The Curriculum

The major in American Studies requires completing twelve semester courses. Four of these are lower-level (200-level) semester courses in two introductory sequences, one in American Culture and one in American History. To satisfy the sequence in American Culture students must take one of the three following course sequences, either

Introduction to American Culture I (AMS 209 cross-listed as ENG 209) and Introduction to American Culture II (AMS 210 cross-listed as ENG 210), or

Introduction to American Culture I (AMS 209 cross-listed as ENG 209) and Introduction to African-American Literature II (AMS 214 cross-listed as ENG 214 and BLS 214), or 

Introduction to African-American Literature I (AMS 213 cross-listed as ENG 213 and BLS 213) and Introduction to American Culture II (AMS 210 cross-listed as ENG 210).

To satisfy the introductory sequence in American History, students must take

History of the United States to 1865 (HIS 201) and History of the United States since 1865 (HIS 202).

Descriptions of American Culture Introductory Courses

Taught in the fall semester, the course is concerned with the establishment of American Literature as a school subject. Texts that have achieved the status of “classics” of American Literature, such as Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Thoreau’s Walden, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, will be read in the context of the history and politics of their achieving this status. Texts traditionally excluded from the canon of American literature, in particular early Hispano- and Franco-American texts, will be considered in the context of their relative marginality to the project of establishing American Literature in the US academy. Other-than-written materials, such as modern cinematic representations of the period of exploration and colonization of North America, as well as British colonial portraits and history paintings, will be studied for how they reflect on claims for the cultural independence of early America. Other-than-American materials, such as late medieval and early Renaissance Flemish and Hispanic still life, as well as the works of nineteenth-century European romantic poets and prose writers, will be sampled for how they reflect on claims for the exceptional character of American culture.

Taught in the spring semester, the course is concerned with the establishment of American Studies as a curriculum in post-World War II US colleges and universities. Readings will include a variety of written texts, including those not traditionally considered “literary,” as well as a variety of other-than-written materials, including popular cultural ones. Introductions to the modern phenomena of race, gender, sexuality, class, and generation in US culture will be included. A comparatist perspective on the influence of American culture internationally, and a review of the international American Studies movement in foreign universities will also be introduced.

Taught in the fall semester, this course is a survey of African-American literature produced from the late 1700s to the Harlem Renaissance. It is designed to introduce students to the writers, texts, themes, conventions, and tropes that have shaped the African- American literary tradition. Authors studied in this course include Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, William Wells Brown, Frances E. W. Harper, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Nella Larsen, and Langston Hughes.

Taught in the spring semester, this course surveys African-American authors from the Harlem Renaissance to the present. It is designed to expose students to the writers, texts, themes, and literary conventions that have shaped the African-American literary canon since the Harlem Renaissance. Authors studied in this course include Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison.

Descriptions of American History Introductory Courses

A survey of United States history through the Civil War, this course begins with the history of the first residents of North America, Native Americans, goes on to trace the founding and development of the various colonies that eventually joined to form a new nation, and concludes with the early history of that nation—political, economic, and social.

This survey of United States history starts with the Reconstruction era and traces the growth of the nation to the present. We will study how the nation was restored after the Civil War and how the United States industrialized, urbanized, and became a world power in the twentieth century.

Beyond completion of these four prerequisite courses the American Studies major requires completion of an additional eight upper-level (300 level or above) semester courses:

The American Studies Seminar (AMS 400, required for the major)

The American Studies Senior Capstone Experience (AMS SCE, required for the major), offered every Spring semester. Graduating American Studies majors will complete an independent research project under the guidance of an American Studies faculty member of their choosing.

The remaining 6 upper-level semester courses will be elected from among the courses listed below. Course choices will be determined according to individual American Studies majors' interdisciplinary interests in consultation with the Director of American Studies:

AMS 190, 290, 390, 490. Internships

AMS 194, 294, 394, 494. Special topics

AMS 195, 295, 395, 495. On-campus research

AMS 196, 296, 396, 496. Off-campus research

AMS 197, 297, 397, 497. Independent Study

ART 322. The Arts in America

THE 306. Theater and Drama: American Musical Theater

THE 308. After Angels: American Theater since 1992

ENG 341. Native American Literature

ENG 343. American Short Story

ENG 344. The American Novel

ENG 345. The African-American Novel

ENG 346. The Postmodern American Novel

ENG 347. American Environmental Writing

ENG 360. The Literature of the European Colonies of North America and of the Early U.S.

ENG 361. Literary Romanticism in the U.S. I

ENG 362. Literary Romanticism in the U.S. II

ENG 363. The Gilded Age and American Realism

ENG 370. The Harlem Renaissance

ENG 371. Faulkner and Modernism in the United States

ENG 372. American Poetry Since 1945

ENG 373. American Fiction Since 1945

ENG 374. Main Divisions in American Culture: Race, Gender, Sexuality Generation, Class

ENG 375. Body Language: Representation and Transgression from Dreiser and Chopin through Baker and Easton Ellis

ENG 376. Culture of the Old/Cultures of the Young

ENG 377. 2PACalypse Now! The Cult of Heart of Darkness among White Male Anglophone Intellectuals

ENG 470. Toni Morrison

ENG 409, 410. Special Topics in American Literature

MUS 206. Jazz History

MUS 303. American Music

ANT 137. Cultures and Environments of the Chesapeake

ANT 208. Archaeological Method

ANT 296. Archaeological Field School

ANT 474. Historic Preservation and Cultural Resource Management

ECN 312. Public Finance: Theory and Policy

EDU 251. Principles of Education

EDU 354. Literature for Children, K-8

HIS 313. Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century America

HIS 315. The Early Republic

HIS 319. African-American History

HIS 334. American Civil War

HIS 335. Reconstruction and the Gilded Age

HIS 336. Progressivism and the Twenties

HIS 337. The New Deal and World War II

HIS 338. The United States Since 1945

HIS 342. Victorian America

HIS 343. History of American Women

HIS 344. Hollywood Films in the Depression and World War II

HIS 414. Comparative Cultural Encounters

HIS 494. Selected Topics in American History

POL 311. Congress and the Legislative Process

POL 312. The American Presidency

POL 313. Elections and the Political Process

POL 317. State and Local Politics

POL 320. Law and Society

POL 321. Women and Politics

POL 323. Constitutional Law

POL 324. American Political Thought

POL 334. Media and Politics

POL 380. American Foreign Policy

SOC 351. Religion in the United States

ENV 109. Introduction to GIS

ENV 490. GIS Internship