Description of the Undergraduate Major
American Studies constitutes a multidisciplinary program for the exploration of the United States of the past, present and future. It brings together faculty and students from a variety of disciplines to compare and to exchange knowledge about the American experience. The program offers a rich, rigorous approach combining intellectual insights from literature, history, sociology, political science and other social sciences and humanities. Rather than limiting majors to a single department's offerings, the program allows students the freedom to complete courses in a variety of traditional disciplines.
Majors develop critical thinking skills that allow them not only to pursue rewarding careers but also to act as responsible citizens of the 21st century. By fostering a diverse and dynamic academic journey that reaches across disciplinary boundaries into a wide range of perspectives on the American experience, the program encourages its students to develop intellectual resources that will sustain them in a wide variety of careers and avocations. Students may continue their study through graduate work in American Studies or pursue careers in law, business, teaching and museum fields. An American Studies degree is particularly appropriate for students planning careers in law, communications, government, social work and journalism.
Because the United States is a nation held together by different and often conflicting stories of nationhood, the American Studies major is designed to create dialogue about the multiple ways in which these stories are told. The American Studies major demands that students develop and refine their own theories and assumptions through reflective practices on the contested meaning of America’s stories. It describes the stories of America in different modes — written and electronic, verbal and nonverbal, visual and auditory. Most of all, it promotes an understanding of the American experience using the approaches and methods of a variety of disciplines.
Learning Objectives for the Undergraduate Major:
Each course in American Studies will provide instruction and guidance that help students:
- Understand and engage in the American experience through the interpretation of evidence situated in a global context.
- Become aware of the act of interpretation itself, through which disciplines use varieties of evidence to offer perspectives on the meaning of experience.
- Make academic arguments about the American experience using reasons and evidence that are appropriate for reflection and critical analysis.
After completion of the core and elective courses,
each student will be able to:
- Analyze and explain the cultural values that shaped the American experience, with special attention to their relationship to globalization.
- Evaluate and critique primary and secondary sources, including those on the Internet.
- Organize logical arguments, supported by specific evidence.
- Write logical, interpretative essays phrased in clear, coherent, active-voice prose.