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American Studies

American Studies

Are you fascinated with the 1960s – or the Civil War, the settlement of the West, or any other theme or era in American history? The interdisciplinary American Studies program explores the politics, literature, and popular culture of the past to illuminate the totality of the American experience.

Discover What it Means to be American

The American Studies program explores American culture – its history, its multicultural identity, values, conflicts, and experiences. As broad and varied as the nation itself, American Studies includes literature, law, economics, politics, social science, gender studies, music, philosophy, foreign policy and urban studies. And studying the American experience – what it has been, what it is, and what it might become — goes even further, into nearly all arts and sciences, as seen through the American lens.

JT Galloway

I originally signed on for American Studies to fulfill a requirement, but I quickly became very engaged with the program. The curriculum is exciting, much more than studying American history, it teaches a way of thinking, critically and analytically, how to question sources and debate them instead of simply accepting what’s presented. Plus, students in this program come from all different walks of life and ways of thinking, and it’s easy to see how the major can be valuable in a variety of fields.

James Galloway 2013, American Studies

Address the Pressing Questions of Our Time

American Studies takes in an array of academic areas to explore big questions: Who have we been and who are we as individuals and communities, in terms of class, race, gender, religion, region, age, and sexuality? What roles do government, social movements, economic structures, media, and politics play in our society and culture? How do we express our ideas and experiences, convey them, and consume them? How does art, technology, and science shape our lives? What effect does place, where we live, work, play, shop, and travel have on our sense of community and identity, on the movement of people, goods, and ideas?

Use Curiosity and Imagination as a Guide

We encourage American Studies majors to be innovative. They can combine courses in American Studies with courses from relevant areas in social sciences, literature, history, arts, and humanities. As result, graduates gain a critical understanding of American culture, its people and communities, institutions, legal, commercial, and religious structures. They acquire a perspective of American life, past, present, and future, based on a variety of disciplines and attain the skills to write and speak it with authority.

Katie Petz, BA, ’12

Every day, I use the skills I learned decoding and analyzing literature with my students to help them better understand what they are reading.”

Katie Petz 2014, American Studies/Education

Ready to Succeed in Today’s World

Equipped with a broad skill set and a grounded, analytical way of thinking, American Studies graduates excel in many careers. They make great teachers, lawyers, business people, librarians, scholars, museum curators, historians, and preservationists. Alumni routinely succeed in media, journalism, the arts, nonprofit management, social entrepreneurship, public relations, government agencies, international relations, advertising, and social services. More about Ready to Succeed in Today’s World

Leading the Way: Dedicated Scholars and Experts

“The American Studies professors helped me come up with my own conclusions through discussion, debate, and a great set of core classes. My very train of thought constantly evolved in its own unique way, inspiring me to make a difference in my postgraduate life.”
– Justin Churchill ‘11 

Because American Studies is an interdisciplinary program – one that crosses the lines between traditional academic areas – our faculty brings into the classroom a deep well of scholarship and expertise tailored to the interests of American Studies majors. Keene, New Hampshire is a great place to teach and learn, allowing us to attract top teachers who are devoted to students’ success. More about Leading the Way: Dedicated Scholars and Experts

Contact American Studies

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American Studies
Anne Freisinger Cucchi
Administrative Assistant

Department Chair
Dr. Sally Joyce

Admissions Office
229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435


December 19, 2017 –

In many ways, Ben Wimett ’08 is a typical 33-year-old. He lives in an apartment complex, has a job he loves, and dotes on his dog, Root Beer. In his free time, he likes to hike, fish, and hunt. Three years ago, he snagged a 12-point buck in Pennsylvania.


May 3, 2017 –

The winner of this year’s Robin Dizard American Studies Award, given to a junior or senior American studies major with a grade point average of 3.5 or more, found American studies to be the perfect match for her other major, elementary education.

“There’s a great overlap with education,” says Adriana…

April 14, 2017 –

American Studies major Zach Benton, who bills himself as a “one-man-band, songwriter, producer, arranger, and singer,” has been performing and recording professionally since he graduated from Keene State in 2010. And not without considerable success: His extended play (EP) recording Mister Roberts’ Epiphany was followed by his long play (LP)…

September 21, 2016 –

The powerful story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp – a Unitarian minister and his wife from Wellesley, Massachusetts, who left their safe life of comfort to spend two dangerous years helping hundreds of political dissidents and Jewish refugees flee the Nazis at the beginning of World War II – would…

August 10, 2015 –

An outstanding student with the highest GPA in the American Studies program, Hannah Legacy was chosen for the Robin Dizard American Studies Award . The major seems to suit her perfectly. “My favorite thing about American Studies is that it’s such a broad field of study," she explained. "It encourages…