American Studies Bachelor Program Curriculum Overview

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1 American Studies Bachelor Program Curriculum Overview Table of Contents Programme Schedule... 1 Required Courses... 1 Special Topics... 4 Minor... 5 Capstone Project... 5 Program Schedule Courses year 1 Courses year 2 Courses year 3 The Americas I: The American Century and Beyond (10 EC) The Americas II: New Frontiers (10 EC) Theories of Culture I: Race, Class and Gender (10 EC) Rhetoric and Composition I (10 EC) The Americas III: From Exploration to Early Republic (10 EC) Theories of Culture II: Media and Popular Culture (10 EC) Study abroad in the U.S. or additional Minor (30 EC) Mobility, Migration, Transculturation (10 EC) Theories of Culture III: Consumer Nation (10 EC) Rhetoric and Composition II (10 EC) Capstone Project (10 EC) Minor (10 EC) Special Topics I (10 EC) Minor (20 EC) Special Topics II (10 EC) Required Courses The Americas I: The American Century and Beyond The first half of this course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to cultural, historical, political, social, and economic developments in the Americas from the 1890s to the 1970s. While our main focus will be on the United States, we will frequently adopt a comparative, hemispheric perspective due to the U.S. s substantial involvement in Latin America and the Caribbean during the first half of the twentieth century. We will focus in particular on the following themes: the Spanish-American War and the rise of the U.S. as a global power; expansionism and empire; pan-americanism and transatlanticism; U.S. diplomatic and military responses to developments in Latin America and the Caribbean; immigration and demographic shifts; WWII; the Cold War; Castro and the Cuban Revolution; the Vietnam War; the Civil Rights Movement.

2 The latter part of this course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to cultural, historical, political, social, and economic developments in the Americas from the 1970s to the present. While our main focus will be on the United States, we will frequently adopt a comparative, hemispheric perspective due to the increasing economic, political, and military integration of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada since the 1990s. We will focus in particular on the following themes: 9/11 and the war on terror; the war on drugs; party polarization and the rise of the New Right; family politics in the Americas; environmental concerns; Inter-American economic relations; the U.S. s current cross-national and international relations and trade networks; strategies of world leadership and power. The Americas II: New Frontiers This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to cultural, historical, political, social, and economic developments in the Americas during the nineteenth century. While our main focus will be on the United States, we will study the following themes in a comparative, hemispheric context: the Age of Revolutions ; frontiers and frontier societies; changing constructions of masculinity and femininity; relationships between city and countryside during the market revolution ; immigration, nativism, and ethnic and national identities; religious, reform, and suffrage movements; constructions of race and the experience of slavery; the U.S. Civil War, civil conflicts in Latin America and efforts to create new forms of state and confederation; the long struggle for emancipation and the turbulent era that followed; relations between indigenous peoples and settlers, citizens, and states; the creation and development of cultural institutions; the growth of industrial capitalism and technological innovation; the rise of social, moral, and political movements in response to industrialization; and linkages between American peoples, states, and economies and the wider world. The Americas III: From Exploration to Early Republic This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to cultural, historical, political, social, and economic developments in the Americas roughly between 1500 and 1800, with our principal focus on the territory now known as the United States. Our investigations will be cast within an Atlantic framework: that is, they will consider how the European settlement of the American continent, and the creation of the Early Republic, was in constant interaction with the economic, dynastic, statist, and cultural developments of those people who lived in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. We will use this perspective to trace the settlement of the Americas from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, to the forging of the United States in the late eighteenth. The course is designed to provide an introduction to early American political and social history as well as its wider culture, and to provide a framework for synthesizing knowledge of the Americas within broader world-historical developments. Mobility, Migration, Transculturation This course offers an interdisciplinary approach to current forms, practical problems of, as well as theoretical debates on migration by exploring the social, cultural, psychological, geopolitical, legal, and economic implications of specific international migration movements in the Americas and, to a lesser extent, in Europe. The course will concentrate in particular on the following topics: globalization, international trade agreements, and the geo-politics of borders; current social, economic, political, and environmental push and pull factors; the migration of elites (brain-drain); developing nations and the Western welfare state; undocumented migrant workers, border violence, and human rights debates along the U.S.-Mexican border; migration and gender (sex-trafficking); changes in international refugee laws and immigration policy measures after 9/11; plurinational lives and transcultural identity formations; debates on citizenship, social cohesion, integration, and assimilation; the pros and cons of open borders; and the role of the media in the production of discourses on migration.

