American Studies Major

Learning Objectives for the American Studies Major

Students majoring in American Studies will:

Requirements for the American Studies Major

The American Studies major seeks to understand the American experience through a multidisciplinary program of study. The requirements for the major are as follows: Nine units of course work are required for the major, at least six of which should be taken at Wellesley College. These courses include either AMST 101 or AMST 121, which should be completed before the end of the junior year; at least two courses in historical studies (in addition to AMST 101); one course in literature; one course in the arts; and one course from any one of the following three areas: social and behavioral analysis; or epistemology and cognition; or religion, ethics, and moral philosophy. Students are also expected to take at least two 300-level courses, one of which should be AMST 300-399, taken in the junior or senior year. AMST 350, AMST 360, and AMST 370 do not count toward this requirement.

To augment this structure, students will choose a concentration that lends depth and coherence to the major.  Chosen in consultation with the major advisor, a concentration consists of three or more courses pertaining to a topic, for example: 1) race, class, and gender 2) comparative ethnic studies 3) American culture and society 4) Asian American Studies. Students may also construct their own concentration. 

Students are encouraged to explore the diversity of American culture and the many ways to interpret it. A list of courses that count toward the major is also included as a separate section in the catalog. Most courses at the College that are primarily American in content may be applied to the American Studies major: if a course isn’t listed and seems eligible for credit, students should consult with the Director. American Studies majors are encouraged to take as part of, or in addition to, their major courses, surveys of American history, literature, and art (for example, HIST 203, HIST 204, ENG 262, ENG 266, ARTH 231) and a course on the U.S. Constitution and American political thought (for example, POL1 247). In addition, students are urged to take one or more courses outside the major that explore the theory and methods of knowledge creation and production (for example, ECON 103/SOC 190, PHIL 345).

Honors in American Studies

The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. Interested students should apply to the director in the spring of the junior year.

Courses for Credit Toward the American Studies Major

The following is a list of courses that may be included in an American Studies major. If students have questions about whether a course not listed here can count toward the major, or if they would like permission to focus their concentration on a topic studied in more than one department, they should consult the director.  

