American Studies is a critical, interdisciplinary, comparative, intersectional field that gives students a solid foundation of knowledge about American history and culture and provides students with an opportunity to shape their own curriculum for a deeper understanding of identity, culture, and power in the United States.
AME is critical: in AME we ask questions about why U.S. culture, society, and institutions are the way they are, how they came to be that way, and how they may need to change.
AME is interdisciplinary: AME is both between and among the disciplines. We use the disciplinary tools, and interdisciplinary tools, that best suit our object(s) and purpose(s) of study. To best understand American popular culture we need to do textual analysis (English). We need to look at institutions—systems and structures (Sociology). And we need to understand the history of popular culture.
AME is comparative: “America” is a couple of continents, not a country, and “America” is spread throughout the world. We seek to understand “America” in all of its dimensions.
AME is intersectional: AME considers identity, culture, and power; race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship; systems and structures; foundations and innovations; transformation and empowerment.
American Studies complements many fields and majors, providing a critical lens for interpretation and application of ideas in fields from Art or English to Justice Studies or Mental Health and Human Services. The minor provides a wide cultural lens for understanding social problems, institutional structures, and bodies of knowledge.
Minor in American Studies
UMA’s minor in American Studies offers students an interdisciplinary concentration that draws from resources across UMA’s traditional programs of study. This program provides flexibility in focus as well as a solid foundation in American Studies theories and methods.
Students take 9 credits in Core Requirements including:
AME 201W: Introduction to American Studies
This intro course provides an understanding of the field of American Studies as well as some of the core concepts of this field (like power, identity, and culture) through the study of education, state violence, popular culture, and social movements.
Students also take at least one AME course:
Choices include: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in American Culture; Cultural Criticism and Theory: The Arts of Social Change; Hip Hop: Art, Culture, and politics; Social Movements; American Girls: Culture, Identity, and Empowerment; and American Fitness: Culture, Community, and Transformation. Topics courses in American Studies are also offered.
An internship or independent study course provides a kind of capstone to the student’s minor.
For the remaining 12 credits students also take required multidisciplinary courses, one in each of the following 4 areas:
Arts & Technologies
Includes courses across Art, Drama, and Music like: Hip Hop: Art, Culture, and Politics; American Art and Architecture; Computers and Culture, American Movie; Gender, Race and the Frontier in the Western Film; Survey of Jazz and Contemporary Music; The Dream Machine: A History of Rock and Roll; Music of the United States
Literature, History, and Culture
Includes courses in English, History, and Philosophy like: American Literature surveys; American Short Story; 20th Century American Fiction; American Novel; Rise of Realism; U.S. History surveys; History of American Worker; History of Maine; U.S. History Since World War II; Civil War and Reconstruction; American Philosophy
Social Justice and American Diversity
Includes courses from English, History, Humanities, Justice Studies, Philosophy, Sociology, and Women’s Studies including: African American Lit; Latin American Literature; Native American Literature; Irish American Literature; Race & Ethnicity in American Literature and Culture; The Immigrant in American History; History of American Slavery; The American Indian; Native American Cultures I & II; Women in Crime: The Female as Victim and as Offender; Philosophy of Feminism; Sociology of Minorities; Intro to Women’s Studies; Feminist Theory.
Law, Politics, and the State
Includes courses in History, Economics, Justice Studies, and Political Science: Social Networking; Social Movements and Justice in American Culture; Money and Banking; Foundations in Criminal Justice; American Government; Business and Public Policy; American State and Local Government; Public Opinion.
Please see the current check sheet for a full list of courses.
American Studies provides a demanding challenge for the motivated, independent thinkers who are seeking a well-rounded preparation for life and for careers in a variety of fields: from teaching, to law, journalism, social work, medicine, government, business, museum work, and city planning, to name a few. Public sector jobs, government agencies, NGOs, or publicly-supported institutions often seek to employ American studies students and graduates as interpreters, explaining an agency’s or institution’s function, projects, activities, or history to the public.