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American Studies

Resources available to W&M students of American Studies. Covers databases for research along with introductory texts for students considering majoring in the field.


Welcome to the Research Guide for American Studies, which will point you to multiple resources for students of the discipline of all levels of experience. In this Guide you will find links for different databases to use in your research along with helpful introductory texts for those who are new to the discipline and might be in need of guidance.

If you are just starting out in American Studies or are considering majoring in the discipline, you might want to check out the page for William & Mary's American Studies department or check out the list of faculty, many of whom hold joint appointments in multiple departments. Finally, you might also look at the list of books published by W&M American Studies faculty to get an idea of the work being done by the professors you study with, most of which can be checked out from Swem Library.

In the Books and Reference Sources portion of this guide, you will find a list of introductory texts for students of American Studies and a few go to reference sources for the field. Most of the books are edited collections of essays published in the last twenty years after the field took a turn towards a different orientation. However, also listed is Vernon Louis Parrington's seminal Main Currents in American Thought, which is considered a foundational text for the field. If you want to get a sense of the history of American Studies, there is where you should begin. And while the reference sources have mostly been superseded by on-line versions, it is still a good idea to wander the reference stacks from time-to-time when you are in Swem. Also, you can find links to guides for various types of primary sources that can be found in W&M's Special Collections Research Center on the Primary Sources page.

American Studies is a varied discipline encompassing a variety of theoretical approaches and objects of study, and draws on the intellectual history of multiple other academic disciplines. As such, in the Databases section you will find links to our subject database lists for many other disciplines along with what librarians have identified as the "best bet" places to start if you are unsure.

Finally, there is a Useful Links section where you can find a list of websites that might be useful for a student of the field. These include links to sites of professional organizations like the American Studies Association along with a few short essays on what American Studies is and why it matters.

And always remember, the librarians of William & Mary are always here to assist you. If you would like to meet one-on-one for any research help, please make an appointment using our on-line Research Appointment system. You can also chat live with a Swem Librarian using our Ask-a-Librarian service.

Subject Librarian

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Liz Bellamy
Swem Library, Room 127