American Studies Major

"American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it."

James Baldwin

American Studies allows students to discover the complexity and diversity of this nation's history, literature, and culture by drawing on multiple academic disciplines and social perspectives. In an intellectual climate of rigorous inquiry, students explore the role of ideas and events in the formation of American culture. We examine the connections between regional identity, racial conflict, popular culture, gender politics, capitalism, and global migration. Our classes encourage ethical engagement with the issues raised by scholarly interrogation of received wisdom and platitudes about American culture. We equip students with the habit of critical thinking and the skills in writing and speaking crucial to success in a wide variety of careers and vocations. We also seek to instill the lifelong engagement with the world that is fundamental to citizenship in the 21st century.

The core faculty of American Studies have expertise in African-American Literature, Roots Music, Immigration Cultures, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Popular Culture, Oral History, American Literature, Material Culture. Outsider Art, The Graphic Novel, Media and Social Movements, The History of The American University, Film Studies, Asian American Studies, Family History, and Crime Fiction Studies.

These faculty members are part of the Institute of the Liberal Arts, and students benefit from the lively interdisciplinary exchanges across the Institute's several majors, minors and its PhD program, Including Interdisciplinary Studies in Culture and Society; Sustainability; Science, Culture and Society, Medieval and Renaissance Studies; and Development Studies. Students are encouraged to work with the many affiliated faculty members based in other departments, especially African American Studies, English, History, Religion, Music, Anthropology, Sociology, and Educational Studies.

A degree in American Studies is an excellent credential for students planning a career in law, journalism, medicine, business, teaching, academia, advertising, philanthropy, non-profit organizations, or university administration. By majoring in American Studies, students lay claim to the strongest traditions of a liberal arts education, something increasingly valuable to professional schools. Majoring in American Studies sends a signal to future employers that a student has substantial experience in problem-solving, synthesizing complex collections of information, and critical writing.

The requirements of the major allow for a great deal of flexibility in creating an individualized concentration in the major. We strongly encourage student research into the kind of complex problems that require both knowledge and scholarly creativity. We have an Honors Program for Seniors, but also allow students to create study and research projects in collaboration with faculty members. Internships at sites related to a student's academic concentration may count for the major. Students also benefit from the extensive holdings in American materials at Emory's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library. We are closely allied with new initiatives in digital scholarship, and several classes assign projects in Digital Storytelling.  Click here to see learning goals for all AMST majors.