Minor in American Studies

American Studies at MIT offers students the opportunity to organize subjects from various fields (e.g., history, anthropology, literature, political science, music, art, architecture, and urban planning) into personally constructed interdisciplinary programs as a way of gaining an integrated understanding of American society and culture. Students can focus on any of several areas of interest, such as American literature; folklore and popular culture; black history and culture; women's studies; American history, politics, or law; the history of science and technology; and American art, architecture, or music. Thus, a program in American Studies is ideal for preparing students for further work not only in the various humanistic fields, but also in law, urban planning, management, architecture, engineering, medicine, teaching, and the media.

The program has three primary objectives:

  • To understand the underlying system of beliefs that informs every aspect of American culture—its myths, institutions, politics and literature, its characteristic dreams and rituals.
  • To understand the uses and limits of different methods and intellectual disciplines as tools for exploring the complexities of a culture.
  • To understand the American present in relation to the American past.

The minor consists of six subjects (at least three of which must be MIT subjects), from at least two of the following three disciplinary areas:

  • Area I: Humanities and the Arts
  • Area II: Social Sciences; Science, Technology, and Society
  • Area III: Historical Studies

Five of the six minor subjects may be counted toward the eight-subject Institute HASS Requirement. Of these five, at most one shall count toward satisfaction of the HASS Distribution Requirement. Of the six subjects required for the minor, at least four cannot be counted toward a major or another minor.

Area I: Humanities and the Arts
American Literature
Introduction to Film Studies
Understanding Television
The American Novel
Race and Identity in American Literature
American Authors
Music of the Americas
Film Music
American Popular Music
Studies in Jazz and Popular Music
Asian American Theater
History of American and European Scenography
Contemporary American Theater
Writing and Rhetoric: Writing about Sports
Communicating in American Culture (ELS)
Writing about Race
South Asian America: Transnational Media, Culture, and History
Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies
Silent Film
Area II: Social Sciences; Science, Technology, and Society
Introduction to Housing, Community, and Economic Development (not a HASS subject)
Youth Political Participation
Public Finance and Public Policy
Introduction to the American Political Process
Congress and the American Political System I
Electoral Politics, Public Opinion, and Democracy
Public Opinion and American Democracy
Race, Ethnicity, and American Politics
Mass Incarceration in the United States
The War at Home: American Politics and Society in Wartime 1
US Social Policy
American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future
US National Security Policy
US Military Power
American Dream: Exploring Class in the US
Latinx in the Age of Empire
Technology in American History
Science Activism: Gender, Race, and Power
History of Manufacturing in America
The Civil War and the Emergence of Modern America: 1861-1890 1
Science in American Life: 1920-2020
African Americans in Science, Technology, and Medicine
The Long War Against Cancer
The History of MIT
Race, Gender and Social Inequality: Reproductive Health Care in the United States
The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender
Area III: Historical Studies
American Urban History
History of the Built Environment in the US
The War at Home: American Politics and Society in Wartime 1
Asian American History: 1865 to 1965
American History to 1865
American History since 1865
US Environmental Governance: from National Parks to the Green New Deal
The American Revolution
The History of American Presidential Elections
The United States in the Cold War Era
War and American Society
Metropolis: A Comparative History of New York City
Riots, Strikes, and Conspiracies in American History
History of the US Supreme Court
American Classics
The Black Radical Tradition in America
MIT and Slavery: Research
MIT and Slavery: Publication
The Indigenous History of MIT
American Consumer Culture
Race, Crime, and Citizenship in American Law
Gender and the Law in US History
Christianity in America
Global Commodities, American Dreams
The Civil War and the Emergence of Modern America: 1861-1890 1
Sexual and Gender Identities in the Modern United States
Total Units72

Counts as Area II or III, but not both.

The subject list above is not exhaustive. Additional information can be obtained from the American Studies advisor, Professor Christopher Capozzola, E51-284, 617-452-4960, or from the SHASS Dean's Office, 4-240, 617-253-3450.