American Civilization I-IV

The four-course American Civilization (Civ I-IV) sequence covers the historical, cultural, political, and social development of the United States from before the founding to the present.  Students begin taking American Studies core courses in their sophomore year, and generally declare themselves as American Studies majors by the end of their sophomore/beginning of their junior year. 

American Civilization I and II: The Beginnings of American Identity (1607-1876)

American Civilization I and II offer an intensive interdisciplinary survey of the evolution of American society from European colony to world power with special focus on the intellectual and cultural dimensions of the American experience. These courses also provides an introduction to American Studies methodology. They are designed for students who intend to major in American Studies.

American Civilization I focuses on various aspects of the American mind and culture in the 17th and 18th centuries. This course is not a history course. Rather, it is an interdisciplinary course designed to introduce students to a variety of lenses through which to view the American experience. Through select primary accounts and secondary analyses from various moments in history, the class will seek to understand how the colonists’ identities, values, and choices shaped their relationships with the native people, with their labor force, with their land, and with their God. Out of these discussions, students have an opportunity to critically evaluate American origin stories, the role of Englishness, and the complexities of interpreting the dynamics and ideals leading up to the American Revolution.  

As a continuation of American Civilization I, American Civilization II focuses on select aspects of the American mind and life in the 19th century. Where Civ I focused on identity through an exploration of origins, nature, ideals, and contradictions, Civ II will focus on memory through an exploration of ideas about God and Nature, insider and outsider identities, and new frontiers. In Civ I we studied travel stories, ecological evidence, and legal documents to narrate our way through the 17th and 18th centuries. In Civ II we will let literature, art, and war guide us. In Civ I we focused on north-south, old-new, civil-savage dichotomies. In Civ II we will go west to discover all sorts of difference and faction.

American Civilization III-IV

Students choose from an indisciplinary list of classes to fulfill the Civilization III and IV requirements. These classes vary from semester to semester.

In years past, the Civ III classes offered have included Literary Representations of the City, Documentary, Sports Personalities of the 20th Century, and American Literature 1900 to Present. Examples of Civ IV classes include Advertising and Social Change, Eras in 20th Century American Literature, Television and American Society, and College, Culture and Conflict. 

US History Before and After 1865

Majors are required to take a two-course American history sequence, including HIST-180 and HIST-181 (or two comparable courses if students have earned AP History credits).

Six Upper-Division Electives

American Studies students also devise a major concentration consisting of six upper division elective courses that constitute a program of study in a general area of interest to them.  The concentration is developed by each student in consultation with their faculty advisor and should represent an interdisciplinary approach to an area of primary interest to the student. 

Spring 2016 Cross-Listed American Studies Courses

Senior Thesis

All American Studies seniors must complete a year-long thesis process to graduate. The senior thesis is the capstone experience for American Studies majors and is an independent project that incorporates original thought, argument, and analysis. The project can take the form of a traditional written thesis or a digital project. 

Please see our page on Senior Thesis for more information on the thesis project and process.