American Studies Seminar

This is not your grandfather's American studies. This seminar will help you understand how the field has evolved to acknowledge racial and gender biases in the American studies canon.

The American Studies Seminar (AMS400, required for the major) is offered every fall semester. The course will include a review of American Studies' institutional background, in particular the nativist origins of American Studies at Yale and the more genteel nationalist consolidations established by the post-war Harvard American Civilization Program. Specific topics and readings will vary yearly but will always be chosen from among:

  1. Those that helped establish the cross-disciplinary foundations of American Studies;
  2. Several texts, both literary and social-scientific, that have become iconic in the discipline; and
  3. Texts critical of the chauvinist tendencies inherent in the origins of the discipline.

Students in the seminar will be encouraged to develop independent research projects that can mature into Senior Capstone Experience (SCE) theses.  The course is intended primarily for American Studies majors in the first semester of their senior year to give them a running start into the Senior Capstone Experience (AMS SCE) that they will complete in the spring semester.  Because the curriculum for the course will change yearly American Studies majors will be allowed to take it twice, and because the focus of the course will be on how to develop and execute research papers, it should be of interest to students facing a senior thesis SCE in other humanities and social science majors as well.  The course will either be taught by the Director of American Studies or will be team-taught by the Director of American Studies and another American Studies faculty member.