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Totaling 40 semester hours, the major consists of 30 semester hours in courses selected from two or three Arts and Sciences departments in consultation with the American Studies faculty committee and 10 credits for designing and writing an extended research paper on a topic on some aspect of American culture. 18 hours of related courses round out the major and often leave room for a second major within a four-year course of study.
The Program in American Studies provides students with a broad understanding and appreciation of American life and culture(s). It is an interdisciplinary major in which work is done independently with a faculty committee and adviser shaping a curriculum to suit a student's individual interests and goals. Majors are exposed to various methodologies they learn how historians, artists, geographers, philosophers, literary critics, writers, film makers, social scientists and artists practice their disciplines. They also have the opportunity to work closely with a small faculty committee in researching and writing a senior thesis. The major is for students who want a multifaceted college experience rather than the traditional single focus of one academic department. Some typical areas of emphasis for American Studies are:
- Culture and Community-This emphasis is for students whose interests lie in the study of subcultures within American society. Options include occupational, regional, religious, gender or age groups and the disciplinary orientations might include geography, folklore, women's studies and/or cultural anthropology.
- Society and Social Institutions -Students choosing this emphasis draw their methodology and content from sociology, political science, history and philosophy and look at the larger social and political forces at work at the macro level of American society.
- Artists Expressive Culture -This emphasis focuses on American art, music, dance, literature and film as revelatory of national and regional culture and/or subcultures.