Honours in American Studies

The fourth year Honours program consists of an American Studies seminar, one other seminar chosen from the American-focused fourth year units taught in English, Film Studies, Government and International Relations, and History, and an 18-20,000 word thesis.

Honours Coordinator:

Requirements for Entry into Honours
AMST2601 American Foundations

Seven Cross-listed Senior Units
(with an average mark of 65 or more)

The Honours Year
An 18-20,000 word thesis

 The American Studies seminar, AND

one other seminar chosen from the American-focused fourth year units taught in English, Film Studies, Government & International Relations, and History

To Apply for Honours

  1. To apply for Honours, you must pre-enroll with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences through Courses Online by 31 October 2013.
  2. Students must also apply directly to the American Studies Program. Each student’s program of seminars and thesis topic must be approved by the Honours Coordinator. The completed Registration Form should be emailed to the coordinator by 15 November 2013.
  3. Important note: Meeting the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee you entry into the Honours programme. Honours places can only be granted where there is supervisory capacity.


You are required to do the American Studies Honours Seminar, Approaches to American Studies, and one additional seminar chosen from those focused on the United States offered by the English, Film Studies, Government and History departments.

Required Seminar:
Approaches to American Studies (USSC- Dr. Rebecca Sheehan)
American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that has evolved significantly over the decades since World War II. This unit traces the development and evolution of American Studies to demonstrate how and why the field has changed over time. We will examine key themes and concepts, as well as the variety of methodologies that different practitioners have used.

In 2014, there are two definite and two possible options for the second seminar:

  • Victorian Culture (History –Dr Frances Clarke)
    The Victorians were obsessed with measuring, quantifying, and classifying the world around them. In their search for natural laws and fixed truths, they invented new ways of understanding the boundary between male and female, self and other, healthy and ill, even life and death. At the same time, they evinced a fascination with those aspects of humankind that refused categorization, gawking at freakshows, collecting curiosities, and inventing hybrid creatures. This course places these twin urges side-by-side, analyzing a range of now redundant cultural practices–from phrenology and the water-cure movement to freakshows and spirit photography–in order to distinguish whether there was such a thing as a Victorian worldview.
  • The Idea of the South (English – Dr. Sarah Gleeson-White)
    The American South is frequently conceived as the Problem South, defined by its experiences of military defeat and occupation, economic backwardness and a brutal slave legacy. In this unit, we will investigate the idea of the South in a range of literary and visual texts by examining its most compelling tropes - the southern belle, poor whites, the plantation - to contemplate the region's fundamental importance to conceptions of the nation itself and the value of thinking regionally.
  • What is Cinema Studies? [by permission only] (Film Studies–Dr Bruce Isaacs)
    Many scholars take André Bazin’s four-volume work–Qu’est-ce que le cinema?–as an important point of inauguration for the critical project of film studies. Echoing Bazin’s famous question, this seminar investigates what it means to take cinema as a scholarly object. Covering materials from early cinema to post-cinema, this seminar is organized around a series of mutually informing concepts that have importantly structured film studies scholarship: disciplinarity, wonder, temporality, realism, indexicality, sound, spectatorship and digitality.
  • Studies in American Social Criticism (offered by Don DeBats through Flinders University availability TBC)


You are required to complete an 18-20,000-word thesis on a topic of your choice, supervised by a member of the American Studies Program.

Staff can only supervise a limited number of Honours students each year, so you should make contact with potential supervisors as soon as possible