Curriculum and Requirements
American studies provides a broad framework for the exploration of the people, places, society, and culture of the United States. The field accomplishes this by appropriating ideas and methodologies from one discipline and applying them to another, and by transcending established boundaries among disciplines to create a new structure that combines traditional values and new visions. The program incorporates fieldwork research experiences, collaborative exploration, and public presentation.
American studies is a highly selective major requiring intellectual independence and maturity that includes developing a six-course plan detailing the trajectory of your course of study in your major.
Requirements for the Major
The major in American studies consists of 6 units:
- AMST 108 Introduction to American Studies (.5 unit)
- Four diversification courses (2 units)
- Six courses of elective study (3 units)
- The Senior Seminar (.5 unit)
AMST 108 Introduction to American Studies (.5 unit). This course is normally taken during the first or second year at Kenyon.
Diversification courses (2 units). See the list of courses below. One unit must be from A. History, and one unit from B. Politics, Culture, and Society. Some courses may have prerequisites in the home department; others may have limited enrollment. Students majoring in American studies should work closely with their advisors to ensure their acceptance.
A. History. Two courses (1 unit):
AMST 101D /HIST 101D U.S. History, 1492-1865
AMST 102D /HIST 102D U.S. History, 1865 to Present
B. Politics, Culture and Society. Two courses (1 unit) from the following:
AMST 109 American Art and Culture, 1900-1945
AMST 200D /PSCI 200D Liberal Democracy in America
AMST 314 American College and University Architecture
AMST 382 Baseball and American Culture
ARHS 227D American Art to 1865
ENGL 270 American Fiction
ENGL 280 American Literary Modernism
HIST 175 Early Black History
HIST 176 Contemporary African-American History
HIST 205/PSCI 309 U.S. Political History
HIST 208 U.S. Women's History
HIST 380 Black History through Fiction and Film
HIST 388 Practice and Theory of History
HIST 411 Civil Rights Era
AMST 302D /MUSC 302D The History of Jazz
PSCI 301 American Presidency
RLST 230 Religion and Society in America (U.S.)
RLST 332 African-American Religions
AMST 229D/SOCY 229D Social Movements
SOCY 246 American Folk Music
Elective study (3 units). Six courses from a single area, discipline, or set of disciplines that form a coherent program in American studies. Examples of such areas would be: writing and literature, race and ethnicity, history and society, politics and economics, African-American studies, women's studies, law and society, landscape and the environment, and America in a global context. Many other areas of focus are possible as well. The elective-study program undertaken by the student requires approval of the director of the American Studies Program. At least one unit (2 courses) must be at the 300 or 400 level.
Senior Seminar (.5 unit). A one-semester seminar taken during the spring of the senior year. The Senior Seminar will typically entail individual research and public presentation.
The Senior Exercise
The Senior Exercise in American studies may take several forms, but it must draw on the elective-study component of the major, identifying and then developing, through original research, a major theme that the student has identified as central to his or her work in American studies. By the final Friday in September, majors in American studies will present their plans for the Senior Exercise to their advisors and to the program director.
The exercise itself will have two parts: (1) a presentation (visual, oral, electronic) to selected majors and faculty in American studies; and (2) a written analysis or documentation of the work presented. The Senior Exercise will be presented no later than the last Friday in April in the spring semester.
The Honors Program in American studies entails a two-semester (1 unit) sequence of independent work integral to the elective-study program in the major, taken during the senior year (AMST 497Y-498Y). The program will result in an honors project that may take a variety of forms but shall include a written component and a public presentation or performance. Honors work will be evaluated by an external examiner. Students with an overall GPA of 3.33 and a GPA of 3.5 in the major become eligible for admission to the Honors Program during the second semester of their third year. To enter the Honors Program, students must be nominated by an American studies faculty member. Following the recommendation, a formal proposal containing a statement of intent, a tentative bibliography, and a project outline must be sent to the project advisor and the director of American studies for approval by April 1. Exceptions to the GPA requirements may occasionally be granted by petition.
The Concentration in American Studies
The concentration in American studies, encompassing 3 units of work, consists of three components: a one-semester introductory course, AMST 108 (.5 unit); four semester courses in curricular options (2 units); and a one-semester senior seminar (.5 unit). Students may choose among several pathways that will fulfill the curricular-options requirement. To obtain a list of specific courses that fall under these categories, students should consult the director of the American Studies Program. Courses required for a student's major cannot count toward completion of the American studies course requirements. Coursework undertaken for American studies must be over and above work required by a major department.
Students who are considering the concentration should consult with Peter Rutkoff, director of American studies, before enrolling in classes.
The following course is cross-listed in the art history offerings and can satisfy the fine arts requirement:
AMST 109 American Art and Culture, 1900-1945