Many key issues tied to the roots, development, and expression of American culture transcend the boundaries of traditional subject areas and are best explored from a variety of perspectives or disciplines. The American Studies program provides students with the opportunity to integrate studies in various fields into a broader understanding of American culture and its antecedents. Although housed in the Department of English, the program permits students to choose relevant courses for their cognate areas from a variety of participating departments throughout the university and allows students to forge an individualized plan of coursework that crosses both geographical and intellectual boundaries.
Creative Writing, American Studies, Literary Studies, Professional and Technical Writing
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Professor Keri Holt
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Creative Nonfiction about the American West Emphasis
The American Studies graduate program offers students a specialization in nonfiction writing about the American West, which includes creative nonfiction, place writing, memoir, narrative scholarship, essays, cross-genre work, and popular culture or cultural studies essays for a nonacademic audience.
Some students go on to advanced degrees, sometimes in MFA programs. Some teach writing in various venues as lecturers at USU, community colleges, or online. Some take jobs in the public sector, working, for instance, in publishing or other jobs that require research, editing, and writing skills. Using the cross-cultural research skills developed in American Studies courses, some intend to write for a popular rather than academic audience.
Students opting for the specialization in creative nonfiction fulfill the requirements of the current standard American Studies degree. The only required course is the introductory seminar in the Theory and Practice of American Studies. American Studies students are also required to take at least one course in a department other than English.
In addition, they must take two courses in which a major part of their coursework focuses on some form of creative nonfiction. At their discretion, faculty members designate their courses as offering opportunities for work in creative nonfiction. Students wishing to receive credit toward their creative nonfiction specialization consult the course instructor at the beginning of the semester. Students can also receive credit for courses in creative writing, including one course in fiction or poetry writing.
The student's thesis must involve creative nonfiction. If the student writes a plan A thesis, a major part should be an analysis and/or practice of creative nonfiction. If a student chooses Plan B, one of the two essay-length papers should be an analysis and/or practice of creative nonfiction.
As with the regular MA/MS in American Studies, the thesis should be directed by a member of the core faculty in American Studies, or the student should seek approval from the director for the thesis to be directed by an affiliated faculty member, in which case at least one member of the committee must be a core faculty member. One member should be from outside the English Department whenever possible.