The purpose of the American Studies program at Fairfield University is for students to engage the idea of America as it has been culturally imagined and contested throughout history, both within and beyond U.S. national borders. Students also consider their own place, engagement, and responsibilities as participants in the unfolding narratives of America within a global context. Interdisciplinary in its goal, the program draws from a wide range of courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences in order to help students develop the ability to read America, in all its manifestations, as a rich and dynamic cultural artifact.
Offered as both a major and minor, our course variety allows you to create your own line of study, or a double major- combining American Studies with a traditional academic discipline - giving you some extra advantages towards future careers in business, law, education, public service or graduate studies.
Requirements for Major:
For a 30 credit major (10 courses) in American Studies, students must complete the following:
Majors may take AS 350: Internship (3 credits) as one of their 10 courses
Requirements for Minor:
For a 15-credit minor (5 courses) in American Studies, students must complete the following:
Fairfield University also offers a Master of Arts degree in American Studies. The 400-level core and elective courses in that program are available to qualified senior undergraduate American studies majors and minors with approval of the program director.
See American Studies course descriptions from our catalog for more information
American Studeies Gateway Courses
Expression and Imagination in American Culture
Power, Politics, and Institutions in America
Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in American Society
Gender in American Society
Values and Ethics in American Culture
America and the World
Hometown: Quincy, MA
Major: Communication and American Studies
Minor: Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Why did you choose to pursue your undergraduate degree at Fairfield University?
I enjoyed the fact that the small class sizes allowed for personalized learning in each and every subject. Additionally, the University’s Jesuit values have really helped mold my academic, personal, and professional life, as well as the way I approach my thinking. I’ll never forget walking onto campus for the first time and being greeted by individuals who were so positive and enthusiastic. It was clear that students enjoyed going to school at Fairfield, and four years later, I certainly agree!
How/Why did you choose a major in American Studies?
My American Studies major started out as a minor in my second semester. I found it to be a very unique blend of the history, politics, and popular culture, and I found myself learning inside and outside of the classroom. I tend to seek out questions off the ‘traditional path’ of knowledge, and look into themes like memory, imagination, and identity, which are often overlooked in our studies. American Studies allowed me to explore these themes. Eventually, I just kept taking more and more classes and knew it would beneficial to change my minor to a major to be able to really explore my passion.
What are the best academic aspects of the program?
The American Studies program is designed in a way that allows each student to take control of what they are learning. The introductory course, “Roots of American Culture,” is crafted in a way that students are able to understand a wide variety of concepts relating to the field of American Studies and emphasizes just how diverse and interdisciplinary this field of study can be. After this course, students are able to design the major as they see best by selecting courses rooted in politics, English, the arts, sociology, and more. No two American Studies majors are the same, and I think the ability to mold the major into each student’s specific interests is what really pushed me to declare my American Studies major.
What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/ encouraging?
All of my professors have proven to be incredible sources of knowledge. They challenge me to ask broader questions and are supportive of my academic interests. Because American Studies is an interdisciplinary major, the faculty members represent a variety of different fields. Yet they all hold a common interest in making sure my studies are truly interdisciplinary, and that I am utilizing other aspects of my learning both in and out of the classroom. The faculty push you - the questions they ask are meant to prompt the student to ask their own. I have really appreciated the creative liberties I have been offered to make my American Studies major exactly what I want it to be.
Describe a favorite course or project you worked on as part of the program how it helped your academic growth.
I was given a unique opportunity to conduct research on slavery in colonial Fairfield County in collaboration with the late Dr. Vincent Rosivach. The overarching goal for this project was to compile a database of slaves and slave-owners in colonial Fairfield. As with much of the New England slave-holding colonies, Fairfield’s slavery records were messy and incomplete, unlike records in the south that were kept as accurate as possible due to the impact slavery had on the economic success of the Southern planter. This project was designed to reclaim the lives of the slaves of Fairfield who were lost to incomplete historical records and to create a more accurate representation of what slavery was like in colonial New England. This includes documenting previously undocumented individuals, tracking movements of slaves from household to household, connecting families, and more.
