American Studies Curriculum

Students are introduced to the themes and issues dominant in American Studies (AMST) in Introduction to American Studies, a 20000-level course taken at the sophomore level and intended as a gateway to the major.  This required course, which will explore key concepts, texts, and methods in American Studies and familiarize students with the discipline's working vocabulary and practices, will be offered in the fall semester, and must be taken before students can take AMST courses at the 30000 and 40000 levels.  It may be taken concurrently with a 30000-level course in AMST, pending approval of the instructor. 

The introductory course is followed by 5 different 30000-level courses in AMST, each of which continues to explore concepts, texts, and methods particular to the discipline of American Studies.  These classes are divided into three different tracks: 1) American Cultures and Societies, 2) American Identities, and 3) American Political Cultures and Institutions.  Students are required to take at least one 30000-level course in each one of these areas, and faculty advisors will help determine the particular track that courses fit.  (In some cases, a course will fit more than one track.)  The three tracks are oriented toward the following questions and issues:

1. American Cultures and Societies

How does the production, distribution, and consumption of various expressive practices and forms—including novels, comic books, paintings, toys, ideas, movies, television programs, songs, and other artifacts from both elite and popular culture—reflect the diversity of American experience?  How do they reflect and embody American society and social change?  Fields often associated with these kinds of questions include literature, art history, music, media studies (Film, Television, and Theater), and material culture.

2. American Identities

How has America's historic experience as a nation of people of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, sexual, and other identities shaped the varied processes by which Americans forge individual and group identities and claim rights to citizenship, and in turn transform the nation's collective identity?  Disciplines related to these questions include history, sociology, theology, gender studies, Africana studies, Latino/a studies, and anthropology.

3. American Political Cultures and Institutions

How do governmental, economic, journalistic, and civic institutions operate within America's cultural frameworks, and how do they mediate (and dramatize) relationships and contending claims among groups and individuals in America?  Related fields here include journalism, economics, political science, and policy studies. 

In addition to courses taught by AMST faculty, AMST majors are required to take three outside courses—courses offered by faculty in related departments and cross-listed with AMST—which are similarly oriented to the three tracks in the AMST major.  Students are required to take one course in each of the three tracks.  Specific outside courses that are included in these tracks, which are offered in the wide variety of departments and programs at the University of Notre Dame, will be found on lists regularly maintained in the AMST office.  These Departments include: History, English, Art History, Sociology, Anthropology, and Political Science.

As with all courses, students must consult with their faculty advisors about registering for these courses, and once their advisor approves their course selections, the AMST administrative assistant will help students register for courses.   American Studies majors will be assigned specific faculty advisors when they declare the major.

Finally, AMST majors complete their coursework with the SENIOR SEMINAR IN AMERICAN STUDIES.  The senior seminar is designed to be a capstone experience for American Studies majors.  Readings and assignments will explore course themes in the context of American Studies as a field.  Requirements will include seminar-style discussions of course readings and a final project of approximately 20 pages (or equivalent) based on primary source research.  Once the 30000-level course requirements have been fulfilled, students may enroll in 40000-level AMST courses.



Contact Director of Undergradate Studies Annie Coleman at

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