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Coronavirus Update

Dickinson will invite students back for the spring. Campus buildings are closed and face coverings are required on campus.

Additional Information.

Faculty Profile

Cotten Seiler

Associate Professor of American Studies (2002)

Contact Information

Denny Hall Room 312


My research and teaching focuses on U.S. cultural and intellectual history, critical race theory, and cultural studies. My book, Republic of Drivers: A Cultural History of Automobility in America, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2008, and my essays have appeared in journals such as American Quarterly, Public Culture, Social Text, Reviews in American History, American Historical Review, Transfers, and History & Technology. I am a frequent media commentator on US racial politics, automobility, and popular culture.


  • B.A., Northwestern University, 1990
  • Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2002

2019-2020 Academic Year

Spring 2020

AMST 101 Racial Politics/Am Pop Music
This course will consider popular music as both a reflection of and a transformative force within American culture. Beginning with the nineteenth century and continuing into our own time, we will look at (and listen to) the ways in which popular music has participated in continuing, often volatile, dialogues about racial identity and racial power in the United States, and as simultaneously shaped ideologies of gender, class, sexuality, and nation. Rather than be structured as a strict chronological survey, the course will focus on themes and issues in popular music production and consumption. In the first part of the course, we will examine theories of musical aesthetics, inquire into the sources of identity, and discuss the power of popular music to reflect and influence politics and cultural values. These discussions will give us analytical tools and historical knowledge for thinking and writing about music commerce and the genres we will discuss more specifically in the course's second half—blues, “race” music, hillbilly/country, ragtime, swing, rhythm & blues, rock and roll, folk, disco, rap/hip-hop, funk, punk, salsa, heavy metal, and “alternative.”

AMST 202 Workshop in Cultural Analysis
This intensive writing workshop focuses on theoretical approaches to the interpretation of social and cultural materials. The course provides an early exposure to theories and methods that will be returned to in upper level departmental courses. Intended to develop independent skills in analysis of primary texts and documents.