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University Catalog

American Studies

Frieda E. Knobloch, Director
Cooper House
Phone: (307) 766-3898


FRIEDA E. KNOBLOCH, B.A. Cornell University 1985; Ph.D. University of Minnesota 1994; Professor of American Studies 2014, 1997.

Associate Professors

ULRICH ADELT, Magister Artium, University of Hamburg 2000; M.A. University of Iowa 2005; Ph.D. 2008; Associate Professor of American Studies 2015, 2009.
LILIA SOTO, B.A. University of California-San Diego 2000; M.A. University of California-Berkeley 2003; Ph.D. 2008; Associate Professor of American Studies and Latina/o Studies 2017, 2010.

Academic Professional Research Scientist

ANDREA GRAHAM, B.A. University of Pennsylvania 1978; M.A. 1980; Associate Academic Professional Research Scientist 2016, 2009.

Professors Emeriti

John Dorst, Eric Sandeen

Adjunct Faculty

(see Catalog section following name for academic credentials)

R. McGreggor Cawley, Political Science
Fred Chapman, public historic preservation consultant
Catherine Connolly, Gender and Women’s Studies
Colleen Denney, Art
Anthony Denzer, Architectural Engineering
Susan Dewey, Gender and Women’s Studies
Michael Harkin, Anthropology
Isa Helfgott, History
Jeanne Holland, English
Mary Humstone, public historic preservation consultant
Michelle Jarman, Wyoming Institute for Disabilities
Mary Keller, Religious Studies
Rachel Sailor, Art

American Studies

American Studies explores American cultural experience past and present, through a wide range of approaches to American lives, places, arts, knowledges, communities, institutions, histories, and ideas. American Studies is an integrative field that comes from and adds to the context of our cultural lives in the U.S. and the U.S. in the world. American Studies frames present concerns with engagement with the past; expects us to engage people’s experiences in the context of a diversity of experiences; and invites us to understand our own commitments and interests as valuable contributors to American cultural understanding. American Studies as a field depends on and adds to insights of scholars, artists, and scientists from virtually any field of expertise.

The American Studies program offers undergraduate B.A. and graduate M.A. degrees in American Studies, as well as courses of general interest to students in any degree.

Our program places special emphasis on studying American cultures through field experiences and internships: students apply academic knowledge and develop professional skills in community and non-profit organizations, historic preservation efforts and organizations, historic sites, museums and collections, among many possibilities. Every internship is developed in close consultation between the students and our Internship Coordinator, and frequently stems from a student’s general idea about where or with whom they’d like to work, in Laramie or Wyoming, in other parts of the U.S., or sometimes abroad. Our program also highlights international perspectives, as well as the transnational context of American impacts and experiences, in course work and exchanges available to American Studies students.

American Studies puts people and their plans together building career goals in K-12 education, law, or business, work in community organizations and public institutions, or further graduate-level study.

Undergraduate Major

The American Studies B.A. frames and develops each student’s individual interests, and allow students to include courses from any program and department that sustain a student’s engagement with their particular emphasis. Individual programs of study are as varied as our students.

We value each student as a person, and understand that an education is much more than a list of courses. Our advising is central in supporting each student’s path and success through the major and beyond the degree.

Examples of concentrations that draw on courses outside American Studies - interests which we then integrate in our independent studies, internships, and the senior seminar - include sports studies, popular music history, comparative ethnic studies, marketing, military history, sustainability, disability advocacy, museum studies, philosophy of science, environmental studies, public health and social justice, and the U.S. in international perspectives. Each student develops a concentration of study with their American Studies advisor with ample room to combine courses and interests into a coherent undergraduate education.

The American Studies B.A. can be an attractive second major for students in any UW degree program where cultural context enriches and expands work in their professional or scholarly field. The flexible nature of our B.A. allows us to work effectively with students changing majors at any point in their undergraduate experience as well as transfer students.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a B.A. in American Studies integrate study from several fields with their study in American Studies courses, in individual programs of study. The American Studies B.A. prepares students to enter graduate and professional programs, enter education certification programs, and work in community organization and other public professional settings. Coursework in American Studies prepares students to:

  • Interpret American cultural experiences and creative expressions by applying appropriate approaches to interpreting words, narratives, images, material objects, communities, built environments, cross-cultural comparison, continuities and discontinuities with the past in a range of American cultural settings.
  • Understand the processes of diversity in American experience including their own, through study of identity formation, performance of identity, stereotyping, cultural contact, cultural memory, and national identity.
  • Demonstrate cricial analysis, interpretation, or insight, through effective communication primarily in writing, but also in speaking (when appropriate, performance or display may embody these qualities as well), as demonstrated in analytically coherent interpretive writing, authoritative, informed oral presentation, and well-documented, visually effective performance or display (where appropriate).

