Majoring in American Studies

American Studies Certificate


Our American studies program is one of the strongest in the country, and every year it is among the top majors at Connecticut College. We focus on two critical issues: race and ethnicity and the role of the United States in the world. The program is innovative, dynamic and interdisciplinary. After you complete the core requirements for the major, you have the opportunity to concentrate on comparative race and ethnicity; expressive arts and cultural studies; or politics, society and policy. You also participate in community service, fieldwork or an internship. Our graduates are shaping thinking about critical issues in government and non-governmental organizations, and in graduate studies and academia.

Personalized learning

You shape your own experience through the courses you choose, as well as through your honors or independent study project. Student research topics have included the representation of adolescent sexuality on reality television and its impact on behavior, a critical look at dolls created for young girls in America, and a comparison of religious tolerance in France and the United States.

International opportunities and study abroad

American studies majors have examined the role of American culture in the de-Nazification of Germany as well as the impact of Eastern European training methods on American sports. A course on immigration took students to the Texas/ Mexico border, where they lived with local families. Our civil rights seminar has traveled to important locations of the African-American freedom movement.

What can you do with a majorcertificate in American Studies?

Here are some of the positions our graduates have gone on to hold:

  • Associate Director of Fundraising, Changing Our World Inc.
  • Music Coordinator, MTV/ VH1
  • Public Health Investigator, State of Connecticut
  • Foreign Exchange Trader, Connecticut Bank & Trust
  • Coordinator of Access Programs, Denver Art Museum
  • Financial Adviser, Smith Barney
  • Director of Strategic Marketing, Cybrinth Inc.
  • Fine Art Dealer, Charles Plante Fine Arts
  • Program Director, Greenville Literacy Associates
  • Teacher, Brooklyn Friends School
  • Deputy Public Defender, City of Contra Costa
  • Project Manager, Verizon Communications
  • Product Operations Specialist, Facebook
  • Attorney, Clyde & Co.
  • Director, Olancho Aid Foundation
  • Director of Public Affairs, Hudson Institute
  • Elementary School Principal, Town of East Hampton
  • English Teacher, UNESCO Centre for International Cooperation on Education
  • Senior Research Fellow, University of Delaware Library
  • Technology Transfer Specialist, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


Theresa P. Ammirati, Theresa P. Ammirati,

Theresa P. Ammirati,
American studies • 20th century American literature • Rhetoric and composition • Student special services

David Canton, Associate Professor of History David Canton, Associate Professor of History

David Canton, Associate Professor of History
20th-Century American Social History • Civil rights movement • Urban history • Hip Hop Music and Black Culture in Post-Industrial America

James T. Downs, Associate Professor of History James T. Downs, Associate Professor of History

James T. Downs, Associate Professor of History
Nineteenth-century United States history • African-American Studies • History of medicine and public health

David K. Kim, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Associate Professor in American Studies David K. Kim, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Associate Professor in American Studies

David K. Kim, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Associate Professor in American Studies
Philosophy of religion • Religion and critical theory • Religion and political theory • Modern and contemporary religious thought • Human agency, moral philosophy, and ethics • Religious theory • Asian American studies

Jen Manion, Associate Professor of History, Director, LGBTQ Resource Center Jen Manion, Associate Professor of History, Director, LGBTQ Resource Center

Jen Manion, Associate Professor of History, Director, LGBTQ Resource Center
The history of sexuality • Early American history • Social justice movements

Julie Rivkin, Professor of English Julie Rivkin, Professor of English

Julie Rivkin, Professor of English
American literature • Gender studies and contemporary literature • Literary theory • Henry James

Catherine M. Stock, Barbara Zaccheo Kohn '72 Professor of History, Director of American Studies Program Catherine M. Stock, Barbara Zaccheo Kohn '72 Professor of History, Director of American Studies Program

Catherine M. Stock, Barbara Zaccheo Kohn '72 Professor of History, Director of American Studies Program
Rural radicalism, domestic terrorism • Social, cultural and political history of the United States, 1877 to present, including the American West • Rural America • The Great Depression and the New Deal

Student profile

Carter Goffigon Carter Goffigon

American studies, dance

Q: Why American Studies?
A: Like most freshmen, my interests were all over the place. But I was interested in the experience and history of people. I also wanted to nurture my interest in art, culture and gender studies. A friend suggested I look into American Studies. I took the intro class with Professor [James] Downs and was hooked.

Q: Which class has been most challenging or rewarding?
A: The "19th Century America" seminar. We read an entire book each week, developed an analytical argument and wrote a short response paper. Crafting an insightful and organized analysis was by no means easy, but it was so rewarding. The nine of us in class met weekly for an exhausting and thrilling three hours led by Professor Downs that strengthened my skills as a historian, writer and thinker.

Q: What independent or faculty-led research have you done?
A: A ConnSSHARP grant gave me the opportunity to work with Professor Downs on his book about cholera, epidemiology and transnationalism in the 19th century. I spent the summer analyzing documents in the NY Public Library and the NY Academy of Medicine, and met with Professor Downs regularly to discuss my findings. I gained invaluable insight into the research process and what it means to be a historian as I move ahead with my own honors thesis: Domestic Kitchens in 19th Century America.

Selected courses

  • Introduction to American Studies
  • Theorizing Race and Ethnicity
  • Politics and Culture in the United States Since 1917
  • History of Sexuality
  • African-American History
  • Latin American Immigration and Migration
  • Globalization of American Culture Since 1945


Student research

Make Me a Sandwich: A Cultural History of the Domestic Kitchen in 19th Century America
By: Carter Goffigon '14
Advising Faculty: Jim Downs

When the Mainstream Met the Second Wave: Media Representations of Women & Feminism in 1970s America
By: Annie Anderson '12
Advising Faculty: Catherine Stock

“Hey Young World”: Hip-Hop as a Tool for Educational and Rehabilitative Work with Youth
By: Heather Day '09
Advising Faculty: Theresa Ammirati


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