Students interested in American studies engage in an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American history, politics, literature, and culture.
Several core seminars on models, methods, and materials for interdisciplinary study, plus courses from other relevant disciplines, provide the groundwork for students to pursue theoretically informed, integrative research into their special interests.
Reimagining American Literature and Identity
This class is an introduction to and expands conventional understandings of twentieth-century American literature. It focuses on representations of diverse American experiences. How would typical approaches to American literature change when we incorporate literature written by women, immigrants, and persons of color? How would we consider racial, national, gendered, and classed identities as part of American literature?
We will begin with short stories by Flannery O'Connor, Toni Morrison, Julia Alvarez, and Philip Roth that address these questions. Then we will read novels written by American immigrant and exile writers, such as Jamaica Kincaid, Jhumpa Lahiri, Manuel Puig, and Edwidge Danticat as well as mainstream Anglo- and African-American writers, such as John Updike and Colson Whitehead, to interrogate how these voices engage questions of nation, exile, home, and belonging. This course investigates and recasts what is American literature. It is also writing intensive and includes writing workshops.
The Five College Center for Crossroads in the Study of the Americas (CISA) is dedicated to new teaching and scholarship on the Americas. Instead of adopting a north-south approach, CISA has developed a triangular model for its work, where the three sides are formed by the Old World (Africa, Asia, Europe), the polities of the New World, and the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
This conception of the Americas as a crossroads seeks to promote an awareness of the historical and material inter-relationality of citizenship, migration, diaspora, and nationhood. In addition to a series of public events, CISA hosts a seminar series open to all Five College faculty. CISA also sponsors an annual student symposium with a comparatist focus, held each spring, which gathers students from the Five College region together in order to share their work and ideas in a public forum.
The Five College Asian/Pacific/American Studies Certificate Program enables students to pursue concentrated study of the experiences of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the Americas. Through courses chosen in consultation with their campus program advisers, students can learn to appreciate Asian/Pacific/American (A/P/A) cultural and artistic expressions, understand and critique the racial formation of Asian/Pacific/Americans, and investigate how international conflicts, global economic systems, and ongoing migration affect A/P/A communities and individuals and their intersections with others.
Drawing upon diverse faculty, archival, and community-based resources, the Five College program in Asian/Pacific/American Studies encourages students not only to develop knowledge of the past experiences of Asian/Pacific/Americans, but also to act with responsible awareness of their present material conditions.