Saint Louis University’s Department of American Studies balances rigorous training in the core theories and methods of American studies with a flexible range of courses and experiences tailored to your individual interest.
Founded in 1963, the department carries forward a tradition of excellence in teaching and scholarship. Our American studies community is a freestanding, autonomous academic department with its own full-time faculty and carefully designed, developmental curricula at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our programs emphasize a breadth of coursework taught by our award-winning faculty, and opportunities for community engagement both within specific classes and through internships.
American studies is one of the most exciting and challenging of all the humanities and social science disciplines. The field of American studies provides a systematically interdisciplinary approach to the study of the cultures of the United States and to the critical analysis of their historical and contemporary evolutions. We look at a topic or question about past or present themes, events, or conflicts, and use a variety of methods and sources to address that issue. Our department trains students in the skills of clear thinking, writing, and speaking, as well as interpreting literary texts, evaluating historical documents and artifacts, applying humanistic and social scientific methods and theoretical approaches, and reflecting ethically about the problems and issues raised in the classroom.
American studies as a field serves the mission of SLU by providing training in the historical and contemporary patterns of discrimination and social hierarchies and models for movements for social justice and equity. The analysis of the interconnected categories of race, class and gender have been central to the national field for nearly half a century. Our own emphasis on religion, ethnicity, space and American identities pushes a developing front of that national field to the center. Our classes and our students directly engage the community around us through vibrant and longstanding connections to local institutions. These connections include opportunities at museums like the Missouri History Museum, where we have had students placed in internships go on to find jobs and careers, bring classes to the museum, and bring alumni museum employees into our classes. Additionally, students have worked with nonprofits like ArchCity Defenders, which hosts internships and comes to campus to meet with students. We also have connections to other colleges and universities in the St. Louis area, especially Washington University, where our faculty and students participate, and the University of Missouri, St. Louis where we have an informal exchange program with the history department’s museum studies program.
The unique character of American studies as interdisciplinary field practiced at Saint Louis University is reflected in the diversity of our faculty interests, which include transnational American studies, visual culture and material culture studies, African American literature, southern history and culture, intellectual history, environmental history, museum studies, urban studies, and postwar American culture.
Gifts from alumni and friends of the Department for American Studies allow for significant enhancements to the department's teaching, research and mentorship activities. The department urges graduates and other community members to consider supporting the American studies mission through a one-time or ongoing financial contribution.
Such contributions help us to expand our community engagement and outreach, fund graduate and undergraduate research travel, bring leading practitioners in the field to campus for dynamic workshops and lectures, offer career-exploration events for majors and minors, and develop other vibrant American studies activities that might not otherwise be possible.
Generous support from contributors has previously funded student trips to conferences and archives, and has led to the establishment of the annual Blixen Lecture Series in American Studies, named for alumni donors Mary Blixen (Ph.D., American Studies, 2000) and John Blixen.