students walking outside of ten Hoor Hall

American Studies is the organized pursuit of knowledge about the culture of the United States and its wider global influence, as seen through its diversity and homogeneity, stability and change, and continuities and conflicts. The purpose of this effort is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the American people – their ideals, values, and patterns of behavior – over time and place.

American Studies is broadly interdisciplinary. The field bases its insights and methodologies on such liberal arts as literature, history, the arts, anthropology, geography, and religious studies, as well as on newer approaches in ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, media studies, and cultural studies.

Ultimately, the goal of American Studies is inclusive and synthetic; it is an unending inquiry. American Studies students will acquire knowledge of institutional structures, collective and group behaviors, creative expressions, demographic compositions, regional identities, and characteristic attitudes and values.  The department offers students the freedom to develop a program of study focused on their particular interests through elective courses, public scholarship projects, and internships.