American Studies

Program Overview

American studies is an interdisciplinary major that explores American culture and identity. Students take classes in literature, history, film, food, media, music, philosophy, art and politics to achieve a multi-layered understanding of today's society and what it means to be American.  American studies has an intimate, open atmosphere and a curriculum unencumbered by traditional disciplinary boundaries, a place for freewheeling conversations about the American experience.

American studies is also an ideal double major. The flexibility of the program makes it possible to combine American studies with other majors.

Curriculum Overview

The program includes travel courses to great American cities such as New Orleans, Charleston and Memphis. Other courses include hip-hop, Alfred Hitchcock, American technology, the American West, rock ’n’ roll, American cinema, Martin Luther King, Live on Broadway (which includes trips to New York City) and sports in American life.

These courses explore American culture from different perspectives, help broaden career choices, by building unique networking opportunities and provides individual attention from professors who can help you find jobs in a variety of fields.

Rider’s American studies program prepares students for careers in public policy, law, education, journalism, film, music, arts administration, library science and publishing.

American Studies faculty are among the best teachers and most published scholars at Rider, recruited from history, English, sociology, philosophy, education, business, legal studies, and fine arts. Many have published major books and written for publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and prominent academic journals. They have appeared in major media outlets such as NPR, CNN, and CBS.

American Studies Honors Program 

A limited number of superior students enrolled in the American Studies major or minor programs may participate in a program leading to graduation with Honors in American Studies.  Interested students should apply to the departmental Committee on honors before March 1st of their junior year; admission is based on academic average and submission of an acceptable proposal for an individual study project.  Honors in American Studies is awarded on the basis of completing the senior thesis. 

Degrees Offered

  • B.A. in American Studies

Contact

Brooke Hunter, PhD
Associate Professor
North Hall 104
(609) 896-5378
bhunter@rider.edu

Program Website:  American Studies

Associated Department/College:  Liberal Arts Program

Related Programs

American Studies Major Requirements

(36 credits)

Core Requirements42-43
See LAS Core Page
American Studies
AMS 200Introduction to American Studies3
AMS 400
AMS 401
Seminar in American Studies I
and Seminar in American Studies II
6
One American Studies elective3
HIS 180U.S. History I3
HIS 181U.S. History II3
American Literature Distribution
Select two of the following:6
Major American Authors
Black American Lit
Multi-Ethnic Lit in America
19th-Century American Lit
20th-Century American Lit
Contemporary American Lit
Seminar in American Lit
OR choose other literature courses with a preponderence of American material
Humanities Distribution
Select two of the following:6
Growing Up American
American Myth in Literature, Landscape, and Music
Special Topics in American Studies
Alfred Hitchcock in America
American Folklore
The New South in Literature, Music and Film
Studies in American Jewish Culture
American Popular Culture
Religion in America
Poetry and Poetics in American Culture
Hip Hop and American Culture
American Identity in the Arts
American Photography
American Gothic
OR choose another Humanities courses with a preponderence of American material
Social Science Distribution
Select two of the following:6
Growing Up American
Sports in American Life
Multicultural America
American Folklore
Philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Studies in American Jewish Culture
American Popular Culture
Technology and Science in America
Hip Hop and American Culture
Radicalism in 20th-Century America
Social Impact of Rock and Roll
OR choose other Social Science courses with a preponderence of American material
Total Credits78-79

American Studies Minor Requirements

(18 credits)

AMS 200Introduction to American Studies3
Select five of the following:15
Growing Up American
Sports in American Life
Multicultural America
American Myth in Literature, Landscape, and Music
Special Topics in American Studies
Alfred Hitchcock in America
American Folklore
The New South in Literature, Music and Film
Philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Studies in American Jewish Culture
American Popular Culture
America and the Future
Technology and Science in America
Religion in America
Poetry and Poetics in American Culture
Hip Hop and American Culture
American Identity in the Arts
Radicalism in 20th-Century America
American Photography
Social Impact of Rock and Roll
American Gothic
Total Credits18

Academic Plan of Study

The following educational plan is provided as a sample only.  Rider students who do not declare a major during their freshman year; who change their major; or those who transfer to Rider may follow a different plan to ensure a timely graduation.  Each student, with guidance from his or her academic advisor, will develop a personalized educational plan.

