American Studies

The American Studies program combines critical social sciences and humanities approaches to interpret American culture, politics, and society from an interdisciplinary point of view. Our majors are known for a unique skill set within the liberal arts, trained in the knowledge of American cultural, historical, societal, and political contexts; possess strong analytical and critical thinking skills; and demonstrate the ability to reflect deeply and dialogue across issues of equity and cultural diversity. Tasked to think about the familiar in an unfamiliar way, American Studies majors are creative problem solvers, storytellers, educators, and activists. They take information from disparate sources, evaluate and understand it, and weave it together to make sense of America. They work to make the invisible visible and amplify access for those unheard.


Dr. Peggy McIntosh anti-racism activist, scholar, and Senior Research Scientist of the Wellesley Centers for Women visits with students in AMST 360.

Student Profile: Lalaine Vergara '21

Lalaine Vergara

Majors: American Studies and Economics

"My favorite thing about, not only the American Studies Program, but all the academic programs at the Colleges is the ability to make you challenge and think about the world around you. With American Studies, I love being able to apply its theories and discussions to the complexities of our society. It makes you analyze why things are the way they are and how it develops. With the interdisciplinary structure of the program, it’s helped me expand greater in my critical thinking and even apply it to my other academic focuses like Economics and Media & Society."

Meet Our Faculty

The American Studies faculty are respected experts in their fields of study and dedicated teachers. Meet the entire department >

American Studies News

Merkley + Partners Hires Meller ’21

Wed, 05 May 2021

updatedpicAfter graduation, Rachel Meller ’21 will join Merkley + Partners as a Social Coordinator.  After interning with the advertising firm Merkley + Partners last summer, Rachel Meller ’21 leveraged the experience and landed…

Whalen ’01 Publishes Debut Story Collection

Thu, 18 Mar 2021

Whalen Book Cover BlueIn Semiotic Love [Stories], Brian Phillip Whalen ’01 “draws upon symbols and objects to explore the loss of relationships” with “tenderness and longing.” With his first book, published this month…

Mapping Working-Class Activism

Fri, 18 Dec 2020

19-0042, Belanger Elizabeth, Office Hours, KColton, Trinity, Gabriela Martinez ‘22

 Gabriella and I were talking about online resources that she could use for her family history research in my AMST 260 critical family history course.With the help of digital mapping tools, a research collaboration between a professor and an HWS technologist reveals how political activism spread across Reconstruction-era St. Louis, Mo. In 2018, Associate…

More American Studies News

Spotlight: Recent Grad

Recent Grad

Aidan Ely '18

Current Position: AmeriCorps

Current Location: Rochester, N.Y.

Majors: Political Science and American Studies

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Sample Courses

Complete Course List

Drawing for Study and Storytelling
This course introduces students to the habits and approaches of using drawing as a creative tool to think, represent, and interpret the world and ourselves visually. We are not trying to produce masterpieces. Instead, we use drawing as a medium for critical observation and study, creative work for creative work’s sake, and expressive storytelling about places, spaces, and society. All our drawing is done without any measuring tools or straightedges. Instead we sharpen our hand-eye coordination and learn to visually and spatially proportion the world around us. Our primary medium is watercolor. We draw objects, structures, social spaces, and natural scenery. Along the way, we explore several traditions of drawing including: fine arts, architecture and urban sketching, food illustration, doodling, and cartography. Students gain skills in freehand line drawing, watercolor, visual abstraction, proportion/geometry, texture/value, and page composition.