Requirements: American Studies


American studies provides a broad framework for the exploration of the people, places, society and culture of the United States. The field accomplishes this by appropriating ideas and methodologies from one discipline and applying them to another, and by transcending established boundaries among disciplines to create a new structure that combines traditional values and new visions. The program incorporates fieldwork research experiences, collaborative exploration, public presentation and peer evaluation.

American studies is a selective major requiring intellectual independence that includes developing a six-course plan detailing the trajectory of your course of study in the major.


Requirements for the Major

The major in American studies consists of 12 courses:

AMST 108 Introduction to American Studies

All majors will take an introductory course in American studies. This course is normally taken during the first or second year at Kenyon.

Four diversification courses 

Two courses must be from history:
AMST 101D/HIST 101D U.S. History, 1492–1865*
AMST 102D/HIST 102D U.S. History, 1865 to Present*
HIST 120 Early Latin America*
HIST 121 Modern Latin America*
HIST 175 Early Black History*
HIST 176 Contemporary Black History*
HIST 205 Hard Times: The Great Depression*
HIST 208 U.S. Women's History*
HIST 209 History of North American Indians*
HIST 215 Reel or Real, History and Film*
HIST 218 History of Mexico*
HIST 242 Americans in Africa*
HIST 275 World War II*
HIST 307 Great African American Migration: 1900–1970
HIST 310 The Civil War*
HIST 311 Immigrant Experience in the United States*
HIST 312 Blacks in the Age of Jim Crow*
HIST 313 Black Intellectuals*
HIST 314 U.S. Foreign Policy, 1898 to the Present*
HIST 321 The Mexican Revolution: Origins, Struggles and Significance *
HIST 322 Human Rights in Latin America*
HIST 323 Borderland History*
HIST 325 History of North American Capitalism*
HIST 360 Corn, Farming and the Roots of American Cultures*
HIST 373 Women of the Atlantic World*
HIST 375 American Indian Activism and Red Power*
HIST 380 Black History through Fiction and Film*
HIST 400 American Revolution*
HIST 407 Manhood/Masculinity in U.S. History*
HIST 411 The Civil Rights Era*
HIST 412 Race, Politics and Public Policy*
HIST 426 Fight For The Great Lakes, 1492–1815*
AP U.S. history credit may be used to satisfy one course and must be paired with any American history course. Examples are marked by an asterisk.

Two courses must be from politics, culture and society:

AMST 109 American Art and Culture, 1900–1945
AMST 200D/PSCI 200D Liberal Democracy in America
AMST 227D/ARHS 227D American Art to 1865
AMST 302D/MUSC 302D The History of Jazz
AMST 314 The History of American College and University Architecture
AMST 330 Sankofa Project: Theory and Practice of Urban Education
AMST 331 Visions of "America" from Abroad
AMST 350 Religion in American Popular Culture
ARHS 231 Modern Art II: Art in The Area of The Cold War
ARHS 245 Contemporary Art and Society
ECON 343 Money and Financial Markets
ECON 347 Economics of the Public Sector
ECON 358 The Federal Reserve System
ECON 383 American Economic History
ENGL 270 American Fiction
ENGL 280 American Literary Modernism
FILM 253 American Film Comedy
FILM 254 The Western
FILM 256 African American Film
PSCI 300 Congress and Public Policymaking
PSCI 301 The American Presidency
PSCI 302 Public Opinion and Voting Behavior
PSCI 303 Campaigns and Elections
PSCI 312 American Constitutional Law
PSCI 313 Making U.S. Foreign Policy
PSCI 314 Constitutional Law II: Powers and Institutions
PSCI 347 Democracy and Development in Latin America
PSCI 355 Immigration, Citizenship and National Identity
PSCI 362 American and the World in the 21st Century
PSCI 364 American Environmental Politics and Policy
PSCI 404 News Media and American Politics
PSCI 441 Latin American Politics in Film and Fiction
PSCI 442 Contemporary Latin American Politics
PSYC 328 Latino Psychology
RLST 230 Religion and Society in America (U.S.)
RLST 332 African American Religions
SOCY 101 Powers, Energies and Peoples
SOCY 104 Identity in American Society
SOCY 106 Social Issues and Cultural Intersections
SOCY 226 Sociology of Law
SOCY 229 Social Movements
SOCY 236 Popular Culture: Window on Inequality
SOCY 238 Environmental Sociology
SOCY 240 Sociology of Crime and Deviance
SOCY 244 Race, Ethnicity and American Law
SOCY 255 Woman, Crime and Law
SOCY 277 Sociology of Sexualities
SOCY 422 Topics in Social Stratification
SOCY 424 Vigilantism and the Law

