The Program in American Studies is the University’s oldest interdepartmental plan of study. It began in 1942 as the Program in American Civilization, in response to the perception among faculty and students that, in their words, “many educated Americans have in their education been cut off from a clear understanding of the traditions of their country.”
Today, under the aegis of the Humanities Council, the program aims to give students an understanding of America — its cultures, its institutions, its intellectual traditions and the relationships among its people — by exploring and relating issues raised in the separate disciplines. The program reflects the creative ferment in the study of American life and culture. We work to integrate the historical and literary studies traditionally identified with “American studies” with newer methodologies and approaches as we endeavor to make sense of a complex polyglot society.
We cooperate closely with the departments of African American studies, anthropology, architecture, art and archaeology, economics, English, history, music, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, and with the Woodrow Wilson School. We also enjoy close research and pedagogical ties with other interdisciplinary programs such as the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Program in Law and Public Affairs.