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American Studies

The American Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program that looks at American culture in all its complexity through a variety of intellectual disciplines and perspectives. Through course offerings, visiting speakers, and research opportunities, students and faculty examine the formation of social, legal, cultural, and economic identities within the borders of the United States. Curriculum includes compelling matters of class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, environment, technology, religion, and the arts.

As much of the United States becomes bilingual, the program identifies itself within the larger geographic and geopolitical parameters of the Americas, including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. In addition, American Studies addresses itself to important distinctions within the concept of globalization, ranging from transnational corporate activities to those of nongovernmental organizations committed to such projects as public health, philanthropy, and nutrition. The American Studies Program encourages and provides opportunities for on- and off-campus research, internships, study abroad, and individualized and group projects under the guidance of participating faculty in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

Courses and Seminars

Most American Studies courses are small, ensuring close student-faculty interaction and abundant opportunities for majors to conduct their own research. Recent course offerings include: Sports and Race; Economic History of the US; Musicals and Masculinity; Narratives of the Southern Poor; Citizenship and Culture in the Cold War Era; Blackness in US Popular Culture; Sports, Culture, Society; and Social Dimensions of Health and Illness. Majors are required to take two core courses: the American Studies Workshop, an interdisciplinary seminar taught in the junior year, and the Senior Project, a capstone research project. 

Honors Program

The American Studies Honors Program offers superior students the opportunity to pursue more intensive work in their area of concentration with an interdisciplinary faculty committee. It consists of a two-semester sequence that begins with reading and research in an interdisciplinary field and culminates with a thesis written in the spring semester of the senior year. 

Special Opportunities

American Studies majors can take advantage of study abroad programs by counting some of their courses toward the major requirements as well as international Maymester sessions taught by American Studies faculty members. Majors also profit from taking service-learning courses offered at Vanderbilt.

The American Studies program also offers a program of city walks designed to acquaint students with the history and social geography of Nashville and a road trip series that takes students out into the community to investigate local and regional cultural sites under the guidance of faculty experts. 

After Vanderbilt

A major in American Studies provides an individualized and intense interdisciplinary undergraduate research experience that prepares students for careers in law, business, government, medicine, communications, journalism, public service, and higher education. Recent graduates of the program have gone on to law school and graduate school as well as jobs on Capitol Hill and in journalism and consulting. 


Faculty in the American Studies department include some of the most creative and exciting teachers and scholars at Vanderbilt. Many have won major teaching, service, and research awards and have received prestigious national and international awards for their contributions to the study of American culture. The American Studies faculty is drawn from the departments of African American and Diaspora Studies, Anthropology, Communication Studies, Economics, English, Cinema & Media Arts, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, Sociology, Theatre, and Women’s and Gender Studies, as well as the Vanderbilt Law School and the Peabody College of Education and Human Development. 


Dr. Gabriel Torres-Colón
Program in American Studies
132 Buttrick Hall
2301 Vanderbilt Place
VU Station B 350125
Nashville, TN 37235-0125
Phone: (615) 343-8724

American Studies Website