American Studies

The American Studies Program is consistently one of the top-five majors among the undergraduates of Trinity College. Our courses attract students who are interested in a wide array of scholarly approaches from history, policy, and culture to law, economics, and education. Through texts, images, and sounds, the major provides a rich, multidisciplinary exploration of the American experience at home and abroad.

American Studies majors are sharp critical thinkers and skilled researchers who deliver astute analysis in person and in print. Over the years, the American Studies Program at Trinity has served as a foundation for professional training (in law, business, medicine, or media) and graduate work (in the humanities or social sciences). The intimate size of the program fosters close intellectual and personal contact between students and faculty. Situated in Hartford, the one-time home of such luminaries as J. P. Morgan, Mark Twain, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, students in the program are encouraged to take advantage of the unique historical, literary, and artistic resources available.  

The Faculty

Trinity's American Studies Program derives its excellence from its faculty of notable professors, many of whom enjoy national reputations and all of whom are active scholars. Engaged and enthusiastic, they enjoy working with students whether in or outside of the classroom. ​

The core faculty include Davarian Baldwin, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, who is a historian and cultural critic of urban America. American Studies Director and Associate Professor Scott Gac writes on a variety of 19th-century cultural topics from music to violence. Assistant Professor of American Studies Jack Gieseking, a cultural geographer and queer theorist, investigates digital and material environments to understand urban communities and public dialogues. Cheryl Greenberg, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History, tackles issues of race and religion in 20th-century America. Associate Professor of English Chris Hager is an expert on 19th-century literature and literacy. He is the winner of the 2014 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing. Christina Heatherton, Assistant Professor of American Studies, explores the global resonance and legacy of social movements in the twentieth century. Charles A. Dana Professor of History Joan Hedrick studies gender, feminism, and the nineteenth century. She won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life. Associate Professor of English and American Studies Diana Paulin, winner of the 2013 Errol Hill Award for her book Imperfect Unions, focuses on African-American literature and disability studies. Tom Wickman, Assistant Professor of History and American Studies, engages Native American and environmental history in colonial America.  Please click on the faculty and staff tab for a complete list of the faculty affiliated with the American Studies Program.

Upcoming Events

April 14, Thursday, Rittenberg Lounge, Mather Hall, 4:30PM, "Picturing Frederick Douglass: The Nineteenth Century's Most Photographed American," John Stauffer (Professor of English, African American Studies, and American Studies, Harvard University). 

 Mar. 10, Thursday, 4:15PM, Washington Room, Mather Hall, "Strength from the Past--Endurance for the Future," Civil Rights activist Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., (Emory University and NSCLC). Co-sponsored by American Studies.

Feb. 24, Thursday, 4:30PM, Seabury Chapel (NC217), "Transmedial Drag: Cabaret Methods, Digital Platforms and Technologies of Fabulous," T. L. Cowan (The New School) and Jasmine Rault (The New School). 

Feb. 16, Tuesday, Common Hour, "OMG! Look at Her Butt!! Self-Objectification, Memetic Culture, and Nicki Minaj's Anaconda Feminism, An Ann Plato Fellowhip Finalist Lecture by Aria S. Halliday (Ph.D. Candidate, American Studies, Purdue University).

Nov. 5, Thursday, 4:30PM, Gallows Hall, On Mumia Abu-Jamal, A conversation with Johanna Fernandez (editor of Writing on the Wall: Selected Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal, 2015) moderated by Vijay Prishad (International Studies). Co-sponsored by American Studies.

Oct. 29, Thursday, 5:30-6:45PM, Reese Room, Smith House, Annual Jan Cohn Lecture--"Vivas to Those Who Have Failed: A Reading," Martin Espada, English (UMass Amherst). 

Oct. 22, Thursday, 12:15-1:15PM, Rittenberg Lounge, "Open for Collaboration: Scholarship in the Age of Open Access," A CTL event with Jack Gieseking (American Studies), Jack Dougherty (Educational Studies), Charles Lebel (Language and Culture Studies), and Amy Harrell (Digital Projects Librarian).

