American Studies

Edmund Potter, program director
Kristen Egan, Catharine O’Connell, Brenci Patino, Amy Tillerson, Janna Segal, Laura Van Assendelft, Abigail Wightman

American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the study of the cultures of the United States, including transnational, global, and comparative perspectives. Through requirements that span history, the social sciences, literature, art, and music, the American Studies program encourages students to cross disciplinary boundaries, thus exposing them to differing perspectives on American culture. Students majoring in American Studies choose one of the concentrations. Their academic work culminates in an interdisciplinary thesis tied to their chosen concentration. Students can earn a major, minor, or certificate in American Studies.

Requirements for the Major in American Studies

42 semester hours (21 s.h. of required courses and 21 s.h. in a concentration)
AMST 230
HIST 111
HIST 112
ENG 220 (recommended) or ENG 221

One of the following: HIST 265, HIST 266, or ENG 364
POLS 100
AMST 400
Note: Students interested in American Studies should meet with the director to plan and organize a focused program of study within either concentration.


Courses in a concentration may not double count with those selected for the requirements. For either concentration, a student may, with the written permission of the director, substitute an appropriate course not on the approved list for one of the courses in the concentration.

American Studies for Educators
HIST 302
ANTH 227
ECON 101 or ECON 150
An additional 200 level or above course in American History*
An additional 200 level or above course in American Literature**
An additional 200 level or above course in American Politics
One additional course from those listed above or approved by the Director of American Studies
*Includes HISP 226 and HPUB 230
**Includes THEA/AMST 270

American Ethnicity, Culture, and Race
Three of the following: HIST 203, HIST 204, HIST 213, HIST 230, HIST 217, HIST 227, HIST 265, or HIST 266
Two of the following: ENG 264, ENG 375, MUS 151, PHIL 232, REL 232, SPAN/AMST 127, or THEA/AMST 270
Two of the following: ANTH 212, ANTH 220, ECON 115, POLS 209, REL 234, REL 277,  SOC 248, or SOC 264

Requirements for the Minor in American Studies

21 semester hours
AMST 230
HIST 111 (recommended) or HIST 112
ENG 220 (recommended) or ENG 221
One of the following: HIST 265, HIST 266, or ENG 264
One of the following: POLS 100, POLS 101, or POLS 200
Two courses, 200-level or above, from those included in the concentrations.

Certificate in American Studies

The certificate in American Studies is intended for international students who seek a broad, general understanding of the history and culture of the United States.

Requirements for the Certificate in American Studies

15 semester hours
AMST 230
One of the following: ENG 220, ENG 221, or ENG 350
One of the following: COMM 115, FILM 275, MUS 151/251, MUS 152, MUS 153, or SOC 214
One of the following: HIST 111, HIST 112, or POLS 100
One of the following: ENG 264, HIST 265, HIST 266, or SPAN/AMST 127

Civic Engagement Opportunities

Students in American Studies have multiple opportunities to be involved in their communities. Students in the education concentration work on projects in local schools; students interested in race and ethnicity partner with community organizations serving diverse populations; and the proximity of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and the Frontier Culture Museum provide opportunities to students in all concentrations within American Studies.

American Studies Course Descriptions

127 U.S. Latino Literature and Culture (3 s.h.)
For course description, see SPAN 127 in the Spanish listing.

219 Women in Theatre and Drama (3 s.h.)
For course description, see THEA 219 in the Theatre listing.

230 Introduction to American Studies: “The Land of the Free” (3 s.h.) (T)
American Studies 230 introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies by focusing on one central and important question in American cultural history: the idea and ideal of freedom. In exploring this topic, the course examines the paradox and tragedy of race slavery in the United States, among other subjects. Readings include a variety of primary sources such as novels, sermons, political tracts, letters, speeches, autobiography, film, and works of art.

240 Gender and Popular Culture (W)
For course description, see WS 240 in the Women’s Studies listing.

251 American Women’s Autobiography (G)
For course description, see ENG 251 in the English listing. 

270 African-American Theatre
For course description, see THEA 270 in the Theatre listing.

400 Senior Research Project (3 s.h.) (W, M)
The course represents an examination of the research methods used in American Studies and their specific application to a research problem. Students prepare and defend a seminar paper or unit of study during the course. The research theme varies from year to year.