Knox's American studies program draws from the resources of several departments to offer students a major tailored to individual interests in American culture. The interdisciplinary nature of the American studies program provides a breadth of training and outlook that encourages students to integrate multiple perspectives and explore the connections between different times, places and people.
American studies majors will be learning in an environment that has its own place in American history. Founded by abolitionists, Knox was the first college to award a degree to Abraham Lincoln -- an honorary doctorate in 1860 -- and one of the first in Illinois to award a degree to a black student, Barnabas Root, who graduated in 1870. In 1858 Knox hosted a Lincoln-Douglas debate. As the only building left from the famous debates, Knox's Old Main has hosted several re-enactments, most recently a broadcast by C-SPAN in 1994. The Lincoln Studies Center at Knox boasts two of the nation's leading Lincoln scholars.
The major in American studies requires 11 credits, including three credits in "American Studies Core" and three in American history and literature. Students must earn five "American Experience" credits, choosing from courses in anthropology-sociology, art, Black studies, economics, educational studies, gender and women's studies, environmental studies, music, political science, or theatre. With permission of the chair of the department, up to two credits in related studies outside the department may be counted toward electives in the major.
Small classes and one-on-one relationships with professors allow American studies majors unique opportunities for sophisticated discourse and independent study. Because of Knox's geographical location -- and because of the strength of its library collections -- one focus of the American studies program is the historical and cultural development of the Midwest and the Mississippi River.
American Studies majors will find a wealth of resources that enrich their classroom experiences -- not to mention a learning environment that has its own place in American history. In addition to Knox's strong on-line library resources, other resources include:
The Lincoln Studies Center -- Co-directed by leading Lincoln scholars Rodney O. Davis and Douglas L. Wilson. Research into Lincoln's youth by Wilson and Davis has been featured on The History Channel and garnered several national awards. Under a contract with the Library of Congress, the Lincoln Studies Center is editing a massive corpus of letters received by Lincoln during his presidency to make them accessible on the world-wide web. The center has employed Knox students as research assistants.
Within Seymour Library
Finley Collection -- every important primary source on the Midwest
Preston Player Collection -- books and prints on the Mississippi River
Strong Collection -- original maps and photographs covering the settlement of North America and the exploration of the Midwest and the West.
Hughes Collection -- manuscripts and rare first editions of Hemingway and others in the "Lost Generation" of American expatriate writers
Knox College Archives -- manuscript collections on important regional figures and events. The Knox Archives provided much of the original source material for "They Broke the Prairie" by Ernest Elmo Calkins. First published in 1938, the book about the founding of Knox and Galesburg remains "the finest history of an Illinois community." (John Hallwas in "A Reader's Guide to Illinois Literature."
Seniors Megan Beney and Eva Marley spoke at the Central States Anthropology Society. Beney's topic was the musical nature of speech directed at infants, and Marley discussed social media sites and social movements.
Knox College students Alec Freytag and Lindsey Morgan are chosen for the prestigious Kemper Scholars Program, which offers scholarships, summer internships, and leadership opportunities.
Vincent Rug and Stephanie Sorensen, both 2012 Knox College graduates, describe their experiences in the financial industry. Chosen for a selective leadership program at Fifth Third Bank, they are working as commercial associates.