California State University, Fullerton

American Studies

Jesse Battan

University Hall 313


Bachelor of Arts in American Studies
Minor in American Studies
Master of Arts in American Studies

Erica Ball, Jesse Battan, Adam Golub, Wayne Hobson, John Ibson, Carrie Lane, Elaine Lewinnek, Karen Lystra, Terri Snyder, Michael Steiner, Pamela Steinle, Leila Zenderland

Undergraduate: All full-time faculty within the department
Graduate: Michael Steiner

American Studies gives students a thorough understanding of the past and present nature of American civilization. Three central features of our approach are: (1) an emphasis on the analysis of culture – that shared system of beliefs, behaviors, symbols and material objects through which Americans give meaning to their lives; (2) examination of dominant culture patterns as well as the diversity of cultures in America; and (3) an interdisciplinary perspective that uses both the social sciences and humanities.
Besides providing a rich liberal arts education, training in the major develops skills in writing and analysis and strengthens the ability to recognize connections among complex materials and diverse phenomena. American studies graduates enter careers in business, communications, government service, law, social services and teaching. The major is also a fine background for graduate work in the field or in related fields.

Teaching Credential
Because American Studies is interdisciplinary, the major may be effectively combined with subject matter studies necessary for either the multiple subject teaching credential (K-8) or single subject credential (7-12) in History/Social Science. Undergraduates are encouraged to work with the Center for Careers in Teaching (657-278-7130) as early as possible in their academic careers to plan efficient course selections for general education, the major and electives. With careful planning, it may be possible to enter the credential program in the senior year of the bachelor’s degree. Postgraduate students should contact the Admission to Teacher Education office in the College of Education (657-278-3352) to obtain information on attending an overview presentation.

Awards in American Studies
The David Jon Vaca Memorial Scholarship of $500 is awarded every semester to an undergraduate major in American studies based on need and academic achievement. The Susan Flinkingshelt Memorial Award is given annually in recognition of outstanding services to the American Studies Department and student association. The Earl James Weaver Graduate Student Essay Prize of $250 is awarded annually for the best graduate paper in American Studies. The Margarete Liebe Sekhon Graduate Scholarship in American Studies annually provides an award in the fall semester to a new student enrolled in the graduate program at CSUF. The Outstanding Reentry Student Award is given every year to a graduating senior who either began or returned to college at least a decade after high school graduation.

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The American Studies degree requires a minimum of 120 units that includes courses for the major, General Education, all University requirements and free electives. The major consists of 36 units: 12 units in the core program and 24 units of electives following either Plan A or B.
Core Program (12 units required of all majors)
201 Introduction to American Studies (3)
301 American Character (3)
350 Seminar in Theory and Method of American Studies (3)
401T Proseminar in American Studies (3)
Electives (24 upper-division units)
Elective coursework must be approved by the major adviser following either Plan A or B:

Plan A

Students may take all eight electives in American Studies courses or they may include up to four courses from other departments such as Afro-ethnic studies, anthropology, Chicano studies, communications, criminal justice, English, history, geography, political science, psychology or sociology.

Plan B

Coursework pursuing a particular theme or subject, such as: law and society, sex roles, the visual arts, ethnicity, urbanization, regionalism, the child and the family, or popular culture.

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The American Studies major serves as a rewarding complement to many other majors, often providing a broad and useful perspective on work done in other fields. Having two majors is not only intellectually stimulating, but can be a distinct advantage in seeking employment after graduation.
A double major is often simple to arrange, since the American Studies major allows for up to 12 units of coursework in the department of the other major to be used to complete the requirements of our major.

The minor in American Studies requires 21 units: American Studies 201, 301 or 345, and 401T, plus 12 units of electives. Six units may be lower-division and three units may be taken in a related department upon approval of an American Studies Department adviser.

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The graduate program is grounded in a thorough understanding of the concept of culture. It examines the creative tension between unity and diversity in the American experience, seeking ultimately to provide a full vision of our complex pluralistic culture. The program is interdisciplinary, requiring graduate students to integrate knowledge from the humanities and social sciences. It stresses the process of cultural change, requiring students to trace the past sources of contemporary issues. It develops advanced research, writing and analytical skills. Particular areas of faculty specialization within the department include: gender and sexuality; ethnicity; literature, film, art and architecture as cultural expression; American regions; popular culture; and cultural radicalism.

