Major Requirements

Total Units: 32 credits, at least 24 of which must be 300-level or above. In addition, students are expected to complete 9 credits of coursework with heavy methodological content. See "Disciplinary Foundations Coursework" below.

Requirements:

  • "Introductory Course" (3 credits), as designated by American Culture Studies, which recently have included AMCS 220 Topics in American Culture Studies: Introduction to American Culture Studies, AMCS 206 "Reading" Culture: The Cultural Lives of Things, and AMCS 202 The Immigrant Experience. See our Course Listings webpage for the full listing by semester.
  • AMCS 375A: "Methods and Visions" (3 credits): Must be at Junior standing to enroll in this Writing-Intensive methods seminar, which is offered each Fall semester.
  • Fieldwork (3 credits): Enrollment in an approved Fieldwork course such as L98 479: On Location or completion of a field-based independent project under the guidance of AMCS faculty (in most cases under the course number L98 298). See the AMCS Course Listings for other offerings. See our Fieldwork page for more information and examples of past projects.
  • General Americanist Coursework (18 credits): 6 courses taken in the following groupings: Prime Concentration Area Coursework (9 credits) 3 courses in a single Concentration Area. and Distribution Coursework -or- a Second Concentration Area (9 credits): Courses taken in 3 different disciplines or fields ("Distribution"), OR 3 courses in a second Concentration area.
  • Senior Capstone Project (3 credits): a multidisciplinary project culminating the coursework in the Major (6 credits if the project is an honors thesis). See The Capstone page for additional information.
  • Two 1-credit workshops, L98 490A: Senior Workshop: Academic Citizenship and L98 490B: AMCS Senior Workshop: Connections and Explorations, taken in the senior fall and spring, respectively (effective for the class matriculating in Fall 2018 and beyond).
  • At least two (2) multidisciplinary (MD) courses, taken as part of the above major requirements and designated by AMCS . L98 375A and courses that count towards the Fieldwork requirement may not also count towards the MD requirement. Students are encouraged to take MD courses that connect to the subjects or issues in their concentration area. See the AMCS Course Listings for a complete list of general and MD courses that count toward the AMCS major.
  • Disciplinary Foundations coursework (9 credits): In addition to the above requirements, students are expected to complete three (3) courses with heavy methodological content and approved by your advisor, at least two (2) of which must be in a single discipline and two (2) of which must be at the 300-level-or-higher. A suitable second program of study may be applied towards this requirement.

AMCS gives majors considerable freedom in defining their course of study, allowing them to learn how cultural study is done in multiple fields and periods even as they define concentration areas in ways that suit their specific interests. Pairing the AMCS major with a second major in a complementary discipline is an especially enriching model of cultural study, and AMCS will work closely with students to ensure that double-majoring works well.

Concentration Areas

Concentrations are subject areas of special strength and long-standing student interest in the AMCS curriculum. In general, they provide meaningful focus for study in several disciplines and encourage students to be deliberate about their coursework within AMCS or any complementary programs / departments.

Concentrations are designed to be flexible and to encompass a range of fields. Majors are welcome to propose new Concentrations or to tailor an established one to suit their interests (for example, focusing their work in the "20th-Century America" area on gender or race in the civil rights period).

To fulfill the requirement, students must take at least three courses, two of them above the 300-level, in their Concentration area.

AMCS currently has nine established Concentrations:
 

20th Century America

"20th Century America" concentration coursework explores defining features, texts and patterns of change in American culture and society during the 20th century.Below is a sampling of past and present courses offered in the "20th Century America" Concentration Area. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For a full list of courses by Concentration Area for each semester, please see our AMCS Course Listings site.

  • AMCS 1022: Popular Music in American Culture
  • AMCS 2120: Archaelogical Fantasies and Hoaxes
  • AMCS 220: Don't Believe the Hype: Race, Media, and Social Movements
  • AMCS 245: Images of Disability: Portrayal in Film and Literature
  • AMCS 301C: The American School
  • AMCS 3028: Music of the 1960s
  • AMCS 3050: The History of the Civil Rights Movement


A Sense of Place: Community, Region, and Landscape

"A Sense of Place: Community, Region, and Landscape" concentration coursework is concerned with the way that ideas of place (e.g. the rural, the Midwestern, the regional, etc.) or specific places (e.g. a city, a neighborhood, or a defined community) shaped, or have been shaped by, American culture and identity. Below is a sampling of past and present courses offered in the "A Sense of Place: Community, Region, and Landscape" Concentration Area. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For a full list of courses by Concentration Area for each semester, please see our AMCS Course Listings site.

