American studies is an innovative field of study that looks at the American past and present through an interdisciplinary lens. Students in the major draw upon concepts and methods developed in history, literature, sociology, philosophy, political science, anthropology, art history and music in their analyses of various American social, cultural and political phenomena.

American studies majors are critical thinkers who are able to analyze a variety of texts (such as the visual arts, novels, films, sports, advertising and popular music) and to investigate how these texts reflect or challenge dominant conceptions of identity and power. The American studies curriculum has a strong transnational focus, emphasizing that “America” does not stop at the borders of the United States.

At Dickinson, the Department of American Studies offers both a major and a minor. Students take core courses in American studies and draw other coursework from across the curriculum. Each American studies student has a unique program given coherence through the core American studies courses and through careful planning and advising. Required courses within and outside the department address four key areas of study: history, representation, structures & institutions and literature.

Contact Info


Cotten SeilerAssociate Professor of American Studies

Department Coordinator

Denise McCauleySr. Academic Department Coordinator






219C, Denny Hall Mailing Address

Department Features

Student Outcomes

Where Our Students Go From Here


  • American Heart Association
  • CBS, Inc.
  • Center for Health & Gender Equity (CHANGE)
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • CNBC
  • Danish Institute for Study Abroad
  • Google, Inc.
  • HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
  • Haverford College
  • iHeartMedia
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • NBC Universal, Inc.
  • New York City Office of the Mayor
Where Our Students Have Interned
  • Planned Parenthood of Maine
  • Exploration Schools 
  • Visual Communications (Getty Multicultural Internship Program)
  • dOMAIN Integrated
  • Exploration Schools at Yale University
  • Lionsgate Entertainment
  • Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault/Maine Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Network
  • Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Inc
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American History
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Student Perspective

“As a current graduate level student, I can easily see how well American Studies prepared me academically to engage in my new curriculum. The critical thinking, writing skills, and ability to read closely and make connections are all skills that I attribute to my experiences in American Studies, and have been critical to my success in my graduate program.”

—Matt Wenz ’17

American Studies News

Student Snapshot: Jackie Logsted ’22

Student Snapshot: Jackie Logsted ’22

Jackie Logsted '22's book, co-written with her mom, was released by Penguin Random House on Jan. 5. She also has a quarantine podcast, cohosted with Erin Clarke '22.

2020 Alumni Award Winners Deliver Acceptance Speeches

2020 Alumni Award Winners Deliver Acceptance Speeches

Hear from the winners of Dickinson's 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, Outstanding Young Alumni Awards, Walter E. Beach Distinguished Alumni Award and 1783 Award.

Dickinson College to Host Lecture by Ibram X. Kendi, Author of Current Bestseller ‘How to be an Antiracist’

Dickinson College to Host Lecture by Ibram X. Kendi, Author of Current Bestseller ‘How to be an Antiracist’

The bestselling author of "How to Be an Antiracist" kicks off Dickinson Discussion series with a conversation about how to understand and solve the seemingly intractable problems of racial inequality.


Dickinson Creates New Position in Native American Studies

Dickinson has created a new tenure-track position in Native American studies thanks in part to a $210,000 grant from the Creating Connections Consortium.

Dickinson College Alumnus Tackles Hunger Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Dickinson College Alumnus Tackles Hunger Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Phil Goropoulos ’97 launches Healthy Columbia Crisis Meals Initiative to combat food insecurity caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Saying “Yes”

Saying “Yes”

London-based ABC News editor Jonathan Haworth ’04 discusses his globe-trotting professional path and how Dickinson taught him to seize opportunities.