American Studies

  • Department Information

    American Studies

    Laura Browder, Coordinator (American Studies)
    Professors Ashe, Ayers, Browder, Dorsey, Holloway
    Associate Professors Diaz, Herrera, Love, Maurantonio, Méndez de Coudriet, Sackley, Seeley, Tilton
    Assistant Professor Husain
    Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab: Nelson
    Senior Administrative Officer Howard

    American studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides opportunities for students to study American culture, society, identity, and politics by combining coursework in anthropology, art, history, journalism, literature, music, philosophy, politics, religion, and sociology into a single major. Our approach to American studies emphasizes the "local" and the "global." In the program's Richmond Seminars, students investigate the American experience through community studies and community-based learning. In its Tocqueville Seminars, students place the study of the United States in comparative and international perspective. A core group of American studies faculty, who serve as faculty advisors to majors, specialize in American history, religion, and literature; Native American studies, African American studies, Latino/a studies; memory and museum studies; and urban studies. The program emphasizes student initiative and hands-on practice and encourages students to craft a distinctive program of study that meets the intellectual interests of each major.

    The American studies major consists of nine courses, including AMST 201, a topical survey open primarily to first-year students and sophomores, and AMST 301, a junior/senior seminar that explores theories and methods in the field. In addition, students must complete at least one Richmond Seminar (AMST 381) and one Tocqueville Seminar (AMST 391).

    Majors work closely with the program coordinator to determine a specialized course of study for the remaining five electives. These courses must be drawn from at least two allied departments; two must be taken at the 300 level or higher. Students may count one approved First-Year Seminar toward their American studies electives. Introductory courses for other majors are ineligible. Students must complete all prerequisites for electives taken in allied departments in addition to the requirements for their American studies major. For a list of past, current, and upcoming AMST courses and electives, see the "Courses" link on the American studies website.

    The discipline of American studies increasingly emphasizes explorations of U.S. culture and society in relation to international politics, the global economy, and population migrations. For this reason, students who study abroad are strongly encouraged to pursue coursework related to their American studies majors.

    In addition to completing the standard requirements for the major, qualified students may elect to write an honors thesis (AMST 401) during the spring semester of their senior year. Theses are written under the supervision of a sponsoring faculty member and require the prior approval of a formal prospectus submitted to the American studies advisory board before November 15.

    Students interested in learning more about the American studies major are encouraged to contact the program coordinator for more information.

  • Major

    The American Studies Major

    Note: The grade point average of the coursework comprising the major must be no less than 2.00 with no course grade below C- (1.70).

    Nine units, including:

    AMST 201 Introduction to American Studies

    AMST 301 Seminar in American Studies

    AMST 381 Richmond Seminars

    AMST 391 Tocqueville Seminars

    Five electives in allied departments, chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor, including two at the 300 level or higher

    Students are expected to fulfill all prerequisites necessary for electives in allied departments. Prerequisites do not count toward the major unless otherwise noted.

  • Minor

    The American Studies Minor

    The grade point average of coursework comprising the minor must be no less than 2.00 with no course grade below C- (1.70).

    Five units, including:

    AMST 201 Introduction to American Studies

    AMST 381 Richmond Seminars

    AMST 391 Tocqueville Seminars

    Two elective courses from the approved list, drawn from two allied departments.

  • Courses

    American Studies Electives

    See the departmental listings for descriptions of the following courses offered for AMST credit. Ordinarily, the electives should be drawn from at least two affiliated departments and two must be taken at the 300-level or higher. Students may count one approved First-Year Seminar or one approved History 199 toward their American Studies major. A supplemental listing of courses is published each semester on the American Studies website.

