Monday, August 31, 2009

The American Studies Experience

We, students, are frequently asked by our friends, family members, co-workers, etc., what our college major is. Whenever I tell people I’m an American Studies major, I either get puzzled faces staring back at me, or responses such as, “Oh, so you want to be a teacher?” Explaining the major in detail, as well as the wide range of careers it can prepare one for (not only teaching), usually takes some time.

Though the American Studies major doesn’t seem to be too popular, it should be! It allows people like myself (who tend to be indecisive, and sometimes scatter-brained) to avoid having to take 36 credits in just one academic discipline. The interdisciplinary approach allows students to learn about our country from a multitude of angles. American studies majors are never bored!

While the program as a whole is broad in scope, each major is required to choose a specific thesis topic. I am just beginning this exciting, yet challenging, process!

I am very interested in the arts, predominantly music and dance, and am therefore considering doing my thesis in that field. I am also fascinated by the cultural diversity of the United States, and more specifically, New York City.

I have been reading about the development of various ethnic musical genres in the US, such as Latin-jazz, mambo, salsa, merengue, samba, and reggae. I am intrigued by the relationship between these genres and immigrant self-identity. I look forward to further researching the styles’ transnational influences as they flow across geographic boundaries.

In addition to the three required American Studies classes I am taking this semester, the music class I am taking at the Rose Hill campus, “Feeling the Funk,” will certainly supplement my research.

I am very excited to meet new American Studies majors this year and learn about their interests. I’m sure this year will be a rewarding one!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fordham American Studies in Fall 2009

This will be another exciting year for Fordham's American Studies program. Yes, we're launching this blog (more on that in another posting), but right now just let me talk about what's happening in the curriculum.

1) We're continuing the process of making American Studies a two-campus program by offering the major at both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses. This fall, for the first time, the introductory course "Major Developments in American Culture" will be offered on the Lincoln Center campus, taught by Professor James Fisher, of the Theology department and the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies The course will of course continue to be taught at Rose Hill. In spring 2010 it will again be taught by Professor Roberta Gold of the History Department.

2) The junior seminar, "Approaches to American Studies," will for the second year focus on the theme of "technology," and be taught by me.

3) The senior seminar--creatively titled "The Senior Seminar"--is the capstone experience for American Studies majors. That's where they write their theses, and at the end of the semester they do a presentation of their research that for me is the best day of the year. This fall its theme is "Race and Youth Culture," and it's being co-taught by Professor James Kim of the English Department and Professor Oneka LaBennett of the Department of African and African American Studies, who is also Research Director of the Bronx African American History Project. I got an advance look at their syllabus, and the course looks very exciting--I wish I could take it myself!

Well, that's just some basic news to get this blog going. My future postings will alternate between the informative and the opinionated, I'm sure. And soon there will be more voices here, both student and faculty.