In the years following the Second World War, American Studies began as an interdisciplinary approach to the history and culture of the United States. In the post-Vietnam era, however, students have become more deeply curious about the Western Hemisphere itself - the life of its peoples before the advent of Europeans, the languages and cultures of countries from Antarctica to Tierra del Fuego, the interaction of economies and governments. We now think of American Studies as legitimately comprising issues and subjects found throughout the Western Hemisphere, broadening our scope and permitting us to see connections beyond national boundaries.
American Studies focuses on issues, problems, topics - and then examines them using methods of study drawn from several disciplines. One might study country music, for example, using an approach through gender and methods of literary analysis, or examine the history of early mechanization in the United States through a study of language and economics. Interdisciplinary study offers an added dimension to subjects or issues and a lively freedom of approach.