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Planning Your American Studies Minor

morrissey 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 (ENGL 2277). This is now a required course for students declaring the minor after October 28, 2014.

To officially register for the minor, e-mail the Assistant Program Director at

The Overall Plan

Like other minors, American Studies consists of six courses.  There are two required courses:  1) ENGL 2277, the Introduction to American Studies, which you can take anytime before graduation (it's not a prerequisite for taking other courses in the minor​), and​ 2) the senior seminar, taken in the fall of senior year.  ​(For those who declared the minor before October 28, 2014, the senior seminar is the only required course.)  Five of the six courses counting toward 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 remaining course (or two courses, for those declaring the minor before October 28, 2014) 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. You will need to have it approved by Professor Lewis.

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
  • Journalism

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 Lewis or Assistant Director Trista Doyle.

New Concentration in Journalism

The American Studies Program offers a slate of journalism courses with JOUR ("journalism") numbers. They include, for example, JOUR 2230, News Writing; JOUR 2231, Feature Writing; JOUR 2227, Broadcast Writing; JOUR 2229, Introduction to Magazine Writing; JOUR 2234, News Ethics; JOUR 2233, Advanced Journalism; JOUR 2225, Journalism and New Media. 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 JOUR-numbered 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 2015, the seminar will be taught by Adam Lewis 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.

ENGL 6648.01 American Studies Senior Seminar: American Cultural Memory

In this seminar we will consider how mass media and popular culture shape the way we remember (and forget) histories of labor, migration, and war, as well as local and global social movements. We will begin with some key readings on the history and practice of American Studies. From there, we'll move through a series of case studies examining print, visual, and other cultural representations of American politics and life from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. We will explore a rich variety of material, including museums and memorials, visual and material culture, and journalism and fiction, among others.

Required Course: ENGL 2277 Intro to American Studies

Introduction to American Studies (ENGL 2277) offers an introduction to topics, approaches, and methods in the field of American Studies. This course is now required in order to minor in American Studies.  ​Although you can take ​ENGL 2277 ​any time before graduation (it's not a prerequisite for taking other courses in the minor​), if you are considering registering for the minor you are strongly urged to take it as soon as is possible. (It also remains strongly recommended, but not required, for students who registered for the minor under the old requirement rules, before October 28, 2014.)  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.