Chair, Professor: SCOTT WONG

Faculty 2007-2008: Professors: M. REINHARDT*. Associate Professors: L. JOHNSON, KENT. Assistant Professors: AUBERT**, CEPEDA, RÚA**, THORNE*, WANG. Senior Lecturer: CLEGHORN***.


The American Studies Program, an eleven-course major, uses interdisciplinary approaches to develop students' understanding of the complexity of the culture(s) usually labeled "American." Examining history, literature, visual media, performance, and other forms of expression, we explore the processes of cultural definition as contested by diverse individuals and groups. We ask new questions about aspects of American life long taken for granted; we also use American culture as a laboratory for testing classic and contemporary theories about how cultures work.


American Studies 201 is open to non-majors including first-year students. All elective courses are open to students who meet the requirements of the departments that sponsor those courses. Courses designated as junior or senior seminars are open to non-majors with permission of the instructor.


In addition to an occasional 100-level topical course, the introductory course is offered at the 200 level to suggest the desirability of some preliminary training in college-level history, literature, sociology, or political science. The intermediate courses, designated as Junior Seminars at the 300 level, are offered primarily for juniors, although they are open to sophomores who have had 201 and will be away from campus during the spring of their junior year. 400 level courses designated as Senior Seminars are designed for senior majors.


Required major courses:

American Studies 201

300 level courses designated Junior Seminar

400 level courses designated Senior Seminar

Elective courses:

Eight courses: five should be chosen from one of the specializations listed below, the other three chosen from among any of the electives listed, but students must draw their remaining courses from two of the other specializations. Students are also required to take at least one course covering pre-1900 American history or culture.


Candidates for honors in American Studies will undertake a substantial, year-long independent project during their Senior year. Applicants should have a consistent record of high achievement in courses taken for the major, and normally will have done work in the field of study of their proposed thesis. Students who wish to write or produce an honors project should consult with a prospective faculty advisor in their junior year. Formal application to pursue honors should be made by the time of spring registration in the junior year. Students must submit a 1- to 2-page preliminary proposal describing the proposed project to the Chair of the American Studies Program at this time. Final admission to the honors thesis program will depend on the AMST advisory committee's assessment of the qualifications of the student and the merits and feasibility of the project. If the proposal is approved, they will be permitted to register for AMST 491, W30, and AMST 492 the following year. The completed project is due in mid-April. Each student will present a short oral presentation of his or her thesis at the end of spring semester. Honors Theses count as one of the eleven courses required for the major.


All majors will be assigned a faculty advisor. Majors must meet with their advisor during the first week of classes during the fall semester and at the time of the spring semester registration period in order to have their courses and plans for the American Studies major approved. Both majors and non- majors are encouraged to talk at any time with the program chair or other affiliated faculty about the major.


Students majoring in American Studies are encouraged to consider pursuing concentrations in Africana Studies, Environmental Studies, Latina/o Studies, Performance Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies. Many of the courses counted for those concentrations may also earn credit toward the American Studies major.


We encourage students to pursue cross-cultural comparative studies. A major in American Studies can be combined with study away from Williams for a semester or a year if plans are made carefully. Many courses that will be approved for College credit may also count toward the American Studies major if their subject matter is American culture.

Students planning to be away in the junior year should have taken American Studies 201 before they leave; those away for junior-year spring term should take a Junior Seminar in their sophomore year. Students should consult as early as possible with the chair or their advisor about their plans for fulfilling the requirements of the major.


To provide focus for work in the major, each student will choose one of the Specialization Fields listed below and record this choice when registering for the major. (This commitment can be revised, in consultation with the chair.) At least five electives will be taken from among those designated to support a specialization field. In extraordinary cases, students who wish to do so may be permitted to design their own specialization field. All such arrangements must be approved by the American Studies Advisory Committee.


This specialization is for students interested in American arts, literature and media. Its approaches are interdisciplinary: it trains students to examine cultural artifacts with attention to aesthetic form and to the contexts-historical, social, political-that determine and situate those forms. Broadly, it asks how history has shaped the arts and media and how the arts and media have shaped how we think and who we are. Students in this specialization take courses across a range of genres and media: poetry, fiction, music, film and video, pop culture, visual culture, performance, experimental and activist art.

