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American Studies

Laura Browder, Coordinator (English)
Professors Ashe, Ayers, Browder, Dorsey, Holloway
Associate Professors Diaz, Herrera, Love, Maurantonio, Méndez de Coudriet, Sackley, Seeley, Tilton
Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab Nelson
Senior Administrative Officer Howard

American studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides opportunities for students to study American culture, society, identity, and politics by combining coursework in anthropology, art, history, journalism, literature, music, philosophy, politics, religion, and sociology into a single major. Our approach to American studies emphasizes the "local" and the "global." In the program's Richmond Seminars, students investigate the American experience through community studies and community-based learning. In its Tocqueville Seminars, students place the study of the United States in comparative and international perspective. A core group of American studies faculty, who serve as faculty advisors to majors, specialize in American history, religion, and literature; Native American studies, African American studies, Latino/a studies; memory and museum studies; and urban studies. The program emphasizes student initiative and hands-on practice and encourages students to craft a distinctive program of study that meets the intellectual interests of each major.

The American studies major consists of nine courses, including course, a topical survey open primarily to first-year students and sophomores, and course, a junior/senior seminar that explores theories and methods in the field. In addition, students must complete at least one Richmond Seminar (course) and one Tocqueville Seminar (course).

Majors work closely with the program coordinator to determine a specialized course of study for the remaining five electives. These courses must be drawn from at least two allied departments; two must be taken at the 300 level or higher. Students may count one approved First-Year Seminar toward their American studies electives. Introductory courses for other majors are ineligible. Students must complete all prerequisites for electives taken in allied departments in addition to the requirements for their American studies major. For a list of past, current, and upcoming AMST courses and electives, see the "Courses" link on the American studies website.

The discipline of American studies increasingly emphasizes explorations of U.S. culture and society in relation to international politics, the global economy, and population migrations. For this reason, students who study abroad are strongly encouraged to pursue coursework related to their American studies majors.

In addition to completing the standard requirements for the major, qualified students may elect to write an honors thesis (course) during the spring semester of their senior year. Theses are written under the supervision of a sponsoring faculty member and require the prior approval of a formal prospectus submitted to the American studies advisory board before November 15.

Students interested in learning more about the American studies major are encouraged to contact the program coordinator for more information.