Academic program

What does it mean to be American? Students in this interdisciplinary major reflect on this question in multiple ways. American cultural studies core courses ponder the changing meanings of nation and citizenship in both the United States and in the Americas. They consider how groups of Americans see themselves and each other, and investigate how institutions have constructed such differences as race, gender, class, and sexuality. These discussions assume that what has been deemed natural or inevitable is in fact dynamic and changeable, and that what has been socially invisible must be brought to light. All American cultural studies students are grounded in African American studies and use this method of inquiry to better understand the meaning of belonging, privilege, and exclusion. Among current American cultural studies courses are those that focus on cultural geography and cultural politics, borderlands, diasporas, film and media, gender, history, literature, music, performance, queer theory, and race theory.

More information on the American cultural studies program is available on the website (

Major Requirements. The major in American cultural studies requires ten courses and a senior thesis. The requirements are as follows:

1) Required courses:
AAS 100. Introduction to African American Studies.
ACS 100. Introduction to American Cultural Studies.
ACS 220. Community Studies.
INDS 250. Interdisciplinary Studies: Methods and Modes of Inquiry.
In the event that ACS 220 is not offered, students may apply another community studies course approved in advance by the Program in American Cultural Studies.

2) Six other courses from the list below, which should include:
a) courses should include courses at the 200 and 300 levels;
b) at least one course on the African diaspora outside of the United States;
c) at least one course on gender as an interpretive category;
d) at least one cultural studies course on the Arab American, Asian American, Franco-American, Native American, Canadian, or Latin American experience. The selection and sequence of courses must be discussed with the faculty advisor and approved by the fall semester of the junior year.

In addition to specific American cultural studies courses and courses cross-listed in American cultural studies, the following courses from across the curriculum may be applied to the major:

AA/EN 114. Introduction to African American Literature I: 1600-1910.
AA/RH 162. White Redemption: Cinema and the Co-optation of African American History.
AA/GS 201. Race, Ethnicity, and Feminist Thought.
AA/HI 243. African American History.
AA/MU 249. African American Popular Music.
AA/DN 252. Contemporary Issues in Dance.
AA/EN 253. The African American Novel.
AA/EN. 259. Contemporary African American Literature.
AA/EN 265. The Writings of Toni Morrison.
AA/EN 269. Narrating Slavery.
AA/HI 301E. African Slavery in the Americas.
AN/RE 134. Myth, Folklore, and Popular Culture.
AN/SO 232. Ethnicity, Nation, World Community.
ANTH 103. Introduction to Archaeology.
ANTH 333. Culture and Interpretation.
ANTH s10. Encountering Community: Ethnographic Fieldwork and Service-Learning.
ANTH s32. Introduction to Archaeological Fieldwork.
AV/GS 287. Gender and Visual Culture.
AVC 361. Museum Internship.
AVC 374. Methods in the Study of Art and Visual Culture.
AVC 377A. Picturesque Suburbia.
DANC 250. Early Modern Dance History.
DN/ED s29. Tour, Teach, Perform.
ECON 230. Economics of Women, Men, and Work.
ECON 331. Labor Economics.
EDUC 231. Perspectives on Education.
ED/SO 242. Race, Cultural Pluralism, and Equality in American Education.
ED/SO 380. Education, Reform, and Politics.
ENG 121C. Frost, Stevens, Williams.
EN/GS 121G. Asian American Women Writers.
ENG 142. Early American Literature.
ENG 143. Nineteenth-Century American Literature.
ENG 152. American Writers since 1900.
ENG 241. Fiction in the United States.
ENG 395F. Five American Women Poets.
FYS 271. Into the Woods: Rewriting Walden.
FYS 300. Exploring Education through Narratives.
FYS 381. Visualizing Identities.
FYS 385. Power and Authority in Latin America through Film.
FYS 393. DiY and Mash-up Culture.
FYS 419. Tobacco in History and Culture.
FRE 208. Introduction to the Francophone World.
GSS 100. Introduction to Women and Gender Studies.
GSS 355. Gender and Technology.
GS/SP 323. Gendered Experiences in the Américas Borderlands.
HIST 140. Origins of the New Nation, 1500–1820.
HIST 142. America in the Twentieth Century.
HIST 181. Latin American History: From the Conquest to the Present.
HIST 241. The Age of the American Revolution, 1763–1789.
HIST 249. Colonial North America.
HIST 261. American Protest: From the Haymarket Riot to Black Lives Matter.
HIST 279. The Age of Independence in Latin America.
HIST 282. The City in Latin America.
HI/LS 301H. The Mexican Revolution.
HIST 301P. Prelude to the Civil Rights Movement.
HI/GS 301Q. A Woman's Place: Gender and Geography in the United States, 1800–Present.
HIST 301W. The Civil Rights Movement.
HIST s20. Visions of the Past: Political Film and Historical Narrative.
INDS 301Y. The Spanish Inquisition.
INDS 321. Afroambiente: Writing a Black Environment.
INDS 342. Performance, Narrative, and the Body.
MUS 212. Introduction to Ethnomusicology.
MUS 247. History of Jazz.
MUS 248. Music in Contemporary Popular Culture.
MUS 254. Music and Drama.
MUS 266. Miles Davis.
MUS 396. Junior-Senior Seminar in Musicology: Music History and Cultural Politics.
PLTC 115. American Political Institutions and Processes.
PT/GS 155. Women, Power, and Political Systems.
PLTC 215. Political Participation in the United States.
PT/GS 220. Gender, War, and Peace.
PLTC 230. The U.S. Congress.
PLTC 249. Politics of Latin America.
PLTC 310. Public Opinion.
PLTC 320. Immigrants and Their Homelands.
PLTC 329. American Political Development.
PY/SO 210. Social Psychology.
PY/SO 371. Prejudice and Stereotyping.
PSYC 372. Racial and Ethnic Identity Development.
REL 100. Religion and Film.
REL 216. American Religious History, 1550–1840.
REL 217. American Religious History, 1840–Present.
REL 247. City upon the Hill.
REL 270. Religion and American Visual Culture.
REL s27. Field Studies in Religion: Cult and Community.
RHET 260. Lesbian and Gay Images in Film.
RHET 265. The Rhetoric of Women's Rights.
RHET 391A. The Rhetoric of Alien Abduction.
RHET 391B. Presidential Campaign Rhetoric.
RHET 391E. The Interracial Buddy Film.
SOC 250. Privilege, Power, and Inequality.
SOC 270. Sociology of Gender.
SOC 395I. Race, Class, Gender, and Family.
SPAN 224. Protest and Justice.

3) ACS 457 or 458. Senior Thesis.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail may not be applied to the four required courses. There are no restrictions on the use of the pass/fail option for other courses taken for the major.