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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.

Useful Books About American Studies

If you are new to American Studies or are curious about new directions in the field, the following sources can be of help. Note: These resources are listed in chronological order of publication.

Parrington, V. L. (1927-30). Main currents in American thought; An interpretation of American literature from the beginnings to 1920. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company.

This book is generally believed to be the beginnings of the American Studies discipline. It has been through many editions, but Swem holds a first edition in its stacks. While it might be dated as to the current state of the field, it is many times useful to know where you come from.

Rowe, J. C. (Ed.). (2000). Post-nationalist American studies. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Much of the turn that American Studies took in the 1990s and early 2000s is discussed in this volume. According to the book, it intends to offer a "less insular, more trans-national, comparative approach to American Studies." The chapters also include sample syllabi that offer ways to bring topics into the classroom, making it useful to students and professors alike.

Burgett, B., & Hendler, G. (Eds.). (2007). Keywords for American cultural studies. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Ever heard a scholar or more senior student in your field use a word and you weren't sure what it meant, or what it means in the context that you heard it? This book is a dictionary for such words in the field of American studies. A handy reference to have close to you when reading an article for class. W&M libraries has access to both a digital and physical version so it will never be far away.

Rowe, J. C. (Ed.). (2010). A concise companion to American studies. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

This book collects twenty-two essays from a variety of scholars working in the American Studies field and provides commentary on many of the new approaches that have entered into the discipline since the 1990s. A great way to get familiar with the current state of American Studies.

Temperley, H., & Bigsby, C. W. E. (2014). A new introduction to American studies. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis.

This publication presents American history and culture through the lens of modern American Studies. It provides students with an introduction to the techniques currently in use in the field and is a great resource for undergraduate students.

Dallman, A., Boesenberg, E., & Klepper, M. (Eds.). (2016). Approaches to American cultural studies. New York, NY: Routledge.

If you are curious about the scope of topics covered by American Studies, this book provides a wide range of essays that cover much of the breadth of the field. It also provides essays on the discipline and the theoretical approaches employed by scholars within the discipline.

Reference Sources

There are many sources in the Swem Library reference section, on the main floor of the library, that deal with topics relevant to American Studies. Most of these can be found in the call number ranges of E through F. Many, though not all, also have on-line equivalents. Some of the more pertinent sources are listed below.

Clayton, M. K., & Williams, P. (Eds.). (2001) Encyclopedia of American culture & intellectual history (Vols. 1-3). New York, NY: Scribner.

This chronologically arranged reference source traces various trends in American history in a series of essays. An online version was published in 2012 here.

Gross, E., Johnston, R., Lawson, R., & Rosier, P. (Eds.). (2003). The American years: Chronologies of American history and experience (Vols. 1-2). New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons.

This is a year-by-year chronology stretching from 1776-2002 and gives an overview of important social, military, and political events in America.

Holland, S. (Ed.). (2014). Encyclopedia of American Studies. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

The above link is to the on-line version of the work, though there is also a print version in the Swem reference stacks. This is a great beginning reference source for topics and give an discipline specific look at a variety of areas. Articles also include extensive bibliographies to guide a researcher to more specific secondary literature on their topic.

McDonogh, G., Gregg, R., & Wong, C. H. (Eds.). (2001). Encyclopedia of contemporary American culture. New York, NY: Routledge.

This volume provides an overview of American culture in the post World War II era on many topics such as: business, education, arts, society, and religion. A good basic reference source to get one started.

Oboler, S., & Gonzalez, D. (Eds.). (2005). The Oxford encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States (Vols. 1-4). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

This work provides biographical, historical, and cultural entires on the Latin American population in the US. The is also an on-line version available via the library here. It appears, though, that the on-line version is not currently being updated.

Palmer, C. (Ed.). (2006). Encyclopedia of African-American culture and history: The Black experience in the Americas (Vols. 1-4). Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA.

Provides entries on prominent African-Americans along with ones for important historical events, institutions, publications, along with cultural concepts, trends, and entries on every US state. As of 2017, no new update to the 2006 second edition has been released and there is also no on-line version.