Jul 14, 2024  
College Catalog 2024-2025 
College Catalog 2024-2025

American Studies

Full-Time Faculty: Karin Aguilar-San Juan (Chair), Duchess Harris, Jake Nagasawa, Kirisitina Sailiata

Affiliated Faculty: Bill Hart (Religious Studies), Alicia Muñoz (Spanish and Portuguese)

The department of American Studies at Macalester College is an interdisciplinary unit that reflects the multiple trajectories of this vibrant field. Faculty members from across the campus contribute their expertise in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts to our course offerings. American Studies programs focus on various aspects of life, culture and politics in the United States, and on America’s place in the global community. Our emphasis is on race and ethnicity as central dimensions of U.S. social life. This perspective reflects an understanding that the prevailing concepts of citizenship, community, freedom and individuality in the United States contain within them deep fissures, erasures and conflicts that depend upon particular constructions of race, ethnicity, and difference. The curriculum is influenced by scholarship in African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano/Latino studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies, women’s and gender studies, queer and sexuality studies, critical race theory, and transnational and diaspora studies.

The department encourages close and systematic research of central questions in the field, and offers structured opportunities to apply theoretical concepts in concrete settings of civic engagement.

The department of American Studies is dedicated to incorporating various intellectual traditions and histories in an interdisciplinary curriculum that is tuned into the specific and concrete practices of everyday life. Students who take courses in the department of American Studies will be exposed to the current rigorous and complex theoretical conversations in the field. At the same time they will acquire an appreciation for the significance of race, ethnicity and difference in their own lives and in the world around them. Informed and active citizenship requires a careful understanding of how and why racial difference and structural inequality persist in the twenty-first century. Students who minor in American Studies will gain an awareness of the wide variety of racialized experiences and perspectives and of the ways in which these have been transformed over time.

The civic-engagement component, required in the junior year, creates a place to engage with real-world complexities of racial and ethnic difference, inequality and social justice, whether local or global. The senior capstone course integrates theory and practice, and prepares students for advanced study in American Studies or related areas.

Students also take a course that introduces them to interdisciplinary research methods through the lens of American Studies scholarship.

We expect that our majors will be able to: 1) articulate some of the many ways in which racial and ethnic categories shape U.S. social life; 2) identify and work with different conceptual approaches to race, including historical, sociological, literary, cultural, and others; 3) demonstrate proficiency with a range of research tools; 4) perform as knowledgeable interlocutors in settings of civic engagement; and 5) demonstrate excellence in all aspects of academic life.

Students who major in American Studies are well-prepared to pursue graduate training in the field, as well as related areas such as history, sociology, ethnic studies, and urban studies. American Studies is also ideal training for students planning to obtain professional degrees in law, medicine, business, education, social work and journalism, among others. Our students are particularly committed to community service and social justice, and go on to work for advocacy organizations and governmental agencies, as well as independent cultural and political groups.

General Distribution Requirements

AMST 209 AMST 112 AMST 200 AMST 219 , AMST 222 , AMST 224 , AMST 225 AMST 229 AMST 231 AMST 232 AMST 336 AMST 241 AMST 253 AMST 256 AMST 268 AMST 270 AMST 271 , AMST 275 AMST 284 AMST 288 AMST 315 AMST 380 , and AMST 445  count toward the general distribution requirement in humanities. AMST 101 AMST 203 AMST 205 AMST 237 AMST 240 AMST 250 AMST 251 AMST 260 AMST 281 AMST 300 AMST 301 AMST 341  and AMST 355  count toward the social science general distribution requirement. AMST 263  counts toward the fine arts requirement. Any topics courses offered (at any level) require approval by the department to qualify for either distribution. Courses approved for the American Studies major offered through other departments meet the general distribution requirements of that department.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements  section of this catalog.

Courses Approved for American Studies Majors or Minors

In addition to courses offered directly through the American Studies department, certain courses in other departments are approved for use on the American Studies major and minor plans. Approval is based on specific syllabi and faculty; please consult with the department chair with questions about approval. Consult the department for approved courses from previous years.

Honors Program

The American Studies department participates in the Honors Program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations for the department are available from either the department office or the Academic Programs and Advising Office.

Topics Courses

AMST 194 , AMST 294 , AMST 394 , AMST 494  

Topics courses are occasional, often experimental courses, offered by instructors at their own initiative or in response to student requests. Recent topics courses include: White Christian Right, James Baldwin and the Black Religious Imagination, and others to be announced at registration.

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of tutorials, independent projects, internships, and preceptorships. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum  section of the catalog.