Located in historic Williamsburg, Virginia, William & Mary has stood for three centuries at a crossroads of colonial expansion, national formation, and global migration. Not far down the road lies Yorktown, the site of the last major military engagement of the Revolutionary War. Even closer is Jamestown Island, the site of the first permanent English settlement in North America, and where the first African slaves arrived on the continent.
The American Studies Program offers students the opportunity to engage with the complex and diverse histories of cultural, racial, and national encounters that, like those of our local area, have come to shape the past and present of the United States, and the Americas. In a rigorous, yet flexible environment of intellectual inquiry, students develop the critical skills that allow them not only to pursue rewarding careers, but to serve as responsible citizens of the 21st Century.
In particular, the American Studies Program brings together the resources and energies of a research-intensive doctoral program and the personalized rigor of a liberal arts college dedicated to teaching. In seminars, independent studies, and on collaborative projects, students and faculty engage with significant historical and cultural problems in ways that traverse the boundaries of traditional disciplines. The result is a unique and dynamic environment ideal for the pursuit of interdisciplinary study.
Students take courses in American Studies from a faculty with specialties in African American Studies, Art History, Literature, Early American History and Culture, History of the Book, History of Science, Music, Material Culture, Ethnic Studies, Popular Culture, Women's and Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Visual Studies, and Religious Studies. They are also encouraged to develop their own interests by working with faculty from other Programs and Departments on campus. The Program is closely associated with Black Studies, Women's Studies, History, Anthropology, Literary and Cultural Studies, and English.
The American Studies Program enjoys the benefits of collaboration with research centers at William & Mary such as the Institute of Early American History and Culture, and The National Institute of American History and Democracy. It also maintains close ties with local institutions of public history and culture, including Colonial Williamsburg, the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation, and the National Park Service.