Members of the Department of American Studies are accomplished scholars and devoted teachers who introduce students to interdisciplinary work in the study of American culture and seek to advance critical skills in thinking, analysis, and writing. In American Studies classes students learn how to locate and evaluate primary sources and scholarly texts, how to write effectively and clearly, and how to apply conceptual frameworks to their lived experience and practice.
The department promotes socially engaged and historically grounded research. Students are encouraged to conduct research projects and field studies that explore the rich cultural history, ethnic and class diversity, and community networks of New Jersey. Exploration of the local and regional environment is grounded in transnational approaches to the field of American Studies wherein students are encouraged to think beyond geopolitical and historical boundaries and to consider the local within regional, national, and global networks and processes.
American Studies Program Learning Goals
Departmental Major and Minor Goals:
Cultural Competency: American Studies students will be knowledgeable about historical and present-day diversity (including gender, race, class, and sexuality, among many others) of American experiences. Students will be able to apply conceptual frameworks about cultural and historical analysis to their lived experience and practice and future aspirations.
Research Competency: Students will learn how to write and speak effectively and clearly, demonstrating the ability to explain the complex meaning and significance of a text and formulate a cogent argument supported by evidence.
Global Competency: American Studies students will understand the history, culture, and politics of the US in the context of large-scale global changes.
- Become familiar with a variety of methods for approaching a range and diversity of cultural texts.
- Develop a basic critical vocabulary (of gender, race, class and sexuality, among others) to discuss the historical, political, and cultural dimensions of the American experience.
225: American Past and Thought
- Acquire a framework of factual knowledge—historical, literary, cultural and scholarly—on which to build interpretation and understanding of historical and cultural phenomena.
- Analyze historical texts across the range of cultural production (written, visual, performative) from an interdisciplinary perspective and to write lucidly and critically about them.
227: 19th Century Literature
- Acquire a framework of factual knowledge—historical, literary, cultural and scholarly—on which to build interpretation and understanding of literary and cultural texts.
- Analyze literary texts alongside a range of cultural production (written, visual, performative) from an interdisciplinary perspective and to write lucidly and critically about them.
- Use comparative lenses for studying American history, politics, and cultures.
- Learn, apply, and integrate interdisciplinary methods.
- Write clearly and critically.
389: Junior Seminar
- Deploy analytical and methodological skills necessary in pursuing a research project in American Studies.
- Identify and frame engaging and significant problems
489: Senior Seminar
- Acquire an in-depth knowledge of the specific topic or field within American studies.
- Generate own approved research topic and complete significant written work using the interdisciplinary methods of American studies.