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
Fall SemesterSemester Credit Hours
CMP 120 Expository Writing 3
Social Science Core Course (1 of 2) 3
MTH 102 Finite Mathematics 3
HIS 150 World History to 1500 3
Foreign Language Core Course (Level 1) 3
NCT 010 Freshman Seminar 0
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
American Literature Course 3
CMP 125 Research Writing 3
HIS 151 World History Since 1500 3
AMS 200 Introduction to American Studies 3
Foreign Language Core Course (Level 2) 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Year 2
Fall Semester
HIS 180 U.S. History I 3
AMS 200 Level Humanities Course 3
American Literature Course 3
Fine Arts Core Course 3
Natural / Physical Science Core Course (1 of 2) 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
HIS 181 U.S. History II 3
AMS 200 Level Social Science Course 3
Philosophy Core Course (Any Philosophy Course or AMS 227) 3
Natural / Physical Science Core Course (2 of 2) 3
Social Science Core Course (2 of 2) 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Year 3
Fall Semester
AMS 400 Seminar in American Studies I 3
Literature Core Course 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
AMS 200 Level Humanities: Special Topics Travel Course 3
AMS 300 Level Social Science Course 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Year 4
Fall Semester
AMS Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
AMS 401 Seminar in American Studies II 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
Elective Course 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
 Total Credit Hours for Graduation120

Notes:

  1. For course placement information see http://www.rider.edu/offices-services/orientation/course-placement .
  2. Please note that elective credits may be used to complete requirements in a second major or minor.

AMS 200 Introduction to American Studies 3 Credits

An introduction to various historical definitions of the American experience or national identity, to selected topics which have been used to explain that identity, and to methods of study in the field.

AMS 210 Growing Up American 3 Credits

Studies the maturation and socialization process in modern America through comparative analysis of autobiographical texts and students’ personal experiences. Texts represent the experiences of young Americans of both sexes and of different class, racial, ethnic, religious, and regional backgrounds.

AMS 211 Sports in American Life 3 Credits

Literary, sociological, and psychological views of sports in 20th-century American life are examined, focusing on sports as a symbol and reflection of our ideals and tensions.

AMS 212 Multicultural America 3 Credits

Focusing primarily on the new century, this course explores the experiences of the remarkably diverse range of ethnic groups who have come to the U.S. in recent years, including Hispanics, Europeans, Asians and Africans. How these groups have impacted the communities where they have settled, how they have interacted with other ethnic groups, and how they have assimilated (or not) and prospered (or not) are among the issues examined and discussed.

AMS 213 American Myth in Literature, Landscape, and Music 3 Credits

A study of the New World and related myths from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students will read essays, fiction, and poetry by Poe, Melville, Emerson, Whitman, James, and others. Paintings and musical works embodying New World concepts will be examined in connection with the above authors.

AMS 214 Special Topics in American Studies 3 Credits

Studies in specialized areas of American culture, including travel courses to New Orleans and Spoleto USA. Topics change each semester and are listed in the course roster.

AMS 215 Alfred Hitchcock in America 3 Credits

Explores the influence of American culture on the films of Alfred Hitchcock following his immigration to the United States. Students will study one of the cinema’s greatest auteurs through the lens of American culture and its impact on Hitchcock’s European sensibility. Also explores the reverse dynamic: how Hitchcock transformed American cinema.

AMS 225 American Folklore 3 Credits

An introduction to folk language, custom, and material culture in the United States. Proverbs; myths, legends, and tales; superstitions; music; arts and crafts are treated from both aesthetic and social perspectives. Students will collect and examine folklore within their own cultural contexts.

AMS 226 The New South in Literature, Music and Film 3 Credits

An exploration of Southern culture since World War II and how it has influenced American society as a whole. In literature, music, and film, the Sun Belt has been a significant, innovative region. From the spread of New Orleans jazz through the plays of Tennessee Williams to the fiction of Flannery O’Connor, Southern art has helped shape the larger American culture; this course examines that influence from an interdisciplinary perspective.

AMS 227 Philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. 3 Credits

A study of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophical writings and his impact on civil speeches and sermons, and critical assessments of the significance of his thought.

