American Studies

Bachelor of Arts

The American Studies program offers a major and minor to students who desire an interdisciplinary preparation for careers that will demand a broad but deep knowledge of American society, including an understanding of its economics, socio-cultural patterns, political traditions, and historical heritage, especially as they fit into today’s global society.

As a graduate of the program, you’ll have the skills and knowledge needed for a variety of advanced degree programs and careers, including:

  • Government, such as politics or social policy
  • Cultural agencies, such as museums and historical societies
  • Journalism
  • Education
  • Law
  • Sociology
Learning Outcomes for American Studies
  • Demonstrate familiarity with important ideas and values shaping American history and culture, including an awareness of the conflicts among these ideas and values
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the cultural diversity in the United States, especially across issues of class, ethnicity, gender, race and religion, and the resultant varieties of experiences of American life and values
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyze themes in American culture from the perspective of more than one discipline
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the field of American Studies
  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate orally and in writing about American culture

The American Studies major provides students with both breadth, in exposing them to several disciplines, and depth, via its focus on American culture. It’s an ideal major for students who are interested in almost any aspect of American life.

Dr. Julie Walsh
Associate Professor of Political Science and American Studies

In the classroom. In the workforce.

What you’ll learn

As part of the major, you’ll examine our country’s historical heritage, the social and cultural issues that affect our national identity, and America’s economic and political systems.

Future Studies

The program helps prepare you for a variety of graduate degree programs, including political science, sociology, or law.

Career Opportunities

As a graduate of the program, you’ll have the skills and knowledge needed for careers in government, journalism, cultural agencies, and museums

Major Requirements

  • AMS1100: Introduction to American Studies
  • ENG3400: Major Authors in American Literature, 1492 – 1865
  • ENG3410: Major Authors in American Literature, 1865 – Present
  • HST1510: United States History I (to 1877)
  • HST1520: United States History II (since 1877)
  • ECO1400: Introduction to American Politics
  • POL3700: American Political Thought
  • SOC1100: Introduction to Sociology
  • ASM4800: American Studies Seminar

Additionally, students must choose one of the following concentrations and complete four courses within it.

American Identity:

  • ENG2520: African-American Literature
  • HST3413: American Radical Tradition
  • HST3430: African-American History I
  • HST3440: African-American History II
  • POL2630: Civil Liberties
  • SOC2600: Class, Status and Power
  • SOC3243: Race and Ethnic Relations

American Law and Institutions:

  • HST3500: Supreme Court in American History
  • POL2420: Presidency and Congress
  • POL2620: Public Law
  • POL2630: Civil Liberties
  • POL3400: Public Administration
  • SOC2420: Sociology of American Institutions

Public Policy and Popular Culture:

  • ECO1401: Macroeconomics
  • HST3413: American Radical Tradition
  • POL2500: American National Elections
  • POL2520: Politics, Media and Pressure Groups
  • POL3402: American Foreign Policy
  • SOC2600: Class, Status and Power

Minor Requirements

  • AMS1100: Introduction to American Studies

Take TWO of the following courses (not from the same discipline):

  • ENG 3400: Advanced American Literature I
  • ENG 3410: Advanced American Literature II
  • HST 1510: United States History I
  • HST 1520: United States History II
  • MUS 1010: American Musical Theater
  • POL 1400: Introduction to American Politics
  • SOC 1100: Introduction to Sociology

Take THREE of the following courses (from at least two different disciplines):

  • HST 3100: Coming to America: Immigration and Ethnicity in American History
  • HST 3413: American Radical Tradition
  • HST 3430: African-American History I
  • HST 3440: African-American History II (From Slavery to Freedom)
  • HST 3500: Supreme Court in American History
  • ENG 2520: African-American Literature
  • ENG 3200: Topics in Literature (if an American theme)
  • ENG 3400: Advanced American Literature I (if not taken above)
  • ENG 3410: Advanced American Literature II (if not taken above)
  • POL 2500: American National Elections
  • POL 2520: Politics, Media and Pressure Groups
  • POL 2620: Public Law
  • POL 2630: Civil Liberties
  • POL 3402: American Foreign Policy
  • POL 3700: American Political Thought
  • SOC 2420: Sociology of American Institutions
  • SOC 2600: Class, Status and Power
  • SOC 3243: Race and Ethnic Relations


Course Descriptions

This course surveys highlights of African American literature. Writers include Douglass, Washington, DuBois, Hurston, Toomer, Bontemps, Hughes, Walker, Wilson, and Morrison.