3 Rhetoric & Composition I This course is the first of two language proficiency courses designed for American Studies majors. During this course, students will be introduced to academic speaking and writing skills, with a particular focus on the composition of argumentative essays and oral presentations. Through various writing and speaking tasks oral and written language skills are developed, and basic academic skills (setting up a research project, using academic source material, lucid argumentation) are acquired. After completing this course, students will be able to communicate in English at least at the B2.2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). This course is very much student-driven. This means that students are responsible for their own learning process and progress. Motivation to improve your English and your critical reasoning skills is essential to your success. Rhetoric & Composition II This second-year course completes the departmental program in Rhetoric and Composition. Building on the foundations of academic writing laid in Rhetoric and Composition I, Rhetoric and Composition II offers rigorous consolidation and additional practice in various forms of academic English while also intensifying the focus on the subject-specific demands faced by students writing and speaking argumentatively in an American Studies setting. Students will deepen their understanding of formal argumentation and produce a series of argumentative essays (ranging in length from 1000 to 2500 words) to demonstrate their grasp of scholarly language, argument, and structure; their ability to deal with historical and theoretical contexts; and the quality of their research skills. Through the analysis of a selection of academic articles and argumentative essays, students will study and learn to reproduce diverse modes of scholarly rhetoric in both written and oral form. In the second half of the course, they give individual oral presentations based on the arguments articulated in their final research essays. Throughout the course, students are asked to reflect critically on their own writing and the writing of others, with the aim of furnishing them with the skills that will be required for third-year research seminars and the composition of their B.A. theses in the final year of the American Studies program. Theories of Culture I: Race, Class and Gender in Contemporary American Society At least since the identity movements of the 1960s (African American, Native American, Chicano/a, feminist, gay and lesbian), the category of identity and its ideological underpinnings have become fundamental aspects of the United States socio-cultural and political life. Yet whereas earlier forms of identity discourses had focused on (often essentialist or biologically determinist) notions of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality, current brands of race, ethnicity, class, and gender studies (including the burgeoning field of men s studies) have opened up new perspectives by redefining identity as a multi-dimensional political, social, cultural, and ideological construct. Subdivided into three sections on (1) gender, (2) race/ethnicity, (3) class this course introduces students to central concepts, major theorists, and current controversies about the notions of identity in the context of contemporary U.S.- American society. As well as theoretical skills, students will practice and develop their oral, written, and research skills in class discussions, exercises and written assignments/exams. Theories of Culture II: Media and Popular Culture The course is designed for students who have grown up in a global multimedia environment and want to become more literate and critical consumers of US culture, as well as cultural producers, or prosumers, in their own right. We will explore political, institutional, industrial, historical, cultural and aesthetic aspects of media through a variety of media forms, contexts, theories, and production/reception cultures. Over the course of the semester, we will examine theoretical debates about the influence of media in shaping knowledge, values, and desires, as well as our perceptions of society, culture, and nation. Students will have the opportunity to analyze media texts, such as films, television shows, adverts, and popular music. Key issues and debates include: representation; globalization; transmedia; fandom.

