Nov 29, 2020  
Course Catalog 2010-2011 
Course Catalog 2010-2011 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Comparative American Studies

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Gina Pérez, Associate Professor of Comparative American Studies and Program Director
Pawan Dhingra, Associate Professor of Sociology and Comparative American Studies
Eric Estes, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies
Harry Hirsch, Professor of Politics and Comparative American Studies
Wendy Kozol, Professor of Comparative American Studies
Shelley Lee, Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies and History
Pablo Mitchell, Associate Professor of History and Comparative American Studies
Meredith Raimondo, Associate Professor of Comparative American Studies


Comparative American Studies examines the range and diversity of American experiences, identities, and communities.  From interdisciplinary perspectives, students study social, political, economic and cultural processes within the United States as well as explore the role of the nation in a global context.  By placing the United States in a transnational and comparative framework, the program invites students to consider the relationship of different communities to the nation-state, ranging from issues of colonialism and empire building to social justice movements.  Courses investigate power, inequality, and agency through the analysis of intersecting structures of race, gender, class, sexuality, and citizenship.  Central to these studies are examinations of the relationship of theory and practice in a range of historical and contemporary contexts.

Comparative American Studies faculty approach the study of the United States with expertise drawn from a range of interdisciplinary fields, including American Studies, Ethnic Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Media Studies.  The program has particular strengths in transnational approaches to Asian American Studies, Feminist Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies.


Students wishing to declare a Comparative American Studies major should select a faculty advisor who is a member of the Comparative American Studies Program Committee or consult with the Program Director. In consultation with the advisor, students should propose a program of study for review by the Program Director.

The Comparative American Studies major consists of a minimum of 30 credit hours of course work. No more than 10 credits may normally be transferred from another institution. No more than nine credits of the major can be at the introductory level. For students pursuing double majors, cross-referenced courses may count toward requirements in both Comparative American Studies and the department or program of origin.

The Comparative American Studies major consists of the following required courses:

Required Program Courses (15-16 credit hours):

  1. CAST 100 Introduction to Comparative American Studies, 3 credits.
  2. CAST 300 Situated Research, four credits, recommended to be taken by the end of junior year, 4 credits.
  3. CAST 301 Situated Research Practicum, one or two credits, to be taken the same semester as CAST 300, 1-2 credits.
  4. CAST 400 Research Seminar:  Expanding the Archive, 4 credits.

Concentration Area Requirement (Minimum of 12 credit hours):

The Comparative American Studies program encourages students to personalize the major by choosing an individual focus within one of three concentrations.  Students select classes that address their interests within a framework of course offerings designed to build conceptual and practical skills.  The program particularly emphasizes critical thinking, writing, and communication as aspects of civic engagement.  Concentrations in the Comparative American Studies program include:

  • Identity and diversity
  • Globalization, transnationalism and nation
  • Histories and practices of social change

Students acquire the skills to participate in projects addressing diversity issues and put theory into practice in order to build community awareness, activism, and involvement.  Graduates choose employment in a wide range of fields including social service, education, public heath, arts and media, psychology, and public administration.  Comparative American Studies majors have also sought graduate education in social work, public health, American Studies, and Ethnic Studies.

Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C-/CR or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.


Students may fulfill the remaining credit hours to complete the major by taking elective courses in either program course offerings or approved cross-listed or cross-referenced courses.

Students may petition to receive credit towards their program of study for a course not currently listed by submitting the Request Form and a class syllabus to the Comparative American Studies Program Director.


Students wishing to minor in Comparative American Studies must have their proposals approved by the Program Director. The Comparative American Studies minor consists of CAST 100 and 12 credits in an area of concentration (a total of 15 credits). At least one of the courses in the Concentration Area must be a program course. Only six credits at the introductory level are accepted for the minor. No more than five credits may be transferred from another institution toward the minor.


Comparative American Studies majors may pursue in-depth Honors research in their senior year under the supervision of a faculty advisor. An Honors Project normally consists of a written thesis based on original research or creative work. The thesis is submitted in the spring semester of the senior year and followed by a public presentation. Students who qualify for Honors and are interested in the program should consult with the Program Director by the beginning of the second semester in their junior year. Honors proposals are due on or about April 15.

Winter Term

When on duty, faculty members with appointments in Comparative American Studies sponsor Winter Term projects.

Off-Campus Programs for Credit

Students are encouraged to broaden their educational experience by taking advantage of off-campus programs, preferably sometime during their junior year. A maximum of ten hours credit of such work may be applied toward the major (five for the minor).

Comparative American Studies Web Site

For more information on the Comparative American Studies Program — including a list of program committee members, updates on the Program’s course offerings, and a list of cross-referenced courses in other departments and programs—please visit our web site at

First-Year Seminars

  • FYSP 180 Exploring Chicago

Program Courses

Cross-Referenced Courses

In addition to program courses, students majoring or minoring in Comparative American Studies may count certain courses in other departments and programs toward their Concentration Area Requirement. A list of courses that qualify is posted on the program’s web site ( under the rubric “Comparative American Studies Courses in Various Disciplines.”

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