Oct. 5, Monday, 12-1PM, Alumni Lounge, Mather Hall, ​"The Costs of War," Catherine Lutz (Anthropology and International Studies, Brown University). Co-Sponsored by American Studies.

Global History From Below (two events!):

Sept. 18, Friday, 4:30-6:45PM, Cinestudio, Ghosts of Amistad, screening and filmmaker discussion w/Marcus Rediker (U of Pittsburgh).

Sept. 18, Friday, 12:10-1:16 PM,  Washington Room, Mather Hall, "People's Poetry/People's History," Conversation and poetry with Martin Espada (UMass Amherst) and Marcus Rediker (U of Pittsburgh).

April 21, Tuesday,12:15 PM,  70 Vernon Street, "Jewish Comics in the City," N.C. Christopher Couch, Visiting Professor of American Studies, Trinity College. Sponsored by the Center for Urban and Global Studies.

March 3, Tuesday, McCook Auditorium, "Lessons from the Struggle: Stokely Carmichael, SNCC, and the Black Power Movement," Peniel Joseph, Professor of History, Tufts University and author of Stokely: A Life (Basic Civitas Books, 2014). Co-sponsored with the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

February 12, Thursday, Rittenberg Lounge, Mather Hall, "Black Power Nostalgia: Night Catches Us, Angela's Mixtape, and the Currency of Blackness," Isaiah Wooden (expected 2015 PhD in Theater and Performance Studies, Stanford University), Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow.

February 10, Tuesday, Rittenberg Lounge, Mather Hall: "Reweaving the Garment: Evangelical Christians and the Quest for Justice in Urban America," Stephanie Wolfe (expected 2015 PhD in Religious Studies, Northwestern University), currently a fellow at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and
Politics, Washington University in St. Louis.

February 3, Tuesday, 4:30, Terrace Rooms B&C, Mather Hall: "The Carrot and the Stick: Food Stamps and the Expansion of the Post-Fordist Welfare State in the U.S.," Maggie Dickinson (PhD in Cultural Anthropology, Graduate Center, CUNY), Senior Instructional Technology Fellow, Macaulay Honors College, CUNY.

January 29, Thursday, 4:30, Reece Room, Smith House: "The Queer Archive: Public Humanities and the LGBTQ Archive," Jen Jack Gieseking (PhD in Enviromental Social Science, Graduate Center, CUNY), Postdoctoral Fellow, Bowdoin College.

November 11, Tuesday, 4:30, Rittenberg Lounge, Mather Hall, Let's Talk Forum, "Black Americans in a System in Crisis," Margaret Kimberly, editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. AMST is a sponsor of this event.

October 1, Senior Project Proposal Deadline!!

September 30, Tuesday, 4:30 PM, Reece Room, Smith House: American Studies Annual Jan Cohn Lecture, Ned Blackhawk, (Western Shoshone) Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University. "Native American Studies and the Question of Genocide." Reece Room, Smith House, Reception and book signing to follow.

September 23, Tuesday, 4:30 PM, Washington Room, Mather Hall: NYU Professor Pedro Noguera, "Education and Civil Rights in the 21st Century." American Studies is a co-sponsor of this event in celebration of Hispanic Heritage month.

September 16, Tuesday, 12:15-1:10 PM, Alumni Lounge, Mather: Welcome Back Reception! Stop by to meet the AMST faculty for your spring courses. Friendly conversation and lunch provided.

The Latest in American Studies

Profile: Emily Leonard (MA, American Studies).​

Interview: Davarian Baldwin on Archibald Motley's Gettin' Religion (1948), a new acquistion @ The Whitney. 

