American Studies

Professor: Boyer Lewis (Director)

The concentration in American studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American culture. The concentration provides an excellent background for a wide variety of pursuits. Students will take six courses focusing on American institutions in fine arts, history, literature, music, political science, psychology, sociology, and religion. The concentration also offers a focus on Native American and African American Studies.

Requirements for the Concentration in American Studies

Number of Units

Six units are required.

Required Courses

One American History course: AMST/HIST 110 or 111
One American Literature course: AMST/ENGL 269, 270, 275, or 276

Core Courses

Four additional courses from at least two of the following different categories:


  • AMST/HIST 110 History of the US I
  • AMST/HIST 111 History of the US II
  • HIST 201 Native American History
  • HIST 202 African American History: Slavery and Resistance
  • HIST 204 American Women’s History to 1870
  • HIST 205 American Women’s History since 1870
  • HIST 210/SEMN 224 Exceptional America?
  • HIST 211 History of Leisure and Recreation in America
  • HIST 212 American Environmental History
  • HIST 213 Unsettling Colonial America
  • HIST 214 Revolutionary America
  • HIST 215 Victorianizing America and Its Challengers
  • HIST 217 Post World War II America
  • HIST/RELG 218 The American Jewish Experience

Literature and Fine Arts

  • AMST/ENGL 269 New World Narratives: American Literature 1500-1790
  • AMST/ENGL 270 Reform and Renaissance: U.S. Literature 1790-1865
  • AMST/ENGL 275 American Realisms: U.S. Literature 1865-1914
  • AMST/ENGL 276 Modernism and Postmodernism: U.S. Literature 1914-Present
  • ARTX 160 Art, Power, and Society
  • ARTX 224 The 1960s
  • ENGL 153 Reading the World: Classical Hollywood in a Global Context
  • ENGL 220 African American Literature
  • ENGL 222 U.S. Indigenous Literatures
  • ENGL 230 U.S. Ethnic Literature
  • ENGL 260 Studies in Film (depending on topic-contact director)
  • ENGL 310 Constructing Blackness
  • ENGL 323 Chicana/o Literature
  • ENGL/SEMN 491 Building the Archive: Baldwin & His Legacy
    ENGL/SEMN 492 Advanced Literary Studies: American Indian Literature & Law
  • MUSC 165 Jazz: A Creative and Cultural Experience
  • MUSC 204 Intellectual Flows of Black Music
  • MUSC 205/SEMN 256 Music and Identity
  • THEA 155 Introduction to African American Theater


  • POLS 105 Introduction to U.S. Politics: Theory and Practice
  • POLS 220 Voting, Campaigns, and Elections
  • POLS 225 Constitutional Law
  • POLS 229 Race, Law, and U.S. Politics
  • POLS 230 Congress and the Presidency
  • POLS 263 American Political Theory
  • POLS 285 United States Foreign Policy


  • ANSO 103 Introduction to Society and Culture
  • ANSO 220 The Family
  • ANSO/SEMN 226 Theory in Action
  • ANSO 236 Race and Racism
  • ANSO 270 Communities and Schools
  • ANSO/SEMN 292 Development and Dispossession
  • ANSO 322 Prisoners and Detainees
  • HIST/RELG 218 American Jewish Experience
  • PSYC 230 Psychology of Prejudice
  • RELG 123 Catholics in the Americas
  • RELG 205 Religion and Masculinity in the U.S.
  • RELG/SEMN 220 Bad Religion
  • RELG 222 Urban Religion

Students interested in Native American Studies should take: ENGL 222 and 435, HIST 201 and 216, and RELG 123, among other offerings. Students interested in African American Studies should take: ANSO 236, ENGL 220, 310, and 491, HIST 202, MUSC 165 and 310, POLS 229 and 315, RELG 222, and THEA 155, among other offerings.

Other courses may be accepted at the discretion of the director. Concentrators should consult with the Director of American Studies as early as possible to develop their program. Concentrators are encouraged to take as many courses as possible.

Senior Integrated Project (SIP)

The SIP in American Studies is encouraged but not required. Any faculty member regularly teaching in the American Studies program may direct a SIP in American Studies. Concentrators should consult with the Director of American Studies.

American Studies Courses

AMST 110 History of the United States I This course will examine the American experience from multiple perspectives, concentrating on how Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans all helped shape American culture from the first contact of Native Americans with Europeans through the end of the Civil War in 1865. We'll look at the rich and the poor, those living in the country and in the cities, the enslaved and the free, and the immigrant and the native-born.
AMST 111 History of the United States II This class provides a broad survey of American history since the Civil War. We will cover a variety of issues in this period, ranging from national and international politics to class, race, and gender relations, from economic and demographic developments to social and cultural changes.
AMST 269 New World Narratives: American Literature 1500-1790 A study of the different tales emerging from those indigenous to or settling "America." Texts include American Indian creation myths, European exploration narratives, Puritan poetry, captivity and slave narratives, and late 18th-century fiction and nonfiction. For the Historical and Cultural Breadth requirement, this course counts as a Pre-19th-Century course. A Reading the World course or instructor permission
AMST 270 Reform and Renaissance US Literature U.S. Literature 1790-1865 A study of literature emerging during a period of significant cultural upheavals: the unsettling of indigenous populations, the movement of European populations westward, and the Slavery and Woman questions. Through an exploration of diverse texts, students will examine a literature shaped by an impulse to transform or reform pre-existing perspectives and genres. For the Historical and Cultural Breadth requirement, this course counts as a 19th-Century course. A Reading the Worlds course or instructor permission
AMST 275 American Realisms: U.S. Literature 1865-1914 This course examines a variety of approaches to knowing a literary period. We will explore theoretical, socio-historical, formal, and thematic paradigms that can organize our understanding of the wide variety of written and cinematic texts produced in the period between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of World War I. Through a study of the frequently conflicting stories about gender, race, sexuality, art, and Americanness that come to voice during this period, students will challenge and complicate their definitions of literary realism. A Reading the World course or instructor permission
AMST 276 Modernism and Postmodernism: U.S. Literature 1914-Present A study of the rise of a modern aesthetic in the wake of World War I and the postmodern response in the second half of the 20th century with an eye toward the diversity of voices and formal choices that mark this period. A Reading the World course or instructor permission
AMST 593 Senior Integrated Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Integrated Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Integrated Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details. Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.
AMST 600 Teaching Assistantship