American Studies draws faculty from around the University. Courses in the American Studies core curriculum are taught by professors from many different disciplines. Cross-listed American Studies courses are offered in numerous departments across the University. Below is a listing of our core American Studies faculty.
Sherry Linkon, Director of American Studies, Professor of English, and Faculty Director of Writing Curriculum Initivatives
Sherry Linkon is a Professor of English and Director of Georgetown’s Writing Program. She earned her PhD in American Studies, and her research and teaching have long emphasized interdisciplinary approaches to the study of culture, often rooted in literary, artistic, and media representations. She was one of the founders of Working-Class Studies, and much of her research has focused on deindustrialization. With John Russo, she wrote Steeltown USA: Work and Memory in Youngstown, a study of representations of work and place in a northeastern Ohio steel city, and she is finishing a new book on contemporary literature that reflects the long-term cultural effects of economic restructuring. Along with her academic work, she writes for public audiences. She edits a weekly blog, Working-Class Perspectives, and she has also been writing about the 2016 election and working-class culture for Moyers & Company.
Erika Seamon, American Studies Associate Teaching Professor
Erika B. Seamon is a scholar and professor at Georgetown University in the American Studies Program. Her research interests explore the intersections of American culture, religion, and gender. She is particularly interested in the histories of marriage and education in the United States. Marriage and education, as continually evolving social constructions, challenge artificial divides between private-public and religious-secular spaces, offering a window into dominant narratives associated with religious and gender-based diversity in American life.
Dr. Seamon’s recent book, Interfaith Marriage in America: The Transformation of Religion and Christianity (Palgrave, 2012), uses intermarriage to chronicle the shifting boundaries between and among prominent religious communities throughout U.S. history. She thinks critically about how the slow disintegration of cultural barriers to intermarriage destabilized national and transnational religious traditions and narratives, at different historical moments. As American families (and women in particular) negotiate differences and build bridges among their extended families and communities, they are re-imagining foundational understandings of belief, practice, community, and personal identity.
Currently, Dr. Seamon teaches core courses for Georgetown's American Studies Program, including American Civ I and II and the senior thesis seminar. She also offers upper-level elective courses on religion in American public life. She holds degrees in religious studies, liberal studies, social and public policy, and business administration. Prior to joining the Georgetown community, Dr. Seamon was a Partner at Kuczmarski & Associates, Inc. and taught at the University of Chicago.
Colva Weissenstein, American Studies Program Manager
Colva Weissenstein is the Program Manager of the American Studies Program at Georgetown. Colva is the first point of contact between American Studies and other offices within the University, prospective and current students, faculty, and alumni. Colva manages the financials, administration, coordinates study abroad, and does event planning for American Studies. Additionally, she assists with AMST 304 and 305, the senior thesis seminar.
Colva has a BA in English from George Mason University, and an MA from the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program at Georgetown. She has been afflicted with American Studies since 2010.
Colva's research interests include cultural studies and film, particularly horror. She likes working with students, problem solving, greeting dogs she's never met before, and working out. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Core and Affiliated Faculty
Randy Bass, Vice Provost for Education, Professor of English
Randy Bass is Vice Provost for Education and Professor of English at Georgetown University, where he leads the Designing the Future(s) initiative and the Red House incubator for curricular transformation. For 13 years he was the Founding Executive Director of Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS).
He has been working at the intersections of new media technologies and the scholarship of teaching and learning for nearly thirty years, including serving as Director and Principal Investigator of the Visible Knowledge Project, a five-year scholarship of teaching and learning project involving 70 faculty on 21 university and college campuses. In January 2009, he published a collection of essays and synthesis of findings from the Visible Knowledge Project under the title, “The Difference that Inquiry Makes,” (co-edited with Bret Eynon) in the digital journal Academic Commons (January 2009: http://academiccommons.org).
From 2003-2009 he was a Consulting Scholar for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, where he served, in 1998-99, as a Pew Scholar and Carnegie Fellow. In 1999, he won the EDUCAUSE Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Technology and Undergraduate Education. Bass is the author and editor of numerous books, articles, and electronic projects, including recently, "Disrupting Ourselves: the Problem of Learning in Higher Education" (Educause Review, March/April 2012). He is currently a Senior Scholar with the American Association for Colleges and Universities.