This course is a historical survey of American literature and its relation to American culture from its beginnings in 1492 through the Civil War. Authors studied may include Bradford, Bradstreet, Edwards, Franklin, Jefferson, Poe, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Douglass, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson.

This course is a historical survey of American literature and its relation to American culture from the Civil War through the present. Authors studied may include Twain, Chopin, Frost, Hemingway, Faulkner, O’Neil, Williams, Updike, and Walker.

A survey of the evolution of the United States from its colonial origins to the end of Reconstruction, this course explores the significant social, economic, intellectual, and political developments, including state history of Massachusetts.

A survey of the evolution of the United States from the late 19th century to the early 21st, this course explores the significant social, economic, intellectual, and political developments during “the American Age” of global history, including state history of Massachusetts.

This course focuses on the politics, institutions, and policy processes of state and local governments. State and local governments provide essential services, suchas education and policing, and are considered the building blocks of democracy. In this course, comparisons will be made among states but much attention will be paid to the state of Massachusetts and city of Springfield.

This course studies American political thought from its Puritan origins to present day. The course is organized around defining moments of political thought, such as the Revolution, Constitutional Founding, Civil War, Great Depression, and Civil Rights Movement, with selections from mainstream and radical voices in each period. Readings include selections from James Madison, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

A weekly seminar for American Studies majors, with readings, discussion, and research/writings on topics that explore the interdisciplinary connections among the various courses taken for the program during individual semesters. Course is repeatable for additional credit when topics vary.

This course is devoted to the study of the fundamental principles and processes of an economic system, with special emphasis on the coordination and control of the United States economy. Emphasis is on the macroeconomic approach.

This course examines individual decision making in various applied economic environments. Areas of application include international trade, market structures, labor markets, and various U. S. institutional environments, both public and private. Basic emphasis is on the microeconomic approach.

A series of courses that concentrate on a single significant topic in literature. Representative topics include: In Search of the American Dream, Nobel Prize Winners in Literature, and the City in Literature.

A study of the historical role of the U. S. Supreme Court and its impact on American society, including an examination of issues of political theory and major court cases.

The powers, function, and inherent conflicts of the Congress and the presidency are examined with emphasis placed on the historical development of institutions.

This course is the study of nature, function, and power of the Supreme Court in the American political system via study of its decisions. Emphasis is placed on cases about separation of powers, federalism, and economic liberties.

effectiveness of the legal system in protecting and promoting individual rights are examined and discussed via a reading of constitutional case law. Special attention is given to rights of the accused, freedom of speech and religion.

This course is a study of the organizations, characters, bases, and operations of party systems with emphasis on the United States. The historical development of the parties is investigated.

This course examines the structure of both presidential and congressional elections and the resultant consequences of those structures. The historical development of elections is emphasized. A case study of either the presidential or congressional midterm election will be analyzed with special attention given to campaign strategies.

A study is made of the politics and problems of implementing governmental policies with particular emphasis on organization, management, personnel, finances, responsibility, and bureaucracy.

In this course a study is done of the aims, instruments, and conduct of American foreign relations, with particular reference to contemporary problems. Students will participate in case studies.

This course is an intensive study of selected ethnic and racial groups and subcultures in their structural and cultural aspects. Students will study how these affect their lifestyles in relation to dominant groups within the social system. Both classical and contemporary models of minority-dominant relations will be considered for their relevance toward an adequate understanding of contemporary social systems.

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