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Academic Bulletin Multicultural American Studies - 2010-11

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Area of Concentration in Multicultural American Studies

Multicultural American Studies focuses on the plural, multi-group character of the composition of the United States, a nation formed by diverse ethnic, racial, and religious groups from all over the world. Increasingly we recognize that communities— from localities to entire nation-states—are not socially homogenous and uniform, but are composed of a variety of groups. In the United States, such groups as Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and White ethnics like the Irish, Italians, and Jews have made unique contributions to a country that has historically defined itself as White, Protestant, and English. The multicultural perspective analyzes how the United States, like other nations, is shaped by the interaction of groups with each other and with prevailing definitions of the nation's character and culture. It explores, across disciplines, the ways various groups represent themselves and are represented by others and themes such as cultural encounters and blending (syncretism), identity (how a group represents itself and is seen by others), family, the arts, rituals and other manifestations of cultural and community life. Through course work and possibly a related off-campus study experience, students who complete an area of concentration in Multicultural American Studies may gain an increased understanding of this perspective. The program is administered by the Multicultural Concerns Committee of the Wabash Faculty.


The requirements of the area of concentration include the following:

  • Four and one-half courses, from at least two different departments outside the student's major that focus on aspects of Multicultural America. (A list of suggested courses is given below and is updated yearly.) This set of courses is compiled by the student and must focus on some aspect of the American multicultural experience. This plan of study is constructed under the direction of a faculty committee arranged by the student. (Students may include one or two relevant courses that consider multiculturalism outside the United States.)
  • A half-credit capstone course taken during the senior year. This may either be an independent study project under the direction of one of the faculty committee members or, if enough students are completing areas of concentration in a given year, an arranged class in which students will explore their minor topics comparatively as well as in greater depth. (These will be assigned as Divisional Independent Study courses under the direction of the Committee Chair.)
  • Students who choose to complete the area of concentration in Multicultural American Studies may wish to consider offcampus study programs such as the Philadelphia Urban Semester, the New York Arts Program, the Newberry Library Program in Chicago, and the Borders Program in El Paso. Students may wish to include relevant coursework during off campus study.
  • A member of the area of concentration committee arranged by the student may serve as secondary field examiner on the senior oral committee.
  • In general, students may not “double count” courses toward the concentration and toward a major or minor. Nor may they take more than 11 courses in their major field (of 34 needed for graduation) by counting some of these toward completion of an area of concentration.
  • Students will usually declare the area of concentration by the end of their sophomore year. At that time the student will organize a faculty committee, work out a rationale and plan of study with that committee, and submit the proper form obtained from the Registrar's Office. Each area of concentration will carry a descriptive title on the form, such as “Multicultural Studies: Native American,” or “Multicultural Studies: Immigrant Experiences,” or "Multicultural Studies: African-American."
  • Areas of Concentration will be forwarded to the Registrar's Office by the faculty committee constructed by the student. The Area of Concentration will be supervised by the Multicultural Concerns Committee and all applications for these Areas of Concentration will be forwarded by the Registrar's Office to that committee.

Courses appropriate for an Area of Concentration in Multicultural American Studies include the following:

     Art 105: Ritual Objects and Native American Culture
     Art 210: Special Topics in Art History: African American Art
     English 160: Multicultural Literature
     English 221: Studies in Language: American Dialects
     English 260: Multicultural Literature: Intro. to Black Studies
     English 360: African American Literature
     History 244: African American History
     History 250: Topics in Latin American History
     History 252: Peoples and Nations of Latin America
     History 340: Advanced Topics, American History
     History 350: Advanced Topics Latin America
     Music 102: World Music
     Music 202: Instruments and Culture
     Political Science 278: Special Topics
     Political Science 325: Latin American Politics
     Psychology 211: Culture and Psychology
     Religion 181: Religion in America
     Religion 280: Topics in American Religion: African American Religion
     Religion 297: Anthropology of Religion
     Spanish 303: Spanish American Literature
     Rhetoric 370: Special Topics (e.g. African American Rhetoric)
     Theater 103: Seminars in Theater: Multicultural Theater in America

The Department of Modern Languages and Literature offer a variety of courses that could be used for the Multicultural American Studies Area of Concentration. Please contact the Department Chair for additional information.


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