Caetlin Benson-Allott, Associate Professor
Caetlin Benson-Allott is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University and Core Faculty Member in its Film and Media Studies Program. She is the author of Killer Tapes and Shattered Screens: Video Spectatorship from VHS to File Sharing (University of California Press, 2013) and Remote Control (Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming January 2015). Her work on film and technology, exhibition history, spectatorship theory, and feminist theory has appeared in the Atlantic, Cinema Journal, South Atlantic Quarterly, the Journal of Visual Culture, Jump Cut, Film Quarterly, Film Criticism, In Media Res, the Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and multiple anthologies. Her dissertation won the Society for the Cinema and Media Studies Best Dissertation Award in 2009. After winning Film Quarterly's 50th Anniversary Review Essay Competition in 2008, she continued to write for the journal and became a regular columnist and contributing editor. She is currently working on special issues of Feminist Media Histories (on "Materialisms") and the Journal of Visual Culture (on "Horror as Affect and Aesthetic") and a book-length study of special effects and spectatorship that compares the political impact of stunt work and digital visual effects on the automotive spectacles in the 1970s and 2000s US car movie cycles. She teaches courses on film history and theory, histories of new media, gender and technology studies, and the horror genre.
Anna Celenza, Thomas E. Caestecher Professor of Music
Anna Celenza is the Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown University, where she teaches courses in music history and radio journalism. She is the author/editor of several scholarly books, including Hans Christian Andersen and Music: The Nightingale Revealed (2005) and Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America (2014). Her most recent book, Jazz Italian Style: From Its Origins in New Orleans to Fascist Italy and Sinatra will appear shortly with Cambridge University Press. She has also published numerous articles on a range of composers, from Franz Liszt and Gustav Mahler to Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and Frank Sinatra.
In addition to her scholarly work, she has served as a writer/commentator for National Public Radio's Performance Today and published eight award-winning children's books, including Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite. Her work has been featured on nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, including the BBC’s “Music Matters” and “Proms Broadcasts,” and C-Span’s “Book-TV”.
Marcia Chatelain, Associate Professor
Dr. Marcia Chatelain, previously on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma's Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College, researches a wide array of issues in African-American history. Dr. Chatelain writes and teaches about African-American migration, women's and girls' history, and race and food. Dr. Chatelain has served on the boards of the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma and the University of Missouri's Student Affairs division. Dr. Chatelain is a member of the British Council's Transatlantic Network 2020, a 2000 Harry S. Truman Scholar, an alumna and honoree of the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life, and a 2011 German Marshall Fund of the U.S. Fellow. In 2012, Dr. Chatelain was awarded an American Association of University Women Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined) and a Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her second book, which examines the relationship between communities of color and fast food, has received grants from the Duke University Libraries and the Frances E. Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama. In 2014, Dr. Chatelain created #fergusonsyllabus to encourage educators to discuss the national crisis in Ferguson, Missouri. Dr. Chatelain hosts Office Hours: A Podcast (available on iTunes) in which she talks to students about the things most important to them.
Bernie Cook, Associate Dean, Director of Film and Media Studies
Dr. Bernie Cook (C’90, G’91) is Associate Dean in Georgetown College and Founding Director of the Film and Media Studies Program at Georgetown University. He is the author of Flood of Images: Media, Memory and Hurricane Katrina (University of Texas Press, 2015) and editor of Thelma & Louise Live! The Cultural Afterlife of an American Film (University of Texas Press, 2007). He is currently in production on a documentary film exploring the stories of the living descendants of the 272 enslaved people sold by the Jesuits in 1838.
In spring 2017, Cook collaborated with fellow AMST faculty member Adam Rothman on an experiential learning trip to document and to study the legacies of GU272 in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Maringouin, Louisiana. The trip brought together students from AMST-272, FMST-399, and an Honors History Seminar at Louisiana State University and faculty from Georgetown, LSU, and Southern University.
Benjamin Harbert, Associate Professor
Ben Harbert joined the music faculty at Georgetown University after receiving his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. His Ph.D. research was on music in three Louisiana prisons. His current research interests also include documentary film, international extreme metal, and music of the Near East. Harbert has been a teaching fellow at University of California, Los Angeles and a lecturer at Pomona College as well as a resident artist at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Before returning to academia, he directed the guitar, percussion and music theory programs at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music.
