Reed College Catalog

American studies is a major for students who want to focus their academic work around American society and culture. The committee frames “American studies” broadly, to include transnational, hemispheric, oceanic, and global approaches, as well as the more traditional approach centered on the U.S. nation-state.

American studies majors usually select a disciplinary concentration in history, sociology, or literature, though other concentrations are available, and they take additional courses on American subject matter in other fields. An informal colloquium, which majors and potential majors are expected to attend, meets several times a semester.

Admission to the major is by application only. Students interested in majoring in the program should consult the “Majoring in American Studies” page on the American studies website for information about the application process.

Requirements for the Major

  1. The student will fulfill the same departmental and divisional requirements as a regular divisional major with the same field of concentration. At least two courses the student takes in the field of concentration should focus on American subject matter.
  2. In addition, the student will take a minimum of two units in American subject matter in each of two fields outside the field of concentration. For students whose field of concentration is not history, at least one of these outside fields must be history.
  3. The student will take a junior qualifying exam designed by the American Studies Committee. This exam will be designed in consultation with the department corresponding to the student’s field of concentration.
  4. All majors are expected to attend American Studies colloquia and other events. There are approximately 3–4 colloquia each semester. In addition, each American Studies major will present on their thesis at a colloquium during the final semester of their senior year.