The M.A. in English with a Concentration in American Studies


Director: Professor Alan Howard

The M.A. in English with a concentration in American Studies is an interdisciplinary program sponsored by the English Department in cooperation with faculty from the departments of Anthropology, Art, Drama, Economics, History, Music, and Religious Studies as well as from the Schools of Architecture and Law. Limited to twelve students a year working together under the supervision of the American Area faculty, this program provides a multi disciplinary perspective on the culture of the United States. In addition, the program provides training and experience using computer technology for the acquisition, analysis and presentation of materials in American Studies. The goal of the Program is to prepare students for work or study in a number of venues including further graduate work in American Studies or related traditional disciplines, teaching, law, politics, business, and journalism in effect, anywhere an understanding of American Culture and experience with the new technologies is needed.

Degree Requirements

Students must take thirty hours (ten courses), including the year-long "American Studies Colloquium;"ENCR 801, Introduction to Literary Research; five courses at the 500-level or above, two of which must be taken outside the English Department in at least one other cognate field; and two Directed Reading or Directed Research courses leading to a Master's Thesis of twenty-five to fifty pages. In addition, degree candidates must sit for a one-hour oral examination on the field or area of interest of their Thesis. Candidates must also satisfy the foreign language requirement for the M.A. in English.

The American Studies Colloquium (ENAM 802-803) is a two-semester course open only to students in the American Studies Program. The Colloquium provides an overview of American Studies as an idea, a movement, and a methodology, and it explores certain conventional baseline texts of American Cultural History such as Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia and de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, as well as more contemporary texts by critics like Robert Venturi, Cathy Davis, Warren Sussman, and Gary Wills. What may be its most distinctive feature is that it attempts to view American Studies through the lens of the new technologies and involves students in the creation of electronic resources relating to American Studies.

Admission to the Program

Applicants should have an undergraduate major in English or History although allowance is made for professional experience and an undergraduate or professional record that promises successful completion of the program. Application should be made to the Graduate Program in English and should specifically indicate interest in the American Studies Program.

For answers to some Frequently Asked Questions, look at the FAQ.

For additional information on this program, look at the ENAM 802: Introduction to American Studies syllabus for this year or go to American Studies @ Virginia, the HomePage that is being designed and built by students in the Masters Program.