There are three types of Electives (Periods; Approaches and Applications; and Topics).

Certificate students must complete three electives and may draw from any of the categories below.

M.A. students must complete six to seven electives. At least two of the electives must be in two of the three categories listed below (Periods Electives, Approaches and Applications Electives, and Topics Electives.


AMST 5007 — Contemporary America 3 credits

This course addresses the period broadly and variously defined as “contemporary America.” The course asks students to engage with a range of primary (literature, film, music, art) and secondary (history, theory, cultural studies) texts in order to explore the ways in which the contemporary moment has been and is being defined. Secondary texts frame our readings of the primary texts. Additionally, in defining this period, the course practices what the contemporary moment itself enacts: an outline of the period that interrogates its own definition.


AMST 5002 – Critical Theory in American Studies 3 credits

This course introduces students to the range of theoretical perspectives that inform contemporary American Studies scholarship, such as post-structuralism, gender studies, queer theory, feminism, cultural materialism, Marxism, historicism, psychoanalysis, post-colonialism, theories of race and ethnicity, and cultural studies.

AMST 5005 — Teaching History through Historic Places 3 credits

This course combines the objectives of a traditional history class with field trips to museums and historic sites to encourage participants to think broadly about how regional history can be studied, protected and presented to the public. Intended especially for students exploring careers in public history, or teachers interested in incorporating local resources into classroom instruction.

AMST 5011 — Digital Humanities 3 credits

In this course, we will both examine and participate in some major debates in the field of digital humanities. The class will introduce students to some basic concepts and debates within the digital humanities and its tools in a hands-on way. This class will be both theoretical and technical, requiring students to learn some basic code (HTML, CSS, maybe TEI). We will also be taking part in a distributed online collaborative course, “The Future of Higher Education,” run out of Duke University.

AMST 5012 — Pragmatism 3 credits

AMST 5013 — Museum Studies 3 credits

Students will be introduced to the history of museums and the field of public history. Issues of theory and practice will be examined as they relate to development and use of museum collections; museum education and public programming; exhibition development; research; and evaluation.

AMST 5015 — Documenting America 3 credits

This course will analyze and explore various methods and approaches of documentary filmmaking by American filmmakers through screenings, readings and discussions. The culmination of the course will result in students creating a pre-production outline for making their own short documentary film in an area of American Studies.


AMST 5003 — Literature of the Americas 3 credits

Through critical readings of major literary texts by world famous Latin American authors, this course studies how different cultures and histories of selected Latin American countries are formed under the influence of the Spanish empire, their independence, dictatorships and the challenges of our modern world.

AMST 5004 — 19th Century American Art 3 credits

This course will focus on nineteenth-century art of the United States in its historical and cultural context. In addition to learning about the major artists and styles of the era, we will look at the social, cultural, and political conditions that influenced the art. We will consider a variety of artistic media, including paintings, photographs, sculpture, and architecture in contexts such as the Romantic era, Westward expansion, the Civil War, and the Gilded Age.

AMST 5006 — The Hero in American Drama 3 credits

The Hero In American Drama explores the development of a theatrical archetype, the Hero, as an emergent expression of a concurrently emerging “American” national identity. This course looks at how the theaters, plays, performers and audiences of the early 19th century shaped (and were shaped by) cultural contestation by interrogating the Hero character in a sampling of the more popular plays of the era, with particular attention to the proliferation of “types”. This exploration will look at the sudden appearance of native characters like the Stage Yankees, representing the dominant white male culture, and the subsequent emergence of theatricalized “others” in the role of hero on the popular stage.

AMST 5008 — The U.S. and the World 3 credits

This course studies American connections with the wider world from immediately after Independence, through nineteenth century territorial expansion, and continuing to the international relations of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Transnational relationships are examined through historical, political, literary, and cultural writings, materials, and primary sources.

AMST 5009 — Worlds of Moby Dick 3 credits

This course will use Moby Dick to help examine the culture of the United States and its place in larger global concerns. It will provide a context for the novel, and examine subjects like freedom and slavery, consumption and commodities, religion, and the nature of politics and culture.

AMST 5010 — American Sexualities 3 credits

This course attempts to trace the major shifts in thought about sexuality (as well as sex and gender) in America, through literature, history, film, and theory. While it focuses on the marginalized and more radical American sexual communities and identities, it attempts to offer a cultural context for these voices of opposition, and to examine the consequences of such expressions.

AMST 5014 — Africans in the Americas 3 credits

This course examines the African experience in the Americas from pre-Columbus to the present.   It focuses on historical, cultural and social commonalities, with a particular emphasis on the formation of the unique culture of African descendent populations in North America. Through the readings of leading scholars in the field, film and video screenings, presentations and visits to cultural sites, the course will investigate the exchange of social and cultural ideas among members of the African diasporic communities in the Americas.


AMST 5020 — Study Tour 3 credits
AMST 5800 — Independent Study 3 or 6 credits
AMST 5900 — Internship 3 or 6 credits