American and New England Studies Introduction

Established in 1970, the American and New England Studies Program at Boston University has, from its inception, been dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of US society as expressed in a wide variety of forms: from media and intellectual expressions to literature and institutions.  Our talented faculty represents the widest possible variety of disciplines.  My own field of expertise is US history, with a particular focus on the Civil War era and the cultural afterlife of the war.  My colleagues in the Department of English study, and teach about, the way texts simultaneously reflect and shape cultural life in the US.  They include Professors Jack Matthews, Anita Patterson, Susan Mizruchi, Laura Korobkin, Bonnie Costello, Gene Jarrett, Maurice Lee, Joseph Rezek, William Huntting Howell, Robert Chodat, Charles Rzepka, and Leland Monk. Our roster of faculty also includes my colleagues who work in US History, including Professors Marilyn Halter, Bruce Schulman, Lou Ferleger, Jon Roberts, Charles Capper, Sarah Phillips, and Brooke Blower.  We also maintain a particularly strong commitment to the study of Art History, offering a comprehensive curriculum that covers courses in material culture, architecture, and historic landscapes as well as American painting and photography. Faculty who have been centrally involved in the program include Professors Kim Sichel, Keith Morgan, Patricia Hills, Paulo Scrivano, and Melanie Hall. In addition, William Moore, who holds a dual position in American Studies and Art History, has particular expertise in material culture studies while Claire Dempsey, our Director of Preservation Studies, also offers courses in these fields.

Adding to our strengths in History, Literature and Art History, the program attracts faculty whose scholarship ranges from the social and political sciences, to religion and film studies, including Allison Blakely, Linda Heywood, and John Thornton in African American Studies; Mary Beaudry in Archeology; Nancy Ammerman, Japonica Brown-Saracino, Ruha Benjamin, Nazli Kibria, Julian Go, and Ashley Mears in Sociology; Graham Wilson and David Mayers in Political Science; Roy Grundmann, Deborah Jaramillo, and Ray Carney in Film Studies; and Stephen Prothero in the Department of Religion.

In addition to our on-campus resources, our New England focus and our location in Boston have provided AMNESP students with unparalleled opportunities for scholarly research and practical engagement with many of Greater Boston’s cultural institutions. Students have access to internships at the Museum of Fine Arts, the National Heritage Museum, the National Park Service, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and other institutions.

We place special emphasis on fostering a sense of community within the program. Students and faculty gather regularly for formal lectures and presentations, and for more informal “American Conversations” where speakers come from neighboring universities and colleges in the Boston area to speak on topics of common interest. Our students may also take classes at Brandeis University, Boston College, Northeastern University, MIT, and Tufts University, institutions with which Boston University also maintains a free library exchange.  Our program’s Graduate Student Association sponsors student-run discussion groups and, in 2013, hosted their first graduate student conference. Graduate students have also run a series of seminars on “Learning the Ropes,” where faculty and advanced students offer timely and pertinent advice on preparing for orals, writing a prospectus, completing a dissertation, applying for fellowships, preparing to publish, entering the job market, and other topics.

Graduates of the program have shown a significant record of achievement in publication, teaching, and public history, and many have taken on positions as professors, museum curators and directors of major cultural institutions and art agencies.

With regard to admissions: no one factor is decisive. Our admissions committee carefully assesses each candidate’s qualifications on an individual basis. The University requires the GRE or its equivalent, but we weigh those scores within the broader context of your college record, recommendations, and personal statement. We make every effort to accommodate applicants who may be returning to graduate study after a period of time spent away from the academy.

In terms of financial aid: Boston University now provides all incoming PhD students with a comprehensive package of five years of full fellowship support that covers tuition and mandatory fees, student health insurance and an annual stipend.

If you have any questions or are planning to be in Boston and would like to arrange a campus visit, please call 617-353-2948 or send us an email. I would be happy to meet with you and arrange for you to speak with other faculty and students in the program.



Professor Nina Silber
Director, American and New England Studies Program
226 Bay State Road, Room 101
Boston, MA 02215