American Studies offers its student an exciting combination of small classes and hands-on learning that takes place both inside and outside the classroom. All courses are taught in discussion seminars by core faculty in the program. In addition to honing their speaking, writing, and research skills, students in American Studies learn how to analyze complex ideas, tackle programs with no clear answers, and engage with the world through a variety of platforms. American Studies majors work closely with both faculty and fellow students in the creation of museum exhibitions, documentary films, digital archives, theater productions, and online journals.

In American Studies, the city of Richmond, the nation, and the world all serve as laboratories of investigation and learning. Our students develop projects at the local level and also travel as classes to field sites from New Orleans to New York, from London to San Juan. American Studies increasingly emphasizes explorations of U.S. culture and society in relation to international politics, the global economy, and population migrations. For this reason, American Studies majors are also encouraged to study abroad.

American Studies

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  • AMST 201 Introduction to American Studies

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Surveys multidisciplinary approaches to American studies with specific emphasis on methodologies, sources, themes, and major ideas.
  • AMST 298 Selected Topics

    Units: 1

    Varying interdisciplinary topics or methodologies related to American studies. Area of study will vary according to instructor and course topic.
  • AMST 301 Seminar in American Studies

    Units: 1

    Advanced seminar that examines the historical, methodological, and theoretical development of American studies as an academic discipline. Offered fall semester only.


    AMST-201 and junior or senior status.

  • AMST 381 Richmond Seminar

    Units: 1

    A community-engaged seminar using Richmond to explore broader topics in American Studies, typically involving community collaboration and the creation of public scholarship, such as docudramas, exhibitions, and digital projects.
  • AMST 388 Individual Internship

    Units: 0.25-1

    Application of academic skills and theories in a selected work environment, plus related academic work supervised by a member of the faculty. No more than 1.5 units of internship in any one department and 3.5 units of internship overall may be counted toward required degree units.
  • AMST 391 Tocqueville Seminar: Special Topics

    Units: 1

    Encourages students to look at the United States from international perspectives. Multidisciplinary and therefore uses theory and a variety of forms of texts--music, film, literature, primary sources, popular culture, and more--to view the U.S. through a transnational lens, in order to deepen student understanding of the U.S. as they see the country from different and alternative points of view.
  • AMST 398 Selected Topics in American Studies

    Units: 0.5-1

    Varying interdisciplinary topics related to American studies. Area of study will vary according to instructor and course topic.
  • AMST 399 Independent Study

    Units: 0.5-1

    Individually designed reading or research program conducted under faculty supervision.


    AMST-201 and permission of program coordinator and faculty supervisor.

  • AMST 401 Thesis

    Units: 1

    Thesis project designed, researched, and written by students under faculty supervision. Offered spring semester only.


    AMST-201, senior status, 3.5 grade point average within the major, and a prospectus with bibliography approved by the American studies advisory council.

  • AMST 406 Summer Undergraduate Research

    Units: 0

    Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.


    Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor

American Studies Electives

See the departmental listings for descriptions of the following courses offered for AMST credit. Ordinarily, the electives should be drawn from at least two affiliated departments and two must be taken at the 300-level or higher. Students may count one approved First-Year Seminar or one approved History 199 toward their American Studies major. A supplemental listing of courses is published each semester on the American Studies website.

