General Course Overview

AM 200 required of concentrators, followed by an AM course at the 200-level or above

CAS AM 200 – Introduction to American Studies. An exploration of the multi-faceted themes of American society and culture in selected historical periods using a variety of approaches to interpret such topics as American art, literature, politics, material culture, and the mass media. Required of concentrators. Staff.


CAS AM 202 – What’s Boston?  What’s Boston? explores Boston’s complex urban and natural world. University faculty share cutting-edge research, focusing on Boston as a PLACE and a guiding IDEA, introducing the perspectives of disparate scholarly disciplines. Discover where you stand and where you might go! This course welcomes first-year students and it open to all BU undergraduates. Bluestone.

CAS AM 250 – American Arts and Society. Investigates key issues and themes in American arts and letters. Past topics include Autobiography and Self-Portrait in American Culture, the Outcast in American Literature, and Issues in Documentary Film and Photography. Staff.

CAS AM 301 –  Perspectives on the American Experience. American history and society as viewed by those who made it. Past topics include Manhood in America, The History of Ordinary Life, The Sixties, and The Modern American City. Staff.

CAS AM 313 – Internships in Public History. Prereq: consent of instructor. Students undertake supervised work in Boston-area institutions dedicated to the public presentation of America’s past. Students meet with the instructor to discuss themes in public history theory and practice that, together with the internship experience and related readings, inform a final research project and class presentation. Also offered as CAS HI 313. Dempsey.

CAS AM 363 –  Surfing and American Culture. The history of the sport of surfing, tracing the cultural, technological, and economic aspects of its transformation from a Polynesian folkway to a global multi-billion dollar economic force. Thematic emphasis on questions of American diversity and identity. Moore.

CAS AM 367 –  Material Culture. Introduction to the interdisciplinary theory and practice of the study of material culture, the physical stuff that is part of human life.  Material culture includes everything we make and use, from food and clothing to art and buildings.  Lectures will introduce a wide range of contemporary scholarship on material culture from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, history, sociology, art and architectural history, and cultural studies.  Also offered as CAS AH 367. Moore.

CAS AM 369 – American Folk Art. Explores the objects that collectors and museums identify as “American Folk Art.” Examines how this label developed throughout the twentieth century; familiarizes students with major collections and genres including painting, sculpture, textiles, and other media. Also offered as CAS AH 369. Moore.

CAS AM 371 – Art and Architecture in Boston. Expores art, architecture and literature in Boston from 1630 to present. Frequent walking tours and site visits supplement lectures, readings and discussions. Themes include the city’s physical growth and the relationship of politics, culture, and society to art and architecture. Summer Term. Staff.

CAS AM 376 – Housing America. What do dwellings say about the diversity of American experience? For over four centuries and across a content, wealth and poverty, family and community, taste and technology have all shaped the meaning of home. Illustrated lecturers supplemented by field trips. Also offered as CAS 376. Dempsey.

CAS AM 501 –  Special Topics in American Studies. Topic varies – please see semester listings for more detailed information. Staff.

CAS AM 502 –  Special Topics in American Studies. Topic varies – please see semester listings for more detailed information. Staff.

Independent Studies:

CAS AM 401, 402 – Senior Independent Work. Prerequisite: consent of Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies.

CAS AM 491, 492 – Directed Study. Prerequisite: consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies.