American Studies Concentration  

                                                                                 Great Hall, Ellis Island, New York


You may be interested in American literature, folklore or popular culture; in black history and culture; in women’s studies; in American history, politics or law; in the history of science and technology; in American art, architecture or music—whatever the special focus of your interests, American Studies may be the right concentration for you. American Studies gives you a chance to study American society and culture through its history, literature, art, politics, science, music, etc. by constructing interdisciplinary programs, made up of subjects drawn from different disciplines, centered on your particular interests. 

One aim of American Studies is to help you understand the underlying system of beliefs that informs every aspect of American culture—its myths, institutions, politics and literature, its characteristic dreams and rituals. Another is to understand the uses and limits of different methods and intellectual disciplines as tools for exploring the complexities of a culture. And a third, no less important, is to understand the American present in relation to the American past. To these you will add your own objectives.

You can concentrate in American Studies by taking four subjects, at least one of which must be in Historical Studies and one in Literature (variances are possible). Concentrations may be organized around periods, problems, or themes. A HASS Concentration may include only one subject that also counts toward the HASS Distribution Requirement. You may include more than one only if the additional subject will NOT count as a HASS Distribution subject in your degree audit.

A concentration in American Studies will well prepare you for further work not only in the various humanistic fields but also in law, urban planning, management, architecture, engineering, medicine, teaching, and any of the media. Consult the American Studies Concentration Advisor with any questions.

Below is a partial listing of American Studies subjects. Other courses may be included in your program at the American Studies advisor’s discretion.




21M.215 Music of the Americas, HASS-A

21M.226 Jazz, HASS-A

21M.283 The Musical, HASS-A

21M.284 Film Music, HASS-A

21M.295 American Popular Music, HASS-A

21W.742J Writing about Race [WGS.231], HASS-H, CI-H

24.912J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies [21H.106, 21L.008, 21W.741, WGS.190], HASS-A/HASS-H, CI-H




17.20 Introduction to the American Political Process, HASS-S, CI-H

17.251 Congress and the American Political System I, HASS-S

17.261 Congress and the American Political System II, HASS-S

17.263 Electoral Politics, Public Opinion, and Democracy, HASS-S

17.265 Public Opinion and American Democracy, HASS-S

17.267 Democracy in America, HASS-S

17.269 Race, Ethnicity, and American Politics, HASS-S

17.317 U.S. Social Policy, HASS-S

17.40 American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future, HASS-S, CI-H

17.483 US Military Power, HASS-S

21A.120 American Dream: Exploring Class in the US, HASS-S




11.013J American Urban History I [21H.217], HASS-H, CI-H

11.014J History of the Built Environment in the U.S. [21H.218], HASS-H, CI-H

17.28J The War at Home: American Politics and Society in Wartime [21H.213], HASS-S

21G.043J Introduction to Asian American Studies: Historical and Contemporary Issues [21H.107], HASS-H

21H.101 American History to 1865, HASS-H

21H.102 American History Since 1865, HASS-H, CI-H

21H.201 The American Revolution, HASS-H

21H.211 The United States in the Nuclear Age, HASS-H

21H.214 War and American Society, HASS-H

21H.220J Metropolis: A Comparative History of New York City [11.150], HASS-H

21H.226J Riots, Strikes, and Conspiracies in American History [11.015], HASS-H, CI-H

21H.227 Constitutional Law in US History, HASS-S

21H.228 American Classics, HASS-H, CI-H

21H.229 The Black Radical Tradition in America, HASS-H

21H.281 MIT and Slavery: Research, HASS-H, CI-H

21H.282 MIT and Slavery: Publication, HASS-H

21H.315 American Consumer Culture, HASS-H

21H.319 Race, Crime, and Citizenship in American Law, HASS-S

21H.320J Gender and the Law in US History [WGS.161], HASS-H

21H.321J Downtown [11.026], HASS-H

21H.322 Christianity in America, HASS-H

STS.027J The Civil War and the Emergence of Modern America: 1861-1890 [21H.205], HASS-H




21L.006 American Literature, HASS-H, CI-H

21L.011 The Film Experience, HASS-A, CI-H

21L.432 Understanding Television, HASS-H

21L.487 Modern Poetry, HASS-H

21L.501 The American Novel, HASS-H

21L.504J Race and Identity in American Literature [WGS.140], HASS-H

21L.512 American Authors, HASS-H




STS.001 Technology in American History, HASS-H, CI-H

STS.026 History of Manufacturing in America, HASS-H

STS.027J The Civil War and the Emergence of Modern America: 1861-1890 [21H.205], HASS-H

STS.048 African Americans in Science, Technology, and Medicine, HASS-H

STS.049 The Long War Against Cancer, HASS-H, CI-H

STS.050 The History of MIT, HASS-H

WGS.225J The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender [21A.103, STS.046], HASS-S


This list is not exhaustive. Relevant subjects that are no longer offered and subjects with variable topics (such as “special subjects” or “selected topics” courses, for example) may also be counted at the discretion of the concentration advisor.

[ ] Jointly listed subjects


Additional information can be obtained from the Concentration Advisor:
Professor Megan Black, E51-296d
Or from the History Office, E51-255, x3-4965
Or by emailing