What is American Studies?

American Studies is a field defined not only by the critical questions it asks but by the interdisciplinary methods it uses to answer those questions. In considering the United States as a cultural, ideological, geographical and historical formation, students of American Studies examine how cultural configurations of and within the nation-state operate as social forces, contested archives of change, loci of power and resistance, and sites historical meaning and memory. How are ideologies and arrangements in the U.S. amplified, altered, challenged or contested? American Studies seeks to address these questions by critically examining how ideas and assumptions about the U.S. have been constituted through a range of competing, corroborating and resistant discourses.


Meet the Core Faculty in American Studies

Jordan T. Camp is Term Assistant Professor of American Studies at Barnard College. He researches and teaches about racial capitalism, expressive culture, gentrification, political economy, policing and prisons, militarization, social reproduction, social theory, and the history of social movements in the U.S. He is the author of Incarcerating the Crisis: Freedom Struggles and the Rise of the Neoliberal State (University of California Press, 2016), co-editor (with Christina Jordan Camp Heatherton) of Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (Verso, 2016), and co-editor (with Laura Pulido) of the late Clyde Woods’ Development Drowned and Reborn: The Blues and Bourbon Restorations in Post-Katrina New Orleans (University of Georgia Press, 2017). His work also appears in venues such as American Quarterly, Jacobin, Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies, Race & Class, In the Wake of Hurricane Katrina, edited by Clyde Woods (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime, edited by Paula Chakravartty and Denise da Silva (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), and Futures of Black Radicalism, edited by Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin (Verso, 2017). He has held fellowships from the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and the Watson Institute at Brown University, the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, and the Institute of American Cultures and the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. He is currently working on a new book tentatively titled, The Long Vendetta: Counterinsurgency and Cultures of Opposition.


Christina Heatherton is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at Barnard. She is a scholar and historian of anti-racist social movements. Her classes challenge students to think independently, work collaboratively, and remain accountable to the communities in which they live and work. She is Christina Heathertoncompleting her first book, The Color Line and the Class Struggle: The Mexican Revolution, Internationalism, and the American Century (University of California Press, forthcoming). With Jordan T. Camp she recently edited Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (Verso Books, 2016). Her work appears in places such as American Quarterly, Interface, The Rising Tides of Color: Race, State Violence, and Radical Movements Across the Pacific, edited by Moon-Ho Jung (University of Washington Press, 2014) and will appear in venues such as Feminists Rethink the Neoliberal State: Inequality, Exclusion and Change, edited by Leela Fernandes (New York University Press, forthcoming) and Futures of Black Radicalism, edited by Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin (Verso Books, forthcoming). She has been featured on national news programs such as Democracy Now!, Against the Grain, and The Real News Network. Her writing also appears in popular venues such as Funambulist Magazine, The Washington Spectator, and 032 Magazine. With Jordan T. Camp she previously co-edited Freedom Now! Struggles for the Human Right to Housing in LA and Beyond (Freedom Now Books, 2012). She is the editor of Downtown Blues: A Skid Row Reader (Freedom Now Books, 2011).


Manu Karuka is an Assistant Professor of American Studies, and affiliated faculty with Women`s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Barnard College, where he has taught since 2014. His work centers a critique of imperialism, with  a particular focus on anti-racism and Indigenous decolonization. He teaches courses on the political enomony of racism, U.S. and imperialism and radical internationalism, Indegenous critiques of political  economy, and liberation. He is the author of Empire`s Tracks: Indegenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad (University of California Press, 2019). With Juliana Hu Pegues, and Alyosha Goldstein he co-edited a special  issue of Theory & Event, "On Colonial Unknowing," (Vol. 19, No. 4, 2016) and with Vivek Bald, Miabi Chatterji, and Sujani Reddy, he co-edited The Sun Never Sets: South Asian Miagrants in an Age of U.S. Power (NYU Press, 2013).


Jennie Kassanoff is the Adolph S. and Effie Ochs Professor of American Studies and History at Barnard College, where she is a Professor of English and directs the Program in American Studies. She is the author of Edith Wharton and the Politics of Race (Cambridge UP, 2004) and is currently completing a new book entitled Voter Writes: Race, Gender and the Ballot. Her essays have appeared in PMLA, American Literature, The A-Line: A Journal for Progressive Thought, Henry James Review, American Literary History and Arizona Quarterly, among other books and journals. She serves on the Editorial Board of J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists and as an editorial consultant for Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers. She has earned both of Barnard's major teaching awards: The Excellence in Teaching Award in 2003 and the Emily Gregory Award in 2011.


Timothy Vasko is currently Term Assistant Professor in American Studies. He joined the program in Fall 2018 after completing his Ph.D. in Government at Cornell University. He has published in Settler Colonial Studies, and the edited volume Politics of African Anticolonial Archive (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017). His essay, “’That They Will Be Capable of Governing Themselves: Knowledge of Amerindian Difference in Early-Modern Arts of Colonial Government,” is forthcoming in the journal History of the Human Sciences. His current book manuscript focuses on the connection between the history of social and political thought and the establishment of colonial governance in the Americas in the early-modern period.