Apply American Studies methods in field-based courses and/or internships, through use of American Studies approaches and competencies in non-classroom settings, as demonstrated in field course or internship evaluations and students’ final reports.

Because American Studies is both an international field with scholars all over the world, and the U.S. has transnational significance, we strongly encourage students to take 2 years of language study to achieve meaningful access to skills as readers, scholars, and travelers, and consider participating in an international exchange. Some languages currently in demand by American Studies students include Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese.

Through the following curriculum, students develop individual programs of study, with their advisors, to understand and engage American cultures.

1. Foundation (12 credits):

  • AMST 2010 and AMST 2110
  • Two courses at the 1000- or 2000-level in interdisciplinary fields, optionally including one in American History, from programs and departments such as African and American Diaspora Studies, American Indian Studies, Environment and Natural Resources, Global and Area Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Latina/o Studies, Religious Studies, or appropriate courses transferred from other institutions, to be named in the program of study in consultation with an American Studies advisor.

2. Concentration (27 credits)

Core. Each student must take three AMST courses at the 3000-4000 level, excluding the senior seminar. These seminars are designed to maintain an interdisciplinary view of American culture and to foster an American Studies community (9 credits).

Theme. An American Studies theme is devised, in consultation with the student's advisor, and is presented to the American Studies core faculty in writing as a proposed course of study. This proposal is usually made at the end of the second year of study (or upon completion of 60 hours of course work toward graduation), since the document guides the student through an exploration of American culture. Typical themes include: American diversity, environment and society, material culture and everyday life, visual culture and media, American cultural history, American institutions and public culture, the United States in international perspective. The theme must include a minimum of 6 credits and a maximum of 9 credits in a single discipline. Up to 3 credits can be granted for courses at the 1000-2000 level (18 credits). 3.

3. Capstone (6 credits): Senior seminar plus an individual project stemming from either AMST 4010 (independent study) or AMST 4970 (internship).

Students pursuing Program honors should also write an undergraduate thesis.


The internship experience is essential for students specializing in public sector American studies. The program has an active program of paid internships that can place students in work environments in Wyoming, other parts of the U.S., or in selected foreign countries.


The program has established semester or academic year exchanges with universities in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and New Zealand in order to encourage an international understanding of American culture. The Elaine Kay Clatterbuck Fund supports majors who are spending this valuable time abroad.

Financial Aid

The William Roberston Coe Fellowship supports undergraduate tuition. The Long-Findeisen Fund supports individual research or exhibition projects. The Elaine K. Clatterbuck Fellowship assists students engaged in an international exchange. The internship program provides students with a stipend while engaged in a program-approved internship.

Teacher Education

Teacher certification in elementary or secondary (social studies) is available by arrangement with the College of Education. Students will be assigned an adviser from the College of Education, as well as from American Studies.


The certificate program allows students to choose from undergraduate and graduate courses in American Studies, literature, geography, music, art, history, philosophy, sociology, folklore, anthropology, American Indian studies, political science, environmental studies, and media studies. The program encompasses two semesters of full time work: a total of at least 24 semester hours, or approximately 8 courses. Of these, 6 hours (2 courses) must be selected from the following list:

AMST 2010 or 2110 (3 hours)
Any AMST course at the 4000- or 5000-level (3 hours)

An additional 18 hours (6 courses) are chosen in consultation with an American Studies faculty adviser. The final 3 credit hours, completed during the summer months, are devoted to an internship (AMST 4970) or field experience in American culture (AMST 4900).

