American Studies


Reed’s American Studies Program takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the social and material processes through which people have produced (and consumed) “American” cultures, identities, and politics over time. Framed broadly, the major includes transnational, hemispheric, oceanic, and global approaches, as well as the more traditional approach centered on the U.S. nation-state. Coursework on a range of topics such as gender and sexuality, environmental studies, race and ethnicity, and political and social history, prepares students for careers in law, journalism, government, and business, as well as for more advanced study at the masters or doctoral level. Each year, we host influential scholars, writers, and artists working in the field, to share work and facilitate discussion of questions central to the field. 


American Studies majors think critically about the experiences and perspectives at stake in contested definitions of Americanness, building on the frameworks of a chosen home department––most commonly history, sociology, or literature––with courses on relevant materials in art, theater, music, anthropology, environmental studies, and religion. Through their senior thesis, students draw on a range of disciplines and  methodologies to generate an original research question and interrogate the complex relationships at stake in the study of America.


We welcome all students and Reed community members to reach out to Charlie Wilcox to receive information about upcoming speakers and events. Students interested in applying to the American Studies major can learn about the process and requirements here.