Application Deadlines

Applications are accepted only for the fall semester. Online applications must be completed by March 1 for the following fall semester (see; mailed applications must be postmarked by the same date. However, deadlines may be changed based upon enrollment projections.
Admission to Graduate Standing: Conditionally Classified
A student must meet the all university requirements for admission. (Please consult the appropriate section of this catalog for complete information.) In addition, a student must: (1) hold a bachelor’s degree with a major, or its equivalent, in American studies or in an appropriate discipline of the humanities or social sciences; (2) have a grade-point average of at least 3.0 in upper-division major courses; and (3) submit two satisfactory letters of recommendation from instructors in upper-division major courses.
Students whose undergraduate program indicates certain limited subject, grade or breadth deficiencies may be considered for admission, at the discretion of the graduate adviser, with approval of the department’s graduate committee. In such cases, a student must make up deficiencies, in consultation with the graduate adviser, and must complete all required courses with at least a “B” (3.0) average before classified graduate standing may be considered.

Graduate Standing: Classified
Students will be classified upon fulfillment of the above prerequisites and after development of an approved study plan.

The program requires 30 units of graduate study: 21 units in the discipline of American Studies, six units in other disciplines and three units in the development of an appropriate research skill.

American Studies (21 units)

  1. Required courses
    American Studies 501 Theory and Methods (3)
    American Studies 502T Seminar: Selected Topics (3)
    (May be repeated for credit with different topic)
  2. Electives
    Additional upper-division or graduate level coursework in American studies (12)

    Choose either C or D as follows:
  3. American Studies 598 Thesis (3) should be taken in the semester immediately preceding graduation from the program.
  4. An additional American Studies graduate level elective, i.e., American Studies 599 or American Studies 502T, plus successful completion of a three-part take home comprehensive examination based on the department’s core reading list.

Other Disciplines (6 units)
Graduate-level seminars in anthropology, art, communications, comparative literature, English, geography, history, political science or sociology. Pedagogical and productions skill seminars are excluded. Students should select outside discipline seminars in consultation with the graduate advisor.

Elective Skill (3 units)
A student must demonstrate proficiency in a methodological skill appropriate to his or her scholarly interests. In consultation with an adviser, the student will select the skill to be developed. Proficiency in a foreign language, quantitative methods or linguistics would, for example, be appropriate. If prerequisite work is necessary before a student can develop proficiency through three units of coursework, that preliminary work will not be counted toward the 30 units required for the M.A. degree.

For further information, consult graduate program adviser.

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Courses are designated as AMST in the class schedule.

AMST 101    Introduction to American Culture Studies

Description: Concepts of interdisciplinary culture studies, focusing on analysis of cultural change in complex, literate society, American culture, including cross-cultural comparisons. Topics include popular culture, subcultures, regionalism, myths and symbols, and culture and personality. One or more sections offered online.
Units: (3)

AMST 201    Introduction to American Studies

Description: With the concept of culture as a unifying principle, focus is on four separate time periods in order to provide the framework for an understanding of American civilization. Several different kinds of documents will be used to illustrate the nature and advantages of an interdisciplinary approach.
Units: (3)

AMST 300    Introduction to American Popular Culture

Description: Prerequisite: completion of General Education (G.E.) Category III.C.1. Historical exploration of popular culture in America as it both reflects and contributes to the search for meaning in everyday life. Themes include heroes, myths of success, symbols of power, images of romance, consumerism, race and sexual identity.
Units: (3)

AMST 301    American Character

Description: Prerequisite: completion of the G.E. Category III.C.1. Cultural environment and personality. The extent to which there have been and continue to be distinctly American patterns of belief and behavior. Similarities, as well as class, ethnic, sex and regional differences among Americans. One or more sections offered online.
Units: (3)

AMST 312    Multicultural Identities and Women’s Experience

Description: Diversity of women’s experiences, focusing on both historical and contemporary analysis of African American, Asian American, Latina and white ethnic women. Course materials include autobiography, fiction, visual and popular arts, and feminist cultural criticism. (Same as Women’s Studies 312)
Units: (3)

AMST 318    Hollywood and America: Using Film as a Cultural Document

Description: Hollywood as a cultural institution. Concentrating on the films of selected periods, the course analyzes Hollywood’s ability to create and transmit symbols and myths, and legitimize new values and patterns of behavior.
Units: (3)

AMST 320    Women in American Society

Description: Socio-cultural history of women and women’s movements in American society. Emphasis on 19th and 20th centuries. Cultural models of American womanhood – maternal, domestic, sexual, social – their development and recent changes.
Units: (3)

