultural productions" and "historical perspectives"); and one additional elective. 

REQUIRED COURSEWORK

Introduction to History

Choose one of the following:

HIST 101United States Culture and Society I

4 units

Or

HIST 102United States Culture and Society II

4 units

American Literature Survey

Choose one of the following:

ENGL 189The American Experience in Literature

4 units

Or

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4 units

Theory and Methodology

The majority of students will fulfill this requirement by completing both AMST 290 and AMST 490. In rare circumstances, a student may substitute a theory and methodology course from another department for AMST 290 in consultation with their advisor and with approval from the chair of AMST.

AMST 290American Studies Theory and Methodology

4 units

AMST 490Senior Seminar

4 units

 

 

Junior Seminar

AMST 390Junior Seminar

4 units


In lieu of taking AMST 390, students may take a 300-level AMST course from the list of courses below:
AMST 310The American South

4 units

AMST 320Graphic Narratives: From Pulp Fiction to Comix Literature

4 units

AMST 325/BLST 325Toni Morrison and African-American Self-Fashioning

4 units

AMST 346/ENGL 346Beautiful Democracy: 19th Century African American Literature

4 units

AMST 376/BLST 376Slavery, Freedom, and American Memory

4 units

Cultural Productions

Students must select two courses from the list below:

AMST 240/BLST 240African American Women Writers

4 units

AMST 260/LLAS 260United States Latino Literature and Cultural Studies

4 units

AMST 270Asian American Literature

4 units

AMST 320Graphic Narratives: From Pulp Fiction to Comix Literature

4 units

AMST 325/BLST 325Toni Morrison and African-American Self-Fashioning

4 units

AMST 346/ENGL 346Beautiful Democracy: 19th Century African American Literature

4 units

BLST 252/MAC 252African-American Film: 1967–Present

4 units

Historical Perspectives

Students must select two courses from the list below:

AMST 242/BLST 242The Great Migration

4 units

AMST 256/BLST 256Race Women: African American Women's Protest Culture

4 units

AMST 268/BLST 268Style Politics: Beauty and Fashion in Black Women's History

4 units

AMST 272/EASN 272Asian Immigrants in American Society

4 units

AMST 280/DWA 246The United States and East Asia

4 units

AMST 310The American South

4 units

AMST 376/BLST 376Slavery, Freedom, and American Memory

4 units

Additional Electives

Students must take one additional elective chosen either from the list of approved electives below, or one of the thematic clusters above. 

AMST 101United States Redux: Introduction to American Studies

4 units

AMST 295Topics in American Studies

4 units

AMST 296/DWA 287Transnational Liberation: Black Radical Thought in the Middle East and North Africa

4 units

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

4 units

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

4 units

HIST 395Special Topics in History

4 units

LLAS 385/PSYC 385Chicanx in Contemporary United States Society

4 units

POLS 208Movements for Social Justice

4 units

RELS 245/BLST 245African American Religious Traditions

4 units

RELS 347Religious Liberty and the Law

4 units

SECOND-STAGE WRITING REQUIREMENT

The majority of students majoring in American Studies will satisfy the second-stage writing requirement by successfully completing AMST 390 with a B- or better.

AMST 390Junior Seminar

4 units

Alternatively, a student may complete the Second Stage Writing Requirement in American Studies by taking one of the following courses and receiving a grade of B- or better, determined by the instructor of record, on a 15-page final paper.

AMST 310The American South

4 units

AMST 320Graphic Narratives: From Pulp Fiction to Comix Literature

4 units

AMST 325/BLST 325Toni Morrison and African-American Self-Fashioning

4 units

AMST 346/ENGL 346Beautiful Democracy: 19th Century African American Literature

4 units

AMST 376/BLST 376Slavery, Freedom, and American Memory

4 units

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Students fulfill the Senior Comprehensive Requirement by successful 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).

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 no later than the beginning of April of the senior year.

Honors coursework

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

AMST 490Senior Seminar

4 units

AMST 499Honors

2 or 4 units

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

Minor Requirements

The American Studies Minor consists of a minimum of 3 required courses (US History, American Literature, and Methodology) and 2 electives for a total of 20 units.

COURSEWORK

Introduction to History

Choose one of the following:

HIST 101United States Culture and Society I

4 units

Or

HIST 102United States Culture and Society II

4 units

American Literature Survey

Choose one of the following:

ENGL 189The American Experience in Literature

4 units

Or

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4 units

Methodology

Choose one of the following:

AMST 290American Studies Theory and Methodology

4 units

Or

AMST 390Junior Seminar

4 units

American Studies

Students must select two courses from the list below:

AMST 101United States Redux: Introduction to American Studies

4 units

AMST 240/BLST 240African American Women Writers

4 units

AMST 242/BLST 242The Great Migration

4 units

AMST 256/BLST 256Race Women: African American Women's Protest Culture

4 units

AMST 260/LLAS 260United States Latino Literature and Cultural Studies

4 units

AMST 268/BLST 268Style Politics: Beauty and Fashion in Black Women's History

4 units

AMST 270Asian American Literature

4 units

AMST 272/EASN 272Asian Immigrants in American Society

4 units

AMST 280/DWA 246The United States and East Asia

4 units

AMST 295Topics in American Studies

4 units

AMST 296/DWA 287Transnational Liberation: Black Radical Thought in the Middle East and North Africa

4 units

AMST 310The American South

4 units

AMST 320Graphic Narratives: From Pulp Fiction to Comix Literature

4 units

AMST 346/ENGL 346Beautiful Democracy: 19th Century African American Literature

4 units

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

4 units

AMST 376/BLST 376Slavery, Freedom, and American Memory

4 units

BLST 252/MAC 252African-American Film: 1967–Present

4 units

LLAS 385/PSYC 385Chicanx in Contemporary United States Society

4 units

Courses

American Studies Courses

Faculty

Regular Faculty

Erica Ball, chair

Professor, American Studies 

B.A., Wesleyan University; M.A., Ph.D., The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Courtney Baker

Associate Professor, American Studies

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

Amy Tahani-Bidmeshki

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, American Studies

A.B., Occidental College; M.A., California State University, Los Angeles; Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Xiao-huang Yin

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

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

On Special Appointment

Adrienne Tien

Non-Tenure-Track 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., Ph.D., University of Notre Dame

Eric Newhall

Professor, English

A.B., Occidental College; M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Jaclyn Rodríguez

Professor, Latino/a and Latin American Studies

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

John Swift

Professor, English

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., University of California, Santa Cruz