Brian Hochman, Assistant Professor
Brian Hochman's interests in American Studies and U.S. cultural history span a wide range of fields: 19th- and 20th-century American literature and culture; race and ethnicity; film and visual studies; comparative media studies and media theory; and the history of communications.
He is the author of Savage Preservation: The Ethnographic Origins of Modern Media Technology (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), which was named as a finalist for the American Studies Association's Lora Romero Prize for Best First Book in 2015. His current book project, All Ears: A History of Wiretapping in the United States, is under contract with Harvard University Press. In addition, his writings have appeared or are forthcoming in American Literature, African American Review, Callaloo, Notes and Queries, Post45: Peer Reviewed, Resilience, and The Multilingual Screen: New Perspectives on Cinema and Linguistic Difference (Bloomsbury, 2016). He received his PhD from Harvard University's program in the History of American Civilization (now American Studies). At Georgetown, he teaches courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. literature and culture, and he also serves on the faculties of American Studies and Film and Media Studies. Along with Professor Nathan Hensley, he co-chairs the Georgetown Modernities Working Group.
Tad Howard, Associate Dean
When I was a graduate student in English my focus shifted from literature and literary theory to how literature and literary theory are treated, organized, and fretted over in higher education. What is the responsibility of the university to preserve or promote certain values through literature? And has that role shifted recently, as is often claimed in cultural and political debates about higher ed? What is the history of these priorities and practices in colleges?
As an Associate Dean in Georgetown College, my primary role is to advise students. I oversee segments of the curriculum as well, and work with faculty and colleagues to carry out the educational mission of the College. I bring this perspective to my teaching as well, as my courses have leaned heavily on how students experience Georgetown.
I am currently Faculty-in-Residence in Kennedy Hall, Southwest Quad, where I am in constant contact with students, often over dinner. I am married to Susan Howard, and we answer to our 4-year old son, Grady, who answers to our brand new son, Hugh.
Ronald Johnson, Professor Emeritus
Ronald Johnson is a specialist in nineteenth-century (19th) American cultural history with an emphasis in gender, race, and post-Civil War culture.
He is the co-author (with Abby Arthur Johnson) of Propaganda and Aesthetics: the Literary Politics of African American Periodicals in the Twentieth Century (University of Massachusetts Press, rev. ed. 1992) and is currently working (with Abby Arthur Johnson) on a cultural history of Congressional Cemetery, Washington D.C. as the first national cemetery in the United States. Professor Johnson has served on the American Studies Committee since 1975 and was director/chair from 1979-1985 and 1989-2000.
Professor Johnson officers courses on the America cultural experience, focusing on literary developments, such as his course on "Mark Twain's America, 1870-1900," or technological and reform history as in his "Perfecting America: Reform, Technology, and Soceity, 1830-1900." He also teaches a course on "What Is An American? -- Studies in Cultural Identity in the United States."
Skip Lane, Adjunct Professor
Research Interests: Communication Technologies, Cultural Studies, Sports and Culture, Sports and Politics, the Sports-Media Complex, Politics and Mass Media
Lori Merish, Associate Professor
Lori Merish is an Associate Professor of English. Her research and teaching interests are in U. S. literature and culture, especially 1800-present; feminism and women's writing, including contemporary women's fiction; multi-ethnic and working-class U. S. literatures; cultural studies; literature and material culture (including "thing theory" and critical approaches to commodity culture); cultural theory, especially theories of gender, race, sexuality, class, and nation; and literature and economic justice.
She earned her M. A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from the College of William and Mary.
Publications include two books, Archives of Labor: Working-Class Women and Literary Culture in the Antebellum U. S. (Duke UP, 2017) and Sentimental Materialism: Gender, Commodity Culture, and 19th-C American Literature (Duke UP, 2000). In addition, she has published a wide range of critical articles on 19th-and 20th-century U. S. literature and culture, including articles on visual culture (film, advertisements, photography), “cuteness” as commodity aesthetic, material culture and “thing theory,” and the literature of immigration, as well as essays exploring the intersection of class and sexuality, the feminization of poverty in U. S. literature, and theoretical approaches to class subjectivity.