Since Dr. Rosivach’s passing last year, my partner Alec Lurie and I have taken the responsibility of completing the project upon ourselves, and it has been named the “Vincent J. Rosivach Register for Slaves in Fairfield, Connecticut 1639-1820” in his honor. It has challenged us to develop a better understanding of how a research project of this caliber should be done, with support by members of the University and Historical societies of the surrounding area. By using Fairfield as a case study, we have been able to develop a greater understanding of slavery trends in the north. The Register hopes to streamline all the information into a conclusive, all-encompassing database, in order to ensure that all persons formerly enslaved in Fairfield are accounted for, for posterity. While we know we may not collect information about every person, we are confident that the register will lay groundwork for future historians to expand upon this research.
If you've ever wondered if a particular career is a good fit for you, internships are a terrific way to find out. Academic credit and noncredit internships are available to Fairfield students in every field and offer hands-on, professional experience at leading companies throughout the region.
7th Annual American Studies Conference: Protest in American Culture
March 30, 2019
12 - 6 p.m.
Aloysius P. Kelley Center Presentation Room
Keynote Speakers: Madonna Thunderhawk and Marcella Gilbert
Stars of the critically-acclaimed documentary film "Warrior Women"
Attesting to the robustness of the graduate and undergraduate programs at Fairfield University, this annual conference explores the theme of protest in America politically, culturally, and socially in past and present U.S. history.
6th Annual Conference: Memory and Nation in American Studies
March 24, 2018
Keynote Speaker: Jennifer Ladino, PhD - University of Idaho
"Memorials Matter: Monumental Affects and Emotional Environments in American Culture"
5th Annual Conference: The Divided States of America
March 25, 2017
Keynote Speaker: David Roediger, PhD - Kansas University
"What is the White in White Working Class"
4th Annual Conference: Family, Sex and Gender in American Culture
March 19, 2016
Round table discussion: "The Politics of Family, Sex, and Gender and What It Means — or Doesn't — For the Elections of 2016"
3rd Annual Conference: Race, Protest, and American Culture
March 28, 2015
Keynote speaker: Nicholas Meriwether, Founding Grateful Dead archivist, McHenry Library, University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC)
"Archiving the Counterculture and Raising the Dead: The Grateful Dead Archive and the Legacy of the Sixties"
2nd Annual 'Celebrating American Studies' Conference
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Keynote Speaker: Carla L. Peterson, University of Maryland, College Park
"Black Cosmopolitanism and the Reshaping of African American Local and National Identities (1830-1910)
1st Annual 'Celebrating American' Studies Conference:
Sunday, April 21, 2013
From the Black Panthers and Nixon to Obama and the Tea Party: Interpretingthe "Post" of "Post-Civil Rights"
Keynote Speaker: Matthew Jacobson, President of the American Studies Association and the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies and History at Yale University
American Studies majors follow no single path after graduation. Many go on to medical school and doctoral programs in literature and political science, while other pre-law students who have majored in American Studies have earned admission to such law schools as:
Other recent graduates have gone on to careers in:
Learn more about how Fairfield's Career Planning Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.
The American Studies program at Fairfield University engages students in the idea of America as it has been culturally imagined and contested throughout history, both within and beyond U.S. national borders. As part of this engagement, the program explores the idea of America within cultural contexts such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, legal status, environment, and class. At the same time, the program challenges students to think about the processes by which these contexts have shaped America and its identities. Students also consider their own place, engagement, and responsibilities as participants in the unfolding narratives of America within a global context.
An interdisciplinary course of study, the program draws from a wide range of courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to help students develop the ability to read America, in all its rich and dynamic manifestations. As part of Fairfield University’s mission, the American Studies program seeks to develop students’ unique abilities and potential and to cultivate a broader commitment to social justice through their exploration of American culture.
The American Studies Workshop for Teachers, a partnership initiative of the Humanities Institute, brings together secondary education teachers and Fairfield University faculty to explore the dynamic and interdisciplinary field of American Studies. Our expert faculty offers a wide range of collaborative, 1-2 hour workshops covering an array of historical subject matter from Women’s Rights, slavery, and religious freedom, to pop music, American art, and the 20th century space race.
The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the dedicated members of our American Studies Program.