Planning Your American Studies Minor
the college of arts and sciences
How do I get started?
In fact, you may have already started. That is, you may have already enrolled in one or more courses which you might be able to “grandfather” into the minor. See the list under Courses. We now offer an interdisciplinary "Introduction to American Studies" course (EN 277). This is not a required course for the minor, but it is highly recommended for minors and prospective minors.
To officially register for the minor, either email the Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-552-3191.
The Overall Plan
Like other minors, American studies consists of six courses, the one required course being a senior seminar taken in the fall of your senior year. Five of these six courses from the minor must come from departments outside your major, and from at least two different departments. Three of your five other courses leading up to the senior seminar must be clustered around a common theme in an area of concentration (see below), while the other two courses just must qualify for cross listing in American Studies. The courses listed on this website are merely a sample of offerings; in any given year there will be other courses offered by various departments that may qualify. Check with Professor Rotella.
Note: Only one course that satisfies the core requirement can be counted for the minor; in addition, if the senior seminar for your final year is offered by your major department, it can be counted for your minor, but not for your major as well.
Areas of Concentration
By your junior year, at the latest, you should start to select three courses from your total that can be clustered around a common theme, your area of concentration. Usually it means choosing one or two courses you’ve already taken, and then adding one or two to make a thematic concentration. These are the most common themes, which conform to the program's strengths:
- Race and Ethnicity
- Gender, Sexuality and culture
- Cultures of Cities
- Society and Subcultures
- Popular Culture and Media
- Law, Politics and Culture
- America and the World
Many other areas of concentration are possible. If you want to pursue one that's not on the list above, you'll need to have it approved by Professor Rotella.
New Concentration in Journalism
The American Studies Program now offers a slate of journalism courses with UN ("University") numbers in the 220-230 range. They include, for example, UN 230, News Writing; UN 231, Feature Writing; UN 227, Broadcast Writing; UN 229, Introduction to Magazine Writing; UN 234, News Ethics; and UN 233, Advanced Journalism. These are workshop-sized courses taught by experienced journalists, emphasizing hands-on professional knowledge and training. They are open to students in all majors and schools, and you do not need to minor in American Studies to take them, but American Studies minors with an area of concentration within the minor other than journalism can count one of these UN journalism courses toward the minor, and American Studies minors who declare journalism as their area of concentration within the minor can count up to three of these courses toward the minor.
THE SENIOR SEMINAR
In the fall of your senior year, you must enroll in the course designated as the American Studies Senior Seminar. The topic of the seminar, an interdisciplinary course housed in one of the major cooperating departments, varies every year. For Fall 2013, the seminar will be taught by Christopher Wilson of the English Department. The course is required for completion of the minor; admissions will be by permission of the instructor or the director of the American Studies Program.
EN 626.01 Studies in American Culture: Fear, Comfort, Risk
This interdisciplinary seminar will examine fiction writers, film makers, journalists and cultural critics who write about American post-industrial society: about the pleasures and risks of class enclaves and underground economies; working for Wal-Mart or the home security industry; consuming mass fantasies of fear and terrorism; and more. Our particular focus will be the themes of fear, risk and comfort: how do Americans define or confront fears, manage risks, describe what gives them comfort or makes them feel safe, in their homes, on their streets, in their communities? Together, we will explore how fears, risk and risk-takers (in the stock market, corporate life, terrorism) are represented in contemporary mass culture and everyday news; we will discuss how ideals of comfort, beauty, and aesthetic pleasure have negotiated new demands for security in the post 9/11 world. Students will pursue a journalistic research essay on a topic of their own choosing.
RECOMMENDED COURSE: EN 277 INTRO TO AMERICAN STUDIES
Introduction to American Studies (EN 277) offers an introduction to topics, approaches, and methods in the field of American Studies. It will be offered again in Spring '13. If you're minoring in American Studies (especially if you will be a sophomore or junior in 2012-2013) or just considering the minor, you are strongly urged to take it. Some seats will be set aside for American Studies minors; if you can't get into the course by registering online, you can secure them by permission of the instructor.