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American Studies

College of Arts and Sciences

Graduate Life in American Studies

American Studies   emphasizes the integration of the humanities, fine arts and social sciences in the study of American experience, past and present. In consultation with faculty advisors students formulate individual programs of study to understand and engage American culture(s). Through interaction with faculty, professional staff, and community mentors, students develop professional expertise in preparation for employment or further graduate study.

Whether students  are anticipating further graduate study or are preparing for careers in teaching or the public sector, this interdisciplinary education will develop a variety of skills and competencies.

  1. Students will interpret a variety of objects significant to the study of American cultures. These cultural objects include words and things, images and artifacts, symbolic landscapes and built environments.
  2. Students will demonstrate professional competence in writing and speaking.
  3. Students will produce professional research for a well-defined community (scholarly, public, or an appropriate combination).
  4. Through the assembly of a portfolio of successful writing projects, participation in contract- and grant-supported activities and public presentations students will prepare themselves for work beyond the M.A.


Each graduate student works closely with a faculty advisor and is expected to contribute to the intellectual life of the community.  The Program offers mentorship for Teaching Assistants and guidance for students who are exploring new realms of study in the library, the archive, or in the field.  The Cooper House serves as the location for workshops, symposia, and research-in-progress presentations that draw together faculty, staff, and students in American Studies and related fields.  Those interested in public sector work will have the opportunity to visit local and state agencies, cultural institutions, and non-profit organizations and speak to professional staff (some of them Program alumni) about how their work intersects with American Studies.

Wyoming Fellowships

At the time of acceptance to the Program or during the first semester of the program of study, a graduate student who has a strong commitment to public sector work may apply for the Wyoming Fellowship.  Each Wyoming Fellow will receive a paid, two-month internship during the course of study (usually in the summer after the first year of fulltime enrollment).  A Wyoming Fellow is expected to include at least two field- or public-oriented courses in the course of study and attend appropriate workshops, symposia, and site visits sponsored by the Program.  Wyoming Fellows are eligible to participate in grants, contracts, and special projects sponsored by Program faculty or professional staff (see Recent American Studies Projects in Wyoming)  Each Wyoming Fellow will be assigned a public sector mentor in addition to the academic advisor.

Community Projects and Fieldwork

Art of the Hunt Field Work

The American Studies Program and the Wyoming Arts Council’s Folk & Traditional Arts Program have been conducting fieldwork on hunting and fishing traditions for five years, documenting guides and outfitters; people who make gear such as bamboo rods, wooden bows, and pack saddles; taxidermists; and ordinary hunters and anglers. Several students have conducted fieldwork for the project, interviewing gear makers, outfitters, and songwriters. The project will culminate in a year-long exhibit at the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne, opening in May of 2014. A catalog, web site, and series of public programs will accompany the exhibit, and we hope to have students involved in those aspects of the project as well.

Dave Munsick and student, Julian Saporiti, talk about hunting and music in Bighorn, Wyoming. Photo by Peter Gibbons.

Student Julian Saporiti interviewed several singers and songwriters about their work on the subjects of hunting and fishing, and the parallels between writing and hunting. Here he interviews singer Dave Munsick of Big Horn. Photo by Peter Gibbons.


Jessica King and Andrea Graham document an ice fishing trip with Charles McCall.

Graduate student Jessica King accompanied UW folklorist Andrea Graham to document an ice fishing trip with Charles McCall of Cheyenne in Feburary, 2012. Videographer Alan O’Hashi was also filming to make a short vignette for inclusion in the exhibit.


Jessica King photographing a catch.

Jessica photographing catch, photo by Andrea Graham. The catch, photo by Jessica King.


AMK Ranch Historic Preservation Project

During the summer 2011 field season, the University of Wyoming American Studies Program conducted a field school at the AMK Ranch to develop a Preservation Treatment Guide for the property’s historic buildings. Students and faculty documented and assessed the condition of each building on the property, researched and analyzed a range of historic preservation treatments, tested log cleaning techniques, and compiled the results of their field work, research and analysis into a 150-page document designed to guide National Park Service and University of Wyoming property managers in making decisions regarding historic buildings.

historic preservation graduate study

UW student Andrea Lewis cleans logs with abrasive brush after applying a cleaning solution. (Mary Humstone, 2011)


historic preservation graduate study in the west

Students prepare a log wall for testing to compare the effects of different log cleaning techniques. (Mary Humstone, 2011)

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American Studies

Cooper House

1000 E. University Ave

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766 3898

Fax: (307) 766 3700


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