Undergraduate Minor

Students may minor in American Studies through a program of 24 credit hours of study, with credit hours evenly distributed between lower and upper division courses, which include at least 3 courses in American Studies (with the AMST course prefix), at any level (except AMST 1101), in consultation with and depending on approval by a faculty advisor in American Studies. Coursework for the minor may be matched with a student’s major requirements in related disciplines and fields.

Graduate Major

The American Studies M.A. is an interdisciplinary professional development degree in a committed learning community that builds on students' research interests, accomplishments, experiences, and career goals working with American cultraul contexts past and present. After the M.A., our alums seeks further professional specialization in law, education, writing, library and information science, and other fields; pursue Ph.D.s in academic careers in American Studies and other scholarly areas including ethnic studies, cultural geography, literature, religious studies, anthropology, history, ethnomusicology, among others; and work professionally in public settings, including historic preservation organizations, historic sites, museums, collections, and other non-profit, community or governmental organizations.

The M.A. is a 2-year program for students enrolled full-time, culminating in a major research project, either a "Plan A" thesis, or a "Plan B" non-thesis portfolio of work. We work frequently with part-time M.A. students to accommodate other demands on students' time. We encourage the development of emergent, innovative formats and project types as valuable contributions to contemporary American studies practice, relevant to a student's professional development plans.

Because American Studies is an international field with scholars all over the world, and the U.S. has significant impacts transnationally, M.A. Students from outside the U.S. are a regular part of our M.A. cohort, and we encourage our M.A. students to consider semester exchanges abroad. The Program also supports American Studies M.A. student and faculty participation in the annual Radboud University Duisburg Essen Spring Academy (RUDESA). RUDESA is a graduate student symposium shared by our Program and 2 others internationally, held every year in the Netherlands and Germany. Every two years, we welcome the winner of the British Association of American Studies' Peter Boyle Award into the M.A. cohort.

All M.A. students complete at least 15 credit hours in American Studies courses: 2 required theory and methods courses in the Program, and 3 graduate seminars in American Studies. The remainder of coursework - 12 credits for those completing a thesis, or 15 credits for those completing non-thesis portfolios - can be drawn from graduate-level coursework in any area of study. Most of our M.A. students complete 1-3 credit internships as part of their coursework, in public or organizational sites in Laramie, elsewhere in Wyoming or the U.S., and occasionally abroad as well. M.A. students' paths through their programs of study are as varied as our students.

Applicants to the M.A. program do not have to have prior majors in American Studies. The American Studies program does not require the GRE in applications to our M.A. program.

Financial Aid

The American Studies M.A. is generously supported by endowment funds that allow us to award significant financial aid to M.A. students enrolled full time, through teaching, research, or community organization assistantship placements, as well as scholarship support as appropriate for students’ own M.A. research.

Program Specific Admission Requirements

A significant writing sample (usually a seminar paper or, for those coming from technical fields, a major report) that demonstrates potential for graduate study.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an M.A. in American Studies integrate their educational backgrounds, research and professional interests, and coursework at the M.A. level inside and outside American Studies, in individual programs of study, to professional engage American cultural production and communities in preparation for professional work or advanced graduate study. Students earning the M.A. in American Studies, either completing a thesis or pursuing the non-thesis Plan B project, are prepared to:

  • Interpret a variety of objects significant to the study of American cultures, including words, narratives, images, material objects, communities, built environments, identities, cross-cultural and/or international perspectives, continuities and discontinuities with the past in a range of cultural settings.
  • Demonstrate professional competence in writing and speaking in error-free expository prose, authoritative oral presentation, insightful use of relevant source material reflecting critical reading skill, prose style commensurate with professional responsibility, and prose content commensurate with professional responsibility.
  • Produce professional research for a well-define community (scholarly, public, or an appropriate combination), by identifying and using primary sources, building approaches from a relevant matrix of secondary sources, and understanding scholarly traditions within the field of American Studies that supports, expands, and connects research to professional goals.
  • Make effective plans for advanced graduate study or professional employment by developing competencies listed above, including the opportunity to complete appropriate internship or field course work in an area of the student’s professional plans.

Program Specific Degree Requirements

Degree requirements based on university minimum requirements.  Successful completion of the following: AMST 5500/5510 with a grade of "B" or better, three additional American Studies courses, and a Thesis or Plan B (non-Thesis) project.

American Studies (AMST) Courses

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