Program Description

American Studies Program Description

What is American Studies?

As noted American Studies scholar George Lipsitz explains, American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that examines American life and culture.The work of American Studies takes place both on campuses and in communities. American Studies scholars investigate where the ideals of American democracy are at their finest and where they remain incomplete.  

We ask key questions like: What is an American? How and why is culture important to our lives and identities? How do we represent the past and what importance—and limitations—do these representations have? How and why does culture—including popular culture, the arts, and literature—serve as a site of social struggle? How do diverse groups within the Americas imagine their identities and their relation to the United States? What happens when we look at our world(s) from a variety of perspectives? These are some of the questions that are addressed in American Studies, an interdisciplinary approach to American history, life, and culture.

Founded just over fifty years ago, American Studies is a vital, malleable, and growing academic enterprise, one known for the new questions it has posed, the new perspectives it has brought to the study of the cultures of the United States, and the new information it has introduced into scholarly and public conversations about national identity and experience. American Studies crosses disciplines of literature, history, art, music, psychology, political science, language, and environmental studies. It can be self-reflexive and focused, or offer a broader view of the world’s geographical, historical, artistic, cultural, and social boundaries.

American Studies at CSULB was first established in the 1970s. Recently, a group of faculty committed to current ideas and scholarship in American Studies revitalized the program on campus. American Studies offers students of today a new approach to learning. Because of its flexibility, students will actively assist in the growth and design of the American Studies program at CSULB by establishing links among departments and areas of study and by designing their own plan of inquiry. Students will explore various aspects of society and culture at different moments in American history and situate the interactions between peoples in a culturally diverse society within national and global contexts.

Why Choose American Studies?

American Studies students receive a broad liberal arts education focusing on American culture, traditions, artistic and material production, ideas, identities, and spaces. The major in American Studies offers a solid background for careers in law, journalism, public service, business, and education. The program also provides the foundation for graduate work in American Studies and related fields. In other words, the knowledge and skills our majors acquire prepares them to succeed in just about any field.