Program and Course Information

Howell Sonny Orr (Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), Woman Grinding Corn (1962)

NCSSM offers two levels of American Studies. Both courses focus on the same curricular content; both use the same textbooks; both place a strong emphasis on critical reading, critical thinking, and academic writing; both carry the same quality-point weighting. But Writing and American Studies is designed for students who come to NCSSM needing more intensive practice and individual attention to develop their skills in critical reading, critical thinking, and academic writing. Placement is determined by the Dean of Humanities.

American Studies I (AS4051): Contact to Reconstruction


American Studies II (AS4052): Reconstruction to the Present

Course Description:

American Studies is the core humanities experience for all NCSSM juniors. A required, two-course sequence, students take an interdisciplinary, cultural-studies approach to the critical study of American history and literature—from Indigenous American nations before contact with Europeans to the period of Reconstruction in AS4051, and from the period of Reconstruction to the present day in AS4052. Students examine the continuing development of both collective and individual American identities through the study of history and historiography, literature and literary theory, politics, economics, law, material culture, the visual arts, film, music, and other aspects of American culture. A key feature of the curriculum is instruction and practice in close and critical reading, critical thinking, and academic writing—skills foundational to NCSSM's senior humanities courses and to future higher-level work across disciplines. Discussions, group and individual projects, and a variety of writing assignments invite students to recover, construct, interrogate, and interpret the past as narratives woven from many threads. Through collaborative inquiry and investigation, students encounter the past as a means of interrogating issues in our current world and as a path to becoming informed, empathetic, engaged, and ethical citizens in their local and global communities.

Writing and American Studies I (AS4051W): Contact to Reconstruction


Writing and American Studies II (AS4052W): : Reconstruction to the Present

AS4051W and AS4052W are grounded in the same curricular content as AS4051 and AS4052, but are designed especially for students who need more intensive practice to develop their skills in critical reading, interpretation, and academic writing. Working collaboratively in small groups and with their teachers, students hone their skills in reading, in analyzing what they read, and in planning, developing, and writing the academic essay.

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"American Studies certainly helped prepare me for college and life beyond as I was equipped with the tools to break down and understand any subject or topic through analytical and evidence-based thinking. I was also better prepared for college because I was taught to write in a way that didn't just summarize facts or historical events, but to critique and analyze history through a cultural lens."

Isabel Huesa, class of 2019

"The class was a fantastic opportunity to learn about some of the more forgotten and less glorious parts of the American past, and, on many occasions, sparked rich class discussion on myriad subjects and current events. I appreciate the seamless synthesis of facts and primary source literary analysis that my teachers employed to make our country’s history more vivid and personal than it would be in a traditional history class."

Sellers Hill, class of 2020

"While the texts we read were very relevant to their time period, we also participated in engaging discussions about issues that have persisted beyond those time periods. These discussions were made possible by very dedicated teachers who went out of their way to tie in current events, films, music, and more recent texts to show parallels between the times. I appreciated this most from American Studies because every unit provided me with more take-aways than just 'x event happened' and that it had 'y impact.'"

Leo Rangel Jimenez, class of 2019

Photos by Kim Gray

"Amstud grew my compassion tenfold, heightening my awareness about how to be culturally and historically understanding. . . It helped me strengthen my morals, develop my understanding of human nature, and made me feel a deep connection to what I was learning. This was a rejuvenating experience, motivating me to seek out classes, subjects, and even people that helped me reflect on and make impactful connections between our self identities and the larger identity of the United States of America. "

Anna Yokote, class of 2019