    ANTH 211 Field Methods in Ethnography

    ANTH 307 Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

    ANTH 308 Latin America: An Ethnographic Perspective

    ANTH 328 Anthropology of Human Rights

    ANTH 329 Anthropology of Race

    ARTH 213 American Art 1700-1900

    ARTH 218 Modern Art, 1900-1960

    ARTH 223 Studies in the History of Photography

    ARTH 322 Museum Studies

    EDUC 220 Education in America

    ENGL 206 Selected Readings in American Literature

    ENGL 208 Twentieth Century American Fiction

    ENGL 216 Literature, Technology, and Society

    ENGL 229 The Black Vernacular

    ENGL 231 African-American Literature

    ENGL 232 Southern Fiction

    ENGL 233 Contemporary Native American Literature

    ENGL 240 Literature after 9/11

    ENGL 325 Age of the American Renaissance

    ENGL 334 American Indian Literatures

    ENGL 357 Twentieth-Century American Fiction

    ENGL 361 Literature and Film

    ENGL 362 Post-Soul Literature and Culture

    ENGL 367 Indigenous Film in North America

    ENGL 368 History and Aesthetics of Film

    ENGL 369 American Culture/American Film

    GEOG 215/ENVR 215 Geography of the James River Watershed

    HIST 199 Elements of Historical Thinking: Lincoln

    HIST 199 Elements of Historical Thinking: Mexico/US Borderlands

    HIST 199 Elements of Historical Thinking: Scottsboro Trials

    HIST 199 Elements of Historical Thinking: Slavery in Virginia

    HIST 200 Colonial America

    HIST 201 The American Revolution

    HIST 202 The Early American Republic

    HIST 204 The Civil War and Reconstruction

    HIST 215 United States and the World since 1945

    HIST 216 American Cultural and Intellectual History since 1865

    HIST 218 State and Society in Modern America

    HIST 219 Work in Twentieth-Century America

    HIST 220 Reagan's America

    HIST 260 Colonial Latin America

    HIST 261 Modern Latin America

    HIST 300 Claiming the American Revolution

    HIST 301 The Civil War in Film and Literature

    HIST 306 American Identities

    HIST 391 Transnational Social Reform

    HIST 395 The Historian's Workshop

    JOUR 100 News Media and Society

    JOUR 302 Public Affairs Reporting

    JOUR 307 Documentary Journalism

    JOUR 311 Press and Politics

    LAIS 301 Spanish in the Community

    LAIS 331 Intro to Latin American Literature I

    LAIS 332 Intro to Latin American Literature II

    LAIS 452 Spanish-American Poetic Texts

    LAIS 472 Latin American Theater

    LAIS 483 The Art of Embodiment: Space and Body in Colonial Spanish America

    LAIS 486 US Latino/a Literature

    LAIS 487 Latin America: Encounter and Conflict

    LDST 317 Reimagining Richmond: History, Power and Politics in the Capital of the Confederacy

    LDST 345 Civil War Leadership

    LDST 352 Presidential Leadership

    LDST 378 Statesmanship

    LDST 384 Education and Equity

    MUS 221 Music in Film

    MUS 235 I Want My MTV: Music Video and the Transformation of the Music Industry

    PLSC 310 Statesmanship

    PLSC 315 American Political Theory

    PLSC 323 Money, Politics, and Prisons

    PLSC 325 Racial Politics

    PLSC 326 United States Congress

    PLSC 327 The American Presidency

    PLSC 328 Americal Political Parties

    PLSC 329 Campaigns and Elections

    PLSC 331 Constitutional Law

    PLSC 333 Civil Rights/Liberties

    PLSC 337 The American Legal System

    PLSC 339 Jurisprudence in Contemporary American Politics

    PLSC 349 Politics/Latin America and Caribbean

    PLSC 350 American Foreign Policy

    PLSC 361 The Politics of Social Welfare

    PLSC 365 US Healthcare Policy and Politics

    PLSC 366 Poverty and Political Voice

    RELG 255 Queers in Religion

    RELG 257 Native American Religions

    RELG 273 Witchcraft and its Interpreters

    RELG 359 American Judaism

    RELG 374 Religion and the American Environment

    RELG 375 Cults, Communes, and Utopias in Early America

    RHCS 347 Advertising and Consumer Culture

    RHCS 349 Memory and Memorializing in the City of Richmond

    RHCS 359 Media and War

    SOC 207 Crime and Justice in a Postmodern Society

    SOC 216 Social Inequalities

    SOC 218 Sociology of the Black Experience

    SOC 231 Across the Pond: Europe vs. USA

    SOC 255 Sport in Society

    SOC 311 Juvenile Delinquency

    SOC 316 Race and Ethnicity in America

    SOC 319 Sociology of Gender and Sexuality

    SOC 320 Race, Class, and Schooling

    THTR 229 Going Solo: The Politics of Identity in Contemporary Solo Performance

    THTR 239 Latinx On Stage: From the Barrios to Broadway

    THTR 313 Theatre for Social Change I

    THTR 314 Theatre for Social Change II

    WGSS 280 Gender and Work


Expand All
  • AMST 201 Introduction to American Studies

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement FSHT


    Surveys multidisciplinary approaches to American studies with specific emphasis on methodologies, sources, themes, and major ideas.

  • AMST 298 Selected Topics

    Units: 1


    Varying interdisciplinary topics or methodologies related to American studies. Area of study will vary according to instructor and course topic.

  • AMST 301 Seminar in American Studies

    Units: 1


    Advanced seminar that examines the historical, methodological, and theoretical development of American studies as an academic discipline. Offered in alternate years.


    American Studies 201 and junior or senior status.

  • AMST 381 Richmond Seminar

    Units: 1


    A community-engaged seminar using Richmond to explore broader topics in American Studies, typically involving community collaboration and the creation of public scholarship, such as docudramas, exhibitions, and digital projects.

  • AMST 388 Individual Internship

    Units: .25-1


    Application of academic skills and theories in a selected work environment, plus related academic work supervised by a member of the faculty. No more than 1.5 units of internship in any one department and 3.5 units of internship overall may be counted toward required degree units.


    Departmental approval.

  • AMST 391 Tocqueville Seminar: Special Topics

    Units: 1


    Multidisciplinary seminar that encourages students to examine the United States from international perspectives. Uses theory and a variety of forms of texts--music, film, literature, popular culture, and more--to deepen student understanding of the U.S. as they see the country from different points of view.

  • AMST 398 Selected Topics

    Units: 1


    Varying interdisciplinary topics related to American studies. Area of study will vary according to instructor and course topic.

  • AMST 399 Independent Study

    Units: .5-1


    Individually designed reading or research program conducted under faculty supervision.


    American Studies 201 and permission of program coordinator and faculty supervisor.

  • AMST 401 Thesis

    Units: 1


    Thesis project designed, researched, and written by students under faculty supervision. Offered spring semester only.


    American Studies 201, senior status, 3.5 grade point average within the major, and a prospectus with bibliography approved by the American studies advisory council.

  • AMST 406 Summer Undergraduate Research

    Units: 0


    Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.


    Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor