Major Explorations: American Studies

Welcome to American Studies

Did you know that Amherst College is among the longest-standing American Studies departments in the nation? Learn about its interdisciplinary nature, course offerings, and get a taste for the inquiries explored in the classroom.

About the American Studies Department

Mike Kelley speaking to visitors special collections in Frost Library

A public reception for the opening of the Younghee Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection exhibit in Frost Library.

Founded in 1948, the Amherst American Studies Department is one of the oldest American Studies departments in the United States.

A seminal principle of the field is that the study of American culture or society requires reliance on a range of disciplines and methodologies. We offer students the opportunity to understand the diverse range of American identities and experiences within a comparative and transnational frame that engages various histories of settlement, colonialism, migration, and race/racism, social, economic, and political change. As the field of American Studies has become increasingly focused on issues of race, ethnicity and transnationalism, the department has reflected that focus and is now the site for the study of comparative race and ethnicity at Amherst College. Central to our major is an investigation of the intersectionalities of gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and citizenship in the examination of American experiences.  

The department includes scholars whose training, research, and teaching span both a wide range of disciplines and geographic regions.  We include scholars working in Asian American Studies, Native Studies, Latino Studies, critical race studies, urban history, material culture, architecture, environmental studies, sociology, American literature and history.

The American Studies department is also distinct in our commitment to community-based learning, fostering critical analysis by engaging with local community partners in teaching, researching, and promoting active civic engagement.

Johnson Chapel surrounded by spring blossoming trees

Statements of Solidarity from American Studies

The American Studies Department recognizes the collective and psychic harms of systemic and institutional racism. Please read our policy statement in response to “Black Minds Matter.”