I am always asked the question, “Why did you pick Trinity?” Even though my long answer includes about 10 different reasons, my short answer is the academics and ability to take anything and everything I wanted! In high school, I absolutely loved my US History classes and AP US Government and Politics class and knew I wanted a college that had strong history classes, even though I didn’t think history was the perfect major for me. To this day, I still have so many academic interests – history, English, the arts, politics- and as a first year student, I figured the only way I would be able to fulfill everything I wanted to study would be by quadruple majoring. It wasn’t until I took AMST 203: Conflicts and Cultures in American Society that I realized the American Studies major combined everything I wanted to study.
In AMST 203, we studied the political, social, and culture movements of the 1950s. This meant that we were watching episodes of Leave It to Beaver, reading literature like The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and beat poetry, learning about McCarthyism and the Red Scare, and even reading scholarship on Jackie Robinson. I took this class during the spring semester of my first year and was so confident that this was the perfect fit for me that I declared a major in American Studies in April of that same semester. American Studies is an interdisciplinary major- this means that I was able to take an arts policy class in the public policy & law, an introductory class in the sociology department, American literature classes in the English department, and U.S. history classes based out of the history department.
I feel incredibly close to the faculty members in the American Studies department. Even though I have one advisor, I am comfortable going to any of them for questions on classes to take, research opportunities within the major, or advice on my post-graduate plans. The department is small but mighty and I know I am lucky to have their support and guidance in ways that my friends in other majors don’t have.
I also knew all along that I wanted to write a thesis for American Studies and when it came time to think of a topic, I made a list of everything I was interested in researching. The themes I studied in that first American Studies class- mass media, gender roles, and popular culture- still stuck with me. After looking at the ideas I had come up with, and talking with my thesis advisor Professor Jack Gieseking, as well as Professor Scott Gac and Professor Tom Wickman, American Girl dolls seemed to be the most unique topic that engaged with all of the areas I enjoyed studying. Even though I am still continuing to shape my thesis as I write and research it, I am currently looking at the intersection of race, class, and gender represented by the dolls, as well as what version of the American past the dolls’ storybooks convey. Although many people don’t necessarily understand just how much there is to research on American Girl dolls, I absolutely love my topic and really feel it is the perfect culmination of my personal and academic interests. It truly is an interdisciplinary topic and goes to show how many possibilities there are within American Studies scholarship. It is a major I highly recommend to any student interested in understanding American history and culture within the context of today’s society!