American Studies


The Hamilton American studies faculty are active scholars and teachers. Their areas of expertise include 20th-century U.S. history, American modernism, reform and radical movements, the American left, 20th century American ballet and modern dance, and literature and film.

Anne Lacsamana, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Women's Studies

Areas of Expertise: transnational feminisms, feminist theory, labor, and women and militarization.
Anne E. Lacsamana joined the Hamilton faculty in 2005. She received her Ph.D. in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University, and specializes in transnational feminist theory with particular attention to women’s labor and the political economy. More >>

Lacsamana is the co-editor of the anthology, Women and Globalization (Humanity Press 2004). In 2009, she was awarded an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to complete work on her manuscript Revolutionizing Feminism: The Philippine Women’s Movement in the Age of Terror, which was published in 2012 by Paradigm.

Lacsamana has also published articles and book reviews in journals such as Nature, Society and Thought, Socialist Review, Critical Asian Studies and Amerasia.

Her current research focuses on immigrant women day laborers in the U.S. At Hamilton Lacsamana teaches courses on feminist theory, transnational feminisms, and women and militarization. In 2011 she was awarded the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Yvonne Zylan, Ph.D., Chair, Associate Professor of Sociology

Areas of Expertise: law and society, the state and social policy, political sociology, gender and sexuality, and social movements.
Yvonne Zylan, associate professor of sociology and department chair, earned a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Yale University, a Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and a juris doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law. More >>

Zylan has published articles in the Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Gender & Society, Social Forces, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.  Zylan's book - a study of sexuality, social theory and the law titled States of Passion: Law, Identity, and the Social Construction of Desire - was published by Oxford University Press in spring 2011. Her areas of scholarship include law and society, sexuality, social theory, political sociology, and the state and social policy. Prior to joining the Hamilton faculty, Zylan practiced law for three years in the litigation department at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

Seth Schermerhorn, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Areas of Expertise: anthropology of religion, global Christianities, religion in American, Native American religious traditions, traditional ecological knowledge, pilgrimage, personhood, and place.
Seth Schermerhorn specializes in the interdisciplinary study of indigenous religious traditions, particularly in the southwestern United States. More >>

Although Schermerhorn has worked with several indigenous nations, he works most extensively with the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona. Schermerhorn teaches classes on indigenous religious traditions, Native American religious freedom, indigenous ecologies, pilgrimage, and global Christianities.

Lydia Hamessley, Ph.D., Professor of Music

Areas of Expertise: American folk and traditional musics; banjo; music and film; Medieval and Renaissance music; and music and gender.
Hamessley received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota before coming to Hamilton in 1991. She teaches courses in Medieval and Renaissance music history, world music, American folk and traditional music, opera and film music. More >>

She received the Class of 1962 Outstanding Teaching Award in 2007 and the Samuel & Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2013. She was twice awarded the Class of 1963 Faculty Fellowship to support the development of additional areas of teaching expertise.

She was the coordinator for the conference Feminist Theory and Music: Toward a Common Language, in Minneapolis, held in 1991. Hamessley has published articles in Music & Letters; Queering The Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology; Menacing Virgins: Images of Virginity in the Middle Ages and Renaissance; Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture; Ruth Crawford Seeger's Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-Century American Music; and 19th-Century Music. She is the co-editor, with Elaine Barkin, of Audible Traces: Gender, Identity, and Music. Hamessley is currently working on a project about Dolly Parton as well as a preparing an article on the music for Paul Green's symphonic drama The Lost Colony (1937). She is also a clawhammer banjo player.

Angel David Nieves, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Africana Studies

Areas of Expertise: race and the built environment, digital humanities, spatial humanitites, heritage preservation, urban histry, South Africa and Southern Africa, truth and reconciliation in post-conflict countries and diaspora studies.
Angel David Nieves currently co-directs Hamilton's Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi) an $800,000. Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant-funded project. More >>

Nieves taught in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at the University of Maryland, College Park, from 2003-2008. Nieves completed his doctoral work in architectural history and Africana Studies at Cornell University in 2001.

His co-edited book, ‘We Shall Independent Be:’ African American Place-Making and the Struggle to Claim Space in the U.S. (2008), examines African American efforts to claim space in American society despite fierce resistance. Nieves has published essays in the Journal of Planning History; Places Journal: A Forum of Design for the Public Realm; Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies; and in several edited collections, most recently in Places of Pain and Shame: Dealing With Difficult Heritage (2009). He is also associate editor of Fire!!!: A Multimedia Journal of Black Studies, an online journal of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. His digital research and scholarship have also been featured on MSNBC.com and in Newsweek.

Nieves’ scholarly work and community-based activism critically engages with issues of memory, heritage preservation, gender and nationalism at the intersections of race and the built environment in cities across the Global South. In 2010 he received The John R. Hatch Class of 1925 Excellence in Teaching Award.