Comparative American Studies
Department Chair:
Shelley Lee

Administrative Assistant:
Linda Pardee

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8390
Fax: (440) 775-8644

King 105
10 N. Professor Street
Oberlin, OH, 44074-1095

Declaring a Comparative American Studies Major

Declaring a Comparative American Studies Major

Request for Approval of a course for Major Credit Change to Petition
Planning Document for Concentration and Focus

To demonstrate an interdisciplinary comparative perspective, students must select courses from at least two different departments or programs for their concentration. Besides Comparative American Studies program and cross-listed courses, courses listed under "Comparative American Studies Courses in Various Disciplines" may count toward the Concentration Area Requirement.

Choosing a Concentration and Focus Area
In planning your Comparative American Studies major, you will choose one of three concentrations. Within that concentration, you will create an individual focus area on a topic, theme, or question that particularly interests you. The goal of the concentration and focus area is to provide a framework for you to organize your coursework in the major in a systematic and thoughtful way. The Comparative American Studies faculty advisors are available to help you choose your concentration and develop your focus area.

Begin by choosing the concentration that most closely describes the course of study you plan to pursue. The three concentrations in the Comparative American Studies major include:

1) Identity and Diversity

  • Uses the categories of race, indigeneity, class, gender, sexuality, and ability comparatively (exploring diversity and commonality).
  • Examines two or more identity groups in relation to each other.
  • Examines diversity within a single category, using categories like race, class, gender, sexuality and ability.
  • Uses a theoretical concept that emphasizes a comparative approach to social and cultural formation, like "racialized sexualities" or "racial formation."  Theories of intersectionality emphasize both relative position in social structure and particularities of experience.

2) Globalization, Transnationalism, and Nation

  • Uses the concepts of globalization and transnationalism to examine social and cultural diversity in the United States
  • Situates U.S. in a global historical or cultural context through analysis of concepts such as empire or diaspora
  • Situates concepts of "America" in a comparative context-i.e., through examining U.S. as part of the Americas, or examining the circulation of U.S. cultural products.
  • Explores the relationship of transnational social and cultural formations to state power and nationalism in relationship to the United States

3) Histories and Practices of Social Change

  • Evaluates pedagogy, research, and cultural production as catalysts for social change
  • Examines race, class, gender, sexuality, indigeneity, ability and nation in relationship to efforts to affect social change
  • Considers histories and strategies of particular social movements

Once you have chosen a concentration, you will develop a focus area. A focus area represents a more specific issue, concern, or question within the broad themes of the concentration you have chosen. In developing your focus area, tailor the Comparative American Studies major to your particular interests and goals. Your focus will help you choose classes in an effective way by encouraging you to think about the connections between them.

Examples of focus areas developed by CAS majors include:

Identity and Diversity:

  • media and popular culture, with an emphasis on citizenship and modernity
  • how race, class, gender and sexuality affect experiences of sexualized violence

Globalization, Transnationalism, and Nation:

  • the assertion of nationality in former and present US colonies, with an emphasis on the Philippines
  • the role of the US media, the US military, and US corporations in globalization

Theories and Practices of Social Change:

  • the strategies used by women and transgender people, especially of color, to organize for social change
  • youth activism

You may also develop a focus area in Latina/o Studies, Asian American Studies, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies or Native American and Indigenous Studies within any of the three concentrations.

Students may fulfill the remaining courses 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.

Minor. The Comparative American Studies minor consists of CAST 100 and 4 courses (a total of 5 courses). At least one of the courses must be a Program course. Only 2 courses at the introductory level are accepted for the minor. No more than one course may be transferred from another institution toward the minor.