Course of Study
- The core course, AMS 101;
- Two 300-level or 400-level AMS courses;
- Three electives, from three different departments outside the student's major;
- A senior thesis on a topic relating to American history, society, or culture, if possible.
AMS 101 Prerequisite
AMS 101 America Then and Now
This course introduces a selection of signature ideas and debates that made the nation what it is today and what it is becoming. Objects of study range across multiple media, including texts, images, works of art, music, performance, and film, and draw from the diverse fields of literature, history, political science, art history, economics, law, cultural studies, and the history of science. The course attends to how knowledge about America has and continues to be produced, disseminated, and consumed, emphasizing the cognitive processes associated with the invention and delineation of America.
In addition to the core course, the student must complete two 300-level American studies courses, involving cooperative study of major topics in American civilization and their relation to other aspects of American life. Customarily, but not always, the courses operate as seminars, with emphasis on independent research and writing. Lectures and discussion led by outside specialists frequently supplement the coursework. Recent topics have included “American Art and Culture: the 1960s”; “The Making of Modern Baseball”; “The Art of Sustainability”; “Civil Society and Public Policy”; and “The Law of Democracy.” Program courses may be taken as electives or for departmental credit with permission of the student’s home departmental representative. Admission to most 300-level courses is by application, with preference given to program members. If space permits, a limited number of upperclass students not enrolled in the program may be admitted.
The American studies student must also complete three one-term electives in the American field (pass/D/fail not acceptable), chosen from the curricula of the participating departments. The electives are subject to the approval of the director. A list of acceptable courses is available in the American studies program office, and at our website.
The student is expected to complete a normal departmental program, with such emphasis upon the American field as that department permits, and a senior thesis on a topic related to American history, society, or culture. If the student’s major is in a field which does not lend itself to an American studies topic, the student should consult with the program director to work out an alternate project.
Certificate of Proficiency
Students completing all components of the program will receive a certificate of proficiency upon graduation. A list of students receiving the certificate appears in the commencement program.