AFR 115 / PHIL 115 Introduction to African American Philosophy  1.0
AFR 201 / ENG 260 African-American Literary Tradition  1.0
AFR 209 African American History: From the Slave Trade to the Civil Way  1.0
AFR 210 African American History: From Reconstruction to the Present  1.0
AFR 212 / ENG 279 Black Women Writers  1.0
AFR 215 Unpacking Blackness  1.0
AFR 225 / PSYC 225 Introduction to Black Psychology  1.0
AFR 227 / EDUC 227 Black Girlhood  1.0
AFR 228 / PHIL 228 Black Feminist Philosophy  1.0
AFR 242 / REL 214 New World Afro-Atlantic Religions  1.0
AFR 243 / PEAC 243  The Black Church  1.0
AFR 249  Black Women's History  1.0
AFR 265 / ENG 265   African American Autobiographies  1.0
AFR 271 / CAMS 271  History of Slavery Through Film  1.0
AFR 295 / ENG 295  The Harlem Renaissance  1.0
AFR 303  Seminar: Slavery and Film  1.0
AFR 310 / SOC 310 Seminar: Reading Du Bois  1.0
AFR 316 / ARTH 316 Seminar: The Body: The Race and Gender in Modern and Contemporary Art  1.0
AFR 319 / PHIL 319 Black Aesthetics: The Politics of Black Film  1.0
AFR 390 Seminar: No Moral High Ground, A History of Slavery and Racism in the North  1.0
AMST 292 / ENG 292 Film Noir  1.0
ANTH 214 Race and Human Variation  1.0
ANTH 232 / CAMS 232 Anthropology of Media  1.0
ANTH 235 / MUS 245 Ethnomusicology Field Methods  1.0
ARTH 206 American Art, Architecture, and Design  1.0
ARTH 217 Historic Preservation  1.0
ARTH 225 Modern Art Since 1945  1.0
ARTH 226 / CAMS 207 History of Photography: From Invention to Media Age  1.0
ARTH 228 Modern Architecture  1.0
ARTH 231 Architecture and Urbanism in North America  1.0
ARTH 245 House and Home: Domestic Architecture, Interiors, and Material Life in North America, 1600-1900  1.0
ARTH 262 African American Art  1.0
ARTH 267 / ES 267 Art and Environmental Imagination  1.0
ARTH 317 Historic Preservation  1.0
ARTH 318 Seminar: New England Arts and Architecture  1.0
ARTH 320 Seminar: Frank Lloyd Wright  1.0
CAMS 222 "Being There": Documentary Film and Media  1.0
CAMS 227 Television  1.0
CAMS 233 / JWST 233 American Jews and the Media  1.0
CAMS 240 / WGST 223 Gendering the Bronze Screen: Representations of Chicanas/Latinas in Film  1.0
CAMS 241 / WGST 249 Asian American Women in Film  1.0
ECON 222 Games of Strategy  1.0
ECON 226 / EDUC 226 Economics of Education Policy  1.0
ECON 228 / ES 228 Environmental and Resource Economics  1.0
ECON 232 Health Economics  1.0
ECON 306 Economic Organizations in U.S. History  1.0
ECON 311 Economics of Immigration  1.0
ECON 318 Economic Analysis of Social Policy  1.0
ECON 326 Seminar: Advanced Economics of Education  1.0
ECON 327 Economics of Law, Policy, and Inequality  1.0
ECON 332 Advanced Health Economics  1.0
EDUC 103Y / WGST 102Y First Year Seminar: Lessons of Childhood  1.0
EDUC 207 / PEAC 207 / SOC 207 Schools and Society  1.0
EDUC 215 / PEAC 215 Understanding and Improving Schools  1.0
EDUC 216 Education and Social Policy  1.0
EDUC 334 Seminar: Race, Migration, and Borders  1.0
EDUC 335 Seminar: Urban Education and Emancipatory Research  1.0
ENG 242 / ES 242 Ecopoetics  1.0
ENG 251 Modern Poetry  1.0
ENG 252 Contemporary American Poetry:  Unrest  1.0
ENG 253 Contemporary American Poetry  1.0
ENG 267 American Literature: 1940s to 2000  1.0
ENG 270 / JWST 270 Jews and Jewishness in American Literature  1.0
ENG 290 / JWST 290 Minorities in U.S. Comics  1.0
ENG 291 What Is Racial Difference?  1.0
ENG 294 Writing AIDS, 1981-Present  1.0
ENG 356 Ernest Hemingway: Life and Writings  1.0
ENG 357 The World of Emily Dickinson  1.0
ENG 358 Sapphic Modernism  1.0
ENG 399H / PHIL 399H Race, Justice, and Action  1.0
ES 107H / PEAC 107H Antiracism and the Environment  1.0
ES 299 / HIST 299 U.S. Environmental History  1.0
ES 381 / POL1 381 U.S. Environmental Politics  1.0
FREN 229 America Through French Eyes: Perceptions and Realities  1.0
GER 388 Seminar: Germany, Europe, and the US  1.0
HIST 114Y First Year Seminar: American Hauntings  1.0
HIST 203 Out of Many: American History to 1877  1.0
HIST 204 The United States History since 1865  1.0
HIST 220 U.S. Consumerism  1.0
HIST 244 History of the American West: Manifest Destiny to Pacific Imperialism  1.0
