The six-course (18 or more credits) American Studies minor allows you to take classes centering on American culture in English, History, Sociology, Fine Arts, Political Science, Psychology, Theater, and other departments, as well as cross-listed classes in other minors, such as Women's Studies and African and African Diaspora Studies. To officially register for the minor, email the Assistant Program Director Lauren Crockett-Girard at lauren.crockett@bc.edu.

Christina Klein

Christina Klein
Christina Klein
Program Director
Christina Klein

Christina Klein

Program Director

As the course list list suggests, the Minor is rigorously interdisciplinary, meaning that it requires one to think beyond the disciplinary range of any single department. Under the general rubric of analyzing American culture past and present, American Studies minors investigate such overarching subjects as the effect of city life on cultural expression and social organization; the historical interaction of class, gender, race, and ethnicity; how forms of high culture, popular culture, and mass media interpret and shape historical transformation; the character of mass migration within and across national borders; the development of borderlands, and the problem of American empire.

The introduction to culture-shaping and often hotly contested issues in American life afforded by the American Studies Minor provides a student with a good preparation for careers in law, teaching, government, journalism, and many other professions. Since interdisciplinary work is now a standard feature of graduate education, this minor also provides an essential preparation in working in cultural analysis across the humanities and social sciences.

You may have already enrolled in one or more courses which you might be able to “grandfather” into the minor. We now offer an interdisciplinary "Introduction to American Studies" course (ENGL 2277), required for American Studies minors.

The Overall Plan

Like other minors, American Studies consists of six courses (18 or more credits). There are two required courses: 1) ENGL 2277, the Introduction to American Studies OR ENGL 2278,  American Culture: Engaging Difference and Justice,  and 2) the senior seminar, taken in the fall or spring of senior year. Students cannot count both ENGL 2277 and ENGL 2278, but either may be taken to fulfill the intro course requirement. Students must take courses in two departments outside of their major for the minor. 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 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 the director of American Studies.

Note: Only one course that satisfies a 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 Christina Klein or Assistant Director Lauren Crockett-Girard.

Introduction to American Studies

Introduction to American Studies (ENGL 2277) offers an introduction to topics, approaches, and methods in the field of American Studies. Although you can take ENGL 2277 any time before the senior seminar (it's not a prerequisite for taking other courses in the minor), if you are considering registering for the minor, then you are strongly urged to take it as soon as is possible. 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.

The Senior Seminar

In 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. The course is required for completion of the minor.

ENGL 5513: Senior Seminar: Transnational American Studies: The US and Asia 

This seminar offers a deep dive into the transnational wing of American Studies. Instead of taking America’s borders as the limit of inquiry, we will explore the cultural history of America’s relationship with the world beyond its borders – specifically Asia – from the 18th century to the present. Our focus will be on the relationship between the material conditions of American and Asian life (political, military, economic, social) and the production of diverse forms of culture (household goods, dance, movies, performance, propaganda, etc.). The seminar culminates in a substantial research paper about a cultural artifact of your choosing.

The University offers an independent major program for which American Studies has, in the past, provided advisement. Normally you need a 3.5 GPA; you plan a program of 12 courses, ten of which must be upper-division courses, spread over no more than three departments. Proposals must be submitted to the Dean’s Office before March 1 of the student’s sophomore year; the proposal will then be submitted to the university’s Educational Policy Committee for approval. Among the proposals approved by the Education Policy Committee in recent years are interdisciplinary independent majors in American Studies concentrating in the study of gender and culture, urban planning, and immigrant cultures.

As the field of American Studies grows more transnational and American culture grows ever more global in its reach and origins, international study becomes a more significant part of the discipline. We also provide advisement for study abroad at foreign universities with strong American Studies programs. For more information, contact the Director of American Studies and/or BC's Office of Global Education.