American & New England Studies
PhD in American & New England Studies
The PhD program is committed to the interdisciplinary study of American culture. While the resources of New England offer unique opportunities for research in the history and culture of the region, the program’s orientation is emphatically national and cross-cultural in scope. With strong participation from faculty members in history, English, art history, anthropology, archaeology, and other disciplines, the program encourages students to develop their own distinctive blend of courses and independent study. Students are urged to select a course of study from a variety of disciplines that provide a foundation in literary and historical perspectives. While pursuing the PhD degree, students may concurrently work toward a Master of Arts degree.
The program maintains a close relationship with a number of New England museums and historical agencies, and internships are often available. Students have worked, for example, at the Museum of Fine Arts, the Peabody Essex Museum, Historic New England (formerly known as SPNEA), the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Boston Athenaeum, and the Museum of American Textile History. Students also have access to the archival collections and galleries of these institutions.
In addition to those external resources, PhD students may use the library holdings of Boston College, Brandeis University, Northeastern University, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. The Boston Public Library also offers significant holdings for reading and research.
The program assigns a temporary advisor to all incoming students; students then choose their own permanent advisors.
Course of Study
Students entering the program with a BA take 16 graduate-level courses before proceeding to their PhD qualifying examinations; those with an MA take eight courses before their qualifying exam. Two required courses, GRS AM 735 Studies in American Culture and GRS AM 736 The Literature of American Studies, provide an introduction to analytical methods and theoretical problems. Otherwise, students devise their own programs of study, choosing courses from a wide variety of disciplines: anthropology, architectural history, art history, decorative arts, English, film, historical archaeology, history, political science, sociology, and women’s studies. GRS AM 901, 902 Directed Study provides a means of working individually with faculty.
Students must demonstrate reading competence in a single modern foreign language. This can be accomplished in one of the following ways: through an examination given by the program, by earning a score of 570 in the Graduate Student Foreign Language standardized exam, or by successfully completing a language reading course numbered 621 offered through the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
The candidate must submit a polished scholarly paper, usually a revised essay written for a graduate seminar, that employs a range of interdisciplinary methods. The paper, distributed in written form, must be approved and signed by first and second readers and the program director before scheduling the PhD Qualifying Examination.
PhD Qualifying Examination
A student must pass oral qualifying examinations in a major and two minor fields. The major field must be presented in full historical depth and with an awareness of global contexts. At least one of the minor fields must be in a discipline different from the major. Students who major in art history also take a slide examination, and part of the oral examination may involve the interpretation of objects. Details on the composition of the major and minor fields are available in the American Studies office, as well as on the website.
See General Requirements for the PhD. Each student is required to submit a prospectus for approval within four months after the PhD Qualifying Examination has been passed. This prospectus should be prepared in consultation with the prospective dissertation advisor. The prospectus, distributed in written form, must be approved and signed by the prospective first and second readers of the dissertation before submission to the program director. The prospectus explores the main issues to be addressed in the dissertation, the methods to be employed, and the sources to be consulted.
A dissertation reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the program is required. See General Requirements for the PhD.
Residency Requirements and Final Oral Examination
All incoming PhD students receive a comprehensive package of five years of full fellowship support that covers tuition and mandatory fees, student health insurance, and an annual stipend.
As members of the program in American & New England Studies, students may be eligible to teach courses at Boston University during the academic year and in Metropolitan College’s summer school. Students may, as part of their curriculum, be eligible to undertake an internship at a program-approved museum or historical or cultural agency. These internships may provide on-site training as well as course credit and financial assistance.
