Coordinator: Timothy B. Neary, Ph.D.
The American Studies program at Salve Regina is an interdisciplinary major in which students and faculty together draw upon multiple fields of study to analyze critically the meaning and influence of U.S. history and culture.
Students in the program focus on the question of national identity: What characteristics, traditions, ideas and values shape the American people and their institutions? Students explore American culture through the lens of diverse academic fields, such as art, economics, film, history, literature, music, philosophy, politics, religion and sociology in order to examine the nation's intellectual and social foundations.
The curriculum for a bachelor's degree in American Studies is divided into three parts:
- four foundational American studies courses;
- five courses from American arts, cultural and historic preservation, literature, history and philosophy; and
- five elective courses chosen in consultation with the major's advisor and with approval from the program coordinator. Students majoring in American studies produce an original piece of scholarly research and present it publicly during their senior year.
Beyond campus, internship opportunities in private businesses, nonprofit agencies, and government services allow students to gain practical work experience while applying and enhancing their knowledge of America's culture and identity. Study abroad allows students to compare national cultures and view American society from a new perspective, while field trips, academic conferences and research conducted for the senior thesis project engage them intellectually beyond the classroom.
Our majors are characterized by their ability to think critically, make intellectual connections and communicate effectively. The broad and rigorous education our students receive prepares them for graduate school and careers in a wide variety of fields, including business, education, government, journalism, law and the nonprofit sector.
Archaeology is a sub-discipline of anthropology that deals explicitly with the past through the study of material remains. While archaeologists engage many of the same issues as other anthropologists, (e.g., social inequality, gender relations, colonialism), they must approach these issues from alternative perspectives using different research methods. In this course, students will consider how archaeologists formulate research questions; find, excavate, and date sites; collect, quantify, and analyze artifacts; and interpret data in order to create stories about life in the past.
This course is team-taught by two instructors trained in different disciplines. Discussion-based, seminar-style class meetings invite students to learn by doing. Asking a fundamental question-"What does it mean to be American?"-this course explores the contested and changing understanding of American identity from the colonial period through the U.S. Civil War. Students and professors read and discuss classic American writings while also examining other sources, such as artwork, music, material culture, and architecture. Primary emphasis is placed on developing an analytical approach to the study of American history and culture.
This course is team-taught by two instructors trained in different disciplines. Discussion-based, seminar-style class meetings invite students to learn by doing. Examining primary texts and other sources, students and professors explore issues of identity, nationalism, and the role of the United States in global affairs, from the U.S. Civil War to the present. In addition, this course investigates how scholars have used interdisciplinary approaches and theoretical frameworks to arrive at better understandings of American society.
An overview of the major developments of music in the United States and the Americas from the 17th century to the present, the course covers popular music as well as works for the concert hall.
This course examines the history of sport in the United States in order to better understand American identity. Issues explored include immigration, race relations, religion, class, gender, business, politics, and nationalism. Students will have the opportunity to think about how sport mirrors-and at the same time shapes-critical ideas and values in American society.
Beginning with the colonial period and extending to John Dewey, this is a survey of social, moral, and metaphysical ideas that have proved to be significant in the U.S.
These intermediate-level courses are offered when interest is generated and programmatic resources are available.
This course examines the historical development of the American built environment, beginning with Native American settlement patterns and continuing to present-day phenomena of sprawl and New Urbanism. Students explore how landscape and buildings have developed in response to broader changes in American culture.
This survey covers American painting, sculpture, photography, and graphic arts from the 17th through the mid-20th century. It includes both major and minor figures, along with vernacular genres, such as limner painting and folk art. It does not include American Decorative Arts or American Architecture, for both of which there are other dedicated courses.
An examination of the experiences of the major immigrant groups from the Puritans to the Third World peoples of the present day. The course considers each group's efforts to adapt to America and the ambivalent-and sometimes hostile-reaction that they received from native-born Americans.
The Civil War marks a major transition in the vision of American writers. After a preliminary study of American romanticism, this course examines major and minor writers and theories of realism and naturalism within their historical and cultural contexts. Authors may include Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Theodore Dreiser, William Dean Howells, Henry James, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Charles Chesnutt, W.E.B. DuBois, Kate Chopin, and Edith Wharton.
The literature of the American Renaissance took shape before the Civil War as debates about nationalism, slavery, women's rights, and industrialization raged. This course examines the way the works of authors such as Irving, Cooper, Sedgwick, Poe, Hawthorne, Fuller, Whitman, Stowe, and Dickinson reflect the preoccupations of the period.
A survey of urban America from the 17th through the 20th centuries that examines the impact of the city upon American history, culture, and quality of life. Special emphasis is given to urban developments in the 20th century.
With their glossy advertisements and their personal tone, women's magazines have long played a role in influencing the ways in which gender is performed. This class looks at some of the most influential women's magazines in media history--including Cosmopolitan, Ms., Godey's Lady's Book, and Vogue--to explore the ways in which such publications defined new gender roles, reinforced traditional norms, and otherwise became forums for discussions of changing ideas of gender, sexuality and social rights. This course will also consider 21st century changes in the women's magazine industry and the ways in which the pressures of online publishing have affected representations of women and the position of women in the industry.
This course is taught by one instructor, who becomes the mentor for the senior thesis research projects. American Studies majors take this course in the spring semester of their junior year. Learning and practicing interdisciplinary research methods prepares students for completion of their thesis research project during senior year. Students choose a thesis topic, begin researching the topic, create a working bibliography, and present a research proposal by the end of the semester. Permission of department chair is required.
This seminar will provide the advanced student the opportunity to do intensive work in Film Studies. Topics vary, and may include the study of genre, individual directors, screenwriting, film production, or themes/issues.
These upper-level courses are offered when interest is generated and programmatic resources are available.
A capstone to the American Studies major, this course is taught by one instructor who guides students through the process of writing their senior thesis papers. American Studies majors work closely with the instructor who individually mentors them in writing of an original piece of scholarship. Seminar members read and critique one another's work. Students submit drafts, receive feedback, revise, complete final versions, and publicly present thesis papers. Permission of program coordinator is required.
This course allows students to apply their skills and knowledge outside the classroom while gaining practical work experience at an approved private business, non-profit organization, or government entity. In addition to fulfilling their assigned work duties for a designated on-site supervisor, students write a paper analyzing how their work experience enhanced their education. The internship is open to junior or senior American Studies majors with permission of the program coordinator.
Occasionally-if a compelling need is demonstrated and resources are available-a student may work independently with a faculty member in an area not covered by the regularly scheduled course offerings. The student should meet with a faculty member to develop a plan, as well as complete and submit an Independent Study form available from the Office of the Registrar.