American Studies is extremely well respected at Wesleyan; it is one of the principal beneficiaries of the same reforms, instituted under the administration of Dr. Victor Lloyd Butterfield, that created the College of Social Studies and the College of Letters. It is another wonderful example of an interdisciplinary approach to a subtle and complex field of study, one that takes into account literature, art, and cultural anthropology. it is perhaps the oldest of the "area studies" departments at Wesleyan.
American Studies got off to a strong start with the promotion of Richard Slotkin to a full professorship in the 1970s. He put Wesleyan on the map as a leader in the "myth and symbol" movement for nearly forty years, until his retirement about three years ago. His seminal works, "Regeneration Through Violence" and "Gunfigher Nation" are still in print and obtainable on Amazon.: http://www.amazon.com/Regeneration-T.../dp/0806132299 http://www.amazon.com/Gunfighter-Nat.../dp/0806130318
He has been replaced by another "myth and symbol" man with strong academic credentials, Joel Pfister, Kenan Professor of the Humanities.
Meanwhile, the department has been augmented with ties to strong departments in Latin American Studies, Queer Studies, African and African American Studies, and of course, Wesleyan's incomparable Film Studies Dept.