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Carolyn Johnston
Elie Wiesel Professor of Humane Letters

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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American Studies

American Studies

Major

AMERICAN STUDIES

A broad, interdisciplinary major in American civilization that focuses upon American experience and identity, past and present, using the methods and approaches of a variety of academic disciplines, as well as the distinctive cultural perspective of American Studies. At Eckerd College, the program is built around the core disciplines of history, literature, and political science. In order to allow students to shape their courses of study to their own intellectual goals, the major may also include courses in diverse fields such as philosophy, religion, art, film studies, women's and gender studies, and sociology, provided that the courses are related to understanding the society and culture of the United States. Each student's program is developed in consultation with faculty and should form a consistent pattern of courses in American culture and institutions.

Students who complete the American Studies major demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Knowledge of American history, institutions, environment, values, and culture from an interdisciplinary perspective, with an emphasis on American experience and identity past and present, demonstrated by the ability to talk and write intelligently about these topics.

  • Knowledge of the development of the field of American Studies as an academic discipline, including its methods, scope, and perspectives.

  • Understanding of a core discipline in American Studies (e.g., American history, American literature, American government, political science, etc.) and how it relates to the larger field of American Studies, as well as how the study of the core discipline is enriched by the interdisciplinary approach of American Studies.

  • Familiarity with the classic works in American Studies and the ability to evaluate the author's methodology.

  • Demonstrated ability to undertake a research project that will explore important issues and problems in methodology and interpretation of American Studies.

A major in American Studies consists of a minimum of ten courses. Six of the ten courses must be beyond the introductory level. Electives in the major should be chosen in consultation with discipline faculty. In addition, each student majoring in American Studies must pass a Senior comprehensive examination, or, if invited by the faculty, write a senior thesis.

The American Studies major should include at least five courses from one of the core disciplines of history, literature, or political science. Majors should also choose at least three American Studies courses, one of which must be AM 201H. At least two additional courses should be chosen from American Studies or another discipline that directly relates to the study of American culture and society. In addition to courses from another of the core disciplines, students may choose courses in the following areas: courses that have a comparative perspective or that place American culture or society in a global context; courses in film studies, media, communication, and representation, with a substantial component dealing with the United States; courses with an African American or Women's and Gender Studies emphasis, or courses with an environmental or pre-law focus, with a substantial component dealing with the United States.

For a minor in American Studies, students will take five AM courses, including AM 201H, chosen in consultation with American Studies discipline faculty. Three of the five courses must be at the 300 level or above.

Life After Eckerd

Students planning on attending graduate school will find American Studies provides suitable preparation for graduate programs in both the humanities and social sciences, as well as cultural studies programs. It is a well-favored major for law school admissions and MBA programs.