**Note: During this pandemic time, the AMST requirement for the major is temporarily reduced from 10 courses to nine. The reduction will affect the number of courses required for specializations within the major. Students may take either four courses in their specialization and two breadth courses or three in the specialization and three breadth courses. This change affects only current juniors and seniors. Please see the Chair or an individual advisor if you have more questions.
Info for rising juniors and seniors about major advising and declaring as an American Studies major:
American Studies faculty will be available to help rising juniors declare as American Studies majors from August 3-13. Pre-registration itself won’t begin until August 10 (to see the full registration timeline, click here). During your meeting, the faculty member will guide you through the major declaration process, which will involve completing this college form AND this American Studies form. Once you complete the American Studies Program form, please remember to share it with Robin Keller ([email protected]). If you have any questions, please contact Robin or the department chair, Dorothy Wang ([email protected]).
Senior majors: please reach out to your assigned major advisor by email to discuss course selection before pre-registration opens on August 10. You and your major advisor can talk by phone or on Zoom, or just correspond about course selection by email. It is important that rising seniors reach out to their major advisors to confer about course selection, to ensure that all major requirements are fulfilled by the time of graduation.
The American Studies Program, an ten-course major, uses interdisciplinary approaches to develop students’ understanding of the complexity of the culture(s) usually labeled “American.” Examining history, literature, visual media, performance, and other forms of expression, we explore the processes of cultural definition as contested by diverse individuals and groups. We ask new questions about aspects of American life long taken for granted; we also use American culture as a laboratory for testing classic and contemporary theories about how cultures work.
Ten courses are required for the major, of which three are required courses and seven are elective courses.
Three Required Courses
All majors must complete three required courses:
- American Studies 101
- American Studies 301 (Junior Seminar)
- One 400-level course designated as a Senior Seminar
Seven Elective Courses
Besides the three required courses, all majors must also complete at least seven elective courses.
- Four should be chosen from your primary specialization field.
- The remaining three electives must represent each of the remaining three fields, to ensure breadth of your study.
- At least one of your seven electives should cover pre-1900 American history or culture.
Specializations Within the Department
Specializations currently offered:
- Arts in Context
- Comparative Studies in Race, Ethnicity, and Diaspora
- Critical and Cultural Theory
- Space and Place
The Degree with Honors in American Studies
ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION FOR HONORS
Candidates for honors in American Studies will undertake a substantial, year-long independent project during their senior year. Applicants should have a consistent record of high achievement in courses taken for the major, and normally will have done work in the field of study of their proposed thesis. Students who wish to write or produce an honors project should consult with both the chair and prospective faculty adviser in the fall or winter of their junior year. Students who wish to pursue honors must submit a brief proposal describing their project to the Chair of the American Studies Program by the time of spring registration of their junior year. Final admission to the honors thesis program will depend on the AMST advisory committee’s assessment of the qualifications to the student and the merits and feasibility of the project (including the availability of relevant faculty advisers). If your thesis is approved, you will enroll in AMST 491/ Winter Study/AMST 492. These courses, taken together, count as one of your required electives.
All majors will be assigned a faculty adviser. Majors must meet with their adviser during the first week of classes during the fall semester and at the time of the spring semester registration period in order to have their courses and plans for the American Studies major approved. Both majors and non-majors are encouraged to talk at any time with the program chair or other affiliated faculty about the major.
American Studies and Other Programs
Students majoring in American Studies are encouraged to consider pursuing concentrations in Africana Studies, Environmental Studies, Latina/o Studies, Performance Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Many of the courses counted for those concentrations may also earn credit toward the American Studies major.
Study Away from Williams
We encourage students to pursue cross-cultural comparative studies. A major in American Studies can be combined with study away from Williams for a semester or a year if plans are made carefully. Many courses that will be approved for College credit may also count toward the American Studies major. Many of the courses offered by Williams at Mystic Program also count toward the major. Please see chair if you have questions about how your study abroad my enhance your American Studies experience.
Students planning to be away in the junior year should have taken American Studies 101 before they leave; those who can take the Junior Seminar before they go away are strongly encouraged to do so. Students should consult as early as possible with the chair or their adviser about their plans for fulfilling the requirements of the major.