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Painting by Thomas Charles Farrer. View of Northampton from the Dome of the Hospital, 1865 (detail). Oil on canvas.

American Studies

The object of inquiry in American studies is culture—usefully defined as a society’s “whole way of life”—the sum of the ways a society and its subjects at once understand and remake the world. Taking the contested and complex geographical, political and cultural space(s) named by America as a field for exploration, we ask how people in these spaces, in the present and in the past, make sense of their world, their relationships and themselves. Because culture includes everything from agriculture and architecture to xenophobia and zoos, American studies draws on the insights and methods of numerous academic disciplines, such as history, economics, sociology, anthropology, literary studies, art history, political science and musicology.

Requirements & Courses

Goals for Majors in American Studies

American studies at Smith is an interdisciplinary program that studies the history, culture and society of the diverse peoples who inhabit the contested and complex geographical, political and cultural space(s) named "America." The program brings together faculty and students from a variety of academic fields, including history, English, music, art, film and media studies, indigenous studies, Asian American studies, African American studies, politics, education, women and gender studies, critical disability studies, material culture and museum studies. Thoughtfully choosing among and combining these approaches, we seek a complex and nuanced understanding of American culture that will enable students to become deliberative, critically engaged participants in the United States and the world.

Students majoring in American studies are expected to:

  • Interpret culture critically, attentive to the politics and aesthetics of cultural forms, and to the social construction of taste, pleasure, desire and anxiety.
  • To understand how power shapes and disguises common‐sense or taken‐for‐granted practices, assumptions and modes of expression.
  • Understand how to read ideologically.
  • Study history in order to understand the origins of present systems, values, desires.
  • Become attentive to the different reading and interpretive strategies required of different cultural forms: textual, visual, auditory, material objects, technologies, built environments and more.
  • Engage theory, through reading and writing about theoretical texts.
  • Approach problems and questions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.
  • Conduct original, contextualized and independent research, which requires the student to:
    • Identify and locate primary sources for cultural analysis.
    • Navigate archives effectively.
    • Describe—in terms of content and form—primary sources.
    • Interpret primary sources by reading them for indications of their expression of broad cultural values, anxieties and desires.
    • Formulate a research question in light of issues currently debated in the field and learn how to conduct independent research.
    • Identify and locate scholarly and critical materials relevant to research questions.
    • Understand and critique scholarly and critical arguments in the field.
    • Situate research in ongoing debates in the field.
    • Communicate persuasive and well‐grounded arguments orally and in writing.

American Studies Major


Ten courses (40 credits)

  1. Three core courses: AMS 201, AMS 202 and a topic of AMS 340.
  2. Seven elective courses that meet the following distribution requirements:
    1. Two courses with an AMS prefix
    2. One course that studies the past and explores change over time. (Such courses can be found in a wide variety of departments including American studies, history, Africana studies, English, art history, film and media studies, and government.)
    3. One course that studies culture and society from a transnational/diasporic/global/comparative perspective.
    4. Three courses, chosen in consultation with the student's advisor, that engage one or more of the analytic fields below.  Students must cover at least three different analytical fields to complete the major:
      • Race/ethnicity
      • Citizenship/sovereignty
      • Dis/ability
      • Gender/sexuality
      • Class
      • Popular culture
      • Media
      • Visual arts
      • Music/sound
      • Literature
      • Political economy
      • Critical science/technology studies
      • Empire/settler colonialism
      • Native American and Indigenous studies*
      • Asian/Pacific/American studies*
      • Environmental studies
      • History and historicity
      • Material culture/museums
      • Knowledge production/education/epistemology

*We highlight these fields because they are connected to Five College certificate programs closely associated with American studies at Smith.

Although the American studies department emphasizes interdisciplinary study, by the end of their senior year students should be able to name an area of focus in which they have taken four courses to identify their personalized pathway through the major. As a reference point, previous examples include popular culture, race and ethnicity, and museums and public history, but we emphasize that each student will construct and name their own focus in consultation with their adviser.

Note that any single course can fulfill multiple distribution requirements.


