Study the American Experience in all its Diversity

American Studies takes an interdisciplinary approach to examining the range and diversity of American experiences, identities, and communities.  Through its rich array of course offerings as well as opportunities for internships and preparation of an honors thesis, students study social, political, economic, and cultural processes within the United States as well as exploring the role of the nation in a global context. By placing the United States in a transnational and comparative framework, the major invites students to consider the relationship of different communities to the nation-state, which includes issues of colonialism and empire building as well as the effect of social protest movements. Courses investigate the American landscape and the built environment; they explore power, inequality, and agency through analysis of intersecting structures of race, gender, class, sexuality, and citizenship. Central to these studies are examinations of the relationship of theory and practice within historical and contemporary contexts.

American Studies is the oldest interdisciplinary major at Franklin & Marshall College.  Established in 1975, it is one of the most comprehensive majors at the college.  Students take core courses in American Studies as well as courses drawn from other nine academic departments. Students have developed individual concentrations in fields such as literary and cultural studies, social and historical developments, race and ethnicity, and gender. American Studies faculty members approach their work from many directions but share the desire to view America as a whole.

Because the American Studies curriculum helps students to develop their analytical skills and critical judgment, it is an invaluable foundation for a number of careers, including business, management, public policy, personnel, media, and education. Other former majors earn advanced degrees in graduate programs or professional schools in fields such as law, business, medicine, history, and museum studies. The interdisciplinary strength of American Studies prepares students to pursue personal interests and professional aspirations across their lifetimes.


American Studies at F&M

Why I Chose AMS

  • Brianna Adams '21

Brianna Adams '21

As an incoming freshman, I noticed that I felt the most comfortable and the most engaged in AMS classes. These classes prompted me to have serious conversations with family,, friends, and fellow peers. The best part about AMS,  for me, was that I didnt have to try to incorporate my passions into my academics because they were already present in the structure of the department.  The knowledge I gained and the way it has positively impacted my life made choosing AMS as a major the easiest decision of my college career. 

  • Anna Goorevich '21

Anna Goorevich '21

Coming to F&M, I thought I would study history, government, sociology, or gender studies; American Studies is the perfect combination of all of these disciplines and more. As someone who is passionate about the intersections of gender and sports, being an American Studies major gave me the intellectual freedom to explore this interest through my coursework and independent studies. I have pursued my passions, discovered new ones, and developed strong analytical and communication skills applicable to any career through being an American Studies major.   
  • Morelia Guzman '21

Morelia Guzman '21

I decided to become an American Studies major because learning about our history is pivotal to understand how our society functions. Also, the American Studies field intersects with many others, making it a versatile and enjoyable major.  I appreciated the opportunities for different kinds of independent research, such as my summer research project with Professor Willard, in which I studied 1960s media theorist, Marshall McLuhan, and my senior seminar research on race and the Deaf community.  

The Pulse of AMS

Story 9/23/2021

Greetings from the Department Chair 2021

Dennis Deslippe, chair of the American Studies Department, recaps activities of the last year by AMS students and faculty.

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Story 6/23/2021

Bridging Civic Engagement and Spirituality at F&M

Recent graduate James Overstreet discusses his experience as the Klehr Center's first civic engagement intern, including registering students as first-time voters through MitzVote.

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Story 6/14/2021

Uncovered History: Recent Grad Explores the Experiences of...

When F&M celebrated 50 years of co-education in 2019, Brianna Adams ’21 found herself wondering, “What was the experience like for Black women?” With little to no information documented, Adams dove...

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