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Department of American Studies College of Arts and Sciences

Sample Concentrations in American Studies

Students develop their concentration with the help of the departmentís advisor and faculty members.

It might be helpful, though, to see a few sample concentrations.  Some of these concentrations match faculty interest.  Others are popular with students.  You can use these as a model for your own concentration, or you can just take these as your own, if you want. 
But whatever you do, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies!

Sample 1: War and Peace Studies
A “War and Peace Studies” concentration would examine war-making and peace-building, past and present, as political practices and cultural formations central to an understanding of American identity.  It would promote a critical analysis of images of war and peace, examine war propaganda, wartime dissent, and peace movements, trace the history of ideas of nonviolence, just peace, and conflict transformation, and investigate the tensions between democracy and war culture.
Though many other classes might fit, students could choose five courses from the following list:

CMCL C308: “Democratic Dissent in Wartime”
CMCL 445: “War Propaganda”
CMCL C401: “Peacebuilding Communication”
HIST J300: “America’s Nations”
HIST A380: “The Vietnam War”
POLS-Y360: “United States Foreign Policy”

Sample 2: Critical Ethnic Studies
A critical ethnic studies concentration would do more than just compare and contrast the various racial and ethnic cultures within the Americas: it would also engage in an extended critique of those social and political forces responsible for the perpetuation of group conflict, and that continue to structure group advantage and disadvantage.

AAAD A354, “Transnational Americas”
HIST-A352: “History of Latinos in the United States”
AMST-A150: “Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies” 
AMST-A200: “Comparative American Identities”
AAST A300: “Topics in Asian American Studies”

There are many courses that could be a part of this concentration.  And the core American Studies topics courses (AMST A350 and AMST A351) are often focused on subjects that would be relevant.
Sample 3: Music and Counterculture
Students in American Studies often decide to focus their concentrations on the study of countercultures. The classes listed below emphasize not just the history of alternative music, but also the role of radical music in social movements and private dissents from what is mainstream or popular.
MUS-Z201: “History of Rock n' Roll Music I”
MUS-Z202: “History of Rock n' Roll Music II”
MUS-Z401: “Music of the Beatles”
MUS-Z402: “The Music of Frank Zappa”
MUS-Z403: “The Music of Jimi Hendrix”
HIST-A383: “From Ragtime to Rap: Popular Music in the Making of America”
HIST-A379: Elvis, Dylan and Postwar America”
AAAD-A393: “History of Jazz in America”
FOLK-E345: “Hip-Hop Music and Culture”
FOLK-E394: “Survey of African American Music”
FOLK-E496: “Black Religious Music”
FOLK-F111: “World Music and Cultures”