She is currently at work on three commissioned articles: on nineteenth century working-class culture; on depictions of female labor in Emily Dickinson’s poetry and letters; and on figurations of transatlanticism and globalization in the writing of contemporary Native American authors Leslie Marmon Silko and James Welch. For the past several years she has been exploring two different book-length projects: one on theoretical approaches to class “identification” as figured in 19th- and 20th-C U. S. literary texts and films; and another on nineteenth-century poverty narratives.
Merish also has won a number of honors, grants and awards, including: a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship; a Mellon Fellowship, English Department, Stanford University; a Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship; a U. C. Berkeley Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities Fellowship; and the A. S. A.'s Constance Rourke Award for best article in American Quarterly (1993).
Ricardo Ortiz, Associate Professor and Director, Graduate Studies, English
Ricardo L. Ortiz is Associate Professor of US Latino Literature and Culture in Georgetown University's Department of English, where he also served as Director of Graduate Studies from July 2008 to July 2014. He was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor at Georgetown in 2005.
While Prof. Ortiz specializes in U.S. Latino/a Literatures and Cultures, he is also interested in teaching and research in hemispheric, transnational "Américas" Studies, critical and cultural theory, cultural studies, intellectual history, race, gender and queer theory, political theory, and popular culture.
Prof. Ortiz's first book, Cultural Erotics in Cuban America, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in early 2007; it was awarded Honorable Mention for the Modern Language Association's 2008 Alan Bray Book Prize, which recognizes outstanding scholarly contributions to Queer Literary and Cultural Studies.
His second book project, Testimonial Fictions: Atrocity, Sexuality and Memory in Post-Cold War US Latino Literature is well under way. Since 2010 Prof. Ortiz has published a variety of scholarly, critical and reference pieces in such collections as Imagined Transnationalism: US Latino/a Literature, Culture and Identity (Palgrave, 2010), Gay Latino Studies: a Critical Reader (Duke UP, 2011) and The Routledge Companion to US Latino Literature (2012).
In 2013 Prof. Ortiz also completed tenures of multiple years as Chair of the Standing Committee on Ethnic Studies of the American Studies Association and on the Executive Committee of the Division of Gay Studies in Language and Literature of the Modern Language Association. Between 2009 and 2012 he also directed four major conferences and symposia on the Georgetown campus, two for the Americas Initiative of Georgetown College (2009, 2012) and two for the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice (2010, 2011).
Since 2010 Prof. Ortiz has also been a consultant on matters of US Latino literature, culture and history with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, where he regularly conducts enrichment programming with groups of CHCI Fellows and Interns.
Prof. Ortiz earned his M.A. and Ph.D. (in 1987 and 1992, respectively) from the University of California Los Angeles, and his B.A. in English and Economics from Stanford University (in 1983). And before coming to Georgetown in 1998 he held tenure track positions at San Jose State University and Dartmouth College.
Prof. Ortiz was born in Cuba in 1961 and left with his family in 1966; he grew up in the Los Angeles area and attended Bishop Amat Memorial High School in La Puente, CA, graduating in 1979.
Diana Owen, Associate Professor
Diana Owen is Associate Professor of Political Science and teaches in the Communication, Culture, and Technology graduate program, and has served as Director of the American Studies Program. She is the author of Media Messages in American Presidential Elections (Greenwood, 1991), New Media and American Politics (with Richard Davis, Oxford, 1998), and American Government and Politics in the Information Age (with David Paletz and Timothy Cook, 2012). She is the co-editor of The Internet and Politics: Citizens, Voters, and Activists (with Sarah Oates and Rachel Gibson, Routledge, 2006) and Making a Difference: The Internet and Elections in Comparative Perspective (with Richard Davis, Stephen Ward, and David Taras, Lexington, 2009). She is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters in the fields of civic education and engagement, media and politics, political socialization, elections and voting behavior, and political psychology/sociology. She has conducted studies funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Center for Civic Education, and other sources. Her current research explores the relationship between civic education and political engagement over the life course and new media’s role in politics.
