Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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American Studies

The concept of “American” is fraught with problems. It implies a shared national experience and a common mythology despite diverse cultural experiences.

Yet understanding “America” requires an examination of conflict and competition among racial, religious, and ethnic groups; social and economic interests; geographical regions; generations; traditional and nontraditional political movements; and artistic activities (such as “high” against “pop” culture). Study of such a multifaceted concept can benefit from the coordinated approaches of many disciplines; this concentration draws upon the social sciences, literature, and the arts to gain access to both broad perspectives and immediate experiences. Because America has been a pioneer in the development of mass communication, American culture provides students an excellent site to engage in a critique of communications, media, and the arts in their various roles as disseminators of information, conduits for new communities, and instruments of political power and control.

Related Career Paths

Students in the American studies concentration may enter into fields and positions such as education, law, social work, and public administration. 


Students choose at least two courses whose focus is on America from each of three categories: Literature, politics and social science, and the arts for a total of 18 to 24 credits. At least two of the courses must be at the 300 level.

Course Spotlight

Student playing Jazz

Music 218/318: Jazz, an American Encounter

Jazz is studied both as a musical phenomenon and as a vehicle for an ongoing cultural dialogue that continues to have a profound impact upon many dimensions of American life.

Related Special Programs