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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

2020-2021 Academic Year

Spring 2021

AMST 101 Racial Politics/Am Pop Music
This course considers popular music as both a reflection of and a transformative force within the larger American culture. Beginning with the nineteenth century and moving toward our own time, we will look at (and listen to) how popular music has helped to form and challenge racial identities in the United States. In the first part of the course, we will examine theories of musical aesthetics, inquire into the origins and revisions of the ever-weird entity called race, 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 the genres such as minstrelsy, blues, “race” music, hillbilly/country, rhythm & blues, rock, folk, disco, rap/hip-hop, funk, conjunto, punk, heavy metal, reggae, and “indie” (to name just a few!).

AMST 402 Writing in American Studies
Students research and write a substantial research project, normally drawing on their work in 401. Prerequisite: 303, 401.