American Studies:

The American Studies program offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American identity and the influence the United States has had on the modern world. Using a variety of texts—ranging from eighteenth-century sermons and nineteenth-century novels, to twentieth-century films and twenty-first-century musicals—students explore the origins and evolution of the myths, values, and institutions that have shaped our contemporary understanding of what it is to be an American. 

Students anticipating careers in law, business, public policy, entertainment, communications, education, and journalism have typically chosen the American Studies major.

As a sponsor of programs in law, journalism and environmental studies, the program welcomes students who seek active engagement with the contemporary world through a firm grounding in the ideas, customs, and debates that characterize the traditional liberal arts.

Important Dates

August 30: Classes Begin
September 4: Labor Day (no classes)
September 13: Last Day to Add Class
September 21: Rosh Hashanah (no classes)
September 22: Rosh Hashanah (no classes)
October 3: Brandeis Thursday (Thursday class schedule in effect)
October 5: Sukkot (no classes)
October 9: Indigenous Peoples' Day (Classes in session, AMST Office Closed)
October 12: Shmini Atzeret (no classes)
November 1: Registration Begins for Spring Term 2018
November 22-24: Thanksgiving Break (no classes)
December 8: Last Day of Class
December 12-19: Exams

Contact Us:

Maura Jane Farrelly
(781) 736-2224

Charity Adams-Brzuchalski
Academic Administrator
(781) 736-3030

Click to view the faculty directory

A Statement from the American Studies Program on the decision by the American Studies Association to boycott Israel:

It is a with deep regret that we in the American Studies Program at Brandeis University have decided to discontinue our institutional affiliation with the American Studies Association. We view the vote by the membership to affirm an academic boycott of Israel as a politicization of the discipline and a rebuke to the kind of open inquiry that a scholarly association should foster. We remain committed to the discipline of American Studies but we can no longer support an organization that has rejected two of the core principles of American culture--freedom of association and expression.

What's Going On

What's Going On

October 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm, Schwartz 112

John A. FarrellPrize-winning biographer, John Farrell, discusses his new book Richard Nixon: The Life. In a January 1, 2017 op-ed in The New York Times, Farrell previewed one of the book's sensational findings: that Nixon personally directed a secret campaign to scuttle Lyndon Johnson's October, 1968 peace initiative.  His fellow historians told the Times how the book provides a key and missing piece to the history of the Vietnam war.  Farrell's lecture is exceptionally relevant in the age of Trump.

Farrell is a contributing editor to Politico Magazine and a contributor to The Atlantic, after a prize-winning career as a journalist, most notably at The Denver Post, National Journal and The Boston Globe, where he worked as White House correspondent and served on the vaunted Spotlight team.

Cory Hunter 2017-2018 American Studies Post Doc Fellow
Cory HunterAmerican Studies is excited to introduce you to Cory Hunter. Cory has his M.A. and Ph.D. in Musicology from Princeton University. He is currently working on his first book The Politics of Real Spirituality in Gospel Music Discourse and Practice.

During the fall semester, Cory will be teaching AMST 120A The Social and Theological Development of the Black Church in America. The Black Church—in all of its various denominational, theological, and liturgical forms—has been a critical institution in the upward social, political, educational, and economic mobility of African-Americans. It has also nurtured the development of some of the most important musical, rhetorical, and artistic contributions that black Americans have made to the American cultural landscape. This course will introduce students to the complex development of black Christianity in America. Topics include the emergence of various denominations; the development of particular theological, liturgical, and musical traditions; and the impact the black church has had on the political lives of African-Americans. 

Paula Musegades Appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and the American Studies Program
Paula MusegadesDr. Paula Musegades is a musicologist with a special interest in Hollywood film music. She will be teaching for both the Music department and American Studies program. She received her Ph.D. in musicology from Brandeis University, and her current research examines American composer Aaron Copland and his role in Hollywood film music.

For the fall 2017 semester, Dr. Musegades will be teaching AMST/MUS 38a American Music: From Psalms to Hip Hop.  This course explores the many varieties of folk, popular, and art music in American culture. It focuses on the stylistic development of select repertoires beginning with 18th century New England Psalm singing and African American traditions and continuing on through folk, jazz, art, pop, rock, and hip hop music. Throughout the course, music serves as a lens to examine diverse aspects of American culture and history with an emphasis on America’s shifting definition of identity. All students are invited to join this class; no musical background is required.

Thomas Doherty

Professor Doherty's 2017 Graduation Speech Featured on Inside Higher Ed
This year's faculty remarks at the diploma ceremony for American Studies, Education, and Environmental Science Programs were given by Professor Thomas Doherty. Graduates and guests listened attentively to Professor Doherty's retelling of a beloved professor from his freshman year.  His remarks were recently published on Inside Higher Ed. Read

2017 Carrie ('83) and Gail ('88) Fisher Award in American Studies
Leah Newman and Jessie Shinberg were awarded the 2017 Carrie ('83) and Gail ('88) Fisher Award in American Studies. The American Studies faculty honored Leah and Jessie because of their academic achievement, appreciation of intellectual depth and curiosity, articulateness, enthusiasm for learning and their writing ability.  This award is given yearly to graduating seniors majoring in the American Studies program.
Stephen Whitfield & Jessie Shinberg
Pictured above: Professor Stephen Whitfield and Jessie Shinberg