American studies is an innovative field of study that looks at the American past and present through an interdisciplinary lens. Students in the major draw upon concepts and methods developed in history, literature, sociology, philosophy, political science, anthropology, art history and music in their analyses of various American social, cultural and political phenomena. American studies majors are eclectic, critical thinkers who are able to analyze a variety of texts (such as photography and visual arts, novels, films, sports, advertising and popular music) and to investigate how these texts reflect or challenge dominant conceptions of identity and power. The American studies curriculum has a strong transnational focus (emphasizing that “America” does not stop at the borders of the United States), as well as a distinctive fieldwork component, which sends majors out into the community to learn and to contribute their knowledge. American studies majors study abroad, do internships and put themselves at the center of intellectual life at the college by bringing filmmakers, activists and scholars to campus.
These senior-research projects examine fascinating phenomena in American culture, some with highly personal ties.