American Studies

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

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 introduces students to the inter-disciplinary field of American Studies. Using historical studies, literature, films, contemporary analyses of political issues and/or music, students will be invited to explore the meaning of American ideals. In particular, ideals, such as the “American Dream,” individualism, and equality, will be compared with the experiences of Americans. Special attention will be paid to disparities in experiences based on race, ethnicity, class, and gender.

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.

A comprehensive overview of musical theater in America from its inception in the United States at the turn of the century, through the era of Rodgers and Hammer-stein, Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the concept musical of today.

This course provides an overview of American politics and government, focusing on Constitutional principles, national institutions of governance, and politics actors, such as political parties and the media.

This course is designed to acquaint the student with working knowledge of the concepts used by sociologists and with the well-established generalizations in the field. Topics include socialization, primary groups, stratification, population, and bureaucracy. This course is a prerequisite for all other sociology courses.

This course will examine immigration and ethnicity in American history and life. In order to do so we will examine successive waves of free and forced immigration from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, from the 1600s to the 2000s. Particular attention will be paid to the nature of the immigrant experience and the regulation of immigration.

This course will examine the nature and significance of the American radical tradition from the American Revolution to the present-day. Among the radical philosophies and movements to be covered will be the American Revolution; abolitism; utopian experiments; womens rights; the labor movement; populism; socialism and communism; civil rights; Black power; feminism; the New Left; environmentalism; the gay and lesbian movement; and the global justice movement. Examination of the American radical tradition suggests that radicalism has been a persistent and significant feature of American history.

The course will examine the African American experience from 1400 to 1877. Topics will include African Slavery, the rise of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Slavery and racism in Colonial America, the American Revolution and Slavery, Antebellum Slavery in the South, Abolitionist and Antislavery movements in the North, the Civil War & Emancipation, and Reconstruction. Emphasis will be placed on the African and African-American experience and the contributions of African-Americans to the growth of democracy. Readings will consist of the recent secondary scholarship and primary sources.

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.

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

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.

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.

This course examines the role of the media in political life, considering its roles in polling, setting the agenda, and providing political information. The structure of the media, including its ownership, will be studied as will its influence as an interest group.

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.

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 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.

This course is an in-depth exploration of the causes and consequences of social class inequality in the United States. Emphasis will be placed on an analysis of the multiple ways in which social and economic inequality operates to provide power and privilege to certain segments of society. The effect of social class inequality on racial and gender inequality is also considered.

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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