Here, you will find links to resources both at Columbia and in the wider world of American Studies. We include some guides and handouts generated through the program that students have found helpful over the years in approaching their research and their careers.

How to Think About an Interdisciplinary Study

The freedom to design your own curriculum is the primary reason people are attracted to American and Ethnic Studies. However, students can also end up feeling lost in the dizzying variety of Columbia’s course offerings. Though this problem is the starting point of conversations with advisors and faculty, and each student has their own particular trajectory to shape, the risks of interdisciplinary study do have a formal shape and history. Please refer to this brief handout on interdisciplinary work from the director for some orientation.

How to Think About Applying for Ph.D. Programs

A number of M.A. graduates pursue Ph.Ds. in a range of fields, including American Studies, Media Studies, English, History, and Political Science. In recent years, students have been awarded fellowships to study at institutions like Brown University, Yale University, the University of Virginia, Fordham University, and the University of Colorado. Admission to Ph.D. programs is a multifaceted process that often necessitates thoughtful consideration of one’s own strengths and the structure of the departments within the desired field of study.

The CSER faculty has assembled a handout for approaching Ph.D. admissions, offering M.A. students valuable suggestions to approach the Ph.D. admissions process. During their studies, students should consult their advisors periodically regarding further graduate study.

Effectively navigating the freedom of interdisciplinary study relies on developing a strong conception of your research direction and a clear sense of the interdisciplinary work that has preceded you. Below, you will find a list of curated links relevant to American Studies, designed to provide orientation within the field’s rich history and institutional landscape.

Library Research Guide
John Tofanelli, the Columbia Librarian for American History and Literature, has compiled a comprehensive guide to online databases pertinent to the study of American history and literature. We encourage you to explore the resources he has collected to identify those most relevant to your research. This guide is updated regularly to reflect new databases, please revisit it periodically for the latest additions.
Professional Associations

For graduate students new to the field of American Studies, a quick way to gain insight into current trends is to take a look at the books that have received yearly awards from leading associations:

American Studies Association
American Literature Association
Organization of American Historians


Several other journals also publish research in American Studies (often listed on the aforementioned associations’ websites), but these ones are particularly significant. Despite often being concealed behind restricted paywalls, they are accessible through university libraries.

American Quarterly
Journal of American Studies
American Literary History
American Literature
Journal of American History

Research Databases and Libraries

The following range from websites of physical libraries to exclusively online repositories with institutional support. It is noteworthy that even the physical libraries offer valuable online resources. The emphasis of this selection leans towards early American history, as digital archives from the pre-copyright era currently provide the richest content.

Schomburg Digital African American Women of the Nineteenth Century
Library of Congress American Memory
Documenting the American South
American Verse Project
Making of America
American Antiquarian Society
McNeil Center for Early American Studies
Huntington Library
Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
Massachusetts Historical Society
Library Company of Philadelphia
Early Americas Digital Archive
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Reading Lists

American Studies has become an extremely diverse field in terms of core competencies. The diversity within American Studies frequently presents a challenge for practitioners seeking to establish a unified understanding of the field’s knowledge foundation. In response, numerous initiatives to codify the field through reading lists of fundamental primary and secondary texts on university department websites across the internet.

Calls for Papers

A call for papers (or CFP) is an invitation for submissions to participate in panel discussions, or contribute to journals or anthologies. These calls often circulate among specialized groups via e-mail, but they often also appear in regularly updated online lists. Below you will find links to some of the most comprehensive databases.

Penn English CFP List
The CFP List
Organization of American Historians

External Fellowships

Students are encouraged to seek funding opportunities beyond the university. Below is a partial list of places where one might find financial support for M.A. studies. Many of the above-listed organizations offer fellowships to graduate student researchers interested in their particular areas of focus.

Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund
Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund
The Bibliographic Society of America
American Antiquarian Society

Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
 420 Hamilton Hall, MC 2880
1130 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
CSER continues to be Columbia's main interdisciplinary space for the study of ethnicity and race and their implications for thinking about culture, power, hierarchy, social identities, and political communities.
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