Agatha Wells-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

Agatha Wells

Interests: The 18th Century, Gender, Social Justice


When Agatha discovered the Literary and Cultural Studies (LCS) program at CMU, she was unfamiliar with the formal field of cultural studies but knew she enjoyed analyzing literature in its cultural context from her undergraduate years at Gettysburg College. Agatha graduated in 2007 with a BA in English and minors in French and history, but after working for a few years, she decided to further her studies.

Now in the LCS master's program at CMU, she has realized the complexity of cultural studies and what a great fit the program is for her. "Cultural studies is all about understanding how what we create shapes our reality, and how we decide which creations define 'culture.' It's fascinating," she says.

The LCS program has challenged Agatha to think critically about the world around her and to analyze literature and critical theory with a focus on the practical application. She describes the readings as fascinating and her professors as "thoughtful and so sincerely interested in helping further my pursuits."

With the encouragement of her adviser Kathy Newman, Agatha built up the courage to ask Hollywood writer and producer Diane English for an interview about the 2008 remake of The Women. Getting the interview, which helped her complete a research paper, was one of the best experiences of her first semester.

She also has enjoyed her drama class in which she and other students studied the ethnography of CMU drama school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This project allowed her to explore the process of theatre and questions of what constitutes performance on and off the stage.

As a student, Agatha has a wide range of interests. She is particularly focused on thinking about the lives of men and women in the 18th century versus current society and considering if we are more 'enlightened' than the Enlightenment.

Her three years working as an admission counselor at her alma mater also made her curious about the role justice plays in education. Her experience with cultural studies has increased these concerns, and she studies questions and ideas such as, "Access to education is not equal across the country, but should it be? Should higher education always equal higher self-worth, or is it just one of many institutions we should put value in?"

After earning her masters in LCS, Agatha plans to stay in education and work with students as a college counselor or in a college-bound program. Eventually, she hopes to teach but, first, she says, "I would like to figure out how to whittle down my passions into one PhD proposal!"

For students considering the program, Agatha recommends that even if you aren't sure exactly what cultural studies is, you should still apply. She says, "It's a fabulous program for those interested in pursuing a PhD both in English and elsewhere, as well as for those who want to supplement a professional career with a thoughtful background of values they can apply to their field."


BA in English, Gettysburg College