American Studies Major

Goals for the Major

  • To expose students to exemplary models of interdisciplinary learning and critical inquiry in the arts, humanities, and social sciences
  • To provide a broad understanding of American culture and society and their complex inter-relationships
  • To delineate the influence and impact of America beyond its borders and the transnational, racial, ethnic, and religious interactions that, in turn, define its own identity
  • To introduce students to the many innovations within disciplines that attend to changes in historical understanding, literary and artistic sensibilities, and social life
  • To enable students to make connections among disciplines in sharp and critical ways
  • To offer students the opportunity to become critical thinkers, cogent writers, and skillful researchers on a broad range of topics in American life through their course work, individual study, and honors work

Requirements for the American Studies Major

The American Studies major seeks to understand the American experience through a multidisciplinary program of study. The requirements for the major are as follows: Nine units of course work are required for the major, at least six of which should be taken at Wellesley College. These courses include AMST 101, which should be completed before the end of the junior year; at least two courses in historical studies; one course in literature; one course in the arts; and one course from any one of the following three areas: social and behavioral analysis; or epistemology and cognition; or religion, ethics, and moral philosophy. Students are also expected to take at least two 300-level courses, one of which should be AMST 300-AMST 399, taken in the junior or senior year. AMST 350, AMST 360 and AMST 370 do not count towards this requirement.

To ensure some concentration in a field of American society and culture, at least three courses should be elected in one department. In consultation with the director, a student may choose to focus her concentration in an area or field, such as law, women, or Asian America, assembling her group of three or more courses in this topic from two or more departments. American Studies majors with an Asian American concentration are encouraged to take courses that specifically address Asian American issues, such as AMST 151, AMST 212, ENG 269, HIST 277, WGST 249/CAMS 241, and WGST 305.

Within this structure, students are encouraged to explore the diversity of American culture and the many ways to interpret it. Most courses at the College that are primarily American in content may be applied to the American Studies major. American Studies majors are encouraged to take as part of, or in addition to, their major courses, surveys of American history, literature, and art (for example, HIST 203/HIST 204, ENG 262/ENG 266, ARTH 231/ARTH 232) and a course on the U.S. Constitution and political thought (for example, POL4 340). In addition, students are urged to take one or more courses outside the major that explore the theory and methods of knowledge creation and production.

Honors in American Studies

The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. See Academic Distinctions.

Courses for Credit Toward the American Studies Major

The following is a list of courses that may be included in an American Studies major. If a student has a question about whether a course not listed here can count toward the major, or if she would like permission to focus her concentration on a topic studied in more than one department, she should consult the director.

AFR 201The African American Literary Tradition

1.0

AFR 206Introduction to African American History (from 1500)

1.0

AFR 207Images of Africana People Through the Cinema

1.0

AFR 208Women in the Civil Rights Movement

1.0

AFR 212Black Women Writers

1.0

AFR 222Blacks and Women in American Cinema

1.0

AFR 243The Black Church

1.0

AFR 261History of Black American Cinema

1.0

AFR 265African American Autobiographies

1.0

AFR 266Black Drama

1.0

AFR 310Seminar. Reading Du Bois

1.0

AFR 316/ARTH 316Topics in African/African American Art

1.0

AFR 320/AMST 320Seminar. Blackness in the American Literary Imagination

1.0

AFR 340Seminar. Topics in African American History

1.0

AMST 240/ENG 266-01-SThe Rise of an American Empire: Wealth and Conflict in the Gilded Age

1.0

AMST 320/AFR 320Seminar. Blackness in the American Literary Imagination

1.0

AMST 363/ENG 363Advanced Studies in American Literature

1.0

ANTH 214Race and Human Variation

1.0

ANTH 232/CAMS 232Anthropology of Media

1.0

ARTH 205Breaking Boundaries: The Arts of Mexico and the United States

1.0

ARTH 225Modern Art Since 1945

1.0

ARTH 226/CAMS 207History of Photography: From Invention to Media Age

1.0

ARTH 228Modern Architecture

1.0

ARTH 230Frank Lloyd Wright and the American Home

1.0

ARTH 231Architecture and Urbanism in North America

1.0

ARTH 232American Art

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ARTH 236Art, Architecture, and Culture in the Ancient Americas