ANTH 211 Field Methods in Ethnography

ANTH 307 Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

ANTH 308 Latin America: An Ethnographic Perspective

ANTH 328 Anthropology of Human Rights

ANTH 329 Anthropology of Race

ARTH 213 American Art 1700-1900

ARTH 218 Modern Art, 1900-1960

ARTH 223 Studies in the History of Photography

ARTH 322 Museum Studies

EDUC 220 Education in America

ENGL 206 Selected Readings in American Literature

ENGL 208 Twentieth Century American Fiction

ENGL 216 Literature, Technology, and Society

ENGL 229 The Black Vernacular

ENGL 231 African-American Literature

ENGL 232 Southern Fiction

ENGL 233 Contemporary Native American Literature

ENGL 240 Literature after 9/11

ENGL 325 Age of the American Renaissance

ENGL 334 American Indian Literatures

ENGL 357 Twentieth-Century American Fiction

ENGL 361 Literature and Film

ENGL 362 Post-Soul Literature and Culture

ENGL 367 Indigenous Film in North America

ENGL 368 History and Aesthetics of Film

ENGL 369 American Culture/American Film

GEOG 215/ENVR 215 Geography of the James River Watershed

HIST 199 Elements of Historical Thinking: Lincoln

HIST 199 Elements of Historical Thinking: Mexico/US Borderlands

HIST 199 Elements of Historical Thinking: Scottsboro Trials

HIST 199 Elements of Historical Thinking: Slavery in Virginia

HIST 200 Colonial America

HIST 201 The American Revolution

HIST 202 The Early American Republic

HIST 204 The Civil War and Reconstruction

HIST 215 United States and the World since 1945

HIST 216 American Cultural and Intellectual History since 1865

HIST 218 State and Society in Modern America

HIST 219 Work in Twentieth-Century America

HIST 220 Reagan's America

HIST 260 Colonial Latin America

HIST 261 Modern Latin America

HIST 300 Claiming the American Revolution

HIST 301 The Civil War in Film and Literature

HIST 306 American Identities

HIST 391 Transnational Social Reform

HIST 395 The Historian's Workshop

JOUR 100 News Media and Society

JOUR 302 Public Affairs Reporting

JOUR 307 Documentary Journalism

JOUR 311 Press and Politics

LAIS 301 Spanish in the Community

LAIS 331 Intro to Latin American Literature I

LAIS 332 Intro to Latin American Literature II

LAIS 452 Spanish-American Poetic Texts

LAIS 472 Latin American Theater

LAIS 483 The Art of Embodiment: Space and Body in Colonial Spanish America

LAIS 486 US Latino/a Literature

LAIS 487 Latin America: Encounter and Conflict

LDST 317 Reimagining Richmond: History, Power and Politics in the Capital of the Confederacy

LDST 345 Civil War Leadership

LDST 352 Presidential Leadership

LDST 378 Statesmanship

LDST 384 Education and Equity

MUS 221 Music in Film

MUS 235 I Want My MTV: Music Video and the Transformation of the Music Industry

PLSC 310 Statesmanship

PLSC 315 American Political Theory

PLSC 323 Money, Politics, and Prisons

PLSC 325 Racial Politics

PLSC 326 United States Congress

PLSC 327 The American Presidency

PLSC 328 Americal Political Parties

PLSC 329 Campaigns and Elections

PLSC 331 Constitutional Law

PLSC 333 Civil Rights/Liberties

PLSC 337 The American Legal System

PLSC 339 Jurisprudence in Contemporary American Politics

PLSC 349 Politics/Latin America and Caribbean

PLSC 350 American Foreign Policy

PLSC 361 The Politics of Social Welfare

PLSC 365 US Healthcare Policy and Politics

PLSC 366 Poverty and Political Voice

RELG 255 Queers in Religion

RELG 257 Native American Religions

RELG 273 Witchcraft and its Interpreters

RELG 359 American Judaism

RELG 374 Religion and the American Environment

RELG 375 Cults, Communes, and Utopias in Early America

RHCS 347 Advertising and Consumer Culture

RHCS 349 Memory and Memorializing in the City of Richmond

RHCS 359 Media and War

SOC 207 Crime and Justice in a Postmodern Society

SOC 216 Social Inequalities

SOC 218 Sociology of the Black Experience

SOC 231 Across the Pond: Europe vs. USA

SOC 255 Sport in Society

SOC 311 Juvenile Delinquency

SOC 316 Race and Ethnicity in America

SOC 319 Sociology of Gender and Sexuality

SOC 320 Race, Class, and Schooling

THTR 229 Going Solo: The Politics of Identity in Contemporary Solo Performance

THTR 239 Latinx On Stage: From the Barrios to Broadway

THTR 313 Theatre for Social Change I

THTR 314 Theatre for Social Change II

WGSS 280 Gender and Work