Elective courses:

Africana Studies 160 Defining the African Diaspora

ArtH 264 American Art and Architecture

ArtH 265 Pop Art

ArtH 262 Sunshine and Noir: Art of California

ArtH 470 American Orientalism

Comparative Literature 230 Violent States, Violent Subjects

English 209 Introduction to American Literature, Origins to 1865

English 210 Introduction to American Literature, 1865 to Present

English 220 African-American Literature

English 246 The Novel and Globalization

English 253 Contemporary African-American Literature

English 256 Culture and Colonialism

English 258 Poetry and the City

English 338 American Renaissance

English 341 American Genders/American Sexualities

English 342 Representing Sexualities

English 343 Whitman and Dickinson in Context

English 350 James Baldwin and his Contemporaries

English 372 African-American Thought and Culture

English 388 Asian-American Writing and the Visual

English 407 Twentieth-Century American Poetic Movements

History 395 Fashioning Bodies

Latina/o Studies 203 Chicana/o Film and Video

Latina/o Studies 240 Politics of Language in the Literature and Culture of US Latina/os

Latina/o Studies 331 Sound and Movement in the Diaspora: Afro-Latin Identities

Latina/o Studies 335 Contemporary US Theatre and Performance: Latinos/as in the Everyday

Latina/o Studies 464 Latina/o Visual Culture

Music 114 American Music

Music 122 African-American Music

Music 130 History of Jazz

Music 210 American Pop Orientalism

Music 220 Rhythm and Jazz in America, Brazil and Cuba

Music 231 Nothing But the Blues

Music 232 Latin Music USA

Music 240 Ellington

Music 241 Coltrane

Theatre 220 Approaching Performance Studies

Theatre 330 Aesthetics of Resistance: Contemporary Latino/a Theatre and Performance


This interdisciplinary specialization examines the role of race, ethnicity, and diasporic movements in the construction of American identities. Students explore how experiences and concepts of race and ethnicity are transformed through the processes of diaspora and immigration. These courses may encompass a broad spectrum of fields such as history, literature, religion, politics, anthropology, gender studies, media and the performing arts, among others. NOTE: Concentrators in this area are required to take a combination of courses that will allow them to comparatively assess the experiences of at least two ethno-racial groups in the Americas.

Elective courses:

Africana Studies 140 Defining the African Diaspora

Africana Studies 165 The Quest for Racial Justice in Twentieth-Century America

Africana Studies 200 Introduction to Africana Studies

Africana Studies 208 Writing Africa from Beyond: The Novel of the Diaspora

Africana Studies 210 Black Leadership in American Culture

Africana Studies 211 Topics in African-American Performance: Theatre and Film of the Harlem Renaissance

Africana Studies 220` Rhythm and Jazz in America, Brazil, and Cuba

Africana Studies 240 Contemporary African American Literature

Africana Studies 260 Leadership in the Civil Rights Movement

Africana Studies 260 South African and American Intersections

Africana Studies 282 African-American History from Reconstruction to the Present

Africana Studies 285 Religion in Black Film, Media, and Literature

Africana Studies 286 Constructing Black Lives in Film and Literature

Africana Studies 300T Racial-Sexual Politics and Cultural Memory

Africana Studies 320 Race-Gender in the Black Diaspora

Africana Studies 383 The History of Black Women in America: From Slavery to the Present

Africana Studies 400 Senior Seminar: Black Feminist Theory and Practice

Africana Studies 410 Race, Culture, and Incarceration

Africana Studies 467 African Americans in Urban America

American Studies 283 Topics in Asian American Literature

American Studies 302 Asian American Writing and the Visual Arts

American Studies 311 Asian American Film

American Studies 330 The Aesthetics of Resistance: Contemporary Latino/a-American Theatre and Performance

American Studies 331 Sound and Movement in the Diaspora: Afro-Latin Identities

American Studies 335 Contemporary US Theatre and Performance: Latinos/as in the Everyday

American Studies 409 Tracing the Roots of Routes: Transnationalism and its (Dis)Contents

ArtH 203 Chicana/o Film and Video

ArtH 212 Race, Sexuality, and Cinema

History 148 The Mexican Revolution: 1910 to NAFTA

History 164 Slavery in the American South

History 243 Modern Latin America, 1822 to the Present

History 249 The Caribbean from Slavery to Independence

History 281 African-American History, 1619-1865

History 282 African-American History From Reconstruction to the Present

History 286 Latino(a) History from 1846 to the Present

History 364 History of the Old South

History 365 History of the New South

History/American Studies 368 Cultural Encounters in the American West

History 370 Studies in American Social Change

History 380 Comparative American Immigration History

History 384 Comparative Asian-American History, 1850-1965

History 385 Contemporary Issues in Recent Asian-American History, 1965-Present

History/Latina/o Studies/Women's and Gender Studies 386 Latinas in the Global Economy: Work, Migration, and Households

History/Latina/o Studies/Women's and Gender Studies 387 Community Building and Social Movements in Latino/a History*

History 443 Slavery, Race and Ethnicity in Latin America

History 456 Civil War and Reconstruction

History/American Studies 488T The Politics and Rhetoric of Exclusion: Immigration and Its Discontents

Music 122 African-American Music

Music 130 History of Jazz

Political Science 213 Theory and Practice of Civil Rights Protest

Political Science 318 The Voting Rights Act and the Voting Movement

Political Science 349T Cuba and the United States

Psychology 341T Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination

Theatre 210 Multicultural Performance

Theatre/American Studies 211 Topics in African American Performance: The 1960s, the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movement*


Critical and cultural theory is for students who want their American Studies work to combine philosophy, aesthetics, and social thought. Its approach is methodological, conceptual, and problem-driven. Students combine courses in feminist theory, anti-imperial and postcolonial theory, literary theory, critical race theory, queer theory, psychoanalysis, Marxism, and other counter-traditions in political theory and philosophy.