Please consult the director of honors or the departmental website for specific requirements and application procedures.


AMS 201 Introduction to American Studies (4 Credits)

This course provides an introduction to American Studies through the interdisciplinary study of American history, life and culture. Students develop critical tools for analyzing cultural texts (including literature, visual arts, music, fashion, advertising, social media, buildings, objects and bodies) in relation to political, social, economic and environmental contexts. The course examines the influence of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and transnationality on conceptions of citizenship, and struggles over what it means to be an “American,” and how this has shaped the distribution of power, resources and wellbeing in the United States. {H}{L}


AMS 202 Methods in American Studies (4 Credits)

This course introduces some of the exciting and innovative approaches to cultural analysis that have emerged over the last three decades. Students apply these methods to a variety of texts and practices (stories, movies, television shows, music, advertisements, clothes, buildings, laws, markets, bodies) in an effort to acquire the tools to become skillful readers of American culture, and to become more critical and aware as scholars and citizens. Prerequisite: AMS 201 is recommended but not required. {A}{H}


AMS 205 Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies (4 Credits)

This course is designed to introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of Native American and Indigenous Studies. This course looks at the diverse histories of Indigenous nations across North America, as well as histories of shared experiences with ongoing colonialism, legacies of resistance and connections to place. The class focuses on Indigenous perspectives, intellectual traditions and critical interventions across time through the work of historians, anthropologists, philosophers, literary scholars, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, writers and activists. This course is required for a Native American and Indigenous Studies focus for American Studies majors. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

AMS 215ir Topics in Contemporary Native/Indigenous Studies-Indigenous Climate Resiliency (4 Credits)

It is often noted in mainstream news media that Indigenous peoples are “on the front lines” of the climate crisis, while providing little explanation as to why this is. Narratives of inherent Indigenous vulnerability obscure the ways in which Indigenous communities have mobilized to navigate environmental change, not only in the face of contemporary global warming, but historically, as settler colonial incursions radically transformed landscapes and constrained Indigenous knowledge practices that have provided tools for adaptation for thousands of years. This course considers how Indigenous climate vulnerability is largely a product of settler colonialism—not only a process and system, but also a particular way of understanding and relating to the nonhuman environment. (E) {H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 220dm Colloquium: Topics in American Studies-Dance, Music, Sex, Romance (4 Credits)

Since the 1950s rock ’n’ roll and other forms of youth-oriented popular music in the U.S. have embodied rebellion. Yet the rebellion that rock and other popular music styles like rap have offered has often been more available to men than women. Similarly, the sexual liberation associated with popular music in the rock and rap eras has been far more open to “straight” desires over “queer.” This course examines how popular music from the 1950s to the present has been shaped by gender and sexuality, and the extent to which the music and its associated cultural practices have allowed artists and audiences to challenge gender and sexual norms, or alternately have served to reinforce those norms albeit with loud guitars and a heavy beat. Enrollment limited to 20. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 225 Colloquium: Corporate Capitalism, Media and Protest in America (4 Credits)

The U.S. Constitution recognizes a free press as the lifeblood of democracy with a mandate to inform citizens and hold the powerful accountable. But there is widespread distrust of the media in American society today. This course analyzes the transformation of the press into a corporate enterprise over the past 150 years, and the opposition this has provoked. Examining key developments (the creation of multinational media conglomerates as well as new digital media alternatives) and focusing on case studies such as Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the 2016 Elections, we examine the influence of the media on American political, economic, and cultural life. {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 227 Trade and Theft in Early America (4 Credits)

A seventeenth-century engraving imagines an encounter between two men wearing feathers and holding onto the same string of shells: depending on your perspective, this image looks like a scene of trade or one of theft at knife-point. In understanding moments from the past, representation and perspective shape not just interpretation, but sources themselves. Seeing moments as both trade and theft opens them to tellings and analyses from multiple perspectives, exposing overlooked elements and revealing the ways in which histories are made. This course introduces students to Early American history (c1500-1800) through the themes of trade, theft, representation and perspective. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 229 Native New England (4 Credits)

