American Studies

The American Studies Program is consistently one of the top-five majors among the undergraduates of Trinity College. Our courses attract students who are interested in a wide array of scholarly approaches from history, policy, and culture to law, economics, and education. Through texts, images, and sounds, the major provides a rich, multidisciplinary exploration of the American experience at home and abroad.

American Studies majors are sharp critical thinkers and skilled researchers who deliver astute analysis in person and in print. Over the years, the American Studies Program at Trinity has served as a foundation for professional training (in law, business, medicine, or media) and graduate work (in the humanities or social sciences). The intimate size of the program fosters close intellectual and personal contact between students and faculty. Situated in Hartford, the one-time home of such luminaries as J. P. Morgan, Mark Twain, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, students in the program are encouraged to take advantage of the unique historical, literary, and artistic resources available.  

The Faculty

Trinity's American Studies Program derives its excellence from its faculty of notable professors, many of whom enjoy national reputations and all of whom are active scholars. Engaged and enthusiastic, they enjoy working with students whether in or outside of the classroom. 

The core faculty include Davarian Baldwin, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, who is a historian and cultural critic of urban America. American Studies Director and Associate Professor Scott Gac writes on a variety of 19th-century cultural topics from music to violence. Cheryl Greenberg, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History, tackles issues of race and religion in 20th-century America. Associate Professor of English Chris Hager is an expert on 19th-century literature and literacy. Christina Heatherton, Assistant Professor of American Studies, explores the global resonance and legacy of social movements in the twentieth century. Charles A. Dana Professor of History Joan Hedrick studies gender, feminism, and the nineteenth century. She won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life. Associate Professor of English and American Studies Diana Paulin focuses on African-American literature and disability studies. Tom Wickman, Assistant Professor of History and American Studies, engages Native American and environmental history in colonial America.  Please click on the faculty and staff tab for a complete list of the faculty affiliated with the American Studies Program.

Upcoming Events

Apr. 22, Tuesday, 12:15, Rittenberg Lounge, Mather, Study Away Vienna! Although some people may think it is ironic to study abroad as an American Studies major, learning experiences abroad fit perfectly into a strong understanding of culture, politics, and identity here in the states.

To hear more about the American Studies program offered at Trinity-In-Vienna come to this info session with Viennese treats!!  If you can not attend but would like to know more about the extensive American Studies course offerings at the University of Vienna, please contact Maya Mineoi, an Office of Study Away Global Ambassador and senior American Studies major:

Mar. 25, Tuesday, 12:15PM, Washington Room, Mather Hall, Majors Fair!

Feb. 20, Thursday, 12:15PM, Gallows Hall, Scott Gac (Director of American Studies), "An Attempt to Reduce the Force: George Washington and the Origins of a Violent American State."

Feb. 11, Tuesday, 4:15-5:30PM, Gallows Hall, Christopher Perreira (UCSD, Department of Literature), "Manufacturing Prisoner-Patient Consent: Visualizing Race and Violence in the Medical Archive." Christopher Perreira (PhD Candidate, UCSD, Department of Literature) is a finalist for the current tenure-track job opening in the American Studies Program. His talk covers research in the colonial Hawaii, where indigenous subjects were transformed into medical victims of American empire.

Feb. 4, Tuesday, 4:30, Rittenberg Lounge, Craig Steven Wilder, MIT, "Ebony and Ivory: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of American Universities."

Feb. 3, Monday, 4:15-5:30PM, Rittenberg Lounge: "From Cane to Candy: Race, Empire, and the Cultural Politics of Sugar in the Twentieth Century." This talk tells one part of a larger book project that explores the story of sugar in the United States and its territories from the Spanish American War through the 1930s. Here sugar is used as a way to explore the comparative politics of empire and ethnicity to show how the racial logic of empire was encoded through the practices of eating.

Jan. 30, Thursday, 4:15-5:30PM, Rittenberg Lounge: Christina Heatherton, "University of Radicalism: Leavenworth Penitentiary and Global Revolts Against Empire, 1917-1922." Christina Heatherton (PhD, USC, American Studies and Ethnicity) is a finalist for the current tenure-track job opening in the American Studies Program. Her talk covers the new security infrastructure created in the U.S. during World War I and the radical responses it provoked. 

Jan. 29, Wednesday, 7 PM, Washington Room: Tim Wise, "Between Barack Obama and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama." Trinity's opening event for Black History Month! Co-sponsored by AMST.

Jan. 28, Tuesday, 4:00-5PM, Terrace Room C: Ann Plato Lecture, Luciana Brito, “American Views on Slavery, Abolition, and Race Relations in Nineteenth-Century Brazil." Luciana Brito is a finalist for the Ann Plato Fellowship at Trinity College and, if successful, will offer courses for both the History Department and American Studies Program in 2014-15.

December 5, 2013, 7 PM, McCook Auditorium, Inequality for All-- A powerful documentary that follows former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich as he raises awareness of about the dramatic realities of U.S. inequality through powerful graphics, memorable examples, and self-effacing humor. Co-sponsored with Sociology.

November 12, 2013, Tuesday, 5 PM, Rittenberg Lounge in Mather: Annual Jan Cohn Lecture, Walter Johnson, Harvard University. "The Carceral Landscape: Fields, Forests, Swamps, Horses, Dogs, and Birds." This is the singular AMST event of the year. Book signing and reception to follow. Don't miss out! (Carceral refers to jail or imprisonment, think incarceration.)

November 6, 2013, Wednesday, 4:15-6 PM, Alumni Lounge, Mather: Welcome Back Reception! Stop by to meet the AMST faculty for your spring courses. Friendly conversation and light snacks provided.

October 23, 2013, Wednesday: Lunch and Talk with Megan Katz Nelson, author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War. Reese Room, Smith House. Part I, The Environment--12:15-1:00. Part II, The Civil War--1:00-2:45. Come for one session....or for both! Co-sponsored with History.

The Latest in American Studies

Congratulations! Frederick Douglass Prize Finalist: Chris Hager for Word by Word (Harvard, 2013), his brilliant work on American emancipation and literacy.

Welcome! Christina Heatherton, assistant professor of American Studies. See "Today Marks First Day of New President, Five Faculty."

Publication: Scott Gac, "The Republican Statesman: William Henry Seward," Reviews in American History 42.2 (June 2104): 285-290. 

Congratulations! Lincoln Prize Finalist: Chris Hager for Word by Word (Harvard, 2013) a brilliant workon emancipation and African American literacy.

On the Voice of America: Scott Gac, "Temperance Marked U.S. War Against Drinking," 17 Dec., 2013.

On the BBC: Joan Hedrick,"The Legacy of Uncle Tom," 25 Nov. 2013.

Publication: Davarian Baldwin and Minkah Makalani, eds., Escape From New York: The New Negro Renaissance Beyond Harlem (Minnesota, 2013).

Congratulations!: Madeleine Dickinson ('14), named as President's Fellow for outstanding work as an American Studies major.

Congratulations!: Diana Paulin, whose book, Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in US Drama and Fiction (2012), has won the 2013 Errol Hill Award for outstanding scholarship in the field of African-American theatre from the American Society for Theatre Research.

Publication: Scott Gac, "Was the Civil War a Mistake? Fifty Years of Edmund Wilson's Patriotic Gore," Reviews in American History (June 2013).

Publication: Tom Wickman,  “Arithmetic and Afro-Atlantic pastoral protest: The place of (in)numeracy in Gronniosaw and Equiano” in Abolitionist Places, eds. Jared Hickman and Martha Schoolman (London: Taylor & Francis, 2013).