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American Studies Program Description

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.