School of Interdisciplinary Studies American Studies

Graduate Student Information

In recent years, Purdue American Studies graduates have moved to tenure track positions at SUNY Buffalo, Colorado College, Arizona State University, Youngstown State University and University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Books and articles by American Studies graduates have in recent years been published by University of Nebraska Press, University of Missouri Press, American Quarterly and Aztlan.

Finally, American Studies at Purdue stresses community and political engagement. In recent years, students in the program have performed community service for class credit with the Tarajia Project, a high school program designed to assist women of color; the YWCA Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention Program, and the Lafayette Journal & Courier newspaper. The program boasts a high placement rate across a wide spectrum of professional vocations, from public television to academy.


Degree Requirements

The American Studies M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Purdue are flexible, largely self-directed plans of study. Two years of coursework are required for the M.A. and Ph.D. each, with the majority of courses being elective. M.A. students also take AMST 63000, a capstone independent research seminar. Ph.D. students take AMST 60300.  Ph.D. students are required to take a major and a dissertation prospectus. All students in the program work closely with an advisor and plan of study committee who supervise their path toward the degree. 


American Studies Courses

Courses in American Studies are often team-taught and merge M.A. and Ph.D. students. Courses are frequently cross-listed between American Studies and other departments. In addition to scheduled courses, students may take a directed reading course of independent study. Other recently added courses in the curriculum include AMST 62000: "Archival Theory and Practice," and AMST 61000: "Transnational American Studies Abroad." 

Other recent American Studies course offerings include:

  • Critical Race Theory: Professor Ryan Schneider
  • The Chicago Renaissance: Professors Bill Mullen and Anne Knupfer
  • Chicano/a Literature: Professor Sonia Gonzalez
  • Postcolonialism & the New Postglobal Studies: Professor Al Lopez
  • Early Native American Literacies: Professor Kristina Bross
  • Masculinity & 19th Century American Literature: Professor Ryan Schneider
  • American Protest Music from the Wobblies to Woodstock: Professors Rich Hogan and Harry Targ
  • Colonial & Early American Literature: Professor Christopher Lukasik
  • Global Issues in Education: Professor Nadine Dolby
  • Early Twentieth Century American Fiction: Professor Robert Lamb
  • Contemporary African American Fiction: Professor Venetria Patton

Areas of Study

In recent years, students in the American Studies program have gravitated towards the following academic concentrations for their coursework and research: 

  • Activism, Resistance, and Social Movement Studies
  • Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Design and Material Cultural Studies
  • Gender, Sexuality, and Queer Studies
  • New Media and Popular Cultural Studies
  • Science, Technology, and Environment Studies
  • Tranational American Studies

American Studies Dissertations

In recent years, American Studies students have written the following dissertations: 

  • Philathia R. Bolton, "Making Dead & Barren: Black Women Writers on the Civil Rights Movement & the Problem of the American Dream"
  • Mark R. Bousquet, "Driftin': Round the World in a Blubber Hunter"
  • W. Neal Gill, "'When We Got Beat': The WWII Era Labor Camp Origin of the Beat Movement"
  • Shivohn N. Garcia, "Fiddling About: The Life and Love of Pura Teresa Belpre and Clarence Cameron White"
  • Heidi R. Lewis, "'She still missed her daddy sometimes': Black Women's Post-Civil Rights Father-Daughter Narratives"
  • Heather C. Moore, "I'm the One You Needed to be Worried About': The Archetypal Representatives of Black Male Students"
  • Kathleen S. Mullins, "'Let Women Build Houses': American Middle-Income, Single-Family Housing in the 1950s & the 1956 Women's Congres on Housing"
  • Mindy H. Tan, "Canvas Politics: Norman Lewis and the Art of Abstract Resistance"
  • Kendra R. Unruh, "'Jubilant Spirits of Freedom': Representations of the Lindy Hop in Literature & Film from the Swing Era to the Swing Revival"
  • Christopher A. Warren, "The Price of Post-Racialism: Educational Genocide vs. Culture-Affirming Methodology"

Support for Research

Finally, students in American Studies are offered travel funds every year to support their research and presentations at academic conferences. Students also serve in elected positions on the American Studies Steering Committee, American Studies Recruitment Committee, and American Studies Symposium Committee. As well, students compete for annual awards: The Chester Eisinger Award for Outstanding Essay in American Studies; the American Studies Innovation in Teaching Award; the Paul and Eslanda Robeson Award for Transnational Scholarship; the American Studies/Women's Studies Outstanding Achievement Award, and the American Studies Social Justice/Community Service Award. 

To learn more about graduate students and graduate student activity in American Studies at Purdue, please contact Megan Williams, current president of the American Studies Graduate Student Association. 

Admission Checklist

Career Opportunities

Financing Graduate Studies

Plan of Study

Master's Requirements

Ph.D. Requirements


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