American Studies has long been a home for adventurous students seeking to understand the culture and politics of the United States. Despite being taught in universities around the world, American Studies has resisted developing a coherent methodology for fear of losing the flexibility and freedom to imagine new avenues of thought. But what if these fears are misplaced? Through a fresh look at the origins of the field, this book contends that a shared set of “rules” can offer a springboard to creativity. American Studies: A User’s Guide offers readers a critical introduction to the history and methods of the field, useful strategies for interpretation, curation, analysis, and theory, and case studies of American Studies in practice.
Philip J. Deloria is the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of American Culture and History at the University of Michigan. He is a former President of the American Studies Association, and he is the author of Indians in Unexpected Places and Playing Indian.
Alexander I. Olson is an Assistant Professor in the Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University, where he teaches history and social justice. His research examines creativity and place in American intellectual history.
"This book fills a long-felt need for a single work that can be used as a touchstone and launching pad for students of American studies at all levels. Deloria and Olson do a superb job of conveying the pleasure and the stakes of working in this field as well as the craft skills required to do it well."—Carlo Rotella, author of Good with Their Hands: Boxers, Bluesmen, and Other Characters from the Rust Belt
"This book crackles with insight, wit, conceptual range, and analytical precision. The historical and methodological knowledge packed into this volume will benefit a vast array of students, scholars, and instructors. Students will learn what American studies is and how to model and perform its methods in their own research. There has never been a more cogent assessment of American studies as a field."—Ramzi Fawaz, author of The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics