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.
Prerequisites and Admissions Tests
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree. Students who majored in anthropology, art history, English, history, sociology, or other humanities and social sciences are invited to apply. Applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). International students must take the TOEFL.
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.
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 six 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
Financial assistance is available in the form of teaching and research fellowships, Presidential University Graduate Fellowships, scholarships and graduate assistantships, and internships at related institutions. An endowment restricted to the program provides additional funding.
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 American 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 Comparative Slavery
- 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 Early American Architecture
- 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 HI 583 Black Radical Thought
- CAS PO 512 Informal Political Process
- CAS PO 513 Development of American Constitutional Law
- CAS PO 514 The Judiciary and Civil Liberties
- 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 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 Faulkner and the Global South
- GRS EN 788 Transnationalism and African American Literature
- GRS HI 749 United States History, 1850–1900
- GRS HI 750 American Historiography
- GRS HI 755 American Immigration History
- GRS HI 868 Science and American Culture
- GRS HI 869 Science and Christianity
- GRS HI 871 African American History
- GRS HI 874 Intellectual History of the United States, 1900 to the Present
- GRS HI 885 Atlantic History
- GRS PO 625 Political Movements in America
- GRS PO 674 United States as World Power
- GRS RN 613 Hinduism in America
- GRS SO 808 Seminar: Ethnic, Race, and Minority Relations