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American Studies

American Studies

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


Amy FarrellProfessor of American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies; James Hope Caldwell Memorial Chair

Department Coordinator

Heather IngramAcademic 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

Graduate Schools:

  • Harvard University
  • New York University
  • Columbia University
  • University of Massachusetts
  • Dartmouth College
  • UCLA
  • USC
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Drexel University
  • Elon University Law
  • Rutgers University
  • Temple University
  • University of Connecticut
  • Brandeis University


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

“The Department of American Studies prides itself on how interdisciplinary it is in practice. Before I got to college, I was enthusiastically interested in politics, psychology, English, women’s & gender studies and history. I assumed that I would have to narrow my focus. The Department of American Studies, however, has allowed me to delve into all my interests without sacrificing getting a degree in a timely manner, and has even provided me with more useful lenses through which to investigate my passions.”

—Arwyn Forbes ’25

American Studies News

The (Red) Devil Wears Prada

The (Red) Devil Wears Prada

There are fascinating lessons sewn into fashion. Researching in Italy, students explored the culture, history, politics and ethics of Italian fashion, from fast fashion to couture.

Dickinson Alumnus Shares Research on Race and Policing in New York City

Dickinson Alumnus Shares Research on Race and Policing in New York City

Matthew Guariglia '12, senior policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, will discuss his new book, “Police and the Empire City: Race and the Origins of Modern Policing in New York.”

Student Snapshot: Emerlee Simons ’24

Student Snapshot: Emerlee Simons ’24

Meet Emerlee Simons ’24, an All-American student-athlete, Baird Sustainability Fellow and Dialogues Across Differences student-coordinator.

Student Snapshot: Sam Neuburger ’24

Student Snapshot: Sam Neuburger ’24

"It's unbelievably satisfying to see all of the historical threads fall into place." Meet Sam Neuburger '24, who's pursuing a passion for culinary history and food writing.

Student Snapshot: Arwyn Forbes ’25

Student Snapshot: Arwyn Forbes ’25

"Thanks to Dickinson’s brilliant professors, my understanding of the world around me has deepened considerably,” says Arwyn Forbes ’25, a House Divided and Knowledge for Freedom intern.

Student Snapshot: Brianna Weber ’24

Student Snapshot: Brianna Weber ’24

“The community fosters a spirit of hard work because students are supported.” Meet Weiss Prize recipient Brianna Weber ’24 and learn about the classes that inspire her work.