Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

American Studies

Director, 2007-08: Judy Kutulas (History), 20th-century American history, American women's history, media history

Faculty, 2007-08: Mark Allister (English), environmental literature, American regionalism, men’s studies; Carolyn Anderson (Sociology/Anthropology), Native Americans, jazz, music, theory and gender; James Farrell (History), contemporary culture, consumer culture, environmental history, the sixties; Steven Hahn (History), Early American history, Native American history; Carol Holly (English), American literature, American women writers, American autobiography; DeAne Lagerquist (Religion); Bruce Nordstrom-Loeb (Sociology/Anthropology), gender and race, gay and lesbian studies, cross-cultural perspectives; Matthew Rohn (Art History), visual culture, 20th century art; Mary Titus (English), women writers, southern writers, race and American literature; Colin Wells (English), early American literature, the Beat Generation

The American Studies Program operates on Lionel Trilling’s premise that “the primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his [or her] culture in the environmental sense and to permit him [or her] to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.” Both the matter and the method of American studies are encompassed by the national motto “E Pluribus Unum,” which suggests that we create communities — both cultural and academic — from differences. American culture is a complex dialectic of different regional and cultural strains, and the best methodological approach to America is a multiplicity of disciplinary perspectives, unified by the analytical and integrative skills of each student. By discovering the American cultural patterns that influence their lives, students learn how to make lives of critical consequence. Their interdisciplinary training also helps them to make a living in a variety of ways — as journalists, attorneys, ministers, social workers, educators, etc.


The American studies major is structured for both exploration and coherence. The Level I seminar introduces and integrates different disciplinary questions and concepts in the study of contemporary culture. The Level II seminar combines different disciplines to study a single topic or time period. And the Level III seminar invites students to participate in a substantial interdisciplinary research project.


In consultation with an advisor, students construct nine-course majors which normally include American Studies 100, a 200-level topics course and a 300-level seminar (when subjects are different, the topics course and the seminar may be taken more than once) and six designated disciplinary courses (with at least one course in each of three departments). Of the nine courses, at least three must be at Level III. Students in the American Conversations program should consult with the director.

Because the United States is composed of a multiplicity of peoples, at least one course dealing with racial and multicultural studies is recommended. Because American studies is an active interaction with an ongoing culture, we recommend programs of service and/or internships. Because American studies is implicitly comparative, we also recommend the “perspective by incongruity” of foreign study.


Seniors majors may apply for distinction in American studies. Candidates must satisfy minimum GPA requirements (3.3 overall, 3.50 in the major), prepare a research project under the direction of a faculty adviser and submit their work for faculty review. Students declare their interest by Oct. 15 of their senior year; the review occurs in April.



100 American Culture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

This analysis of modern American society introduces theories and methods of culture studies, beginning with anthropological definitions of culture and including perspectives of sociology, political science, history, art history, and English. Students examine the moral ecology of everyday life in America, looking at the cultural meanings of work, clothes, food, family, gender, buildings, bodies, television, advertising and education. Counts toward major: Women's Studies. Offered Fall Semester.

201-210 American Studies: A Topical Approach

Students apply theories and methods of culture studies to a selected major topic in American culture. The course employs a discussion format, focusing on critical reading, analytic essays. Recent topics include “Masculinity in America,” “American Adolescence,” and “Campus Ecology.” The course is usually offered Spring Semester. May be repeated if topics are different.

294, 394 Internship

298 Independent Study

301 Seminar

This course undertakes an intensive study of a particular period or topic through the interdisciplinary perspective of American studies. This course employs a seminar format, with concentration on student research. Recent topics include: "Disney's America," "American Women of Color," "Man and Nature," and "California Dreams." Offered Spring Semester. May be repeated if topics are different.

396 Directed Undergraduate Research

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Prerequisite: Determined by individual instructor. Offer based on department decision.

398 Independent Research


American Conversations 101, Declaring Independence, 1607-1865
American Conversations 102, Democratic Vistas, 1800-1900
American Conversations 201, Re-Making America, 1865-1945
American Conversations 202, Pursuits of Happiness, 1920-2000
American Racial and Multicultural Studies 121 & 122, Introduction to American Racial and Multicultural Studies
American Racial and Multicultural Studies 250 & 251, Topical Seminar
Art 253, Art Since 1950
Dance 246, Dance in America
Economics 242, Environmental Economics
Economics 244, Business, Government and the Marketplace
Economics 245, Economics of Health Care
Economics 371, Economics of Public Policy
Economics 374, Money and Banking
Economics 376, Labor Economics and Employment Relations
Education 170, Urban Schools and Communities
Education 378, Multicultural Education in Hawaii: Seminar and Practicum (Off-Campus:Oahu, Hawaii)
Education 379, Urban Education Seminar and Practicum (Off-Campus: Minneapolis/St. Paul)
English 240, Literary Eras: American
English 245, American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
English 276, Literature and the Environment
English 284, Performing Arts in New York (Off-Campus)
English 340, Advanced Studies in Literary Eras: American
English 345, Topics in American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
English 392, Major American Authors
Environmental Studies 101, The Culture of Nature
Environmental Studies 222, Campus Ecology
Environmental Studies 259, Saving Wild Places
Environmental Studies 270, Nature and American Landscapes
Environmental Studies 276, Environmental Politics
Family Studies 232, Introduction to Family Studies
Family Studies 242, Family Relationships
History 161, Race and Culture in Early North America
History 162, American Revolution
History 165, Slavery in the Americas
History 167, Trail of Tears
History 168, Rølvaag’s America
History 169, The Norwegian-American Experience
History 175, American Consumer Culture
History 176, U.S. Culture: Ethnicity and Immigration
History 181, Civil Rights Revolution
History 182, America Since World War Ii
History 183, Cynicism and Hope in Modern America
History 188, Topical Seminar (American Topics)
History 198, American History To 1865
History 199, American History Since 1865
History 270, Major Seminar: American History
History 272, Women in America
History 275, Environmental History
History 277, African-American History
History 282, Native American History
History 288, America in the Civil War And Reconstruction Era
History 290, Reel America: U.S. History in Film
History 292, Civil Rights (HECUA)
History 299, Topics in History (American Topics)
History 370, American Seminar
History 375, Problems of Contemporary America
Media Studies 160, Mass Media
Media Studies 260, Media and Contemporary Culture
Music 231, History of Jazz
Music 232, America’s Hit Parade
Music 345, Advanced Study in Music History (American Topics)
Political Science 111, American Politics
Political Science 246, Introduction to Public Policy
Political Science 255, Political Parties And Elections
Political Science 270, Family Values
Political Science 272, American Constitutional Law: Power
Political Science 281, American Foreign Policy
Political Science 311, Seminar in American Politics
Religion 260, Religion in America
Social Work 221, Social Work and Social Welfare
Social Work 258, Social Policy
Sociology/Anthropology 120, Anthropology of Jazz
Sociology/Anthropology 121, Introduction to Sociology
Sociology/Anthropology 242, Contemporary Native American Issues
Sociology/Anthropology 248, Sociology of Dying, Death, and Bereavement
Sociology/Anthropology 260, Marriage and the Family
Sociology/Anthropology 265, Religion, Culture, and Society

Interim courses approved for credit as designated disciplinary courses in American studies are offered annually; see the Interim catalog or the director for the approved list.