In this course we interrogate the space now known as New England by learning about it as a land with histories, peoples and life ways that predate and exceed the former English colonies and current United States. We devote our semester to studying the cultural distinctiveness of the Native peoples of New England, for example, the Mohawk, Mohegan, Abenaki, Wampanoag and Schaghticoke peoples and to understanding the historical processes of encounter, adaptation, resistance and renewal that have characterized Native life in the area for centuries. We explore histories of the pre- and post-contact period through the perspectives of various Native communities, and discuss the legacies of these histories for Native New England today. {H}{L}{S}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

AMS 230cc Colloquium: Topics on the Asian-American Experience-Chinese Diasporic Communities in the US and the World (4 Credits)

The course examines the histories of different Chinese diasporic communities in the world, including the United States as they relate to themes of race, empire, ethnicity, gender, globalization, and nationalism. Enrollment limited to 20. (E)

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 230ih Colloquium: Topics on the Asian-American Experience-US Imperialism and Hawai'i (4 Credits)

This course examines the history of U.S. occupation of Hawai'i as a case study of U.S. imperialism. The class examines the history of the rise and fall of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, the establishment of Hawai'i as a U.S. territory and the current status of Hawai'i as the 50th state in the United States. The class looks at the role of missionaries in introducing capitalist economy in Hawai'i, Native Hawaiian resistance to American annexation, indigenous land struggles as a result of urbanization and U.S. military expansion, Asian settlers in Hawai'i, revitalization of Hawaiian language and contemporary Native Hawaiian sovereignty movements for self-determination. (E) {H}

Fall, Variable

AMS 234 Living on Turtle Island: an Introduction to Indigenous and Settler Studies (4 Credits)

In this course we will focus on situating ourselves on Turtle Island--North America. We will prioritize the Indigenous histories of our shared home, the Northeast, while also considering histories of other peoples and places across the continent. Our aim will be to develop habits of thought to help us move beyond the reflexes and limitations of settler colonialism and to consider indigeneity in our everyday lives. Interdisciplinary readings will foreground indigeneity, race, feminist and decolonial analyses. This course is open to all students. Previous knowledge of Native American or Indigenous topics is welcome but not assumed. {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 235 American Popular Culture (4 Credits)

This course offers an analytical history of American popular culture since 1865. We start from the premise that popular culture, far from being merely a frivolous or debased alternative to high culture, is an important site of popular expression, social instruction and cultural conflict. We examine theoretical texts that help us to read popular culture, even as we study specific artifacts from a variety of pop culture sources, from television shows to Hollywood movies, the pornography industry to spectator sports, and popular music to theme parks. We pay special attention to questions of desire, and to the ways popular culture has mediated and produced pleasure, disgust, fear and satisfaction. Alternating lecture/discussion format. Enrollment limited to 25. {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

AMS 238 Only Joking: Race, Gender, and Comedy in American Culture (4 Credits)

Comedy has been a primary site for enacting and contesting citizenship in the United States. This course presents a history of comedy from the nineteenth century to the present to analyze the role of humor in shaping racial and gender stereotypes, as well as expressions of solidarity, resistance, and joy among marginalized groups. Case studies include blackface minstrelsy, stand up comedy, sit-coms, satirical news, social media posts, and cancel culture debates. The course applies cultural studies, affect theory, media studies, feminist studies, and critical race studies to analyze the social, political, psychological, and emotional work of comedy. {A}{H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 239 Colloquium: The Culture Wars (4 Credits)

This course places the “Culture Wars” – U.S. political battles waged over issues such as race, gender, sexuality, the family, abortion, education, guns, climate change and even the “non-partisan” COVID-19 pandemic – into the context of recent U.S. history. The goal of the course is to invite students to think critically about the workings of the Culture Wars within America’s democratic political system and about the impact of the Culture Wars on the broader sweep of life in the U.S. The course pays particular attention to the ways power relationships are manifested, and contested, through the Culture Wars. Enrollment limited to 20. {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 240 Colloquium: Introduction to Disability Studies (4 Credits)

