The American and New England Studies program at the University of Southern Maine provides a wide ranging, interdisciplinary course of study leading to the degree of Master of Arts.
Unlike many interdisciplinary graduate programs at other universities, our program has its own dedicated faculty and curriculum. Our faculty are all nationally recognized in their fields, and the seminar format of our classes ensures that students receive individualized attention. Our curriculum is both regionally and nationally focused, examining questions of New England and American identity and experience through a variety of critical perspectives.
Students have ample opportunity to do original research by drawing on the rich collections at the USM Library and other local cultural institutions. We cater to a wide range of student interests: not only do we prepare students for Ph.D. programs and for work in museums and historical societies, we also number many middle school and high school teachers among our students, as well as many students from all walks of life who are simply interested in the subject matter we have to offer.
The American and New England Studies program is committed to studying regionalism in the context of contemporary thought and scholarship. It is both a regional and an American studies program. The program's focus is on New England, but the region is examined in the broad context of American social and cultural experience as a whole. Exploring as well as destabilizing "official" New England, the program offers students a wide range of interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies-including folklore, literary studies, visual culture, landscape and cultural geography, architectural history, archaeology, cultural criticism, environmental studies and ethnography-but stresses the historicity of such practices, and of the culture and society they set out to explore.
The graduate program in American and New England Studies was established in 1987. Rather than create separate master's degrees in history, literature, art history, anthropology, and other areas, the University chose to establish an innovative interdisciplinary program that would appeal to students with diverse academic backgrounds and interests. A year was devoted to planning and developing the program, and the first students began their studies in the fall of 1988. Program development has been supported by four grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition, the program has received grant support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Davis Family Foundation.