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American Studies

The American Studies track is part of the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora.

American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that studies the paradigmatic narratives that shape our received understandings of the American past and present. American Studies considers contexts such as settler colonialism, slavery, labor, capitalism, immigration, and war, all of which have influenced the ideas, history, culture, and society of the United States. Students examine how political, economic, and social differences inform and are reproduced by institutions and in public areas such as the law, education, work, health, and the environment. Students attend to the intersecting dynamics of race, class, religion, region, gender, and sexuality, and consider how these dynamics are mediated by literature, music, the visual arts, and popular culture.

Major Requirements

To graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies, a student must complete ten courses, including:

  • Requirement 1 (1 course): 
    RCD 0050 Introduction to Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora.
  • Requirement 2 (1 course): 
    One course from the RCD or History department that functions as a survey of U.S. or North American history. Please see the departmental website for an updated list of courses.
  • Requirement 3 (5 courses): 
    Five courses from at least two different disciplines that form a coherent interdisciplinary cluster.  Students prepare a rationale for their choice of five courses. 
  • Requirement 4 (1 course):
    RCD 0150 Theories and Methods in Studies of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora.

Beyond these eight courses there are then three options to complete the major:

  1. A student may propose a Senior Special Project, completed in the fall semester, and one elective course, both pertinent to their cluster.
  2. A student may propose an Honors Thesis, taken in both semesters of the senior year, which integrates or expands some aspect of the student’s cluster; or
  3. In substitution of a Senior Special Project or Honors Thesis, a student may opt or be advised to complete the major requirements by taking two elective courses.

Note: AP courses may not count toward the American Studies major. A grade of C- or better is required for a course to count toward the major. No more than ONE independent study course or internship will count toward the cluster. Internships for credit must be supervised by an American Studies faculty member and pre-approval must be granted by the track director.

The track director and faculty advisors work closely with students in tailoring individual tracks reflecting particular interests and providing a framework for the continued integration of knowledge at more advanced levels.


Students interested in pursuing an American Studies Major should contact the track Director or RCD Department Administrator.

Kerri Greenidge
Director of American Studies
Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor

Jessica Touayl
Staff Assistant
Fung House, 2nd Floor

Nicole Frechette
Department Administrator
Fung House, 1st Floor