Honors & Awards


The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work related to the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. To see some topics on which past American Studies majors have written honors theses, please see the section on Student Research.

Ethel L. Hersey Prize


The Hersey Prize is a monetary award given annually to the best essay written on an American topic. The prize considers exceptional essays written in any of the many contributory disciplines of American studies, with a preference for an interdisciplinary approach. Winning essays embody superlative research, analysis, argumentation, style as well as knowledge of U.S. History and Political Science, in their exploration and illumination of American topics.

Read the most recent essays to receive this award:

2017 Honorable Mention: "Strong is the New Sexy: CrossFit, Consumption, and Hegemonic Femininity" by Sianna Casey '19 written for AMST 101.
2016 Winner: "Most Kings: Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Tradition" by Claudia Liss-Schultz '16 written for AMST 315.
2015 Honorable Mention: "The Santa Barbara Oil Spill: An Impetus for Change" by Anushree Dugar
2015 Honorable Mentions: "Faith, Let Me Not Play a Woman: The Wellesley College Shakespeare Society, 1877-1906​" by Carrington OBrion '15 and "The New Faces of Assimilation." by Rayna Rampalli '18, written for AMST 101.
2014: God's Classroom: The Gablers' Textbook Crusade by Anna Diamond '15, written for EDUC 212.
2013: Maya Thompson '13
2012: Kerry Knerr '12

2011:  The 1978 “A Lesbian Show” Exhibition: The Politics of Queer Organizing around the Arts and the Fight for Visibility in American Cultural Memory by Anna Weick '12, written for AMST 350.

2010:  Eminem: Minstrel, White Negro, or American Hero? by Emily Zia '10, written for AMST 315.