Publication: Davarian Baldwin, "'I Will Build a Black Empire': The Birth of a Nation and the Specter of the New Negro," The Journal of the Progressive Age and Gilded Era, 14.4 (October 2015): 599-603.​

Award: Chris Hager, Public Scholars Program Grant, National Endowment for the Humanities.

Distinction: Christina Heatheron, finalist for the Constance M. Rourke Prize, American Studies Association prize for best article in ​American Quarterly. 

Publication: Davarian Baldwin, "'The 800-Pound Gargoyle': The Long History of Higher Education and Urban Development on Chicago's South Side," American Quarterly, 67.1 (March 2015), 81-103.

Distinction: Jack Gieseking, Community Learning Initiative (CLI) Grant to develop AMST 409 The Digital Image of the City.

Distinction: Chris Hager2015-2016 Nancy Schaenen Endowed Visiting Scholar of Ethics, Prindle Institute for Ethics, DePauw University.

In Hartford and Beyond: Davarian Baldwin @ the Wadsworth Athenuem, in USA Today, and in podcast for the Schomburg  Center in New York.

Distinction: Chris Hager, NEH summer stipend, support for "The Epistolary Culture of the U.S. Civil War."

Publication: Scott Gac, "Slave or Free? White or Black? The Representation of George Latimer," New England Quarterly, 88.1 (Mar. 2015), 73-103.

Publication: Tom Wickman,“Winters Embittered with Hardships”: Severe Cold, Wabanaki Power, and English Adjustments, 1690–1710," William and Mary Quarterly, 72.1 (Jan. 2015), 57-98.

Distinction: Davarian Baldwin elected to the Board of Directors of the Urban History Association.

WHY  are you an American Studies major? The Phi Beta Kapa Society has some answers (hint: you'll earn a higher salary in the long run.) Visit: Know the Facts--Arts and Sciences are Key.

AWARD!! Chris Hager, Frederick Douglass Book Prize for Word by Word (Harvard, 2013). Full details here.

Publication: Christina Heatherton, "University of Radicalism: Ricardo Flores Magón and Leavonworth Penitentiary," American Quarterly, (Sept. 2014): 557-582.

In Hartford! Scott Gac at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Sept. 20, 2014, at 2 PM. Maculinity, race, and violence in the early American art collection.

Congratulations! Frederick Douglass Prize Finalist: Chris Hager for Word by Word (Harvard, 2013), his brilliant work on American emancipation and literacy.

Welcome! Christina Heatherton, assistant professor of American Studies. See "Today Marks First Day of New President, Five Faculty."

Publication: Scott Gac, "The Republican Statesman: William Henry Seward," Reviews in American History 42.2 (June 2104): 285-290. 

Congratulations! Lincoln Prize Finalist: Chris Hager for Word by Word (Harvard, 2013) a brilliant workon emancipation and African American literacy.

On the Voice of America: Scott Gac, "Temperance Marked U.S. War Against Drinking," 17 Dec., 2013.

On the BBC: Joan Hedrick,"The Legacy of Uncle Tom," 25 Nov. 2013.

Publication: Davarian Baldwin and Minkah Makalani, eds., Escape From New York: The New Negro Renaissance Beyond Harlem (Minnesota, 2013).

Congratulations!: Madeleine Dickinson ('14), named as President's Fellow for outstanding work as an American Studies major.

Congratulations!: Diana Paulin, whose book, Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in US Drama and Fiction (2012), has won the 2013 Errol Hill Award for outstanding scholarship in the field of African-American theatre from the American Society for Theatre Research.

Publication: Scott Gac, "Was the Civil War a Mistake? Fifty Years of Edmund Wilson's Patriotic Gore," Reviews in American History (June 2013).

Publication: Tom Wickman,  “Arithmetic and Afro-Atlantic pastoral protest: The place of (in)numeracy in Gronniosaw and Equiano” in Abolitionist Places, eds. Jared Hickman and Martha Schoolman (London: Taylor & Francis, 2013).