Taper Hall of Humanities, Room 331M
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-4351
Fax: (213) 740-8409
Director: Mauricio Mazón, Ph.D.
The Program in American Studies and Ethnicity provides challenging and diverse opportunities for undergraduates to study the peoples, cultures, and institutions of the United States in courses that integrate modes of inquiry from the humanities and social sciences. The Program offers four separate majors and minors in American Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Chicano-Latino Studies.
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 the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, these majors and minors provide a richly interdisciplinary curriculum that is unique for its constitution of American Studies and Ethnic Studies as a comparative interethnic program that takes as its focus a region--Los Angeles, California, and the West--marked by challenging social and cultural changes.
Just as Frederick Jackson Turner's classic essay, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" (1893), arose from his study of the 1890 Census that proclaimed the closing of the frontier, the inauguration of the American Studies program in 1993 and of majors and minors in African American, Asian American, and Chicano Latino Studies in 1994 arose in part from the momentous changes reflected in the 1990 Census combined with the need for USC to offer programs of study that provide critical understanding of the significance of the history and culture of these (and other) ethnicities in the development of California, the West, and the United States as a whole.
The U.S. Census of 1990 documented the emergence of Latinos as our largest ethnic minority and, more broadly, the extraordinary demographic mosaic of Southern California, whose Asian and Latino populations increased by 140 and 60 percent, respectively, in the decade preceding the census of 1990.
The metropolis of Los Angeles itself has become a laboratory for exploring these changes and the problems and the extraordinary opportunities that will confront the United States as a whole in the 21st century. This is a city confronting--indeed colliding with--the crises of modern America, including racism, ethnic friction, urban violence, and the strains associated with American uprootedness, mobility, and materialism.
As the first university founded in the region, and as a university committed to educating the leaders of Southern California, USC has an obligation to be an intellectual resource for studying the history, culture, and social problems of Los Angeles, and the West--and the Program in American Studies and Ethnicity with its new majors in African American, Asian American, and Chicano Latino Studies is an important step in fulfilling this obligation and is also one of the primary incentives of the Strategic Plan.
The West of the 21st century, unlike the West of myth and history, will not be ruled by those who are fastest with the gun or by those who can control the water, but by those who can best listen to and understand the rich mix of tongues, rituals, and stories that compose the West and the United States as a whole. The majors and minors in the Program will aid students in developing this capacity--and do more. To borrow a phrase from one of the academic initiatives that arose at USC in response to the civil unrest of 1992, Los Angeles is a city that must rethink itself as well as reconstruct itself, and the curricula for our programs of study are partly geared to this effort. By rethinking and reconstructing the relationship between programs in American Studies and Ethnic Studies, these majors afford students the opportunity to rethink not just Los Angeles and their understanding of the place of the West in the American imagination but rethink their own relationship to the diversity of American cultures.
In particular, we trust our courses of study will develop and strengthen each student's own voice and his or her capacity to listen to other voices or to translate between disciplines and cultures and historical epochs, and between races, classes, and genders.
Program emphases in the three newest majors are on the development and culture of African American, Asian American, and Chicano/Latino communities in California and the West as well as on the effects of global issues on these communities from historical and contemporary perspectives. By emphasizing comparative as well as interdisciplinary study, these programs offer students systematic training in the methods, materials, and modes of interpretation appropriate for studying the history and particularly appropriate for student interested in integrating studies in the humanities and social sciences and for students preparing to work and interact with diverse communities and cultures in the United States and abroad in such fields as education, human services, business, journalism, law, regional planning, and public administration.
Faculty/Course Descriptions/ USC Catalogue/Seminars
This page was created and is maintained by Brynn R. Gaberman