Sep 25, 2023  
USC Catalogue 2020-2021 
USC Catalogue 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

American Studies and Ethnicity

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American Studies and Ethnicity integrates humanistic and social scientific perspectives, and brings them to bear on an examination of the United States with a particular emphasis on comparative study of the peoples, cultures, history and social issues of the Western United States. The department offers five separate majors in American Studies and Ethnicity, American Popular Culture, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Chicano/Latino Studies; and minors in American Studies and Ethnicity, American Popular Culture, Native American Studies and Jewish American Studies. The graduate program offers a PhD for students interested in broad interdisciplinary training at an advanced level to study the peoples, cultures and institutions of the United States in courses that integrate modes of inquiry from the humanities and the social sciences. Drawing upon the cultural resources of a cosmopolitan city on the Pacific Rim and upon the strength and diversity of its professional schools as well as departments in USC Dornsife, these degree programs provide a richly interdisciplinary curriculum that is unique for its constitution of American Studies and Ethnic Studies as comparative and interethnic program that takes as its focus a region — Los Angeles, California and the West — marked by challenging social and cultural changes.

American Studies and Ethnicity offers challenging and diverse opportunities to study the peoples, cultures and institutions of the United States in interdisciplinary courses. Combining the study of history with literature, the arts and the social sciences, American Studies and Ethnicity seeks to bring together these various disciplines and modes of inquiry in a common project: the effort to understand the diverse peoples and cultures that have composed the United States and to provide critical perspectives on the words, deeds, myths and material practices that have shaped this country in its full regional, ethnic, class and gender diversity. An education in American Studies and Ethnicity will be particularly appropriate for students interested in pursuing careers in law, journalism, government, foreign service, social work, international business, public administration and education.

3620 S. Vermont Ave., KAP 462
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2534
(213) 740-2426
FAX: (213) 821-0409


Chair: John Carlos Rowe, PhD


University Professor, Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature: Viet Thanh Nguyen, PhD* (English)

King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity: Sherman Jackson, PhD* (Religion)

Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity and Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change: Manuel Pastor, Jr., PhD*

USC Associates Chair in Humanities and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Comparative Literature: John Carlos Rowe, PhD (English)

Marion Frances Chevalier Professor of French and Professor of French and American Studies and Ethnicity: Lydie Moudileno, PhD (French and Italian)

Professors: Hector Amaya, PhD (Communication); Sarah Banet-Weiser, PhD* (Communication); Amelia Jones, PhD (Art and Design); Dorinne Kondo, PhD; Joshua David Kun, PhD (Communication); Natalia Molina, PhD; David Román, PhD* (English); George J. Sánchez, PhD*; Nayan B. Shah, PhD; Karen Tongson, PhD (English); Duncan Williams, PhD (Religion)

Associate Professors: Evelyn Alsultany, PhD; Juan De Lara, PhD; Judith Jackson Fossett, PhD*; Sarah Gualtieri, PhD*; Thomas Gustafson, PhD* (English); Olivia Harrison, PhD (French and Italian); Edwin C. Hill, PhD (French and Italian); Stanley J. Huey, Jr., PhD (Psychology); Lanita Jacobs, PhD*; Dana C. Johnson, PhD (English); Oneka LaBennett, PhD; Jody Agius Vallejo, PhD* (Sociology); Francille Wilson, PhD

Assistant Professors: Adrian De Leon, PhD; Chris Finley, PhD; Shawn McDaniel, PhD

Lecturers: Alicia Chavez, PhD; Joshua Mitchell, PhD

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.

Undergraduate Degrees

Honors Program

The program offers a two-semester honors program for qualified students, first identified in AMST 350  or by the program adviser. Students spend their first semester in the program in an honors senior seminar, AMST 492 , focused on developing their research and methods for the honors thesis. During the second semester, all honors students are required to take AMST 493  in which each completes a thesis project on a topic of his or her own choosing under faculty direction. Contact the program adviser for further information. To graduate with honors, program majors must successfully complete an honors thesis and have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in their major course work.

Minor in Critical Approaches to Leadership

See the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies .

Minor in Race, Ethnicity and Politics

See the Department of Political Science .

Graduate Degrees

The Department of American Studies and Ethnicity’s (ASE) mission is to educate in the comprehensive analysis of race and ethnicity and engage students and the public to understand diversity, the consequences of disparity and inequity, and the enactment of community and citizenship at multiple scales in Los Angeles, California, the United States and the world. As an innovative and multidisciplinary PhD program, ASE offers mixed methods of scholarly inquiry and interpretation that address the creative potential of diasporic, ethnic, religious, sexual and political communities and the multi-directional influence they exercise upon the immediate California region, the United States and ricocheting across the Americas, Pacific and Atlantic. The program’s most significant areas of specialization are: (1) the theoretical study of race and ethnicity, particularly as it is constructed through gender, class, sexuality and the state; (2) an emphasis on the study of cultural production with particular attention on the theoretical directions and methodological innovations in the interdisciplinary study of American culture.

Admission Requirements

Requirements for admission include: scores satisfactory to the program in the verbal, quantitative and analytical General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations; evidence of competence in writing English and analytical abilities; a satisfactory written statement by the applicant of aims and interests in pursuing interdisciplinary graduate work; letters of recommendation from at least three college instructors; and grades satisfactory to the department earned by the applicant at other institutions.

All applicants are required to take the GRE and submit their complete undergraduate record; at least three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose should be sent to the director of the program. Applicants are urged to submit written materials as supportive evidence.

Degree Requirements

These degrees are under the jurisdiction of the USC Graduate School. Refer to The Graduate School  section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.


    Bachelor’s DegreeMinorDoctoral Degree


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