AMST 345    The American Dream

Description: Interdisciplinary analysis, in settings both historical and contemporary, of the myth and reality surrounding the notion of America as a land of unparalleled and unlimited possibilities, especially in the achievement of personal material success.
Units: (3)

AMST 346    American Culture Through Spectator Sports

Description: Shifting meaning of organized sports in changing American society. Includes analysis of sports rituals, symbols and heroes. Focuses on the cultural significance of amateur and professional football, baseball and basketball.
Units: (3)

AMST 350    Seminar in Theory and Method of American Studies

Description: Prerequisites: American Studies 201 and 301. Provides an understanding and appreciation of methodology, theories of society and images of humanity as they affect American studies contributions to scholarship. Fulfills the course requirement of the university upper-division baccalaureate writing requirement for American studies majors.
Units: (3)

AMST 377    Prejudice and American Culture

Description: Prerequisite: upper-division standing. Concepts and methods of American culture studies as tools for better understanding the origins and appeal of intolerance, past and present. Particular focus on racism, ethnic and religious bias, sexism and homophobia.
Units: (3)

AMST 395    California Cultures

Description: Prerequisite: completion of G.E.Category III.C.1. How various cultures – Native American, European, Latino, Asian, African-American – have interacted in California’s past and present. Topics include: cultural diversity in frontiers and borderlands; shifting meanings of gender; function of regional and racial myths.
Units: (3)

AMST 401T    Proseminar in American Studies

Description: Prerequisites: American Studies 201 and 301. Relationship between theory and application. Analytic readings and research. Check the class schedule for topics being considered. May be repeated for credit.
Units: (3)

AMST 402    Religion and American Culture

Description: Prerequisite: upper division standing. Interdisciplinary analysis of the religious dimensions of American core culture from colonial settlement to the present. Topics include: Puritanism; rationalization, secularization and feminization; the conversion experience, revivalism, and revitalization; fundamentalism and modernism; and civil religion.
Units: (3)

AMST 405    Images of Crime and Violence in American Culture

Description: Prerequisite: American Studies 201 or completion of G. E. section on American history, institutions and values. Cultural analysis of meanings ascribed to law and order, authority, violence and punishment in the American past and present. Examined in selected symbols, images, traditions and realities.
Units: (3)

AMST 407    American Humor

Description: Prerequisite: American Studies 201 or completion of G. E. section on American history, institutions and values. Analyzes the cultural significance of various types of American humor in past and present settings. How humor reinforces existing culture and also serves as an index and agent of cultural change. Humor’s relationship to ethnicity, region, social class and sex.
Units: (3)

AMST 413    The Shifting Role & Image of the American Male

Description: Effect of economic, social, political and cultural changes on American males. Emphasizes the 19th and 20th centuries.
Units: (3)

AMST 416    Southern California Culture: A Study of American Regionalism

Description: Regionalism as a concept and as a fact of American life. Theories of regionalism measured against a study of Southern California and one other distinct American region.
Units: (3)

AMST 419    Love in America

Description: Prerequisite: upper-division standing. Changes in the emotional lives of American men and women from the 17th century to the present. Concentrates on enduring and innovative views on the nature of love and the cultural forces that shape its legitimate and illegitimate expression.
Units: (3)

AMST 420    Childhood and Family in American Culture

Description: Historical and contemporary culture study of childhood and family in America. The idea of childhood, changing concepts of child-rearing, growing up in the American past, the impact of modernization, mother and home as dominant cultural symbols.
Units: (3)

AMST 423    The Search for Community

Description: Prerequisite: upper-division standing. Examining the historical transformation and modern reformulation of community in America, the course emphasizes the relationship of the individual to the larger social group. Topics include: freedom, need to belong, alienation and search for identity.
Units: (3)

AMST 433    Visual Arts in Contemporary America

Description: Prerequisite: American Studies 201 or completion of G. E. section on American history, institutions and values. Visual phenomena in America as they reveal changes in recent American culture. Areas covered include: the “high” arts (painting, sculpture) as contrasted with the “low” arts (advertising, television); the artist as innovator; alienation; the business world; and American values in art.
Units: (3)

AMST 438    American Minds: Images of Sickness and Health

Description: Prerequisite: upper-division standing. Historically explores cultural changes in American images of the healthy mind. Topics include medical and legal views of insanity, Freud’s impact on American thought, literary treatments of madness, and psychological themes in American popular culture.
Units: (3)

AMST 439    American Photographs As Cultural Evidence

Description: Prerequisites: upper-division standing and American Studies 201. Cultural work of American photography, from the mid-19th century to the present. How photographs – especially the vernacular or everyday variety – have both reflected and shaped American beliefs, symbols and values.
Units: (3)

