Guns hold a central and uniquely polarizing position in contemporary American society and culture, yet there are so many unanswered questions about how we got here. How have uses and perceptions of guns evolved over time? How and why do they vary across regions of the country? What factors influence the different meanings and values we associate with guns? How do depictions of guns in popular culture, media, and advertisements affect public sentiment?
Today, there are estimated to be around 350 million civilian-owned guns in the United States—more than any other nation in the world. The topic of guns is commonly studied in schools of law and public health, yet the humanities and social sciences offer equally essential lenses and many valuable tools to help answer these critical questions, among others. The Center for the Study of Guns and Society (CSGS) at Wesleyan University is the first academic center in the U.S. dedicated to interdisciplinary humanities study and teaching on the social and cultural history of firearms.
The center fosters research and collaborations with other institutions, including museums, schools, and the public. It hosts new courses on the history of guns and society at Wesleyan, and supports student and faculty research.