American Studies Major, B.A.–Global American Studies Concentration

Department of American Studies

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204 Greenlaw Hall, CB# 3520

(919) 962-5481

Sharon Holland, Chair

Gabrielle Berlinger, Director of Undergraduate Studies

The major concentration in global American studies maps the reach of American cultures across political and geographical boundaries and through myriad exchanges and intersections. It encourages an engagement with “the global” that extends from the local and regional to the national and transnational, and back again. This major concentration situates the study of American culture in relation to both the recent effects of globalization and in recognition of the always-global character of “America.” Students may petition the director of undergraduate studies to have courses not listed approved to fulfill major or minor requirements; such courses will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the American studies program, students should be able to:

  • Apply critical skills of analysis to a variety of primary historical sources and/or cultural expressions
  • Exercise advanced writing skills that demonstrate clear articulation of ideas and effective expression of understanding
  • Assess the value of interdisciplinary learning by engaging with a variety of disciplinary perspectives on the study of America within their major elective courses
  • Interpret national traditions and ideals from different local, regional, transnational, and/or global situations and from diverse ideological and/or ethnic perspectives
  • Report satisfaction with the American studies major and its value for their postgraduate academic and professional careers


In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

The concentration in global American studies consists of nine courses. Courses listed more than once can be counted for only one category. At least one course must be at the 300 level or above.

Core Requirements
Introduction (one of the following):3
The Emergence of Modern America
Myth and History in American Memory
Defining America I H
Defining America II H
AMST 201Literary Approaches to American Studies3
or AMST 202 Historical Approaches to American Studies
America in the World (at least one from the list below)3-18
The World in America (at least one from the list below)3-18
Total Hours27

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Students may elect to complete up to four approved American culture courses taken at an American studies international partner institution or other UNC-approved study abroad program. These courses should deal primarily with the United States, or with the interaction between American culture and one or more other cultures, or with the impact within the United States of other cultures. Courses must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies prior to beginning the study abroad experience.

If fewer than four courses are taken abroad, the student should increase the number of courses taken at UNC–Chapel Hill from the America in the World and The World in America lists above, to reach a total of nine courses in the major.

America in the World

AMST 259Tobacco and America3
AMST 277Globalization and National Identity H3
AMST 351Global Waters, American Impacts, and Critical Connections3
AMST 378Nation Building and National Identity in Australia and the United States H3
AMST 387Race and Empire in 20th-Century American Intellectual History3
AMST 460Rising Waters: Strategies for Resilience to the Challenges of Climate and the Built Environment3
AAAD/WGST 386Comparative Studies in Culture, Gender, and Global Forces3
CMPL/ASIA 379Cowboys, Samurai, and Rebels in Film and Fiction H3
GSLL 280The Dialectic of Whiteness and Blackness in Atlantic Cultures3
HIST/PWAD 212History of Sea Power3
HIST/AERO/PWAD 213Air Power and Modern Warfare3
HIST 242United States-Latin American Relations3
HIST/ASIA/PWAD 281The Pacific War, 1937-1945: Its Causes and Legacy3
HIST 325Food and History: The Local and Global, the United Kingdom and the United States3
HIST/PWAD 373The United States in World War II3
HIST/ASIA/PWAD 570The Vietnam War3
HIST/PWAD 577United States Foreign Relations in the 20th Century3
HIST 578Transatlantic Relations and Contemporary Geo-Politics from the Cold War to the Present3
HIST/PWAD 205War, Diplomacy, and Statecraft, 1618-18153
HIST/PWAD 206War, Diplomacy, and Statecraft, 1815-19453
ITAL/PWAD 339US-Italian Encounters: War, Tourism, Myth3
POLI 231Latin America and the United States in World Politics3
POLI/PWAD 443American Foreign Policy: Formulation and Conduct3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