AMST 440    American Folk Culture

Description: Prerequisite: upper-division standing. American culture from the perspectives of particular folk groups and through the eyes of the “common” person, past and present. Topics include: interpretation of artifacts and oral traditions; relationships between regional, ethnic, and folk identity; modernization and folk consciousness.
Units: (3)

AMST 442    Television and American Culture

Description: Prerequisite: completion of the G. E. section of American history, institutions and values. American television as an interactive form of cultural expression, both product and producer of cultural knowledge. Structure and content of television genres, and social-historical context of television’s development and use, audience response, habits and environments of viewing.
Units: (3)

AMST 444    The Built Environment

Description: Prerequisite: upper-division standing. How Americans have shaped and structured space from the 17th century to the present. Emphasizes the relationship between space, place, architecture and material culture; the interpretation of cultural landscapes and architectural styles; the changing meanings of the American home.
Units: (3)

AMST 445    Cold War and American Culture

Description: Prerequisite: completion of G.E.Category II.B The Cold War’s impact on American society and culture. Topics include nuclear fear, McCarthyism, gender roles, family life, material culture, and the impact of containment, brinksmanship and détente.
Units: (3)

AMST 449    The American West in Symbol and Myth

Description: Prerequisite: American Studies 201 or completion of G.E.section on American history, institutions, and values. Meaning of the West to American culture through analysis of cultural documents, such as explorer and captivity narratives, fiction, art and film. Topics include perception of wilderness, Indians, frontiersmen and role of the West in creating a sexist national mythology.
Units: (3)

AMST 460    Bohemians and Beats: Cultural Radicalism in America

Description: Prerequisite: American Studies 201 or completion of the G.E.section on American history, institutions, and values. Ideas, activities and legacies of the creators of a “countercultural” tradition in the 19th and 20th centuries. Explores their critique of modern civilization as well as their projects for self-transformation, social change and cultural renewal.
Units: (3)

AMST 465    The Culture of the American South

Description: Prerequisite: American Studies 201 or completion of the G.E.section on American history, institutions and values. Distinctive cultural patterns in the American South, past and present. Topics include: Southern concepts of work and leisure; race and gender roles; political and religious controversies; literature and folklore; and the South as portrayed in the media.
Units: (3)

AMST 468    Culture in Turmoil: 1960s America

Description: Prerequisite: upper-division standing. Origins, manifestations and continuing significance of the turbulence in American culture associated with the 1960s. Accelerated changes that occurred (or seemed to occur) in cultural meanings of authority, achievement, patriotism, sexuality, technology and consciousness.
Units: (3)

AMST 473    Sexual Orientations and American Culture

Description: Prerequisites: upper-division standing, American Studies 201. Cultural construction of the very idea of a sexual orientation. Shifting meanings of erotic attraction and involvement in America, especially regarding people of the same sex, from the colonial period to the present.
Units: (3)

AMST 476    The Cultures of Early America

Description: Prerequisite: American Studies 201 or completion of G.E.Category II.B. Variety of cultures of America and, through an analysis of visual, material and print culture, investigates the beliefs, ideologies and institutions through which early Americans created their worlds. Also examines contemporary public memory of early America.
Units: (3)

AMST 499    Independent Study

Description: Supervised research projects in American studies to be taken with the consent of instructor and department chair. May be repeated for credit.
Units: (1-3)

AMST 501    Theory and Methods

Description: The American Studies movement. Its conceptual and methodological development. The way this development was affected by and in turn reflected larger trends in the culture itself.
Units: (3)

AMST 502T    Seminar: Selected Topics

Description: A particular problem or topic as a case study in the use of inter-disciplinary methods in American studies. May be repeated for credit.
Units: (3)

AMST 596    American Studies Teaching Tutorial

Description: Prerequisite: American Studies 501. Preparation for community college or university teaching. Small group discussion, lecture-discussion, examinations, teaching strategies. Enrollment requires approval of American Studies graduate coordinator. Course may be repeated for credit, but may only count once on a graduate study plan.
Units: (3)

AMST 598    Thesis

Description: Prerequisites: graduate standing in American studies and consent of graduate coordinator. Writing a thesis based on original research and its analysis and evaluation.
Units: (3)

AMST 599    Independent Graduate Research

Description: Prerequisites: graduate standing in American studies and consent of graduate coordinator. May be repeated for credit.
Units: (1-3)

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