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American Studies



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Students must fulfill the requirements designated in the three areas below as well as satisfy the general college requirements for the degree of bachelor of arts. Students must take at least ten courses in the major for a minimum of 32 credit hours.

  1. AM 101: Introduction to American Studies (varies by topic and instructor). A required course to be taken by the end of the sophomore year, if possible, and recommended as a prerequisite for upper-level courses but not a formal requirement.

  2. American studies courses: seven courses, each of three credits or more, above the 100 level, to be selected in consultation with the student's advisor. These must include AM 221 - American Studies: Methods and Approaches, and AM 374 - Senior Seminar.

  3. American subject courses: two courses, each of three credits or more, about the United States, taken in at least two other departments and above the 100 level. Courses meeting this requirement must be approved by the American Studies Department.

THE WRITING REQUIREMENT IN THE MAJOR: The Department of American Studies maintains a strong commitment to writing and, when possible, the process of revision. There is some form of writing in all American Studies courses: for example, traditional essays and research papers, but also book, film, music, and exhibition reviews, autobiographical and ethnographic writing, journal entries, oral histories, among other possibilities. Like other disciplines, American Studies values and promotes clear, concise prose and coherent arguments informed by evidence, reason, analytical thought, and creativity. We want AM majors and minors to think in an interdisciplinary manner and to do research that cuts across and bridges traditional disciplinary lines. We want them to be able to use-competently, critically, and creatively-primary and secondary sources. We want them to be able to design and execute research projects. To do so, students must know the conventions of writing in the discipline. They must also know how to pose relevant questions, develop a research design, use a variety of sources, convey a clear understanding of chronological relationships, construct an argument with appropriate categories of proof, and to narrate well. While all American Studies courses promote most of these qualities, they find fullest expression in the Senior Seminar. By successfully completing the requirements for the major, students fulfill the American Studies writing requirement. Ideally, students should take the major's three required courses-AM 101, AM 221 (sophomore or junior year), and AM 374-in that sequence; doing so promotes the developmental nature of writing in the discipline.

Note: 300-level courses in American studies are not ordinarily open to first-year students, except by permission of the instructor.

See American Studies