Writing an honors thesis in AMCS gives majors an opportunity to complete an extended academic study in American culture with input from faculty in more than one discipline. It also allows for a careful framing and refining of intellectual questions and methods in the context of dialogue with students from different fields, and with a well-developed support system in place.
All AMCS theses must be concerned with some kind of cultural topic, and most will pose questions about culture that invite multi-layered responses. Typically, these are questions about cultural phenomena (events, activities, attitudes, trends, ideas, spaces, bodies of material or "cultural texts," etc.) that are best explained using the approaches of more than discipline.
Whatever the topic, theses take the form of long academic papers (usually between 60 and 80 pages) that, while they may involve some experiment with (or combination of) methods, are nevertheless carefully argued and deliberately structured.
Hover So why do students write an honors thesis in AMCS rather than in another program or department with
which they have an affiliation? There are several answers to this question, but the simplest and most common is that
the project they want to pursue deals with subjects, or applies methods, that are more closely aligned with the priorities
of AMCS than those of their other field.
This could be because the project combines the approaches/ideas of more than one discipline (and in such a way as to make doing a thesis is those fields less viable), or because their interests in (and/or approaches to) culture differ somehow from those typically pursued in your home field.
Or maybe they wish to consult with faculty in several disciplines, or to incorporate into the project some fieldwork that complicates their understanding of the meanings, impacts, or operations of culture.
Many students gravitate to AMCS for thesis work because they have a deep interest in topics studied in AMCS, but have not been able to pursue them outside a given course. The thesis is a way to complete a sustained, multidisciplinary investigation that draws upon the varied experiences they have had in their coursework.
Sometimes, AMCS theses offer contributions to a field of study that has not often considered the cultural object in question. Often, they explore this object in a new way, e.g. by combining several approaches in order to nuance or deepen a reading of a given cultural phenomenon, or by applying a set of methods to an object that falls outside the field with which it is associated. here to find out more about why students choose to write a thesis in AMCS rather than in their other major.
Click here for more about the Honors Thesis Process.