  • AMCS 118A: Geology of National Parks
  • AMCS 3142: Native Americans at Westward Expansion
  • AMCS 330D: Culture and Identity: Telling the History of Race in the American South
  • AMCS 3190: Engaging the City: The Material World of Modern Segregation
  • AMCS 3322: Brave New Crops
  • AMCS 3891/389A: Power, Justice, and the City
  • AMCS 454: Environmental Policy


Early America

"Early America" concentration coursework focuses on the United States before 1900, including the various cultural events, attitudes and ideas, movements, texts, etc. that shaped, or have been shaped by, national identity.Below is a sampling of past and present courses offered in the "Early America" Concentration Area. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For a full list of courses by Concentration Area for each semester, please see our AMCS Course Listings site.

  • AMCS 163: Making of American Culture from the Colonial Era to Present
  • AMCS 2032: Freshman Seminar: The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson
  • AMCS 2906: Sophomore Seminar: American Frontiers: Badlands and Borderlands in Early U.S. History, 1776-1898
  • AMCS 365: The New Republic: The United States 1776-1850
  • AMCS 49SA: Advanced Seminar: Slavery in America: The Politics of Knowledge Production
  • AMCS 430: Early American Literature
  • AMCS 4689: American Intellectual History to 1865.


Policy-Making in American Society

"Policy-Making in American Society" coursework focuses on public policy and the cultural influences on it. Below is a sampling of past and present courses offered in the "Policy-Making in American Society" Concentration Area. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For a full list of courses by Concentration Area for each semester, please see our AMCS Course Listings site.

  • AMCS 101B: American Politics
  • AMCS 202: The Immigrant Experience
  • AMCS 2152: The Theory and Practice of Justice: The American Historical Experience
  • AMCS 3034: Race and Ethnicity in America Politics
  • AMCS 308: Cracks in the Republic: Discontent, Dissent, and Protest in America, 1950-1975
  • AMCS 3255: Development of the American Constitution
  • AMCS 327: Public Opinion and American Democracy
  • AMCS 3422: Americans and their Presidents
  • AMCS 3535: Global Energy and the American Dream
  • AMCS 3561: Women and the Law


Popular Culture

"Popular Culture" coursework explores the significance of popular culture in America, the role that specific pop cultural phenomena have played in shaping ideas, events, and changes in specific periods, etc.Below is a sampling of past and present courses offered in the "Popular Culture" Concentration Area. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For a full list of courses by Concentration Area for each semester, please see our AMCS Course Listings site.

  • AMCS 1022: Popular Music in American Culture
  • AMCS 206: "Reading" Culture: The Cultural Lives of Things
  • AMCS 2250: Freshman Seminar: African-American Women's History: Sexuality, Violence, and the Love of Hip-Hop
  • AMCS 239: Performance and Culture
  • AMCS 245: Images of Disability: Portrayal in Film and Literature
  • AMCSS 3025: Sports and Culture: Empire of Hoop: Basketball as American Culture
  • AMCS 3270: Comics, Graphic Novels, and Sequential Art
  • AMCS 3301: History of American Cinema
  • AMCS 4604: Taboo: Contesting Race, Sexuality, and Violence in American Cinema


Social Thought & Social Problems

"Social Thought and Social Problems" concentration coursework focuses on a variety of social issues/problems in U.S. culture and how they can be understood.Below is a sampling of past and present courses offered in the "Social Thought and Social Problems" Concentration Area. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For a full list of courses by Concentration Area for each semester, please see our AMCS Course Listings site.