This course serves as an introductory exploration of the field of disability studies. It asks: how do we define disability? Who is disabled? And what resources do we need to properly study disability? Together, students investigate: trends in disability activism, histories of medicine and science, conceptions of normal embodiment, the utility of terms like "crippled" or "disabled"and the representation of disability in culture. Enrollment limited to 20. {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 245 Feminist & Indigenous Science (4 Credits)

In this course, we will consider such questions as: What do we know and how do we know it? What knowledges count as science? How is knowledge culturally situated? How has science been central to colonialism and capitalism and what would it mean to decolonize science(s)? Is feminist science possible? We will look at key sites and situations in media and popular culture, in science writing, in sociological accounts of science, in creation stories and traditional knowledges in which knowledge around the categories of race, gender, sex, sexuality, sovereignty, and dis/ability are produced, contested and made meaningful. {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 267/ SWG 267 Colloquium: Queer Ecologies: Race, Queerness, Disability and Environmental Justice (4 Credits)

Offered as AMS 267 and SWG 267. What is learned by reading Queer Ecologies alongside Butler’s Lilith’s Brood, or Over the Hedge as environmental racism? The class considers what it means to have a racialized and sexualized identity shaped by relationships with environments. How is nature gendered, racialized and sexualized? Why? How are analytics of power mobilized around, or in opposition to, nature? How are conceptions of “disability” and “health” taken up in environmental justice movements? Students investigate the discursive and practical connections made between marginalized peoples and nature, and chart the knowledge gained by queering our conceptions of nature and the natural. Enrollment limited to 20. (E) {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 302 Seminar: The Material Culture of New England, 1630–1860 (4 Credits)

This course examines the material culture of everyday life in New England from the earliest colonial settlements to the Victorian era. It introduces students to the growing body of material culture studies and the ways in which historic landscapes, architecture, furniture, textiles, metalwork, ceramics, foodways and domestic environments are interpreted as cultural documents and as historical evidence. Offered on-site at Historic Deerfield (with transportation available from the Smith campus), the course offers students a unique opportunity to study the museum’s world-famous collections in a hands-on, interactive setting with curators and historians. Utilizing the disciplines of history, art and architectural history, anthropology, and archaeology, students explore the relationships between objects and ideas and the ways in which items of material culture both individually and collectively convey patterns of everyday life. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {A}{H}


AMS 340cc Seminar: Capstone in American Studies-Culture and Crisis (4 Credits)

According to a growing number of social theorists, and pretty much everybody else, this is an age of crisis. One of the critical tasks is to develop interdisciplinary tools to analyze how environmental conditions, economic systems, technological developments and political ideologies have sent humans on a path of catastrophes: climate change, resource exhaustion, inequality, social fragmentation and political repression. This course examines how these conditions have shaped American culture (asking why news broadcasts, the entertainment industry and social media respond to crises with distraction, disinformation, fear-mongering and scapegoating), and explore efforts of artists and activists to theorize and devise creative and just alternatives in visual arts, fiction, essays, comedy, movies and music. American Studies Majors only. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 340nd Seminar: Topics-Capstone in American Studies-New Directions in American Studies (4 Credits)

This seminar engages new scholarship in American Studies, with a focus on critical disability studies, critical race studies, queer ecologies, and feminist science & technology studies. This course presents an occasion to rethink approaches to interdisciplinarity, intersectionality, ethnic studies, and media & cultural studies. Likely texts include works by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Theri A. Pickens, Sami Schalk, Harlan Weaver, Cutcha Risling Baldy, Aurora Levins Morales, Ron Chew, La Marr Jurelle Bruce, Moya Bailey, Candace Fujikane, Sylvia Wynter, and M. Remi Yergeau. Limited to American Studies Majors. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 351np/ ENG 384np Seminar: Topics in Writing about American Society-Creative Nonfiction Writing through Photography (4 Credits)

