American Studies is a field of study which examines the core values and ideas that define American culture, while at the same time emphasizing the diversity of its expressions in past and contemporary times. This scholarly inquiry draws upon the content of several disciplines and capitalizes also on the interdisciplinary content already common in courses offered on campus under English, History, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology and other disciplines. Students in American Studies will not only come to a deeper understanding of their own culture, but will gain an appreciation for the challenges involved in the understanding of any culture. This course of study thus provides a thorough training in the liberal arts and is an excellent preparation for the job market or graduate study in a variety of fields, such as: state, local, and federal policy, writing and editing, cultural resource management and historic preservation, curation, library science, banking, insurance, and stock analysis.
Prerequisites to the Major
For the American Studies major, students are required to complete 4 prerequisite courses for a total of 12 credit hours from the following:
|Select 12 hrs from the following:||12|
|Introduction to AAAS|
|Survey of Mass Communication|
|Intro to Lit: African American|
|American Lit: Colonial to 1900|
|The American Past I|
|The American Past II|
|Intro to Arab American Studies|
|Intro to American Government|
|Intro to Women's & Gender Stud|
|Total Credit Hours||12|
Dearborn Discovery Core Requirement
The minimum passing grade for a Dearborn Discovery Core (DDC) course is 2.0. The minimum GPA for the program is 2.0. In addition, the DDC permits any approved course to satisfy up to three credit hours within three different categories. Please see the General Education Program: The Dearborn Discovery Core section for additional information.
Areas of Inquiry
- Lecture/Lab Science Course
- Additional Science Course
Foreign Language Requirement
Complete a two-semester beginning language sequence.
|Ancient Greek I and II||MCL 105 and MCL 106|
|Arabic I and II||ARBC 101 and ARBC 102|
|Armenian I and II||MCL 111 and MCL 112|
|French I and II||FREN 101 and FREN 102|
|German I and II||GER 101 and GER 102|
|Latin I and II||LAT 101 and LAT 102|
|Spanish I and II||SPAN 101 and SPAN 102|
At the upper level, students must complete 9 courses (a total of 27 credit hours), beginning with AMST 300, the gateway course, which provides an introduction to the subject matter and methods of American Studies.
The remaining 8 courses must be chosen from the tracks listed below. An American Studies advisor will provide guidance to students in their choice of courses, as there are other courses that may be relevant to the American Studies major. Students may be able to count these courses in the major with approval of the faculty advisor by petition. Students are also strongly encouraged to take an internship or independent study course in their senior year.
Track 1. Comparative American Identities
One of the distinctive features of American culture is the multiplicity of subcultures it includes. This makes the process of finding a personal and social identity a more complex process than in other more homogeneous societies. A number of courses can give a further understanding of the historical development and intersection of the variety of racial, ethnic, gender, or class identities in American life. Some representative courses for this track are:
|SOC 423||American Social Classes||3|
|ENGL 445||20C/21C Women Authors||3|
|ENGL 4705||Black Women / Lit, Film, Music||3|
|HIST 368||Black Exp in U.S.:1865-Present||3|
|HIST 370||Women in Am-Hist Perspective||3|
|HIST 384||Immigration in America||3|
Track 2. Work, Technology and Globalization
This track encourages an understanding of American Studies through the world of work and technological innovation. Students will study how work and technology define and shape American culture – both in historic and in contemporary contexts. Students will explore how technology in America shapes both work identities and work environments. They will also consider how the American workforce is affected by the globalization of labor and other resources. Some representative courses for this track are:
|STS 300||Intro to Sci & Technol Studies||3|
|ECON 321||Labor in the American Economy||3|
|WGST 481||Gender and Globalization||3|
|SOC 460||America in a Global Society||3|
Track 3. Literature, Arts and Culture
This track provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of literature, music, the visual and performing arts, popular culture, architecture and the environment, with the objective of understanding the arts in relation to major issues and themes in American social, political and historical development. In this track, exploration of the arts offers opportunities to further engage questions central to the American Studies field, such as, what is “American” about this novel, this school of painting, this music? What has been the role of the arts in the evolution of an American national identity? How has art inspired or reflected various American identities? The courses offered under this rubric feature a variety of historical periods as well as a diversity of gender, racial and ethnic special interests. Some representative courses for this track are:
|ARTH 361||American Art||3|
|ARTH 375||Urban Design Perspectives||3|
|ENGL 452||Major 20C/21C American Authors||3|
|ENGL 469||Contemporary African Amer Lit||3|
|JASS 457||American Cinema||3|
|MHIS 331||Music of America||3|
|MHIS 120||History of Jazz||3|
|SOC 304||Studies in Det.Hist. & Culture||3|
Track 4. Society, Religion and Politics
This track examines the ways in which both personal and national identity are shaped through a dynamic process of interaction between American citizens and the broad array of civic, religious, and cultural institutions in American society. Within this framework, students will study competing ideas of citizenship and nationhood as they operate in a variety of historical and contemporary contexts. In addition, this same perspective affords students the opportunity to explore regional topics of interest such as Detroit culture, the history and sociology of the auto industry, and the diversity of religious experience in Southeastern Michigan. Some representative courses for this track are:
|SOC 441||Sociology of the Auto Industry||3|
|HIST 363||Rel in Amer Hist:1607-1865||3|
|HIST 3695||American City||3|
|POL 304||American Political Thought||3|
|POL 360||American Policy Process||3|
- At least 15 of the 27 upper level hours in the American Studies major must be elected at UM-Dearborn.
- Some upper level courses may require additional prerequisites.
- Other courses may be relevant to the American Studies major. Students may be able to count these courses in the major with approval of the faculty advisor by petition.
American Studies majors are required to consult with an American Studies advisor. To inquire, contact the CASL College-Wide Programs office, 2036 CB, 313-593-4925.
AMST 300 Comparat. American Identities 3 Credit Hours
This course will confront and complicate the following key questions: what does it mean to be an American? What is American culture? Participants in this course will respond to the questions central to the American Studies field by reading and discussing historical, sociological, literary, artistic, material culture, political, economic, and other sources. Students will use this interdisciplinary study to examine the multiple identities of Americans - as determined by factors such as gender, race, class, ethnicity, and religion. While emphasizing the diversity of American culture, participants will consider some core values and ideas uniting America both in historical and contemporary society. Students will be invited to seek out and share fresh narratives of the American experience.
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate
AMST 390 Topics in American Studies 3 Credit Hours
Examination of problems and issues in selected areas of American Studies. Title in the Schedule of Classes will change according to course content. Course may be repeated for credit when specific topics differ.
AMST 499 Ind. Study in Amer Studies 1 to 3 Credit Hours
The independent study is designed for American Studies majors to provide an opportunity for pursuing a significant scholarly project that explores a topic of interest in American Studies while synthesizing insights gained from prior coursework in American Studies. The course can be repeated for up to 6 credits.
Can enroll if Class is Senior
Can enroll if Major is American Studies
An asterisk denotes that a course may be taken concurrently.
Frequency of Offering
The following abbreviations are used to denote the frequency of offering: (F) fall term; (W) winter term; (S) summer term; (F, W) fall and winter terms; (YR) once a year; (AY) alternating years; (OC) offered occasionally