Elective courses:

Africana Studies 201/ArtH 200 Modern and Contemporary African Art

Africana Studies 300/Women's and Gender Studies 415 Racial-Sexual Politics and Cultural Memory

Africana Studies 320/Anthropology 326 Race-Gender in the Black Diaspora

Africana Studies 323/Philosophy 323/Political Science 323) The Origins of Totalitarianism

Africana Studies 400/Women's and Gender Studies 400 Black Feminist Theory and Practice

Africana Studies 410/Political Science 302 Race, Culture, and Incarceration

ANSO 305 Social Theory

Anthropology 270T Trauma, Memory, and Reconciliation

Anthropology 328T Emotions and the Self

Comparative Literature 338/Latina/o Studies 338 Theorizing Popular Culture

Comparative Literature 340 Literature and Psychoanalysis

Comparative Literature 344/Religion 304 From Hermeneutics to Post-Coloniality

English 117/Comparative Literature 117 Introduction to Cultural Theory

English 230/Comparative Literature 240 Introduction to Literary Theory

English 246 The Novel and Globalization

English 249 Hitchcock and Psychoanalytic Theory

English 256 Culture and Colonialism: An Introduction

English 346/ArtH 307/Comparative Literature 356/INTR 346 The Human Face in the Modern Imagination

English 386/Women's and Gender Studies 388/Comparative Literature 342 Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Sexuality

English 390 History in Theory

English 394 Gothic Theory

English 408/Comparative Literature 345 Culture, Criticism and Praxis

History 483T African Political Thought

History 490T History, Nostalgia, and the Politics of Collective Memory

INTR 260 Games, Play and Virtual Worlds

Music 210T American Pop Orientalism

Philosophy 201 Reading the Critics of Reason

Philosophy 224/INTR 224/Religion 224 After God

Philosophy 282/Religion 280 The Turn to Religion in Post-Modern Thought

Philosophy 304 Authenticity: From Rousseau to Post-structuralism

Philosophy 305 Existentialism and Phenomenology

Philosophy 316/INTR 316/Religion 316 Nothing, God, Freedom

Philosophy 327/Women's and Gender Studies 327 Foucault: Power, Bodies, Pleasures

Philosophy 379 American Pragmatism

Philosophy 393 Hegel: Freedom and History

Political Science 204 (Marasco) Intro to Political Theory: Utopias

Political Science 230 American Political Thought

Political Science 239 Political Thinking About Race

Political Science 326 Imperialism

Political Science 326/Women's and Gender Studies 336 Sex, Gender, and Political Theory

Political Science 333/ECON 299 Economic Liberalism and Its Critics

Political Science 338 Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School

Religion 204 Redeeming a Broken World: Messianism in Modernity

Religion 284 Foucault

Sociology 345 Producing the Past

Theatre 220/Women's and Gender Studies 220/ARTS 204 Approaching Performance Studies

Theatre 322/Comparative Literature 322 Performance Criticism

Women's and Gender Studies 101 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

Women's and Gender Studies 225/Philosophy 225 Introduction to Feminist Thought

Women's and Gender Studies 227/Sociology 225 Sex and Gender

Women's and Gender Studies 228/Philosophy 228 Feminist Bioethics

Women's and Gender Studies 271T/Philosophy 271T Woman as "Other"

Women's and Gender Studies 341/English 341 American Genders, American Sexualities

Women's and Gender Studies 342/English 342 Representing Sexualities: U.S. Traditions\

Women's and Gender Studies 402 Feminism and the Politics of the Family

Women's and Gender Studies 489T/History 489T History and the Body


This route focuses on the human landscape and the built environment. Courses listed below variously undertake the reading of geographical regions, patterns of habitation, imagined spaces, property relations and/or artifacts.

Elective courses:

ArtH/American Studies 264 American Art and Architecture, 1600 to Present

Environmental Studies 101 Humans in the Landscape: An Introduction to Environmental Studies

Geosciences 105 Geology Outdoors

Geosciences 201/Environmental Studies 205 Geomorphology

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 208 Water and the Environment

History 364 History of the Old South

History 365 History of the New South

History 380 Comparative American Immigration History

History 466/American Studies 364 Imagining Urban America, Three Case Studies: Boston, Chicago, and L.A.

INTR 242/ArtH 268/ArtS 212/Religion 289 Network Culture

Political Science 101 The Politics of Place in America

Political Science 317/Environmental Studies 307 Environmental Law

Political Science 335 Public Sphere/Public Space

Political Science 349T Cuba and the United States

Sociology 215 Crime in the Streets