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American Studies at Lehigh


      John Pettegrew, Associate Professor, History

Lehigh University-American John Pettegrew

Associate Professor of History, John Pettegrew, has been named the of Director of American Studies Program effective July 1. Pettegrew is a historian of the late-19th and 20th century U.S. thought and culture. He is co-editor of the three-volume work, Public Women, Public Words: A Documentary History of American Feminism; author and editor of A Pragmatist's Progress: Richard Rorty and American Intellectural History; and author of the book, Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890-1920, an examination of the putatively male instinct of aggressiveness as constructed in modern U.S. social science, law, literature, sports and military cultures. His current research includes the topics of combat in the Iraq War, and the emergence of empathy in 20th-century social thought. 

Professor Pettegrew is also Director of the South Side Initiative (SSI), which brings together Lehigh University faculty, students and staff with the people of Bethlehem in order to share knowledge, foster democracy, and improve the quality of life in our city. SSI rests on the proposition that the teaching and research mission of the university – and the quality of life in Bethlehem – will be enhanced by this collaboration. He is also Co-Chair of Public History Working Group. Pettegrew has been taken with Bethlehem and its history since joining Lehigh's faculty in the last millennium. He's worked as a consultant with Bethlehem's ensemble theater Touchstone Theater on a number of productions. And his interest in public history has led to documentary film making, including the study he produced with his undergraduate students, Work in Progress: Bethlehem Steel during World War II (1998). As Co-Founder/Co-Director of the South Side Initiative, Pettegrew has spearheaded, among other projects, the Southside Community Gardens. He helped found the Lehigh Community Garden in 2010. In 2011 he focused on developing Lehigh's Center for Documentary Film and Digital Media, a program working in close collaboration with Lehigh's Library and Technology Services as well the local television station, PBS-39.

The Program

The Master's degree program in American Studies at Lehigh has a strong tradition of recruiting and training students who later go on to earn a PhD in fields such as English, History, Sociology, and American Studies. The program is also attractive to students who view the MA in American Studies as a terminal degree that can open up further opportunities for careers in secondary education, law, media and communications, writing and editing, museum and archival work, and the nonprofit sector.

The strengths of the American Studies Master's degree at Lehigh lie in the flexibility of the program of study and in the one-on-one attention that students receive from the faculty. Students custom-tailor their degree program by taking courses in English, History, Political Science, Sociology, Journalism/Communications, Religion Studies, and a range of other disciplines. Over 30 faculty members in six different departments contribute to the American Studies program, and students work closely with two faculty members on a final thesis project that can take the form of a written paper or, in many cases, a short documentary film.

Lehigh provides a vibrant intellectual environment for scholarship in American Studies. Dozens of speakers visit Lehigh every year, including scholars, activists, filmmakers, and political figures. Lehigh’s close proximity to New York and Philadelphia also gives students access to research and other opportunities on the East Coast.

For more information contact
Office of Interdisciplinary Programs, incasip@lehigh.edu, 610-758-3996