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Course Descriptions

Program in American Studies

219 Bryan Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400121
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4121
(434) 924-6616

The United States is a country held together by different and often conflicting stories of nationhood, and the American Studies major is an interdisciplinary major designed to create dialogue about the multiple ways in which these stories have been told over the last five centuries. The American Studies major demands of its students self-consciousness about their own theories and practices through a comparative perspective on national narratives. We hope students will learn to describe those narratives in different modes - written and electronic, verbal and nonverbal, visual and auditory. In addition, each student will be expected to demonstrate the ability to transcend disciplinary boundaries. Although we affirm the necessity and integrity of individual disciplines, we want our American Studies students to understand the assumptions and methods of several of them. An ongoing goal for the small group admitted to the major will be to realize a sense of intellectual community that enables its members, both students and faculty, to look beyond their personal interests as they pursue studies in common.

For more information about American Studies, please call the Director at 924-6676 or write americanstudies@virginia.edu.

Requirements for a Major in American Studies

  1. 30 credits
  2. 10 courses
  3. AMST 201 (Major Texts in American Studies) recommended but not required
  4. AMST 301-302 (Introduction to the American Studies Major)
  5. AMST 401 (Fourth-Year Seminar in American Studies)
  6. Seven additional courses from the list of approved courses available from the Director of American Studies. These courses represent African-American Studies, Anthropology, Architectural History, Art, Economics, English, Environmental Sciences, Drama, Government, History, Music, Philosophy, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology, Studies in Women and Gender, Technology, Culture and Communication and other relevant departments. Each student will design a program of courses in consultation with the Director. General guideline for these seven courses: a minimum of at least three courses in a single department and courses in at least three departments.
  7. Attendance at special events/lectures and participation in an American Studies reading group.

Sample program:

Second year: AMST 201

Third year: AMST 301-302

Fall: ARTH 258 American Art, ECON 206 American Economic History

Spring: ENAM 315 American Renaissance, DRAM 360 Modern American Theatre and Drama

Fourth year: AMST 401

Fall: GFAP 331 American Presidency, ARTH 280 Art since 1945

Spring: HIUS 317 United States Society and Politics 1945-1990, ARTH 358 Material Life in Early America

(This student has taken the required AMST courses; three courses in Art History; and five other courses in five departments, one more than he or she actually needs.)

Course Descriptions


AMST 201 - (3) (IR)
Major Works for American Studies
A small lecture course enrolling between 35 and 60 students, AMST 201 offers students significant texts or works of American culture, texts or works that are printed, graphic, artifactual, material or oral. Although one faculty member will teach the course, guest lecturers from various disciplines may contribute as well. The goal of this course is to show students what kinds of insights and syntheses result from juxtaposing works across disciplinary boundaries and from different methodological perspectives.

AMST 301, 302 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to the American Studies Major
A year-long sequence of two small seminars, this course will introduce majors both to the history of American Studies and to various theories and methods for the practice of American Studies. The three goals of these seminars are (1) to make students aware of their own interpretive practices; (2) to equip them with information and conceptual tools they will need for advanced work in American Studies; and (3) to provide them comparative approaches to the study of various aspects of the United States.

AMST 401 - (3) (Y)
Fourth-Year Seminar in American Studies
This seminar is intended to focus study, research, and discussion on a single period, topic, or issue, such as the Great Awakening, the Civil War, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression, or the 1960s. Topics vary.

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