American Studies Program

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"The College of William and Mary established the American Studies Program in 1982, as an interdisciplinary Master of Arts study. The program was the first graduate course of study in American Studies in the state of Virginia. Dr. Robert Scholnick, Professor of English and American Studies, is the founding director of the program. Bruce McConachie, a former professor at the College of William and Mary, and Professor Scholnick developed the curriculum and recruited professors for the program." In the fall semester of 1988, the College welcomed the Program’s first doctoral students.

With interdisciplinary methods and approaches as the foundation of the curriculum, the Program fosters an intellectual environment in which the students engage critical, scholarly works across academic disciplines. Some of the disciplines of engagement include history, literature, archeology, anthropology, and visual culture. This method of intellectual inquiry assists the students in investigating social, political, and cultural issues such as race, gender, and sexuality, on a broader scale.

"In 2008, the American Studies Program celebrated it 25th Anniversary. Over a weekend in March, alumni and current students gathered to discuss their experiences and the professional training American Studies affords for the workforce. This is one of many ways the Program fosters and promotes relationships between students, professionals and scholars.

An important aspect of the American Studies Program is civic engagement outside of the walls of academia. The Program is home to the Williamsburg Documentary Project, which is a class for American Studies majors. The project collects information about the Williamsburg area, concentrating on 20th and 21st century social and cultural issues, such as desegregation. Much of the final product is a collection of oral histories.

In a rigorous, yet flexible environment of intellectual inquiry, students develop the critical skills that allow them not only to pursue rewarding careers, but to serve as responsible citizens of the 21st Century."


References

  • “W & M going beyond Americana,” "American Studies" folder, University Archives Subject File, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.
  • “American Studies celebrates 25th anniversary,” "American Studies" folder, University Archives Subject File, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.
  • “History of the Program,” "American Studies" folder, University Archives Subject File, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.
  • “Seeking input,” "American Studies" folder, University Archives Subject File, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.