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Welcome to the American Studies Program.

In June 2020, we posted four pledges in the wake of police brutality and COVID-19. In the years since, we have continued to witness rampant state violence against Black and Brown communities, attacks on Asian Americans, mass shootings, massive reductions in reproductive rights, anti-trans legislation, climate crises and environmental destruction, attacks on race, gender, and sexuality topics in schools, increased houselessness, and the detention, separation, and death of immigrants and their families. In the American Studies Program, students, staff, and faculty can expect open acknowledgment of the devastation, disenfranchisement, and life-altering effects of these events, and the larger social systems, processes, and relations from which they emerge. Together, we aim to foster a space of critical analysis, action, and collaboration toward meaningful change. 

Through our classes and programming, we examine the long history and everyday dimensions of state-led disempowerment, racism, environmental destruction, colonialism, and more. We strive to understand how these systems and histories shape our lived experiences, bodies, and communities in shared and divergent ways. And we find individual inspiration, communal solidarity, political alternatives, and radical possibilities in a range of people and places – from prison abolitionists to Indigenous water protectors, from experimental performance to avant-garde poetry, and from transnational labor organizing to youth activism, both local and global.  

Started over 80 years ago, the American Studies Program at Williams is one of the oldest in the country. Our pedagogy has kept pace with some of the most exciting and important changes in the interdisciplinary field – away from the American exceptionalism of the mid-century and toward the critical interrogation of the U.S. with regards to enslavement, dispossession, exploitation, incarceration, and more. Our accomplished faculty brings critical historical knowledge, social analysis, and political thought to bear on our classes, discussions, and everyday interactions. We aim to support students in their struggles against the forces of racial-colonial capitalism and for liberation, justice, and true health and wellness. 

Again, welcome! We hope you are inspired by the information within.