Offered as AMS 351np and ENG 384np. A creative nonfiction writing workshop where students improve their writing using photography as muse, guide, foil and inspiration. Students write long, creative nonfiction pieces about current issues in American life using photography as a method for inspiring, analyzing and improving the prose. Students take photos, report and write, applying principles of photography such as point of view, depth of field, focus, flatness and timing to help with the essentials of narrative prose. Stories range from blog posts to profiles to fully realized long form, magazine-style, nonfiction articles. This is not a photography course, and if students' photography improves as a result, that is a happy accident. No prior experience with photography required. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Writing sample and instructor permission required. {A}{L}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 355 Seminar: Tiny Homes in America: Salvaging the Material (4 Credits)

This seminar combines historical, theoretical, and material cultural sources about housing justice, and housing injustice, in the United States. A significant component of the course involves teaching students how to build a tiny house, while critically considering scholarly and popular cultural sources engaging the present, past, and (potential) future roles of small homes in America. In the class, we will pay particular attention to cultural-historical trends in home size and location as a way to better understand race, class, disability, settler colonialism, gender, age, sexuality, “the urban,” nature, sustainability, nation, and other analytics key to cutting-edge American Studies scholarship. Enrollment limited to 10. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. (E) {A}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

AMS 400 Special Studies (1-4 Credits)

Admission by permission of the instructor and the program director.

Fall, Spring

AMS 410 Tutorial on Research Methods at the Smithsonian (4 Credits)

Individual supervision by a Smithsonian staff member. Given in Washington, D.C. {H}{S}


AMS 412 Research Project at the Smithsonian Institution (8 Credits)

Tutorial supervision by Smithsonian staff members. Given in Washington, D.C. {H}{S}


AMS 431 Honors Project (8 Credits)

Fall, Spring

Crosslisted Courses

AMS 351np/ ENG 384np Seminar: Topics in Writing about American Society-Creative Nonfiction Writing through Photography (4 Credits)

Offered as AMS 351np and ENG 384np. A creative nonfiction writing workshop where students improve their writing using photography as muse, guide, foil and inspiration. Students write long, creative nonfiction pieces about current issues in American life using photography as a method for inspiring, analyzing and improving the prose. Students take photos, report and write, applying principles of photography such as point of view, depth of field, focus, flatness and timing to help with the essentials of narrative prose. Stories range from blog posts to profiles to fully realized long form, magazine-style, nonfiction articles. This is not a photography course, and if students' photography improves as a result, that is a happy accident. No prior experience with photography required. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Writing sample and instructor permission required. {A}{L}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ARX 340 Seminar: Taking the Archives Public (4 Credits)

This seminar brings together a cohort of archives concentrators and other advanced students to explore contemporary issues at the intersection of archives and public history. The readings focus on case studies and the challenges in preservation, access and interpretation of archival materials. The class analyzes how these materials become part of a meaningful and usable past for general audiences while taking into account the dynamics of national and collective identity formation, trauma, memorialization, social justice, and the changing digital landscape in the fields of public history and cultural heritage work. Enrollment limited to 15. Juniors and seniors only. {H}


FYS 188 Indigenous Peoples and the Environment: Myth and Reality (4 Credits)

This course examines the stereotype of the “ecological Indian”—a racial trope that has perpetuated the idea that Native North Americans are naturally closer to nature or are natural conservationists. The class looks at how this stereotype has shaped non-Native ideas about Indigenous peoples in what is now the United States and has affected Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. This course also examines the varied ways Indigenous peoples have thought about ecological relationships and the strategies they developed to live in relation with the environment. The class critically examines the relationship between settler colonialism and the environment and considers contemporary and historical case studies in which Indigenous peoples have fought to protect and care for their lands and waters in the face of the ongoing violence of settler colonialism. Enrollment limited to 16 first-years. WI {H}

Fall, Variable

JUD 260 Colloquium: Yiddish Literature and Culture (4 Credits)

Why did Yiddish, the everyday language of Jews in east Europe and beyond, so often find itself at the bloody crossroads of art and politics? From dybbuks and shlemiels to radicals and revolutionaries, the course explores Yiddish stories, drama, and film as sites for social activism, ethnic and gender performance, and artistic experimentation in Europe, the Soviet Union, and the Americas. How did post-Holocaust engagements with Yiddish memorialize a lost civilization and forge an imagined homeland defined by language and culture rather than borders? All texts in translation. No prerequisites. Enrollment limited to 18. {L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