Seth Perlow, Assistant Teaching Professor
Seth Perlow specializes in twentieth-century and contemporary US literature, poetry and poetics, new media studies, and critical theory. His research and teaching are particularly focused on avant-garde US poetry since 1945, the cultural history of electronics, and postmodern US fiction.
His book project, “The Poem Electric: Technologies of Uncritical Thinking in US Poetry,” traces a lineage of poets who use electronics to distinguish poetry from critical thinking. He edited Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons: The Corrected Centennial Edition (City Lights, 2014), which earned a Seal of Approval from the MLA Committee on Scholarly Editions. His scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in Criticism, Paideuma, Convergence, The Wallace Stevens Journal, and elsewhere. His poetry has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, The Cortland Review, The Common, and elsewhere.
Before coming to Georgetown, he was assistant professor of English at the University of Oklahoma and the 2014-15 NEH Postdoctoral Fellow in Poetics at Emory University’s Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. At Georgetown he offers courses in English, Writing, Film and Media Studies, and American Studies.
Adam Rothman, Professor
Adam Rothman is a Professor in the History Department.
Professor Rothman is an expert in the history of the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War, and in the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world.
He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Atlantic history, 19th century U.S history, and the history of slavery.
His most recent book is Beyond Freedom's Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery, published by Harvard University Press in February 2015. This book tells the story of three slave children who were taken from New Orleans to Cuba by their owner during the U.S. Civil War, and their mother's effort to recover them.
Beyond Freedom's Reach has been named a Humanities Book of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and it has received the Jefferson Davis Book Award from the American Civil War Museum, and the Margaret T. Lane/Virginia F. Saunders Memorial Research Award from the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.
Professor Rothman's first book, Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South, was published by Harvard University Press in 2005.
In 2007, he co-authored *Major Problems in Atlantic History* (Houghton Mifflin) with his colleague Alison Games.
Professor Rothman is a member of Georgetown's Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, which you can read about here: https://sites.google.com/a/georgetown.edu/slavery-memory-reconciliation/
He is also the principal curator of the Georgetown Slavery Archive, a project of the Working Group. You can visit the Archive here: http://slaveryarchive.georgetown.edu
He is an OAH Distinguished Lecturer. For more information about Professor Rothman's lectures, see http://lectures.oah.org/lecturers/lecturer.html?id=499
You can follow Professor Rothman on Twitter at @arothmanhistory.
Jim Schaefer, Adjunct Professor
Jim Schaefer recently retired after 24 years as Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Because his degrees are all in Theatre Arts, when he first came to Georgetown he taught courses in dramatic literature. But his real passion for almost 50 years has been photography, and for the past ten years he has taught courses in photographic history in both the graduate program in Communication, Culture, and Technology and in American Studies.
A selection of his photographs can be seen at his website, jimschaeferphotography.com
Schaefer earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and his B.A. from Beloit College.
Lisa Strong, Director of Art and Museum Studies and Associate Professor of the Practice
Prior to joining the faculty at Georgetown University, Lisa Strong was Assistant Professor of American Art at James Madison University and Manager of Curatorial Affairs at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Her research interests include art of the American West, as well as the history of museums and early American art institutions. She recently completed a project on painter John Mix Stanley and his involvement in the Washington Art Association.
Matthew Tinkcom, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs
Matthew Tinkcom is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University and teaches in the Graduate Program in Communication, Culture and Technology and is Associated Faculty with the Department of English.
His research interests comprise the history and theory of film (Hollywood, avant-garde, experimental, national cinemas and American studio film, film spectatorship, fandom, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, and John Waters) and other popular media, critical theory and cultural studies (specifically theories of cultural value and the commodification of contemporary culture) and queer studies (particularly around sex/gender differences and their relation to different modes of cultural production and reception).
He is currently working on two books, one on queer theory and Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain and the other on global science fiction cinema and sex/gender.
He is the author of Working Like a Homosexual: Camp, Capital, Cinema (Duke University Press), Grey Gardens (British Film Institute) and co-editor of Key Frames: Cultural Studies and Popular Cinema (Routledge UK). Tinkcom's essays have appeared in Cinema Journal and Film Quarterly and anthologies from the Duke University Press, the British Film Institute, and Edinburgh University Press.
Tinkcom earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, his M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley. He also attended Deep Springs College from 1981 to 1983.