American Studies

Message from the Director

The graduate program in American Studies at Fairfield University is an interdisciplinary course of study drawing upon the expertise of faculty members in nine departments and programs including Black Studies, English, History, Philosophy, Politics, Sociology, Religious Studies, Visual and Performing Arts, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The program engages students in the idea of America as it has been culturally imagined and contested throughout history, both within and beyond U.S. national borders. America is a culture of cultures, and our offerings are inclusive and respectful of the enormous diversity in the American people and their experience.

Each year we host a Celebrating American Studies conference on campus which features papers chosen by competitive proposals representing the work of current students and recent graduates of the program. The diversity and dynamism of the topics includes: "Disco-Hustle Disco/Hustle: The Social Unification Party of the 1970s Amidst Many Divisions," "Region and Refugees: The Complicated Tale of American Refugee Resettlement," "The Effectiveness of Celebrity Endorsements in Political Campaigns," and "50 Shades of Grey within Third Wave Feminism and Chick Lit." We also invite noted national figures to present keynote addresses. Recent speakers have been Carla Peterson, Professor of English and African-American Studies at the University of Maryland, Matthew Jacobson, the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies and History at Yale University, Nicholas Meriwether, Founding Grateful Dead archivist, McHenry Library, University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution, and Jennifer Ladino of the University of Idaho. There are also special programs offered throughout the year including film series, concerts, and theatre performances, all designed to supplement and enhance classroom experiences.

In response to the personal and professional time constraints of our student population, classes normally take place in the evening, and occasionally on weekends. To facilitate a supportive mentor-learning environment, all courses are offered in a seminar format. The graduate students in our program include professionals strengthening their writing and critical thinking skills for an increasingly competitive marketplace, educators enhancing their professional development, full-time parents preparing to re-enter the marketplace, and those planning to pursue further professional studies or academic degrees.

As director of the graduate program in American Studies, I invite you to join us as we grapple with the complexities of our nation's cultural, intellectual, economic, religious, artistic, social, literary, and political traditions, past, present, and future.

Dr. Peter L. Bayers, Ph.D.
Director of the MA in American Studies Program