Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

American Studies

Director, 2014-15: Mark Allister (English), environmental literature, American regionalism, men’s studies

Faculty, 2014-15: Michael Fitzgerald (History), African-American history, Civil War and Reconstruction, U.S. South; Steven Hahn (History), Early American history, Native American history; Carol Holly (English), American literature, American women writers, American autobiography; Judy Kutulas (History), 20th-century American history, American women's history, media history; DeAne Lagerquist (Religion), American religions; Diane Leblanc (English, Writing Program), American literature, gender studies; Bruce Nordstrom-Loeb (Sociology/Anthropology), gender and race, gay and lesbian studies, cross-cultural perspectives; Matthew Rohn (Art History), visual culture, 20th century art (on leave Interim and spring); Mary Titus (English), women writers, southern writers, race and American literature; Colin Wells (English), early American literature, the Beat Generation

The American Studies Program offers St. Olaf students the opportunity to construct their own interdisciplinary courses of study themed around American society, culture, and institutions. The core work in the program provides students with the analytic and theoretic tools they need to integrate disciplinary perspectives. Students observe and analyze cultural patterns— ethnic, racial, religious—and gender differences and commonalities to consider the American identity and the impact of our society on the larger world.


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.

American Studies is a major for people who want to chart their own course through the wilds of American culture. Unlike many majors, which prescribe sequences of courses for students, American Studies is fairly free-form. It allows a student who likes American art to create a concentration that reflects his interests, while permitting the student with interests in economics to incorporate those interests in her major. It lets one student create a major that focuses on fiction, and another to concentrate on the facts (and interpretations) of history.

It's both easy and interesting to double major in American Studies. Because of the range of options in American Studies, majoring in American Studies is also a good way to fulfill general education requirements, because the courses that count for American Studies may also count for some general education credit.



In consultation with an advisor, students construct nine-course majors that normally include American Studies 100, a level II topics course, and a level III 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 two must carry MCD general education credit and at least two must be at level III.


Seniors majors may apply for distinction in American studies. Candidates must satisfy minimum GPA requirements (3.50 in the major), prepare a research project under the direction of a faculty advisor 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 women's and gender studies major and concentration. Offered annually in the 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 and analytic essays. Recent topics include “Sitcom America,” “American Adolescence,” and “Campus Ecology.” Usually offered annually in the 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 annually in the 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. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.

398 Independent Research


Africa and the Americas 231: Africa and the Americas, The Diaspora Experience
American Conversations 101: Declaring Independence, 1607-1865
American Conversations 102: Democratic Vistas, 1800-1900
American Conversations 201: Remaking America, 1865-1945
American Conversations 202: Pursuits of Happiness, 1920-Present
Art 253: Art Since 1945
Dance 246: Dance in the United States
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 260: Foundations in Education
Education 378: Multicultural Education in Hawaii: Seminar and Practicum (Off-Campus: Oahu, Hawaii)
Education 379: Urban Education Practicum and Seminar (Off-Campus: Minneapolis/St. Paul)
English 205: American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
English 276: Literature and the Environment
English 340: Advanced Studies in Literary Eras: American
English 345: Topics in American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
English 392: Major American Authors
Environmental Studies 202: The Culture of Nature
Environmental Studies 222: Campus Ecology
Environmental Studies 270: Nature and American Landscapes
Environmental Studies/Political Science 276: Environmental Politics
Family Studies 232: Introduction to Family Studies
Family Studies 242: Family Relationships
Family Studies 253: Human Sexuality
Film Studies 201: American Film History
History 165: Slavery in the Americas
History 169: From Fjord to Frontier: Norwegian-American History in Literature
History 181: Civil Rights Revolution
History 182: America Since World War II
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: Topics in Native American History
History 288: America in the Civil War and Reconstruction Era
History 290: Reel America: U.S. History in Film
History 299: Topics in History (American Topics)
History 370: Advanced American Seminar
History 375: Problems of Contemporary America
Media Studies 160: Mass Media
Media Studies 260: Media and Contemporary Culture
Music 345: Advanced Study in Music History (American Topics)
Nursing 120: Images of Wellness
Political Science 111: American Politics
Political Science 211: Media and Politics
Political Science 244: Race and American Politics
Political Science 246: Introduction to Public Policy
Political Science 255: Political Parties and Elections
Political Science 272: American Constitutional Law: Power
Political Science 311: Seminar in American Politics
Psychology 227: Environmental Psychology at Rocky Mountain National Park
Race and Ethnic Studies 121 and 122: Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies
Social Work 221: Social Work and Social Welfare
Social Work 258: Social Policy
Sociology/Anthropology 121: Introduction to Sociology
Sociology/Anthropology 234: Native North American Cultures and Religions
Sociology/Anthropology 242: Contemporary Native American Issues
Sociology/Anthropology 246: LGBTQA Lives and Issues
Sociology/Anthropology 248: Sociology of Dying, Death, and Bereavement
Sociology/Anthropology 260: Marriage and the Family
Sociology/Anthropology 264: Race and Class in American Culture
Sociology/Anthropology 265: Religion, Culture, and Society
Women's and Gender Studies 121: Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

Interim courses approved for credit as designated disciplinary courses in American studies are offered annually. See the director for the approved list, and consult with the director about other courses not on the list above that meet American Studies criteria.