What's New at American Studies

On Campus:

Department Events:Films and Field Trips Fall 2007


Crystal Smith, a December 2005 graduate in American Studies, received both the Dian Christensen Award in American Studies and the campus-wide June Brooks Award for Student Activism for her tireless work to raise awareness about disability issues.

Awards at Fountain

Crystal Smith (center), standing with Emily Mieras and Paul Jerome Croce after receiving the Dian Christensen and June Brooks Awards (April 22, 2005)

Into the Dorms.... Emily Mieras and Paul Jerome Croce visited first-year dorms at preregistration times to talk about course selection and liberal arts education in general, and to discuss opportunities in American studies and other interdisciplinary programs that the department is involved with, including Africana studies, environmental sciences, honors, journalism, and women and gender studies. The message, captured in the title of their program, "Interdisciplinary is Not a Four-Letter Word," helps expand students' thinking about their choices for courses, majors and minors, and career development. 

RA in Dorm

RA Jim Skorczewski looks on as students from AS 452, Nature and the American Marketplace (left to right Prashant Patel, Jessie Senecal, and Erin Shupenis), prepare to make their presentations in the middle of the lobby of Smith Hall.


Hanging Out in Dorm

 Economics major, James Lumia and physics major, Justim Pikramenus enjoy a lighter moment during an "Into the Dorms" presentation on contemporary and local environmental issues by students in AS 452, Nature and the American Marketplace in the lower Carson lobby.

Emily Mieras has worked with students to plan exhibits for Women's History Month. Students did research in the Stetson archives and produced great displays of the history of women at Stetson, using old yearbooks, photographs, and memorabilia.


New Courses in our curriculum have enhanced and diversified our offerings.

1. There have been two different offerings of the American Artifacts courses in recent years:

American Studies in Theory and Practice. An evaluation of the applied side of American culture studies, including the study of historical archaeology, the cultural implication of the built environment, and public history through work with local museums, historical societies, and businesses.

AS 259 Consumer Culture. Using material and visual materials, this course examines consumerism in American society. The course studies the theory and practice of consumer culture from the late nineteenth century to the present. Students discuss why people buy, how consumer spaces affect consumer choices, and how consumer culture affects American society more broadly. The class includes field work, film, and object analysis, and topics include advertising, fast food, spaces for consumerism (shopping malls, supermarkets), and the connections among class, gender, race, and consumer identity.

2. AS 159: American Culture Abroad. An overview of the comparative approach to American culture studies, through interpretation of worldwide views of American culture, comparisons in cultural development, and evaluation of American Studies programs abroad. Method and content mingled in this course with its use of the internet to teach about global perspectives on the United States.

3. AS 451: Darwinism and the Divine in American Culture. An examination of the theory of species development as a flashpoint for controversy among competing cultural outlooks. This course examines the religious beliefs, scientific theories, and cultural values that have emerged in debates from the nineteenth century to the present. See the write up on this course in the section on innovations in the teaching of science and religion inScience and Theology News: Theresa Fish's article, "Focus on Education, 'Darwin and the Divine'" (May 2004), p. 23.

4. AS 320 50: Women in the United States. This class studies the history of American women from the nineteenth century to the present. Topics include women's role in the home, the workplace, and in national politics. We also study the ways different women experience American society in different ways depending on their race, class, ethnicity or sexual identity.

5. AS 459/WGS 400 50 Beauty and Body Image. This course, cross-listed as the capstone class for the Women and Gender Studies minor, examines cultural attitudes toward beauty and the body over time, paying close attention to ways people have tried to literally and figuratively construct a "perfect" self. Topics include race and beauty ideals; dieting culture; cosmetic surgery, footbinding in China; male bodybuilding.

6. AS 330: Multicultural Experiences of the United States. This class asks the question, what does it mean to be an American? We study how race, ethnicity, and sexuality have affected different people's life experiences in the United States and shaped dominant perceptions of American identity. Readings include selections from immigration history, personal narratives, and fiction.

7. AS 359 Riots, Reds and Rough Riders: A History of The Turbulent Birth of Modern America 1877-1920. During the forty or so years centering on 1900, Americans completed their conquest of the West and built an overseas empire. The country as a whole became the world's most powerful economic machine while taking in a vast diversity of immigrants. This course uses primary and secondary readings, Hollywood films, documentaries and other media to examine how Americans reacted to and shaped the birth of the modern United States.

Projects in the Classroom

Making the Familiar New....Students in Consumer Culture visited local shopping centers in order to study, apply the theory they had learned in class. They took copious notes and wrote papers on marketing strategies and consumer ideals and values.

Building Community. . . students in Definitions of Community visited Celebration, the town Disney built, in order to study the principles of New Urbanism. They evaluated the town using their knowledge of the history and ideals of different American communities past and present.

Give Me Those Two Kinds of Religion... Students in AS 451, Darwinism and the Divine in American Culture (Fall 2007), visited two very different DeLand-area churches, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, to give them a feeling for the cultural settings that generate the different attitudes toward science and religion that we studied in class.



Recent Publications:

Students gather to praise candidates' tough talk, Daytona Beach New Journal, October 14, 2004

Students watch campaign for credit, Daytona Beach New Journal, October 9, 2004

College debaters, public tune in to learn, Daytona Beach New Journal, October 8, 2004