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University of Massachusetts Boston Department of American Studies
American Studies

American Studies

The American Studies Department cultivates an understanding of US social, political, and cultural movements; the place of empire within US history; the role of race, gender, class, sexuality, and empire  in US culture and society; and the history, theories, and methods used to examine these areas. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary and socially engaged scholarship that explores a wide range of historical and contemporary phenomena.

American Studies pays particular attention to the study of popular culture and media in society, using an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates historical analysis, cultural studies, critical ethnic studies, and queer and feminist approaches  to understanding the overarching questions of the field. We explore the role of both popular culture and media as sites of ongoing political, cultural, and social struggle. And their role in the formation of social identities. Students develop the critical vocabulary to make sense of broader significance and relevance of popular culture--why popular culture and media matters.

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Academic Programs

Graduate Programs

Undergraduate Programs


  • Any American Studies course taken with a Pass/Fail option in Fall 2020 will count toward the major or the minor.

Welcome to the homepage for the American Studies Department at UMass Boston! We offer an undergraduate major as well as a graduate MA program. Our courses encourage students to think about American culture in all its diversity using a variety of interdisciplinary methods: literary criticism, historical analysis, film studies, music analysis, and art history, just to name a few. We are particularly interested in thinking carefully about the relationship between culture and identity, especially in relation to race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and gender. Students in our undergraduate courses are likely to encounter texts across media in the classroom – it is common to find literature, popular music, film, television, and art all on the same syllabus. Our majors and minors tend to be inquisitive students who are passionate about culture: many bring with them a great interest (and often some expertise) in thinking about how cultural texts both transmit and are shaped by broader social meanings. We are a small department with a strong commitment to our students, and we offer close one-on-one advising that allows our majors (some of whom double-major in traditional disciplines) to really get to know their professors and each other. Our graduates find work in a range of fields including media, education, government, and nonprofits.

If you have questions about the American Studies major or minor, I encourage you to make an appointment to speak with me or any of the professors listed on our faculty page, or to just stop by our office on the 5th floor of Wheatley. We are excited about the students we serve, and we hope you will feel free to visit our department and take some classes to figure out if American Studies might be a good fit for your undergraduate studies. We also host numerous events during the academic year that are open to all students; check on the events page of our website for information on upcoming events. Feel free to email me with any questions or if you want to learn more about the exciting things happening in UMass Boston’s American Studies Department, and thanks for visiting our web page.

Holly Jackson
Interim Chair of American Studies


We encourage American Studies alumni to keep in touch with us and let us know what they are doing. You can contact us at


Contact Us

Department of American Studies
Holly Jackson, Department Chairman American Studies  
Wheatley Hall, 06, 00052
Phone: 617.287.6700