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.

Spring 2019 Important Dates

January 22 - Brandeis Monday
February 18 - 22 - no classes
April 19 - 26 - no classes
May 2 - Brandeis Monday
May 2 - Last day of class
May 3 - Study Day
May 6 - 14 - Final exams
May 19 - Commencement

Contact Us

Maura Jane Farrelly
(781) 736-2224

Sybil Schlesinger
Academic Administrator
(781) 736-2668

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

The University of Michigan will be hosting March 13th-15th, 2019, a conference on Jewish feminism, sparked by the work and career of our own Joyce Antler.  The event will bring together 36 pioneering and contemporary feminist activists, leaders, and thinkers to consider the role of Jewish identity in the framing and development of second-wave American feminism.  The conference will build on interpretations offered by Professor Antler in her recent book, Jewish Radical Feminism: Voices from the Women's Liberation Movement. 

March 19 at 5pm, Schwartz 112
Jack Davis:  The Gulf:  The Making of an American Sea.

Jack Davis, PhD '94, will speak at Brandeis on March 19th, at 5 pm, about his Pulitzer-Prize-winning history of America's gulf coast: The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea.   For more information about his book: and Q and A from the Pulitzer committee:

A Conversation with Robert George and Cornel West
Liberal Learning: Open Minds and Open Debate
Modeling Productive Disagreement in an Age of Outrage

The captioned video is on the Brandeis YouTube channel:

Farewell AMST100B!

Students and professor in AMST 100bPlease join us in bidding farewell to this spring's AMST 100B class:

Standing, left to right:  Brittany Wolfe, Rachel Bossuk, David Aizenberg, Thomas Doherty, Hannah Schuster, Max Gould, Aaron Hersch, Ivana Melendez 

Sitting: Tiana Martinez, Greg Tobin, Michelle Banayan, Valerie Achille, Melanie Charwat

Lying: Michael Harlow 

Evan Mahnken '19 Constructs New York Times Crossword Puzzle Only 43rd Person
American Studies major Evan Mahnken ’19 began creating his own crossword puzzles during his freshman year at Brandeis. Now, as a junior, Mahnken is the 43rd individual under 21 years of age to have their own crossword published in The New York Times. Mahnken’s puzzle ran in the October 4 edition of The New York Times. If you did not get a chance to pick up a copy of the October 4 paper, here is an image of the crossword. And if you would like to see more of Mahnken’s crosswords, you can check them out in The Justice, one of Brandeis’ on campus newspapers. 

Lee Bloch 2018-2019 Kay Post Doctoral Fellow in American Studies 
Lee BlochAmerican Studies is excited to introduce you to Lee Bloch. He received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Virginia and is currently working on his first book, Sweetgum Archaeology: Mound Landscapes and the Unfinished Histories of the Native South. His book draws on community-based research with members of a small Native American community in the US South who identify as of Muskogee (Creek) ancestry, focusing on Indigenous knowledges about large-scale earthworks built by ancient peoples over the last five thousand years. This book asks what archaeologists might learn from visiting mound sites with descendants, listening to their oral traditions, and attending to Indigenous temporalities that emerge within these encounters, and in the process reconceptualizes the relationship between archaeology, cultural anthropology, and Native American and Indigenous studies. 

During the fall semester, Lee will be teaching AMST/ANTH 117a Decolonization: A Native American Studies Approach. This course introduces students to the questions and approaches of Native American studies through a semester-long meditation on decolonization as a liberatory social project. In the spring, Lee will teach Indigenous Ecologies, which will inquire into the complex intersections of environmental justice and Indigenous science.

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 2018 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.  Dr. Musegades is also teaching AMST/MUS 41A Leonard Bernstein: Composer, Conductor, Educator, and Humanitarian.