University of Hawaii at Manoa Library


American Studies


The Department of American Studies offers a multidisciplinary and cross-cultural approach to the study of American life, leading to the BA, MA (Plan A, thesis and Plan B, non-thesis), and PhD degrees. The department also offers a graduate certificate in Historic Preservation, well as a graduate certificate in Museum Studies.

The department pursues a dual mission. On the broad level, it is committed to the traditional concept of American studies which involves an exploration of American culture in its entirety - its popular and high culture in relation to its environment, its institutional structures and issues, its systems of thought and belief, and the nature of its relationships across ethnic, cultural, gender, racial, and political lines both domestically and internationally - from literary, historical, social-scientific, and other methodological perspectives. On a more specific level, the department is also committed to an exploration of the role of Hawaii, the Pacific, and Asia within the American experience, an objective unique in the American Studies field but tied closely to the general mission of the university.

Courses in the department are divided into four major areas of program emphasis: American arts and environment, American institutions, American thought and belief, and American international and intercultural relations. Some courses have a holistic orientation, while others are topical, sub-cultural, or cross-cultural in focus.

The graduate certificate in Historic Preservation offers a program ranging from historic districts, landscape and rural preservation, and archaeology, to the social, legal, and economic issues of rehabilitation and adaptive use.

Preservation philosophies may be applied locally and internationally to identify both a sense of place, and the value of the achievements of past generations as contributors to the environmental sense of place today and tomorrow.

The graduate certificate in Museum Studies offers a program ranging from the history and theory of museums, exploring the wide variety of museums, exhibition theory, and educational programming to the social, cultural, and legal issues of artifact display and collections.


By definition, American Studies is a multidisciplinary and cross-cultural program. It draws heavily on history, art, architecture, anthropology, film, literature, political science, philosophy, religion, and sociology; on the area collections of Hawaii, the Pacific and Asia; and on the holdings of the Government Documents Collection.

The Hawaiian Collection acquires duplicate copies of heavily used titles for BHSD, often in close consultation with appropriate selectors. The Pacific Collection acquires duplicate copies of heavily used titles for BHSD, often in close consultation with appropriate selectors. The Asia Collection is responsible for collecting materials about Asia written in English and the vernacular languages. Audiovisual material is selected by the Wong AV Center in close consultation with the American Studies selector.


Language: Primarily English, but also Asian and Pacific languages.

Chronological: No limitations, but emphasis is on the American colonial period to the present.

Geographic: No limitations. Specifically included are Americans overseas and the American international experience, especially with Asia and the Pacific.

Date of Publication: No limitations, but emphasis is on current material.

Types and Formats of Materials Collected: No limitations, but the emphasis is on books and serials. Dissertations are obtained only upon specific request. Extensive use is made of media.

Electronic Format: All formats may be collected, including electronic, print, and microform. Electronic resources include indexes, databases, reference tools, e-books, and so forth. Networked electronic access is preferred for full text journal literature and for indexing and abstracting.

Treatment: All treatments, including popular.


A joint program with the Library and Information Science Program allows students to earn a MA in American Studies and a Master of Library & Information Science (MLISc).

Compiled by: Jodie Mattos
Date: June 2008

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