The concentration in American Studies seeks to understand American society and cultures as emerging from historical and contemporary processes at work in local, national, and global contexts. Concentrators study four broad themes: social structure and the practices of identity, space and place, production and consumption of culture, and science, technology, and everyday life. The concentration is predicated on the ideal of scholarly engagement with the public, so students take junior seminars that engage some aspect of the public humanities such as public policy, memorialization, community studies or civic engagement. Study abroad is supported and encouraged.
Interested students may contact the director of undergraduate studies.
A concentrator in American Studies will be able to:
- Analyze texts, contexts, and data from multiple disciplinary and historical perspectives
- Synthesize research as verbal, visual and/or digital presentations
- Explore the theory and/or practice of the engagement of scholarship with a broader public
- Understand how American society and cultures have been and are being shaped by global flows of people, goods and ideas
- Experiment with new media as critical tools for scholarship
Concentrators have gone on to a vast variety of careers, including law, public humanities, politics, public service, academics, business, creative arts, and medicine.
Each concentrator will take 10 upper-level courses, four of which must be seminars, including a Junior Seminar (an AMST 1700 level course) and a Senior Seminar (AMST 1900 level course). Students may take as many AMST 1900 level courses as they wish, however for the course to count as a senior seminar it must be taken during the senior year.
Each concentrator will create an individual FOCUS consisting of at least three courses in consultation with the Concentration Advisor. The focus is the flexible core of the concentration. Here each student builds a coherent and dynamic interdisciplinary structure of related courses that develops his or her compelling interest in some aspect of American experience. Courses from outside of AMST and ETHN can be counted for credit within the concentration if they relate to the concentrator’s focus area.
All seniors are required to do a capstone electronic portfolio.
Some concentrators may elect to do an Honors Thesis and are encouraged to take AMST 1800, the Honors Seminar, in the Spring of their Junior year. Students pursuing honors are required to take two independent study courses (AMST 1970) in their senior year, in addition to the regular concentration requirements (for a total of 12 credits), in order to write their honors thesis.
Requirements for the American Studies Concentration
|Junior Seminar: A course from the AMST 1700 Series, for example:||1|
|Death and Dying in America|
|Slavery in American History, Culture and Memory|
|Race and Remembering|
|Community Engagement with Health and the Environment|
|Senior Seminar: A course from the AMST 1900 series taken during the senior year, for example:||1|
|The Problem of Class in America|
|America and the Asian Pacific: A Cultural History|
|Narratives of Slavery|
|America as a Trans-Pacific Culture|
|Transnational Popular Culture|
|Movements, Morals, and Markets|
|Latina/o Cultural Theory|
|Race, Immigration and Citizenship|
|China in the American Imagination|
|Cold War Culture The American Culture in the Cold War|
|Ethnicity, Identity and Culture in 20th Century New York City|
|Filipino American Cultures|
|From Perry to Pokemon: Japan in the United States, the United States in Japan|
|Gender, Race, and Class in the United States|
|Green Cities: Parks and Designed Landscapes in Urban America|
|Immigrant Radicals: Asian Political Movements in the Americas 1850-1970|
|Immigrants, Exiles, Refugees, and Citizens in the Americas|
|Latina Literature: The Shifting Boundaries of Identity|
|Latina/o Religions: Encounters of Contestations and Transformations|
|Latino New York|
|Latinos and Film|
|Two additional upper-level seminars taken from the AMST 1700, AMST 1800, or AMST 1900 series||2|
|Six upper-level lectures or seminars numbered between AMST 1000 and AMST 1900, including those AMST 1900s listed above. Some examples of past seminars include:||6|
|Topics in Material Culture Studies: The Arts and Crafts Movement in America 1880-1920|
|Education Beyond the Classroom Walls: Teaching and Learning in Cultural Institutions|
|Sports in American Society|
|Health and Healing in American History|
|Trauma and the Shame of the Unspeakable: The Holocaust, American Slavery, and Childhood Sexual Abuse|
|Motherhood in Black and White|
|Radio: From Hams to Podcasts|
|Decolonizing Minds: A People's History of the World|
|War and the Mind in Modern America|
|Laboring Women: Work, Reproduction, and Leisure since Reconstruction|
|Beauty Pageants in American Society|
|Decolonizing Museums: Collecting Indingenous Culture in Taiwan and North America|
|Ungraded Capstone ePortfolio|
|Independent Reading and Research (Students pursuing honors in the concentration are required to take two semesters of Independent Study to produce the Honors Thesis)|
WHAT we study
American Studies at Brown is concerned with four broad themes:
- Social Structures and the Practices of Identity: How do communities and individuals come to define themselves, and how do others define them, in terms of, among other categories, nation, region, class, race, ethnicity, gender, sex, religion, age and sexuality? How do organizations and institutions function socially and culturally? What are the roles of social movements, economic structures, politics and government?
- Space and Place: How is space organized, and how do people make place? This includes the study of natural and built environments; local, regional, national and transnational communities; and international and inter-regional flows of people, goods, and ideas.
- Production and Consumption of Culture: How do people represent their experiences and ideas as culture? How is culture transmitted, appropriated and consumed? What is the role of artists and the expressive arts, including literature, visual arts and performance?
- Science, Technology, and Everyday Life: How does work and the deployment of science and technology shape American culture? How do everyday social practices of work, leisure and consumption provide agency for people?
HOW we study
American Studies at Brown emphasizes four intersecting approaches that are critical tools for understanding these themes:
- Cultural and Social Analysis: Reading and analyzing different kinds of texts, including literary, visual, aural, oral, material objects and landscapes. Examining ethnic and racial groups, institutions, organizations and social movements.
- Global/International Contextualization: Comprehending the United States as a society and culture that has been shaped by the historical and contemporary flows of people, goods and ideas from around the world and in turn, learning about the various ways in which America has shaped the world.
- New Media Understandings: Understanding the creation of new forms of discourse, new ways of knowing and new modes of social organization made possible by succeeding media revolutions. Using new media as a critical tool for scholarship.
- Publicly Engaged Scholarship: Connecting the theory and the practice of publicly-engaged research, understanding and presentation, from community-based scholarship to ethnography, oral history, and museum exhibits. Civic engagement might include structured and reflective participation in a local community or communities or the application of general theoretical knowledge to understanding social issues.