American Studies is the interdisciplinary study of American culture. The minor provides an opportunity for students to meld interests in the culture and history of the United States in a way that they cannot in single, traditional disciplines. Students will combine knowledge and methods from anthropology, art history, communications, history, law, literature, political science, sociology and other disciplines to interrogate multiple perspectives, recognizing how various individuals, peoples and groups help create American society as well as challenge its institutions, both within and outside the United States.
“America” is here understood to comprise not only the geographically and historically delineated space of the United States, but also the symbolic construction of “America” and “American.” As a result, students will understand “America” through a variety of methodological lenses, ranging from “myth and symbol,” the earliest methodology of American Studies that interrogated recurring themes in texts that reflected American culture, to contemporary combinations of multidisciplinary approaches. American Studies also provides a place for investigating American culture in the rest of the world and throughout history, ranging from its significance during the age of exploration to its current influence in the global experience.