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American Studies Advising


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.

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

AMST 201- Introduction to American Studies
AMST 202 – Workshop in Cultural Analysis
200-Level American Studies topics course. 
Any course at the appropriate level listed below.

AMHI—History — two courses: HIST 117 or 118, and one additional U.S. History course (or comparative history course approved by the student’s AMST advisor) at or above the 200-level.

AMLT—Literature — two courses in American Literature (or comparative literature courses approved by the student’s AMST advisor); one of the courses must be at or above the 200-level.

Any questions? Please contact the chair, Professor Amy Farrell at

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

Writing in the Discipline (WiD):
AMST 202 – Workshop in Cultural Analysis

AMST 101
– Gender, Race and Pop Culture

Social Sciences (Division II) - Fall 2024:
AMST 101 – Gender, Race and Pop Culture
AMST 101 – Prisons and Policing in American Culture
AMST 200 – Disorderly Women
AMST 200 – Latinx Studies
AMST 200 – Queer Communities
AMST 200 – Settler Colonialism in Comparative Perspectives
AMST 201 – Introduction to American Studies
AMST 202 – Workshop in Cultural Analysis
AMST 401 – Research and Methods in American Studies

U.S. Diversity:
AMST 101 – Gender, Race and Pop Culture
AMST 101 – Prisons and Policing in American Culture
AMST 200 -- Comparative Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.

Global Diversity:
AMST 200
– Settler Colonialism in Comparative Perspectives

AMST Major Requirement - Representation -- Fall 2024:
AMST 101 - Disorderly Women 
AMST 202 - Queer Communities 

AMST Major Requirement - Structures & Institutions -- Fall 2024:
AMST 101 - Prisons and Policing in American Culture 
AMST 200 - Comparative Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.
AMST 200 - Latinx Studies 
AMST 200 - Settler Colonialism in Comparative Perspectives
AMST 200 - Queer Communities 


Suggested curricular flow through the major

First Year/Sophomore Year
AMST 201 Introduction to American Studies
AMST 202 Workshop in Cultural Analysis
One course in American History
One 200-level course in American Studies
One course in American Literature
One course in Structures & Institutions

Junior Year
AMST 303 Topics in Cultural Theory/Workshops in Cultural Theory
One course in Representation
One course in American Literature at the 300-level
One course in Structures & Institutions
One course in History at or above the 200-level

Senior Year
AMST 401 Research and Methods in American Studies (Fall)
AMST 402 Writing in American Studies (Spring)
Any courses remaining to fill out the major


To be eligible for consideration for honors, an American Studies major must be recommended by their AMST 401 instructor, must have a minimum 3.5 grade point average (rounded) in the major by the end of the fall semester of their senior year, and must have no breaches of the college's academic community standards. A student pursuing honors must complete a research manuscript in 402 that goes beyond the merit of an "A" paper. An "honors" thesis should be at least 50 pages in length and should demonstrate skilled writing and extensive research; a nuanced ability to make connections between the specific issue studied and larger social and cultural issues; extensive use of primary sources; an awareness of key theory and methods; an engagement with current critical questions within American Studies; and, finally, an ability to work on all three levels essential to an American studies project - history, representation, and structures and institutions. An Honors Committee, made up of three core American Studies faculty, shall assess the project(s).


We strongly encourage students to participate in internships through the internship notation program.  This allows students to explore career paths and provides opportunities to see how skills learned in American Studies can be applied outside of academia.  Students have interned with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, MTV, the Smithsonian Folk Life Division, the American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood, the Carlisle Regional Medical Center, the Carlisle School District, the borough of Carlisle, Cumberland County Public Defender’s Office, Pennsylvania Legal Services, and Domestic Violence Services.  

Opportunities for off-campus study

American Studies majors often study off-campus, and we encourage them to pursue such opportunities. A very popular program is Dickinson’s East Anglia program in Norwich, England, as the University of East Anglia has a strong American Studies department.  Students also study at Oxford University and in programs within Copenhagen, Bologna, Toulouse, as well as New Zealand, India and Brazil.  Other solid opportunities exist in Washington D.C. and New Mexico.

These off-campus programs are usually part of the Junior year and should be planned well in advance of the semester they are to be engaged in.  They are a great part of the American Studies major.

Additional Remarks

Annual events: American Studies hosts the Bud Shaw Memorial Lecture, which brings a distinguished scholar in the field to discuss their current research with our majors and the College community. Every spring, senior American Studies majors present their thesis projects-in-process at our American Studies Senior Research Symposium.

Related activities: American Studies offers lectures and films that are coordinated with the core courses, but which are open to the entire community, often in cooperation with the participating departments. 

Majors Committee: Our department has a very active majors committee.  Our students organize field trips, films, book groups, discussions and parties. 

Careers: American Studies majors develop careers in a wide range of areas including the business and non-profit sectors, publishing, public relations, media, journalism, teaching, government, counseling, and law.  Some have gone on to graduate education in a variety of fields including American studies, business, education, fine arts, historic preservation, museum studies, history, law, political science, urban planning, religion, journalism, and medicine. 

Further Information: Information on the major and minor as well as on the particular courses being offered each semester are available on the Current Courses tab of the American Studies website, and from the American Studies Department Chair, Professor Amy Farrell.