1.0

ARTH 316/AFR 316Seminar. Topics in African/African American Art

1.0

ARTH 318Seminar. New England Arts and Architecture

1.0

ARTH 319Seminar. American Art

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ARTH 320Seminar. American Architecture

1.0

ARTH 336Seminar. Museum Issues

1.0

ARTH 380Seminar. American Women Artists in Italy: Art, Tourism, and Gender

1.0

CAMS 207/ARTH 226History of Photography: From Invention to Media Age

1.0

CAMS 208Contemporary Hollywood Romantic Comedy

1.0

CAMS 209Desiring Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Cinema

1.0

CAMS 213/GER 288From Berlin to Hollywood (in English)

1.0

CAMS 222"Being There": Documentary Film and Media

1.0

CAMS 227Television

1.0

CAMS 232/ANTH 232Anthropology of Media

1.0

CAMS 240/WGST 223Gendering the Bronze Screen: Representations of Chicanas/Latinas in Film

1.0

CAMS 241/WGST 249Asian American Women in Film

1.0

ECON 232Health Economics

1.0

ECON 238Economics and Politics

1.0

ECON 242The Information Economy

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ECON 243The Political Economy of Gender, Race, and Class

1.0

ECON 246/PHIL 246Inequality

1.0

ECON 306Economic Organizations in U.S. History

1.0

ECON 310Public Economics

1.0

ECON 311Economics of Immigration

1.0

ECON 318Economic Analysis of Social Policy

1.0

ECON 329Labor Economics

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ECON 332Advanced Health Economics

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ECON 334Domestic Macroeconomic Policy

1.0

EDUC 117First-year Seminar: Diversity in Education

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EDUC 212Seminar. History of American Education

1.0

EDUC 215Understanding and Improving Schools

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EDUC 216Education and Social Policy

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EDUC 312Seminar. History of Childhood and Child Welfare

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EDUC 335Seminar. Urban Education

1.0

ENG 114Topics in American Literature

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ENG 251Modern Poetry

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ENG 253-01-SContemporary American Poetry

1.0

ENG 262American Literature to 1865

1.0

ENG 267American Literature from the 1940s to the Present

1.0

ENG 269Asian American Literature

1.0

ENG 281American Drama and Musical Theater

1.0

ENG 283Southern Literature

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ENG 363/AMST 363Advanced Studies in American Literature

1.0

ENG 364Race and Ethnicity in Literature

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ENG 385Advanced Studies in a Genre

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ENG 387Authors

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ES 381/POL1 381U.S. Environmental Politics

1.0

FREN 229America Through French Eyes: Perceptions and Realities

1.0

GER 288/CAMS 213From Berlin to Hollywood (in English)

1.0

HIST 203Out of Many: American History to 1877

1.0

HIST 204The United States History in the Twentieth Century

1.0

HIST 207Contemporary Problems in Latin American History

1.0

HIST 220United States Consumer Culture and Citizenship

1.0

HIST 244History of the American West: Manifest Destiny to Pacific Imperialism

1.0

HIST 245The Social History of American Capitalism from Revolution to Empire

1.0

HIST 249Cold War Culture and Politics

1.0

HIST 252The Twentieth-Century Black Freedom Struggle

1.0

HIST 253First Peoples: An Introduction to Native American History

1.0

HIST 256Brave New Worlds: Colonial American History and Culture

1.0

HIST 257Women, Gender, and the Family in American History

1.0

HIST 260Pursuits of Happiness: America in the Age of Revolution

1.0

HIST 267Deep in the Heart: The American South in the Nineteenth Century

1.0

HIST 277China and America: Evolution of a Troubled Relationship

1.0

HIST 298United States and the Middle East Since World War II

1.0

HIST 312Seminar. Understanding Race in the United States, 1776-1918

1.0

HIST 319Seminar. Fear and Violence in Early America

1.0

HIST 320Seminar. The Hand that Feeds: A History of American Food

1.0

HIST 340Seeing Black: African Americans and United States Visual Culture

1.0

MUS 209A History of Jazz

1.0

MUS 220Jazz Theory

1.0

MUS 276American Popular Music in the Twentieth Century

1.0

PHIL 246/ECON 246Inequality

1.0

POL1 200American Politics

1.0

POL1 210Political Participation and Influence

1.0

Urban Politics

1.0

POL1 215Courts, Law, and Politics

1.0

POL1 247Constitutional Law

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POL1 303The Politics of Crime

