American Studies News

Lewis Black Featured at October 2016 Conference to Mark the Arrival of the Lenny Bruce Archives

Comedian Lewis Black spoke at the dinner for the two-day conference, "Comedy and the Constitution: the Legacy of Lenny Bruce," which celebrated the arrival of the Lenny Bruce Archives at Brandeis University.


Stan Brooks '79 Recounts Remarkable Recovery

On March 10, 2016, the Huffington Post published "It's Not How Hard You Hit. It's How Hard You Can Get Hit And Keep Moving Forward", which chronicles Stan Brook's recovery from a serious skiing accident. His long recovery took him from a hospital bed to rehab, a wheelchair to walker. Find out how he is doing today:

Spotlight Event

Spotlight Continues to Win Awards

Josh Singer (pictured 2nd from right) recently won the Writers Guild Award and an award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for his work on Spotlight. Spotlight is the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core. It features our very own American Studies and Journalism professor, Eileen McNamara (pictured 3rd from the right). Last Fall a 2-day event was held that featured a screening of Spotlight and a panel discussion with the "real" Spotlight team.

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A Statement from the American Studies Program on the recent move 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 recent 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.

American Studies

American Studies

The American Studies program offers an interdisciplinary approach to the myths, values, symbols, institutions and behavior of the peoples of the United States and to the questions raised by the influence of the United States in shaping the modern world. The American studies major is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the history and major features of American civilization.

Students anticipating careers in law, business, public policy, communications, education, journalism, teaching and careers as professors of American studies, history and literature have typically enrolled in the department.

As a sponsor of programs in law, journalism and environmental studies, the department welcomes students who seek active engagement with the contemporary world through firm grounding in a sound liberal arts education.

Upcoming Events

"None Shall Escape" (1944) 

35mm Screening & Q&A with Brandeis Professors Thomas Doherty & Daniel Breen

Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 7:00pm

Wasserman Cinematheque, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

FREE.  Advance tickets required.  Reserve at

Join us for a rare screening in 35mm of a one-of-a-kind film:  the only Hollywood film made during World War II to depict the events later known as the Holocaust.


Recent Events

October 2016

Comedy and the Constitution:  The Legacy of Lenny Bruce

October 27-28, 2016

Comedian Lenny Bruce’s legacy is the focus of a two-day conference this fall at Brandeis University.

“Comedy and the Constitution" marked the formal opening of the collection of archival material that the university acquired from Bruce’s daughter, Kitty Bruce, with a generous grant from the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation.

April 2016

AMST Dinner with Professor John Burt: Two Kinds of Collective Guilt in Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
American Studies hosted a dinner with Professor John Burt.  Professor Burt spoke about President LIncoln's Second Inaugural Address, diving into the meaning and impact that it and the war had on the United States.  John Burt is Professor of English in the English Department at Brandeis University. 

Archie's Betty: An Independent Documentary Search for the Real-Life Characters Behind Archie Comics
The documentarian, a devoted Archie fan, searched for the real-life people behind the characters in Archie Comics, the influential teen comic strip still popular almost 75 years after its creation. Were Archie, Betty, Veronica, Moose, and Jughead based on actual students who Bob Montana, the original Archie cartoonist, had gone to high school with in the 1930s in the town of Haverhill, Massachusetts? More, is the person who inspired blonde Betty still alive?  All those questions and more were answered in this fun-filled 90 minute presentation.

Profiles in Courage: Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Doherty, Steven Whitfield, and Daniel Breen screened the February 14, 1965 episode of “Profiles in Courage” that depicted the nomination of Justice Brandeis by President Wilson studying the Presidential decision of Woodrow Wilson to nominate Louis D. Brandeis to the Supreme Court. 

Heather Lee discussed "New Directions in Asian American Studies: Chinese Restaurants through a Transnational and Digital Lens"
Heather received her Ph.D. from Brown University in American Studies in May 2014 and is currently the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT. Her book project tells the social history of Chinese restaurants through a case study of New York. She studies the historical transformation of Chinese restaurants in the United States from an enclave business into one of the largest mass consumer industries. Blending archival research with quantitative and spatial analyses, this project tells the story of how the Chinese developed a system for shuttling capital and labor across the Pacific that accounts for the Chinese restaurant industry’s rapid growth in the early twentieth century. Alongside this research, Heather is developing a historical database of Chinese restaurants, which she will make publically available through an interactive digital platform on Chinese migration. She has published articles on transnational Asian American history and U.S. Consumer history, as well as worked with museums and historical societies on public exhibits.

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