Shizu Saldamando, Carm's Crew (2009)
What is American Studies?
Short answer, it’s a course that all NCSSM students take their junior year. The interdisciplinary course follows a cultural studies model, meaning that students grapple with understanding America by studying its history, literature, politics, and culture altogether. Rather than study works of literature, historical events, or cultural trends as discrete phenomena, this class engages students with the task of understanding the interconnectedness of various strands of our national heritage.
How many credits do I earn for taking American Studies?
American Studies is a double-credit course. Students earn double credit in American Studies because the course covers both the literature and social studies requirements for juniors.
How often does the class meet?
American Studies meets four days a week during both semesters; one of these four meetings is a lab block.
Does this class prepare me for the AP US History test?
Yes and no. Students learn a lot in American Studies that is applicable to the APUSH exam. Students also learn much that is valuable to taking other AP exams like the AP Language and Composition and the AP Literature exams. However, this class is not oriented to preparing students for these exams.
How much homework does American Studies require?
While this varies from day to day (while reading a novel, for instance, a student may have more reading other nights), and from student to student (some students read more quickly than others), the guideline our instructors follow is that students will have on average an hour of homework per day. Keep in mind that, because American Studies is a double credit course, its homework requirements will typically exceed those of single-credit courses.
Are all American Studies sections taught the same way?
All American Studies sections share the same goals and learning outcomes. They also share the same grading rubric, homework guidelines, grading scale, common textbooks, and major assignment requirements, among other things. Sections are taught by different instructors with different areas of interest and expertise, as well as different teaching styles. One of the great strengths of the American Studies program is the passion of the instructors for their subject, which translates into engaging class experiences for students. Starting from a common belief in the value of reading texts closely, analyzing these texts within their historical context, and discussing ideas and questions raised by these texts, each American Studies instructor or instructor team develops their own syllabus and plans their own class activities to leverage their expertise and maximize student engagement.
How can I get help with understanding the readings for the class and writing essays?
Students seeking help with their American Studies coursework are encouraged to first talk to their instructors, who are all willing and eager to work with students outside of class. Each instructor has office hours posted on their door and on their syllabus, or appointments to meet outside of class via Zoom sessions can be made over email or in person before or after class. Some sections of American Studies have TAs who hold regular weekly tutorials or can schedule appointments. Instructors will discuss TA availability with their students early in the first semester.
Will I have fun in this class?