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POL1 313American Presidential Politics

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POL1 314Understanding How Congress Works

1.0

Public Policy and Analysis

1.0

POL1 316Media and American Democracy

1.0

POL1 317Health Politics and Policy

1.0

POL1 319SSeminar. Campaigns and Elections

1.0

POL1 320SSeminar. Inequality and the Law

1.0

POL1 324SSeminar. Gender and Law

1.0

Seminar. Race, Gender, and Representation

1.0

POL1 331SSeminar. Political Organizing: People, Power, and Change

1.0

The Politics of Minority Groups in the United States

1.0

POL1 381/ES 381United States Environmental Politics

1.0

POL3 222The United States in World Politics

1.0

POL3 227The Vietnam War

1.0

POL4 343SSeminar. Democracy and Difference

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POL4 340American Political Thought

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PSYC 330Psychology of Law

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PSYC 337Seminar. Prejudice and Discrimination

1.0

PSYC 338Social Influence

1.0

REL 218Religion in America

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REL 220Religious Themes in American Fiction

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REL 221Contemporary Catholicism

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REL 319Seminar. Religion, Law, and Politics in America

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SOC 103Social Problems of Youth: An Introduction to Sociology

1.0

SOC 105Doing Sociology: Applying Sociological Concepts to the Real World

1.0

SOC 205/WGST 211American Families and Social Equality

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SOC 209Social Inequality: Class, Race, and Gender

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SOC 221Globalization

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SOC 251Racial Regimes in the U.S. and Beyond

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SOC 306/WGST 306Seminar. Women and Work

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SOC 309-01-FSeminar. Topics in Inequality

1.0

SOC 309-02Seminar. Topics in Inequality

1.0

SOC 309-03Seminar. Topics in Inequality

1.0

SOC 311/WGST 311Seminar. Family and Gender Studies: The Family, the State, and Social Policy

1.0

SOC 314Global Health and Social Epidemiology

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SOC 318Punishment

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SOC 334Consumer Culture

1.0

SPAN 245Maps and Minds: Inventing the Americas Through Geographic Imagination

1.0

SPAN 255Chicano Literature: From the Chronicles to the Present

1.0

SPAN 305Seminar. Hispanic Literature of the United States

1.0

THST 210Echoes of the Homeland

1.0

THST 215Twenty Plays, Twenty Years

1.0

WGST 211/SOC 205American Families and Social Equality

1.0

WGST 214Women and Health

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WGST 216Women and Popular Culture: Latinas as Nannies, Spitfires, and Sex Pots

1.0

WGST 217Growing Up Gendered

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WGST 219Gender in the Workplace

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WGST 220American Health-Care History in Gender, Race, and Class Perspective

1.0

WGST 222Women in Contemporary American Society

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WGST 223/CAMS 240Gendering the Bronze Screen: Representations of Chicanas/Latinas in Film

1.0

WGST 230Female or Feminist: Women's Movements in U.S. History

1.0

WGST 240U.S. Public Health: Theory and Practice

1.0

WGST 249/CAMS 241Asian American Women in Film

1.0

WGST 305Seminar. Representations of Women, Natives, and Others

1.0

WGST 306/SOC 306Seminar. Women and Work

1.0

WGST 311/SOC 311Seminar. Family and Gender Studies: The Family, the State, and Social Policy

1.0

WGST 317Seminar. History of Sexuality: Queer Theory

1.0

WGST 324Seminar. History, Memory, and Women's Lives

1.0

WGST 326Seminar. Crossing the Border(s): Narratives of Transgression

1.0

ARTH 245House and Home: Domestic Architecture, Interiors, and Material Life in North America, 1600-1900

1.0

ENG 266-01-FAmerican Literature from the Civil War to the 1930s

1.0

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