The World in America

AMST 258Captivity and American Cultural Definition3
AMST/CMPL/ENGL 685Literature of the Americas3
AAAD 278Black Caribbeans in the United States3
AAAD 284Contemporary Perspectives on the African Diaspora in the Americas3
AAAD 286The African Diaspora in the Colonial Americas, 1450-18003
AAAD 340Diaspora Art and Cultural Politics3
AAAD 385Emancipation in the New World3
AAAD 485Transnational Black Feminist Thought and Practice3
AAAD 486/ARTH 453Africa in the American Imagination H3
ASIA 350The Asian American Experience3
EDUC 510Mexican American and Chicana/o Experience in Education3
ENGL 164Introduction to Latina/o Studies H3
ENGL 265Literature and Race, Literature and Ethnicity H3
ENGL 279Migration and Globalization3
ENGL/WGST 361Asian American Women's Writing3
GEOG 430Global Migrations, Local Impacts: Urbanization and Migration in the United States3
GEOG 452Mobile Geographies: The Political Economy of Migration3
HIST 241History of Latinos in the United States3
HIST 278The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade H3
PLCY 349Immigration Policy in the 21st Century3
POLI 450Contemporary Inter-American Relations H3
RELI 345Black Atlantic Religions H3
RELI 423Ethnicity, Race, and Religion in America3
RELI/ASIA 445Asian Religions in America3
RELI 580African American Islam3
SLAV/JWST 469Coming to America: The Slavic Immigrant Experience in Literature3
WGST 211Introduction to Latina Feminisms: Literature, Theory, and Activism3
WGST 233Introduction to Latina Literature3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Special Opportunities in American Studies

Honors in American Studies

The American studies major offers a two-course honors program: AMST 691H in the fall semester and AMST 692H in the spring semester. Students must propose their thesis and contract with a faculty advisor during the semester prior to the beginning of their senior year. For each semester of honors work, thesis students must submit a signed learning contract to the Department of American Studies during the registration period. During the two semesters devoted to honors work, students conduct individual research and prepare an honors thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. Students also will attend a weekly seminar at the discretion of the advisor. Students must maintain a 3.3 cumulative grade point average to be eligible. With the approval of the associate or the assistant dean for honors, students with a slightly lower average who have a reasonable expectation of meeting the requirement within one more semester may embark upon the honors thesis, understanding that if they do not attain the 3.3 standard they may continue the research project as independent study but are not eligible to graduate with honors or highest honors.

Experiential Education

The Department of American Studies offers a seminar on Service Learning in America (AMST 398) and offers credits for approved internship projects (AMST 493). Students have learned about American studies by serving the community in museums, schools, social agencies, and other cultural institutions. Many courses in the folklore program also offer experiential education credit through ethnographic training and fieldwork opportunities.

Study Abroad

The Department of American Studies encourages students to consider a semester or more of study abroad and has developed close relations with several American studies programs in different countries. Studying American experience in international contexts is an integral part of understanding the place and influence of the United States in the world. Student learning is enhanced by the perspectives gained by examining how American subjects are taught in universities around the globe as well as by encountering the international students who enroll in American studies courses in Chapel Hill. Study abroad offers students of folklore the opportunity to understand the rich vernacular and traditional cultures of other parts of the world from both a local and a comparative perspective. Students can receive American studies major credit for selected study abroad programs and are encouraged to make study abroad part of their academic plans. Study abroad courses can count toward the global American studies major or minor. Students interested in this experience should consult with the director of undergraduate studies or with the Study Abroad Office about international exchange programs sponsored by UNC–Chapel Hill. Furthermore, American studies majors and minors may apply for the Julia Preston Brumley Travel Scholarship, which is only available to American studies students, to help fund their study abroad.

Undergraduate Awards

The department awards Julia Preston Brumley Travel Scholarships to help fund international travel and study abroad. The Peter C. Baxter Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the outstanding senior majoring in American studies.

Undergraduate Research

The department offers credit for AMST 396 and FOLK 495. Majors can develop a two-semester honors thesis project (AMST 691H and AMST 692H) in consultation with an advisor. Students have received summer undergraduate research fellowships, earned research support and travel awards, and presented their work at the Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research each spring.