THE 213 American Theatre and Drama (4 Credits)

This course discusses issues relevant to theatre history and practices, as well as dramatic literature, theories and criticism in 18th-, 19th- 20th- and 21st centuries United States of America, including African American, Native American, Hispanic American and Latinx, Asian American, LGBTQ+, the American musical, political, feminist and contemporary theatre and performance. Lectures, discussions and presentations are complemented by video screenings of recent productions of some of the plays under discussion. {A}{H}{L}


Additional Programmatic Information

About the Major

American Studies at Smith is an interdisciplinary program that studies the history, culture and society of the diverse peoples who inhabit the contested and complex geographical, political and cultural space(s) named “America.” Majors in the program develop critical tools for analyzing cultural texts (visual arts, literature, music, fashion, advertising, social media, buildings, objects, bodies, etc.) in relation to political, social, economic, and environmental contexts. Students have wide latitude to choose courses that most interest them, but they must fulfill the three-course core sequence and identify a primary focus that they will explore in at least four courses. Because of the wide-ranging interests and methods included within the interdisciplinary American Studies Program, careful consultation between a student and adviser is crucial to the planning of the major.

Double Majors

Students who double major in American studies and another field normally can count toward the American studies requirements up to four courses used to fulfill the requirements of another major.

Study Abroad

Many American studies majors study abroad either for a year or a semester (information listed under opportunities and resources on this page).

Senior Certification Form

When indicating on the Senior Certification Form which 64 credits were taken outside of the major, an American studies student can list American subject courses that are not American studies courses themselves.

Teaching Certification

American studies majors can become licensed, as undergraduates, to teach in public schools throughout the country. Licensure is available on the elementary, middle or secondary levels. Gaining undergraduate licensure, however, requires careful planning. Students interested in doing this should decide fairly early in their undergraduate careers, usually by the end of sophomore year.

Students who are considering obtaining a teaching license should contact the Department of Education and Child Study.

Honors Requirements

Director: Christen Mucher

Honors students write a thesis, usually 50 to 80 pages in length and based on original research. Typically an honors thesis counts for two courses (8 credits) taken in either one or two semesters.

AMS Honors FAQ 2022

Recent Theses

Examples of completed theses include the following.

  • No John Trumbull: Social, Political, and Cultural Resonance of Hamilton: an American Musical
  • “The Wife, the Widow”: Narratives of Grief in Contemporary American Memoir
  • Tolerance and Trade: Multiculturalism in Seventeenth Century New Amsterdam
  • Community Center to Concert Hall: Youth Outreach, Classical Music Publics, and Institutional Discourse
  • Performing Liminality: Embodying Disability and Trans Identity Onstage
  • History on Display: Commemoration at the 1876 Centennial Exposition
  • “Being a Part of Something Special Makes You Special, Right?”: Creating a Glee-ful Community of Jewishness on American Television
  • Could I Be Miss America?: An Asian American’s Experience with the Miss America Organization
  • A Mixed Memory: Mexican American Studies in the Borderlands
  • Recovered Memory: The Making of Profit, Place, and Person at Sierra Tucson Rehab Facility
  • Breaking the "Jolly Negro": Racist Material Culture and White Domesticity in the Era of Jim Crow
  • Motivation, Meritocracy, and the Model Minority Rights Myth: Representations of Asian Americans in Spelling Bees


Floyd Cheung

English Language & Literature

Vice President for Equity and Inclusion; Professor of English Language & Literature and American Studies

Lane Hall-Witt

American Studies

Lecturer and Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Diploma Program

Placeholder Image

Steve Waksman


Elsie Irwin Sweeney Professor of Music and Professor of American Studies; Chair, American Studies

Steve Waksman

Executive Committee

Carrie Baker
Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Professor of American Studies;  Professor, Study of Women and Gender

Lane Hall-Witt
Lecturer and Director, Diploma Program

Jennifer C. Malkowski
Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies

Christen Mucher
Associate Professor, American Studies

Samuel Ng
Assistant Professor, Africana Studies

Melissa Parrish
Assistant Professor of English Language & Literature

Kevin Rozario
Director, American Studies and Associate Professor, American Studies