American studies at Kenyon views America in its broadest sense. Thus, it is recommended that students choose one course from a group of courses that examine America beyond the confines of the United States. For example, see Latino/a Studies

Six courses of elective study 

Six courses from a single area, discipline or set of disciplines that form a coherent program in American studies. Examples of such areas would be:

• writing and literature
• race and ethnicity
• history and society
• politics and economics
• African American studies
• women's studies
• law and society
• landscape and the environment
• America in a global context
• visual arts
• sex, gender and sexualities
• Latin American studies

Many other areas of focus are possible including a track in education studies. The American studies major highly recommends a course in advanced theory or methodology, feminist criticism, or intersection theory that could inform the student's major focus. The elective study program undertaken by the student requires approval of the director of the American Studies Program. At least two courses must be at the 300 or 400 level.

AMST 400 Senior Seminar in American Studies

A one-semester seminar taken either during the fall or spring of the senior year. The senior seminar will typically entail individual research and public presentation.

The Senior Capstone

The Senior Capstone in American studies may take several forms, but it must draw on the elective-study component of the major. Students must identify and then develop, through original research and creative presentation, a major theme central to their work in American studies. By the final Friday in September, majors in American studies will present their plans for the Senior Capstone to their advisors and to the program director.

The Senior Colloquium in American studies, AMST 401, is taught spring semester and all senior majors are required to take the course. In addition to promoting guided reflection on the students' journey through the major, the course is designed and intended to encourage students to workshop ideas and give feedback to one another on their final projects. The students' presentations given during the second half of the semester will take place during the regular meeting time of the course. This course is a 0.25 credit/no credit offering.

The capstone itself will have three parts:

  • a presentation (visual, oral, electronic) to the College public, including majors and faculty in American studies  
  • a 10-page written reflection paper that includes analysis, explanation and documentation of the work presented as well as its relationship to the student's American studies major
  • an oral response to the audience's questions and comments following the presentation

 The Senior Capstone will be presented no later than the last Friday in April of the spring semester. Any student who does not successfully complete the capstone must submit a research paper by the first day of exams.


Honors in American studies entails a two-semester, one-unit sequence of independent work integral to the elective-study program in the major, taken during the senior year (AMST 497Y–498Y). The program will result in an honors project that may take a variety of forms but shall include a written component, a public presentation or performance, and an oral interview with an external examiner. Students with an overall GPA of 3.33 and a GPA of 3.5 in the major become eligible for, but are not guaranteed on the basis of GPA alone, admission to the Honors Program during the second semester of their third year.

To enter the Honors Program, students must be nominated by an American studies faculty member. Following the recommendation, a formal proposal containing a statement of intent, a tentative bibliography and a project outline must be sent to the project advisor and the director of the American Studies Program for approval by April 1.

Requirements for the Concentration

The American Studies Concentration encompasses six courses of work, consisting of three components:

  • One introductory course, AMST 108 Introduction to American Studies
  • Four courses in curricular options 
  • Senior seminar or Senior Colloquium

Students may choose among several pathways that will fulfill the curricular options requirement. To obtain a list of specific courses that fall under these categories, students should consult the Director of the American Studies Program.

Courses required for a student's major cannot count toward completion of the American Studies Concentration requirements. 

Students who are considering the concentration should consult with the director of American studies before enrolling in courses.