HIST 245 History of American Capitalism from Revolution to Empire  1.0
HIST 249 Cold War Culture and Politics in the United States  1.0
HIST 252 Civil Rights Reconsidered  1.0
HIST 253 Native America  1.0
HIST 254 The United States in the World War II Era  1.0
HIST 256 Colonial America  1.0
HIST 260 America in the Age of Revolution  1.0
HIST 261 / PEAC 261 Civil War and the World  1.0
HIST 262 Political World of Hamilton  1.0
HIST 267 Deep in the Heart: The American South in the Nineteenth Century  1.0
HIST 277 China and America: Evolution of a Troubled Relationship  1.0
HIST 311 Seminar: Revolution to Civil War  1.0
HIST 312 Seminar: Understanding Race in the United States, 1776-1918  1.0
HIST 314 Seminar: Fashion Politics  1.0
HIST 319 Seminar: Fear and Violence in Early America  1.0
HIST 320 Seminar: History of American Food  1.0
HIST 321 Crime and Punishment in Early America  1.0
HIST 340 Seminar: Seeing Black: African Americans and United States Visual Culture  1.0
HIST 341 Seminar: Narrating the “Struggle”  1.0
MUS 209 A History of Jazz  1.0
MUS 220 Jazz and Popular Music Theory  1.0
MUS 276 American Popular Music  1.0
MUS 309 A History of Jazz  1.0
PEAC 219 / SOC 209 Social Inequality  1.0
PEAC 240 / WGST 240 U.S. Public Health  1.0
POL 109Y First Year Seminar: Democracy in America  1.0
POL 121 America and the “War on Terror”  1.0
POL1 200 American Politics  1.0
POL1 210 Campaigns and Elections  1.0
POL1 215 Courts, Law, and Politics  1.0
POL1 247 Constitutional Law  1.0
POL1 300 Public Policymaking in American Politics  1.0
POL1 303 The Politics of Crime  1.0
POL1 317 Health Politics and Policy  1.0
POL1 328 Seminar: Immigration Politics  1.0
POL1 329 Political Psychology  1.0
POL1 333 Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing: Perspectives on American Politics  1.0
POL1 337 Seminar: Race in American Politics  1.0
POL3 227 The Vietnam War  1.0
POL1 317 Health Politics and Policy  1.0
POL1 328 Seminar: Immigration Politics  1.0
POL1 329 Political Psychology  1.0
POL1 333 Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing: Perspectives on American Politics  1.0
POL1 337 Seminar: Race in American Politics  1.0
POL3 227 The Vietnam War  1.0
POL4 249 Neoliberalism and its Critics  1.0
POL4 311 Seminar: Grassroots Organizing  1.0
POL4 341 Beyond Prisons  1.0
POL4 345 Seminar: Black Liberation from Haiti to Black Lives Matter  1.0
PSYC 337 Seminar: Prejudice and Discrimination  1.0
PSYC 338 Social Influence  1.0
PSYC 341 Seminar: Women and Leadership  1.0
SOC 103 Criminal Justice Systems  1.0
SOC 205 / WGST 211 Modern Families and Social Inequalities: Private Lives and Public Policies  1.0
SOC 208 Technology: Progress, Power, and Problems  1.0
SOC 212 Marriage and the Family  1.0
SOC 306 / WGST 306 Women and Work  1.0
SOC 308 Seminar: Children in Society  1.0
SOC 311 / WGST 311 Seminar: Families, Gender, the State and Social Policies  1.0
SOC 317 Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing: Crime and Justice in America  1.0
SOC 334 Consumer Culture  1.0
SPAN 244 Spain in the US: Past and Future  1.0
SPAN 305 Seminar: Hispanic Literature of the United States  1.0
SPAN 344 Spain in the US: Past and Future  1.0
THST 200 Trailblazing Women of American Comedy  1.0
THST 215 Twenty Plays, Twenty Years  1.0
WGST 121 Reading Elvis Presley  1.0
WGST 216 Women and Popular Culture: Latinas as Nannies, Spitfires, and Sexpots  1.0
WGST 217 Growing Up Gendered  1.0
WGST 218 Stage Left: Chicanx/Latinx Theatre and Performance  1.0
WGST 219 Gender in the Workplace  1.0
WGST 220 American Health Care History in Gender, Race, and Class Perspective  1.0
WGST 221 Gender, Race, and the Carceral State  1.0
WGST 222 Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary American Society  1.0
WGST 224 Feminist Methods  1.0
WGST 226 The Body Across Medicine, Media, and Politics  1.0
WGST 245 Romance Films and Feminist Theories  1.0
WGST 305 Seminar: Representations of Women, Natives, and Others  1.0
WGST 307 Seminar: Techno-Orientalism  1.0
WGST 320 Seminar: Race, Gender, and Science  1.0
WGST 326 Seminar: Crossing the Border(s): Narratives of Transgression  1.0 
WGST 341 Seminar: Anti-Carceral Feminism  1.0