Andrea Stephanie Stone
Assistant Professor, English Language & Literature

Michael Thurston
Professor, English Language & Literature

Steve Waksman
Elsie Irwin Sweeney Professor of Music and Professor of American Studies

Frazer Ward
Professor, Art


Daniel Horowitz
Mary Huggins Gamble Professor Emeritus of American Studies

Helen Horowitz
Syndenham Clark Parsons Emerita of History and American Studies


Five College Faculty

Richard Chu

Opportunities & Resources

For information on Smith-approved programs abroad that have American studies offerings, see the following.

Contact the Office for International Study for more information about opportunities abroad.

Gladys Lampert ’28 and Edward Beenstock Prize

The Gladys Lampert ’28 and Edward Beenstock Prize is awarded for the best honors thesis in American studies or American history.
Most recent recipients: Olivia Zindren `23 and Stevie Gatto `23

Eleanor Flexner Prize

The Eleanor Flexner Prize is awarded for the best piece of work by a Smith undergraduate using the Sophia Smith Collection or the Smith College Archives.
Most recent recipient: Ella Langenthal `23

Nancy Boyd Gardner Prize

The Nancy Boyd Gardner Prize is awarded for an outstanding paper or other project in American studies by a Smithsonian intern or American studies major.
Most recent recipients: Nina Wattenberg `24 and Amelia Dolbeare `24

Donald H. Sheehan Memorial Prize

The Donald H. Sheehan Memorial Prize is awarded for outstanding work in American studies.
Most recent recipient: Julia Berhart `23

Students who graduate from Smith College with an A.B. in American studies pursue a range of career alternatives. Each year several of our majors go on to doctoral programs, most often in U.S. history, American literature or American studies.

Many of our graduates go on to graduate or professional work that prepares them for careers in law, business, social work, public policy, elementary and secondary education and communications or graduate programs in historic preservation, material culture or museum studies. Over the course of the years, our majors find careers and life choices that are not markedly different from those who have majored in fields such as history, government, sociology and English.

Smith College Resources

Resources in American Studies at Smith College
The Smith libraries provide links to web resources and databases accessible from the Smith campus.

Sophia Smith Collection
This nationally recognized archive of primary audio and visual documents pertaining to women’s history covers such subjects as birth control, women’s rights, suffrage, the contemporary women’s movement and middle-class family life in 19th- and 20th-century New England.

College Archives
Explore the history of Smith College in student letters, diaries, course notes, photographs and memorabilia, along with more official records from the college’s past.

Mortimer Rare Book Room
Discover medieval manuscripts and printed books from the 15th century to the present in all subjects. The collection is rich in original editions of 19th- and 20th-century American literature and history, especially children's literature, early educational materials, etiquette and advice for women, popular novels, and travel writing by women. It houses a small collection of literary manuscripts by women writers, notably Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. 

Smith College Art Museum
Explore the collections of major American and European art from BCE 2500 to the present. The internationally renowned permanent collection is supplemented by a variety of visiting exhibits, lectures and programs.

Resources in the Pioneer Valley

Historic Northampton
Historic Northampton’s collection of more than 500,000 objects and three historical buildings documents the history of Northampton and the Connecticut Valley from Pre-Columbian years to the present.

Porter-Phelps Huntington House
Six generations of the same family lived in this 18th-century Hadley homestead, which features family documents and artifacts. Open seasonally. There is an admission fee.

Historic Deerfield
Historic Deerfield is a museum of New England history and art featuring a collection of 18th- and 19th-century houses and the Flynt Center of Early New England Life, filled with some of the great decorative arts of early America.

Study Options

Smithsonian Program

Smithsonian Program
Students work directly with curators and scholars of American culture at the Smithsonian Institution.

Smithsonian Museum - exterior

Contact Department of American Studies

Wright Hall 225
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3503 Email:

Administrative Assistant: Karikari Ohene Acheampong

Individual appointments can be arranged directly with the faculty.