Image of Sarah Gualtieri (department chair), with brown, shoulder-length, wavy hair, a black suit, and a silver necklace.

Welcome to the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity (ASE) at USC. I am pleased to be chairing this dynamic interdisciplinary unit which has been nationally recognized for its novel approaches to the understanding of racism, immigration, incarceration, power, sexuality and social justice. We engage students and the wider public to collectively address the consequences of structural inequality and settler colonialism in Los Angeles, California, the United States and the world.

ASE houses a stellar, award-winning faculty, drawn from across USC, whose scholarship and teaching crosses disciplinary boundaries.

In our undergraduate and graduate courses and our public lectures, research symposiums and events, we produce robust inquiry in the cross-cutting fields of American Studies and Ethnic Studies.  Our teaching, research and public facing work connects the complementary concerns of Literature, History, Sociology, Politics, Film, Communications, Anthropology, Science Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Psychology and Cognitive Studies, Cultural Studies, Carceral Studies, Performing Arts and Visual Studies (to name a few). We house Kaya Press, a Trans-Pacific creative and non-fiction press.

As an innovative and multidisciplinary PhD program, ASE offers models of scholarly inquiry and interpretation that address the creative potential of diasporic and ethnic communities and the multi-directional influence they exercise upon the immediate California region, the United States and that reverberate across the Americas, Pacific and Atlantic.

Our students have become professors at top universities, leaders in arts and cultural institutions, and innovators in community, national and international organizations and in professions of law, medicine, education, and social work.  Through rigorous and cutting-edge research, the faculty, with the support of staff and students, are devoted to working toward justice and equity and to building worlds of community and care.

Our graduate students are placed in tenure track positions at the most competitive universities.  They win top fellowships and awards from the Ford Foundation, the Haynes Foundation, ACLS, Mellon, AAUW, and National Science Foundation.

Our signature public lecture series ASE Commons addresses Race, Power and Critical Thought and features new research in American Studies. The series is spearheaded by our innovative seven research clusters:   Creativity, Theory and Politics; Critical Southwest Asian and North African Studies; Hemispheric Americas; Africana; Indigeneity and Decolonization; Transpacific Studies; and Race, Gender and Sexuality.

ASE offers a truly unique opportunity to participate in a transformative mission. Please check out our website to find out more about our work and how you can become involved. We look forward to your participation in the ASE project!

Sarah Gualtieri, Ph.D.

Department Chair 2023-24

Contact Us

Department of American Studies & Ethnicity

Located in Kaprielian Hall on the University Park campus, ASE faculty, graduate students, and staff are available to assist you with information and resources about our academic programs and research specialties.


University of Southern California

3620 South Vermont Avenue

Kaprielian Hall 462

Los Angeles, California 90089-2534