Studying American Studies at Kenyon
Students of American studies examine the personal side of American life, considering the role of music, art, memory, family and popular culture throughout history. Courses explore African American history, the history of jazz, baseball and American culture, the history of the South, American modernist literature, and museums and memory, among many other topics. Students begin their inquiry with an examination of an artifact — a song, a work of art or a film — and use that as a jumping-off point to explore widening circles of culture.
American studies students can take advantage of the Gund Gallery's extensive collection. One example is "Probing the Land I" by Nate Lewis (2019, hand sculpted paper inkjet print and india ink, 26 x 40 inches. Collection of the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College; Gund Gallery Collection purchase).
August Wilson and Black Pittsburgh
The great African American playwright August Wilson set his Pittsburgh Cycle of plays in that city’s once-dynamic and historically Black Hill District. We’ll read several of Wilson’s works, including “Fences,” locating them in time and place in history. The class includes a three-day fieldwork experience in Pittsburgh.
Liberal Democracy in America
“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in his famous analysis of Democracy in America. This course examines how the principles and institutions of the American political system have evolved since the nation’s founding.
Race, Education and Student Rebellion
Why is education at the center of struggles for racial justice? Do students of color today face obstacles comparable to those of the 1960s? We’ll examine the interplay of race and education in student protest traditions in the U.S., including topics of anti-war protests, sexual assault, undocumented students and more.
American Art to 1900
Does American culture have a single, identifiable character? How have Americans reconciled their uneasy relationship with European culture? How have American political values informed cultural expression? This course presents an overview of painting, sculpture and architecture from colonial times to 1900.
The Senior Capstone
It's a culmination. It's a leap to a new level of mastery. It's a chance to take everything you've learned and apply it to a project that really compels you. Here's a sampling of recent Senior Capstone presentations in American Studies.
- "Ain't Nuthin' But A She Thing:" Female Resistance Through '90's Hip-Hop Music
- Living the Dream: Reimagining Life in Two Appalachian Neighborhoods
- Shaping the Narrative: Understanding Images, Words & Social Change Through the Eyes of Gordon Parks
- Haunting the Docks: Deindustrialization and Great Lakes Ghost Towns
- Little Brother of War: Lacrosse, the Iroquois Nationals, and Sovereignty
- Teaching Rhetorical Sovereignty to Fifth Graders
- Reagan, Rap and Resistance
- Standards of History: Exploring Democratic Narratives in Ohio U.S. History Textbooks