Required Courses for First-Year PhD Students
- GRS AM 735 Studies in American Culture
- GRS AM 736 The Literature of American Studies
- CAS AM 501 Special Topics in American Studies
- CAS AM 502 Special Topics in American Studies
- CAS AM 524 New England Cultural Landscapes
- GRS AM 730 Seminar in New England Architecture
- GRS AM 765 American Vernacular Architecture
- GRS AM 867 Material Culture
- GRS AM 901, 902 Directed Study in American & New England Studies
- GRS AM 945, 946 Practicum
Courses Offered Through Departmental Curricula
- CAS AA 502 Topics in African American Literature
- CAS AA 514 Labor, Sexuality, and Resistance in the Afro-Atlantic World
- CAS AA 590 The World and the West
- CAS AH 501, 502 Practicum in Museum Studies
- CAS AH 520 The Museum and Historical Agency
- CAS AH 521 Curatorship
- CAS AH 570 Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century American Architecture
- CAS AH 584 Greater Boston: Architecture and Planning
- CAS AN 568 Symbol, Myth, and Rite
- CAS EN 533 American Literature: Beginnings to 1855
- CAS EN 534 American Literature: 1855–1918
- CAS EN 536 Twentieth-Century American Poetry
- CAS EN 545 The Nineteenth-Century American Novel
- CAS EN 546 The Modern American Novel
- CAS EN 547 Contemporary American Fiction
- CAS EN 572 Studies in American Literary Movements
- CAS EN 585 Contemporary American Poetry
- CAS EN 587 Studies in African American Literature
- CAS HI 502 Drafts of History: Journalism and Historical Revisionism
- CAS HI 555 The Black Community and Social Change
- CAS HI 560 The American Transcendentalists
- CAS HI 566 Ideas and American Foreign Policy
- CAS HI 575 The Birth of Modern America
- CAS HI 580 The History of Racial Thought
- CAS HI 584 Labor, Sexuality, and Resistance in the Afro-Atlantic World
- CAS HI 586 African Americans Abroad
- CAS HI 698 African American History
- CAS PO 507 Development of American Constitutional Law
- CAS PO 508 The Judiciary and Civil Liberties
- CAS PO 514 Political Movements in America
- CAS PO 578 United States as World Power
- CAS SO 534 Modernity and Social Change
- GRS AH 779 Visual Culture in the Nineteenth-Century United States
- GRS AH 782 Colloquium in Nineteenth-Century Architecture in Europe and America
- GRS AH 785 Colloquium on Twentieth-Century American Painting
- GRS AH 884 Seminar in Nineteenth-Century Architecture
- GRS AH 891 Seminar in Photography
- GRS AR 702 Contemporary Theory in Archaeology
- GRS AR 780 Archaeological Ethics and Law
- GRS EN 746 The South in Modern American Fiction
- GRS EN 788 Transnational Modernism
- GRS HI 702 Science and American Culture
- GRS HI 705 American Thought and Culture, 1776 to 1900
- GRS HI 706 Intellectual History of the United States, 1900 to the Present
- GRS HI 708 Religious Thought in America
- GRS HI 721 The American Revolution, 1750–1800
- GRS HI 737 The United States, 1900–1945
- GRS HI 745 Seminar in Early American History and Culture
- GRS HI 750 History of the Atlantic World
- GRS HI 761 Black Radical Thought
- GRS HI 794 US-Mexican Borders
- GRS HI 849 United States History 1830–1900
- GRS HI 850 American Historiography
- GRS HI 851 Recent American History
- GRS HI 852 Readings in American Political History
- GRS HI 854 Economic History of the United States
- GRS HI 855 American Immigration History
- GRS HI 857 Topics in American Cultural History
- GRS HI 859 The United States as a World Power
- GRS HI 861 The Civil War Era
- GRS HI 862 The Gilded Age, 1877–1914
- GRS HI 863 Topics in American Intellectual History
- GRS HI 865 The United States Since 1968
- GRS HI 866 History of American Foreign Relations Since 1898
- GRS HI 872 The Twentieth-Century American Presidency
- GRS HI 875 A History of Women in the United States
- GRS RN 613 Hinduism in America
- GRS SO 808 Seminar: Ethnic, Race, and Minority Relations