Dissent and Protest in America


This unit surveys the long history of social movements and protest in the United States. Beginning with 19th Century movements against slavery, the course charts the way everyday Americans came together to make demands on the state, the economy, and American culture.

From abolitionism, students move on to close study of the history of American feminism, Civil Rights, agrarian revolt, the labour movement, antiwar politics, gay liberation, Chicano rights, and grassroots conservatism with an eye toward commonalities and divergences in protest strategy and a close attention to the historical contexts in which various movements arose and their long-term effects on American society.

The unit will utilise the insights of the disciplines of history, sociology, political science, anthropology, communication studies, and philosophy in order to build on inter- and multi-disciplinary studies of social movement in the United States — one of the main subjects of deep fascination that has engaged the multitude of the humanistic social sciences and encouraged debate between them as well as interdisciplinary cross-fertilisation.

Rebecca Wong
“In choosing an American Studies major I thought it was perfect to get an Australian perspective on American issues. I think that’s very different to how Americans see themselves.” Rebecca Wong

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced and detailed understanding of multidisciplinary approaches to the study of the United States through independent and original research, comparative analysis, and close reading of primary texts.
  2. Demonstrate ability to analyse independently and in-depth an aspect of American culture and life using multidisciplinary methodologies, sources, and intellectual approaches.
  3. Demonstrate ability to relate detailed and analytic understanding of issues and topics in the contemporary and historical United States to issues in the larger world.
  4. Demonstrate skills in innovative and responsible research, critical analysis, and the presentation of complex cultural problems.
  5. Produce an original multidisciplinary capstone research project that utilises primary sources to make a sophisticated argument regarding an aspect of the study of the United States.
  6. Apply disciplinary knowledge to issues encountered in an interdisciplinary context.
  7. Demonstrate detailed understanding of multiple disciplinary perspectives on the study of the United States.

The fine print


Taught in Semester 2, 2022
1 x 2 hour lecture per week
1 x 1 hour tutorial per week


12 credit points of 2000-level American Studies or History units of study

More details

Visit the University of Sydney website for information about fees, cross-institutional and non-award study, and more.

Unit Coordinator