About American Studies

Our Program & Courses

American Studies is one of the most comprehensive majors at F&M. Unlike traditional majors, American Studies allows you to combine and cross academic fields in your study of American culture, past and present. You’ll explore a rich array of courses drawn from nine academic departments beyond American Studies, including history; religious studies; art; music; Africana Studies; women’s, gender and sexuality studies; and more. Through independent and collaborative research, you’ll examine the core narratives of the United States, as well as the diversity of American social and cultural life, all while sharpening your ability to read critically, articulate ideas clearly, conduct research, and write effectively.

By the time you graduate, you will: 

  • Be able to answer the question of national identities: “What does it mean to be or to become American (in the present and in the past)?”
  • Understand past and present assertions of American “exceptionalism” and be able to critique these notions
  • Comprehend how diverse groups of people are integral to national politics and cultures in order to analyze systems of power in relation to race, gender, class, sexuality, and citizenship — and to understand how categories of race, gender, class and sexuality have changed over time
  • Situate U.S. national cultures in global contexts, including borderlands, empire, hemispheric, and comparative contexts
  • Use multiple disciplinary methods and approaches in research projects that engage aspects of American identities, cultures and/or politics

Wondering what American Studies classes are like? Peruse at our course catalog to see the depth and breadth of what’s available to you.

Our Faculty & Staff

Dennis A Deslippe

Professor of American Studies and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Department Chair of American Studies

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Contact »

Daniel E Frick

Director of the Writing Center, Senior Teaching Professor of American Studies

American Studies

Contact »

Alison Kibler

Professor of American Studies and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Public Health; Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Contact »

Cordelia A Moyse

Visiting Scholar of American Studies

Contact »

Cristina Perez

Assistant Professor of American Studies

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Contact »

Eric M Usner

Senior Adjunct Assistant Professor of American Studies

Contact »

Mark R Villegas

Associate Professor of American Studies

Africana Studies; Latin American Studies

Contact »

Ann L Wagoner

Academic Department Coordinator

American Studies; Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Contact »

Carla Willard

Associate Professor of American Studies

Contact »

Learning Outside the Classroom

Your work in American Studies will extend far outside the classroom. The department has a long tradition of encouraging students’ intellectual growth through research, off-campus study, independent research and more. Our goal is to provide close supervision and mentoring to students in the classroom and around the world.

Research Opportunities

Do you want to research Lancaster’s Civil Rights Movement? Or examine the complex intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality and citizenship? You can at F&M. As you dive into all that American Studies has to offer, you’ll discover areas or ideas you want to further explore. The good news? You won’t have to wait until graduate school to launch your investigation. Every student at F&M has extraordinary opportunities to engage in independent or faculty-led research. 
Explore research at F&M

Internships

Internships allow you to explore fields and job functions of interest, building your portfolio while shaping and inspiring your path in both expected and unexpected ways. Recent American Studies majors have secured internships with: 
  • The Louis Armstrong House
  • The Baseball Hall of Fame
  • CBS Sports
  • The Smithsonian
  • The Commonwealth Foundation, enjoying Pennsylvania-based internships in public policy, government affairs and entrepreneurship
  • National Public Radio, gaining experience in production and marketing
  • The Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association
  • York County History Center, earning responsibilities such as visitor engagement and education; library and archives; communications and marketing; and geographic information systems
Explore internships at F&M

Off-Campus Study

At F&M, you’ll find extraordinary opportunities to study abroad. Our American Studies majors have studied in Australia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Scotland, South Africa and Spain in recent years. You, too, can make study abroad integral to your experiences and research.
Explore off-campus study at F&M

Success Beyond F&M

By majoring in American Studies at F&M, you’ll gain a holistic outlook that provides a strong background in critical thinking, analysis, writing and public presentation — skills in high demand in any post-graduate pursuit.

Graduate School

Many of our majors choose to pursue graduate school after F&M, with a significant number enrolling in law school. Our graduates have completed their advanced degrees at the best universities, including:

  • American University
  • Columbia University
  • Drexel University
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • New York University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Villanova University

Career Paths

American Studies graduates build an invaluable foundation for an eclectic range of careers. They find success in education, law, government, marketing, and more, and hold positions such as: 

  • Archivist
  • Attorney
  • Author
  • College Professor
  • Editor 
  • Filmmaker
  • Foreign Service Diplomat
  • Government Official
  • Teacher
  • Journalist
  • Judge
  • Law Clerk
  • Marketing Writer
  • Museum Curator
  • Musician
  • Publisher
  • Social Worker

Research Spotlight

Students Uncover Lancaster’s Secret Side

With its bucolic landscape and Amish roots, many visitors to Lancaster assume the region’s past is nothing less than virtuous. But a group of Franklin & Marshall College students is uncovering a more salacious side. Through the Lancaster Vice History tour, F&M students travel back in time to explore reform group efforts to curb prostitution, gambling and liquor law violations in the 1900s. The tour and ongoing research is facilitated by Alison Kibler, professor of American studies and women's, gender & sexuality studies.
Read More »

Alumni Spotlight

Every Stitch Tells a Story

It’s not every day you wear hoops skirts, bustles and bonnets to work – let alone hand-stitch them. But for Franklin & Marshall College alum Rachel Sheffield '20, it’s just another day on the job. Sheffield — an American studies major and Italian minor — is the lead interpreter and historic clothing coordinator at First State Heritage Park in Dover, Del.
Read More »

Related Fields of Study

Africana Studies

Learn to view the world through diverse perspectives, from Africa and the regions of the Diaspora to the lived experiences of Black Americans today. Africana Studies at F&M explores the range of interrelated histories, cultures, and intellectual contributions of Africans and those of African origin, all the way back to the cradle of civilization itself.

History

Embark on an enriching journey through time, exploring a vast range of geographic regions, topical themes, and time periods. By studying history at F&M, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of history and historical processes, and develop keen insight into how they have shaped the present and will influence the future.

Social Justice (Certificate)

This certificate synthesizes critical perspectives on the social systems and structures through which dynamics of power and inequality are created, maintained, contested, and transformed. At the intersections of race, gender, socioeconomic class, and sexuality, you will have the opportunity to meaningfully engage with historical and contemporary issues germane to struggles for equity and justice between and across social identity groups.

American Studies in Action

August 10, 2023

F&M Faculty Uncover History of Underground Railroad in Lancaster

A historic home in downtown Lancaster is being turned into a museum by LancasterHistory, thanks in part to contributions by Franklin & Marshall College faculty.

April 25, 2023

'I Left As a Leader': Young Alumni Share Stories

In a panel sponsored by the Alumni Leaders of Tomorrow program, Franklin & Marshall College graduates Emma Corrado '16, Wyatt Behringer '18 and Danielle Sang '18 spoke to students about their top F&M takeaways and the strength of the True Blue network.

March 7, 2023

How to Have Hard Conversations: Sarah Pharaon '00

Franklin & Marshall College alum Sarah Pharaon has built a career in some of the nation's most renowned museums. After 20 years of museum work, she launched Dialogic to help nonprofit institutions have better conversations around difficult histories. Pharaon, an American studies graduate, has since led internal focus groups for organizations such as Smithsonian American Women's History Museum.