American Studies: Interdisciplinarity over Half a Century

Jerry A. Jacobs

in In Defense of Disciplines

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2014 | ISBN: 9780226069296
Published online May 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780226069463 | DOI:
American Studies: Interdisciplinarity over Half a Century

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American studies was one of the first academic fields to embrace the principle of interdisciplinarity. Chapter 8 reviews the history of the field since the late 1940s, summarizes its main intellectual currents and evolution. In organizational terms, American studies has been successful in terms of its endurance as a field, including the establishment of more than 30 journals and American studies programs in over 50 countries. On the other hand, American studies by no means unified the study of American society and culture. Instead, it helped to create the climate for the creation of additional interdisciplinary fields of inquiry, including African-American studies and women’s studies, thus contributing to the proliferation of new academic units. American studies programs rarely take the form of departments that control their own hiring decisions, and thus recipients of doctoral degrees in American studies must seek employment in neighboring departments such as English, history, film studies and other specialized studies programs.

Keywords: American studies; interdisciplinary programs; African-American studies; women’s studies; gender studies; PhD job market; transdisciplinary

Chapter.  13355 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Higher and Further Education

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