Apr 19, 2024  
Course Catalog 2016-2017 
Course Catalog 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Comparative American Studies

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Wendy Kozol, Professor of Comparative American Studies and Program Director
Eric Estes, Vice President, Dean of Students and Associate Professor of Comparative American Studies
Evangeline Heiliger, Visiting Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies
Shelley Lee, Associate Professor of Comparative American Studies and History
Pablo Mitchell, Professor of History and Comparative American Studies (on administrative leave)
Afia Ofori-Mensa, Director, Office of Undergraduate Research, Visiting Asst. Prof. Comparative American Studies and Africana Studies
Gina Pérez,  Professor of Comparative American Studies
Meredith Raimondo, Associate Professor of Comparative American Studies (on administrative leave)
Renee Romano, Professor of History Comparative American Studies 
Danielle Skeehan, Assistant Professor of English
Harrod Suarez, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative American Studies


Comparative American Studies examines the range and diversity of American experiences and communities, with specific attention to structures of privilege and oppression. 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 both the nation-state and to each other, ranging from issues of settler 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, ability 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 Visual Culture 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 9 to 9 ½ courses, which include required program courses (3), the concentration area requirement (4) and electives (2).

In addition to program courses (courses with a CAST Prefix and CRN), students majoring or minoring in Comparative American Studies may count certain courses in other departments and programs toward their Concentration Area Requirement and Electives. A list of cross-referenced courses that qualify is posted on the program’s website under the rubric “Courses (Cross-Referenced).”

Required Courses: 3 or 3½ courses

  • CAST 100: Introduction to Comparative American Studies
  • CAST 200: Theories and Methods in American Studies, recommended to be taken in the second year
  • [CAST 300: Research Seminar: Field Based Research; and CAST 301: Research Seminar Practicum (1/2 course), taken simultaneously with CAST 300
  • CAST 303: Research Seminar: Text Based Research]

Concentration: 4 courses (minimum)

The Comparative American Studies program requires students to customize the major by choosing one of three concentrations. Within that concentration, students create an individual focus area on a topic, theme, or question. Students select classes that address their interests within a framework of course offerings designed to build conceptual and practical skills. They must choose courses from at least two departments or programs in order to construct an interdisciplinary approach to their focus. The program particularly emphasizes critical thinking, writing and communication as aspects of civic engagement. Courses must be taken in at least two different departments/programs.

Concentrations in the Comparative American Studies program include:

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

Electives:  2 courses (minimum)

Students may fulfill this requirement by taking elective courses in either program, cross-listed or approved cross-referenced courses.

Other Information

  • Program, cross-listed and cross-referenced courses may count toward the Concentration Area and Elective requirements for the major and the minor.
  • No more than 3 full courses can be at the introductory level.
  • Students may transfer up to 3 full courses taken at other institutions towards the major.
  • Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C- or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.

Course Sequencing Suggestions:

The program offers a variety of introductory and intermediate level courses for potential majors and non-majors. These 100 and 200 level courses provide an introduction to American Studies scholarship. We strongly urge declared majors to take CAST 100 and 200 as early in their career as possible. While courses at the 300 and 400 level often do not have prerequisites, prior coursework in CAST or a related field is strongly recommended before enrolling in these courses.

All forms for the major and minor (Advising, Concentration, Petition) can be found on the CAS website (http://new.oberlin.edu/comparative_american) under the link: ”Declaring a Major”.



Students wishing to minor in Comparative American Studies must have their proposals approved by the Program Director. The Comparative American Studies minor consists of:

  • 5 full courses, including CAST 100: Introduction to Comparative American Studies and 4 courses in an Area of Concentration.
  • At least one of the courses in the Concentration Area must be a program course.
  • No more than 2 full courses may be taken at the introductory level, including CAST 100.
  • No more than one full course may be transferred from another institution toward the minor.


Senior Comparative American Studies majors may conduct independent, original research or a creative project through the Honors Program. Consideration for admission to the Honors Program takes place during the second semester of the junior year, by invitation of the Comparative American Studies faculty or by self-nomination. Faculty are encouraged to urge qualified students to consider applying for the Honors Program. Honors students must enroll in CAST 501/502: Honors Seminar (both semesters) and are exempt from the Research Seminar (CAST 300/01 or 303) requirement.

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 3 courses may be applied toward the major (1 course for the minor).

First-Year Seminars

Cross-Referenced Courses

 In addition to program and cross-listed 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 (http://new.oberlin.edu/comparative_american) under the heading “Comparative American Studies Courses in Various Disciplines.”

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