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American Studies

413 Barnard Hall 
Department Program Assistant: Kathryn McLean

This program is supervised by the Committee on American Studies:

Director: Jennie Kassanoff (Associate Professor of English)
Professors: Randall Balmer (Religion), Mark C. Carnes (History), Flora Davidson (Political Science and Urban Studies), Lynn Garafola (Dance), Lisa Gordis (English), Alfred Mac Adam (Spanish and Latin American Cultures), Robert A. McCaughey (History), Celia Naylor (History), Richard Pious (Political Science), Jonathan Rieder (Sociology), Nan Rothschild (Anthropology), William Sharpe (English), Herbert Sloan (History), Neferti Tadiar (Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies), David Weiman (Economics)
Associate Professors: Elizabeth Bernstein (Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies), Alan Dye (Economics), Elizabeth Hutchinson (Art History), Kimberly S. Johnson (Political Science), Monica Miller (English),
Assistant Professors: Gergely Baics (History), Elizabeth Esch (History and American Studies), Severin Fowles (Anthropology), Peter Levin (Sociology), David Smiley (Architecture)
Senior Associate: Katie Glasner (Dance)
Senior Lecturer: Pam Cobrin (English), Margaret Vandenburg (English)
Adjunct Professor: Nancy Woloch (History)
Director of the Center for Research on Women: Janet Jakobsen

American Studies Program

The Program in American Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the society and cultures of the United States. American Studies majors critically examine the changing narratives and practices of American life in a curriculum that emphasizes both historical breadth and theoretical depth.


The Program in American Studies is designed to teach students how to engage in the critical interdisciplinary study of United States cultures in both historical and transnational contexts.  Through lecture covering American history, literature, arts and culture, an intensive junior colloquium focusing on the theories and methods of American Studies archival research, a student-directed concentration and a culminating year-long senior thesis, the major aims to teach students to recognize, question and analyze American cultural practices in historical depth as well as as global breadth.

Student Learning Objectives

Barnard students graduating with a major in American Studies should be able to attain the following outcomes:

  1. Recognize the major events, peoples, and figures that shaped American history and culture.
  2. Discuss the varieties of American literature, in particular the contribution of each to the construction of American culture.
  3. Demonstrate a broad understanding of American culture and society and their complex inter-relationships.
  4. Identify the cultural influences that have shaped, and continue to shape, American society, including (but not limited to) art, politics, and religion.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the various theoretical methods that are used in at least two disciplines to study America.
  6. Construct a sustained argument in a piece of original scholarship.

As an American Studies major, you will have the opportunity to take courses in American history, literature and other related disciplines. In addition to the junior colloquium, you will work with your adviser to devise a four-course concentration organized around a topic (for example: immigration, migration and ethnicity) and a historical period (for example: Civil War and Reconstruction). This four-course cluster will serve as the intellectual foundation of your year-long senior thesis.