  • AMCS 226: Sociological Approaches to American Health
  • AMCS 245: Images of Disability: Portrayal in Film and Literature
  • AMCS 301C: The American School
  • AMCS 3322: Brave New Crops
  • AMCS 330C: The Politics of Black Criminality and Popular Protest
  • AMCS 3691: Kill Assessment: An Investigation into Death, Genocide, and Other Forms of Violence
  • AMCS 4134: The AIDS Epidemic: Inequalities, Ethnography, and Ethics
  • AMCS 4455: Ethnographic Fieldwork


The Construction of Race and Ethnicity in American Life

"The Construction of Race and Ethnicity in American Life" coursework focuses on the processes by which Americans have made and re-made their racial and ethnic identities, with the assertion and construction of humanity by people color and the responses thereto understood as a central problematic in American culture. Below is a sampling of past and present courses offered in the "The Construction of Race and Ethnicity in American Life" Concentration Area. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For a full list of courses by Concentration Area for each semester, please see our AMCS Course Listings site.

  • AMCS 130: Freshman Seminar: The Ritual Landscape of Cahokia: Perspectives and the Politics of Religion and Chiefly Power
  • AMCS 165: Survey of Latin-American Culture
  • AMCS 202: The Immigrant Experience
  • AMCS 208B: African-American Studies: An Introduction
  • AMCS 2674: Sophomore Seminar: Slavery and Memory in Popular Culture
  • AMCS 3034: Race and Ethnicity in American Politics
  • AMCS 3050: The History of the Civil Rights Movement
  • AMCS 3512: "Model Minority": The Asian American Experience


Visual, Material, and Digital Cultures in the United States

"Visual, Material, and Digital Cultures in the United States" concentration coursework allows for the exploration of visual, material, and/or digital culture and the significance of these cultural forms in American life, past and present. Below is a sampling of past and present courses offered in the "Visual, Material, and Digital Cultures in the United States" Concentration Area. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For a full list of courses by Concentration Area for each semester, please see our AMCS Course Listings site.

  • AMCS 102: Freshman Seminar: Visualizing and Documenting Race, Class, and Gender
  • AMCS 206: "Reading" Culture: The Cultural Lives of Things
  • AMCS 229: Topics in AMCS: The Rearview: Automobility and American Culture
  • AMCS 3270: Comics, Graphic Novels, and Sequential Art
  • AMCS 3490: Film and Media Studies
  • AMCS 351: History of Electronic Media: From Radio to Television to Digital
  • AMCS 4373: Immigration, Identity, and the Internet
  • AMCS 4776: The Arts of Cultural Democracy: American in the 1930s


War & Peace

"War and Peace" concentration coursework explores the profound significance of war in American culture (historical events and representations of conflicts as well as peace-related topics- national security, peace movements, etc.). Below is a sampling of past and present courses offered in the "War and Peace" Concentration Area. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For a full list of courses by Concentration Area for each semester, please see our AMCS Course Listings site.

  • AMCS 232: Freshman Seminar: Theatre of War
  • AMCS 3073: The Global War on Terrorism
  • AMCS 330: Topics in AMCS: The Unfinished Civil War
  • AMCS 3580: Combat Movie Music and Sound After Vietnam
  • AMCS 366: The Civil War and Reconstruction: 1848-1877
  • AMCS 3680: The Cold War, 1945-1991
  • AMCS 3682: The U.S. War in Iraq 2003-2011
  • AMCS 3691: Kill Assessment: An Investigation into Death, Genocide, and Other Forms of Violence

 

Honors Thesis

Writing an AMCS honors thesis is one way to fulfill the capstone requirement; it allows students to complete an extended study of a cultural topic with the input of faculty from more than one discipline, and it provides both a support system and an audience of peers for that study. To qualify for honors thesis work, AMCS majors need to have met both the Capstone Project qualifications and also complete the following before proposing their Honors Thesis:

  • Earned an overall GPA of 3.65 at the start of Fall semester of Senior Year (and they must have a 3.65 or higher at the end of the Senior Year to maintain Latin Honors eligibility - for more on the Arts & Sciences policy, see appropriate Bulletin pages);
  • Completed AMCS 375A in their Junior Year. This course serves to solidify students' understanding of what it means to study culture and prepares them to design a multidisciplinary framework for their project, and is essential groundwork for a thesis-length project.