Concentrations

Areas of concentration for the American Studies major include Southern Studies, Race and Ethnicity, Popular and Visual Culture, and a Self-Designed concentration.

Southern Studies

Drawing on the University of Virginia’s unique and historic strength in the study of the US South, students in the Southern Studies concentration pursue their interests in the region across multiple disciplines, including English, music, history, art history, film studies, the history of photography, and architectural history. Recent students in this concentration have conducted their own research on southern foodways, applied comparative approaches to the study of southern literatures, designed and conducted oral history projects, investigated the history of local music, and made documentary films.

American Studies faculty members with expertise in this area include Anna Brickhouse, Marlene Daut, Jennifer Greeson, and Grace Hale.

Students concentrating in Southern Studies must take at least 2 courses from the following Core classes.  The 2 courses must be from different departments.

  • AMST 1559 Slavery and Its Legacies
  • AMST 3880 and ENAM 3880 Literature of the South
  • ARTH 2753 Arts and Cultures of the Slave South
  • HIUS 3231 Rise and Fall of the Slave South
  • HIUS 3232 South in the 20th Century

The remaining 4 electives may come the Core class list and/or from a list of approved courses specific to the Southern Studies concentration. At least 2 of these 6 courses must be at the 3000 level or above.

Race and Ethnicity

​The Race and Ethnicity concentration enables students to examine the relationship between race and ethnicity and US cultures in a global and interdisciplinary framework.   Through our two core requirements, students will develop both depth of knowledge, researching a specific racial or ethnic identity within the US, and also the breadth provided by a comparative approach, examining commonalities and differences across Asian American, African American, Latino/a American, American Indian, and other racial and ethnic cultural formations within the US and in other parts of the world.  Only American Studies offers this comparative and global approach. 

Recent students have examined Spanish-language popular music and television programming across the Americas, African Americans and the global popularity of hip hop and the blues, Black Power and Afrocentric movements in the US South, American Indians in Virginia, and images of Asian Americans in the last half century of Hollywood Cinema. 

Faculty members with particular expertise in this area include Lawrie Balfour, Anna Brickhouse, Sylvia Chong, Marlene Daut, Camilla Fojas, Jennifer Greeson, Grace Hale, Jack Hamilton, Carmenita Higginbotham, Kasey Keeler, Carmen Lamas, Sandhya Shukla.

Students concentrating in Race and Ethnicity must take at least one course from each of the following Core lists.

Single Race/Ethnicity:

  • AAS 1010 Introduction to African American Studies I
  • AAS 1020 Introduction to African American Studies II
  • AMST 3180 Introduction to Asian American Studies
  • AMST 3200 and PLPT 3200 African American Political Thought
  • AMST 3559 Native American Pop Culture
  • AMST 3559 Race in Latinx Literature and Culture

Comparative Race/Ethnicity:

  • AMST 2220 Race, Identity and American Visual Culture
  • AMST 3559 Racial Borders and American Cinema
  • AMST 3559 Hemispheric Latinx Literature and Culture
  • AMST 4500 Race and Sound in American Culture
  • AMST 4559 Race in American Places
  • ENAM 3559 America and the Global South
  • ENMC 4530 Multiethnic American Fiction
  • HIUS 3232 Twentieth Century South
  • PLAP 3700 Racial Politics
  • PLPT 4060 Politics & Literature
  • PLPT 4500 Freedom, Empire, and Slavery
  • SOC 3410 Race and Ethnic relations

The remaining 4 electives may come from the Core class list and/or from a list of approved courses specific to the Race and Ethnicity concentration. At least 2 of these 6 courses must be at the 3000 level or above.

Popular and Visual Culture

The Popular and Visual Culture concentration explores contemporary or historical artifacts of US popular culture and visual images in their expanding variety.  Recent students interested in popular culture have worked on digital and social media (blogging, Twitter, Instagram), popular music (country music, alt rock, hip hop), genre fiction from crime to YA, and consumer culture (including advertising, the fashion industry, and the intersection of technology and style). 

Students interested in visual culture have worked on photography and popular uses of photographic images, film studies including the impact of Hollywood cinema, and visual aesthetics across the mediums of paintings, drawings, and lithographs.  Students in this concentration pursue their intellectual interests in American Studies and across the disciplines of art history, studio art, music, media studies, and literature.  

Faculty members with particular expertise in this concentration include Sylvia Chong, Marlene Daut, Camilla Fojas, Lisa Goff, Grace Hale, Jack Hamilton, Matt Hedstrom, Carmenita Higginbotham, Kasey Keeler, Camen Lamas, and Sandhya Shukla.

Students concentrating in Popular and Visual Culture must take at least 2 courses from the following Core classes. One must fulfill a Popular Culture requirement and one must fulfill and a Visual Culture requirement. The 2 courses must be from different departments.

Popular Culture

  • AMST 2410 Cultural Landscapes of US
  • AMST 2660 and RELG 2660 Spirituality in America
  • AMST 3425 American Material Culture
  • AMST 3559 Cultures of Hip-Hop
  • AMST 3559 and MDST 3559 Hip-Hop As Technology
  • AMST 3559 Hemispheric Latinx Literature and Culture
  • AMST 4500 Surveillance and US Empire
  • AMST 4500 Race and Sound in American Culture
  • ANTH 3155 Anthropology of Everyday American Life
  • HUIS 3161 Viewing America
  • MUSI 2070 Popular Musics
  • MUSI 2110 Music in Everyday Life
  • MUSI 2120 History of Jazz
  • PLAP 3140 Mass Media and American Politics
  • SOC 2470 American Society and Popular Culture

Visual Culture

  • AMST 2220 Race, Identity and American Visual Culture
  • AMST 2410 Cultural Landscapes of the US
  • ARTH 2471 Art Since 1945
  • ARTH 2745 African American Art
  • ARTH 2751 American Art to the Armory Show
  • ARTH 2752 American Art Since Reconstruction
  • ARTH 2753 Arts and Cultures of the Slave South
  • DRAM 2810/MDST 2810 Cinema as an Art Form
  • DRAM 3070 African American Theatre

The remaining 4 electives may come from the Core class list and/or from a list of approved courses specific to the Popular and Visual concentration. At least 2 of these 6 courses must be at the 3000 level or above.

Self Designed

American Studies students with a particular interest not covered by the other concentrations may design their own concentration.  Working closely with American Studies faculty members, students may design, propose and execute their own academic plan.

The Self-Designed concentration includes consulting with faculty on a specific topic, selecting Core courses that will shape this academic specialty, and identifying electives that will provide a comprehensive and rigorous understanding of a specific field of interest.

Previous Self-Designed concentration topics include Consumer Culture, Gender and Sexuality, Transnationalism, and Social Media.

If you are interested in a Self-Designed concentration, please contact the American Studies Director of Undergraduate Programs about submitting a Proposal of your plan of study.

Students

Faculty

Requirements for the major

Concentrations

Current Courses

Distinguished majors program (DMP)

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.