AMS 228 Studies in American Jewish Culture 3 Credits

Focuses on important fiction, criticism, social/philosophical commentary, history, and films by 20th-century Jewish American intellectuals, including Michael Gold, Anzia Yezierska, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley, Rebecca Goldstein, Art Spiegelman, Arthur Hertzberg, Leslie Fiedler, Chaim Potok, Woody Allen, and David Mamet.

AMS 229 American Popular Culture 3 Credits

An exploration of American popular culture and its profound impact on both the United States and the rest of the world. Pop-culture theorists regard American culture as a dominant force; this course examines the development of this trend from historical, political, and artistic perspectives.

AMS 250 America and the Future 3 Credits

Examines the projections of the American future in terms of the past and present. Emphasizes American studies methodologies, drawing upon philosophical, literary, environmental, and other varieties of futuristic speculations.

AMS 304 Technology and Science in America 3 Credits

An overview of the development and impact of technology and science on American institutions. Topics include innovation, economic growth, science and its relation to technology, social theory, and the politics of science.

AMS 305 Religion in America 3 Credits

Introduces the changing patterns of American development from the sectarianism of colonial America to the pluralism and growing secularism of the 20th-century American religious scene.

AMS 306 Poetry and Poetics in American Culture 3 Credits

Examines American poetry and poetics in relation to American culture and history of the 18th through the 21st centuries. Students read poems and statements about poetry, view artworks, hear recordings, and examine hypertext versions of poems.

AMS 309 Hip Hop and American Culture 3 Credits

Examines and critiques hip hop as a part of American culture. Students will engage with scholarship from several fields in studying the social conditions that fostered the creation of hip hop music, and discuss how these conditions have and/or have not changed in America since the 1970s, when hip hop was born. Students will delve into such issues as how women relate to hip hop, hip hop poetics and rhyme structures, race relations in hip hop, censorship, and the ethics and legalities of digital sampling.

AMS 310 American Identity in the Arts 3 Credits

Studies the place of the arts and the position of the creative artist in contemporary American society, with particular emphasis on the problems of the artist’s search for an American identity in the complex cultural milieu.

AMS 311 Radicalism in 20th-Century America 3 Credits

Discusses a number of radical intellectual, literary, and political movements, organizations, and parties from the points of view of their members and leaders, and their historical genesis and development within the context of 20th-century American political life.

AMS 312 American Photography 3 Credits

An intensive analysis of the documentary, aesthetic, and expressive significance of photography in American culture from 1850 to the present. Particular emphasis on the interrelationships between photography and developments in American history, painting, literature, and the social sciences. This course does not deal with the technical aspects of still photography.

AMS 338 Social Impact of Rock and Roll 3 Credits

Explores rock and roll music as a communication medium of American popular culture. The focus is on both how rock and roll music has influenced, and is influenced by, society. It addresses the origins, development and impact of rock music in relation to some of the critical cultural dynamics that provided not only its context, but also much of its content.

AMS 350 American Gothic 3 Credits

An introduction to American Gothic literature as a genre, including its historical development, governing conventions, politics, and aesthetics, as well as its emotional and cultural impact.

AMS 400 Seminar in American Studies I 3 Credits

A study of arts and letters in America from the Puritan period through the Civil War. Should be taken junior year if possible.

Prerequisite(s): AMS 200.

AMS 401 Seminar in American Studies II 3 Credits

A study of arts and letters in America from Reconstruction to the present. Should be taken junior year if possible.

Prerequisite(s): AMS 200.

AMS 490 Independent Research and Study 1-4 Credits

Independent Research and Study allows juniors and seniors in good academic standing to investigate topics of interest under faculty supervision. Projects must be approved by the faculty member, department chairperson, and academic dean no later than the third week of the semester in which the project is to be conducted. Only one project can be scheduled in a semester, and for no more than four semester hours; up to 12 semester hours of independent research and study may be counted toward graduation. Note that individual departments may have additional restrictions.

AMS 491 Internship in American Studies 1-4 Credits

A supervised work experience in an approved organization to gain knowledge of various manifestations of American society in workplace settings. Placements can be made in business, government, and non-profit organizations and local grassroots movements that draw on the knowledge acquired in the American studies curriculum.