4 Theories of Culture III: Consumer Nation This cross-disciplinary course starts by examining the idea of culture in conjunction with what is often perceived to be its opposite, nature ( Nature produces culture which changes nature ). This part of the course will explore diverse and contested meanings of culture in recent cultural theoretical contexts and analyze a number of contemporary issues in the study of culture, including Culture Wars, popular culture, and the globalization of culture. Next the course will shift its focus to an analysis of Marxist, neo-marxist and post-marxist approaches to culture, notably of the role of ideology, power and signification (semiotics) in processes of cultural formation. The course will end with an exploration of contemporary American culture, concentrating on its mediated nature ( In America, life is cinema ), and the ins and outs of America s fast food culture, being a quintessential manifestation of America s dominant cultural mode consumer capitalism. Special Topics Canada and the US: Political Negotiations of Cultural Differences One of the most important elements of Canadian federal policy was the introduction of official multiculturalism in the 1970s. In 1988, the federal government passed the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. Central to this policy was the official recognition of the diverse cultures in a plural society. In understanding official multiculturalism in a broader context, it is necessary to first examine its basic values. This examination will be followed by a critical discussion of the situation of cultural and linguistic minorities within Canada, which will for example touch upon questions of national identity, biculturalism, and liberal multiculturalism. The course also includes a comparative perspective, using the Canadian political perspective (based on the ideals of multiculturalism and bilingualism) to critique the US ideals of the melting pot, assimilation, and monolingualism. Dispatches: War in Modern American Literature and Culture This course invites students to engage with a broad and broadly defined range of twentieth and twentyfirst century U.S. war writing and culture from the Philippine-American War to the so-called Terror Wars of more recent years. We will examine the centrality of war to the U.S. experience and trace some of the ways in which different conflicts have been represented, remembered, celebrated and/or critiqued, from the early twentieth-century anti-imperialist writings of Mark Twain to more recent accounts of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We will read reportage, fiction, poetry, photography, film, art, popular music and material objects as part of a theoretically diverse, strongly interdisciplinary investigation into the complex meanings that war, its representation, and its cultural politics have held within the modern United States. Rousing Rhetoric: The Power of Speech in American Public Political Discourse In this course we will study the medium of the speech as a defining feature and force of change in American political culture, past and present. After becoming familiar with the theory behind rhetoric, students will apply this knowledge by making a rhetorical analysis of several speeches. Finally, to put theory into practice, students will assume the role of orator and present their findings in a debate with a fellow student.

5 That s not Constitutional! The Long Shadow of the United State Constitution If one wants to understand American political culture, one should start with the United States Constitution. This 225-year old document does far more than organize and regulate the different branches of government. The Constitution is revered by many Americans as a sacred text that contains the core values of the Republic and defines what it means to be American. In this course, we will explore the values and principles in the Constitution that have shaped and continue to shape the United States. We will analyze first the content, history, and present meaning of the Constitution, after which students will focus on one of the many controversies that continue to divide and define the United States. This will result in a research paper that students will defend before a jury of peers. Failed Colonies Accounts of the colonization of the Americas often represent Europeans success as inevitable. Colonizers had guns, germs, and steel and native peoples were bound to give way before them. But most colonial projects failed, sooner or later. Although their names may have been scrubbed from maps and memory, many defunct colonies had legacies that lasted long after they expired. This course examines the history and literature of failed colonies in the early modern Americas. It considers why most settlements initially struggled with survival, why some collapsed after successful starts, and why others only appeared in visionary proposals. It considers the difficulties colonizers faced in building new societies, polities, and economies in unfamiliar environments among wary and often hostile neighbors. Alongside this analysis of causes and effects, the course considers historical representations of these failures. It explores the factbased fictions of colonizer-castaways, the arguments of early modern critics of colonialism, as well as the moral, political, and imperial lessons that contemporaries learned from failure. Minor Through the choice of a Minor, you can tailor-fit the curriculum to meet your academic, personal and professional interests. Students may pursue a Minor in either Spanish, Film Studies, International Relations, Non-Western Studies and Journalism Studies. For more information about the American Studies minor options, please visit the following website: Capstone Project The thesis is the culminating research essay in the BA degree program and forms a capstone experience for undergraduate students. It is an opportunity for students to put what they have learned (knowledge, understanding and skills in American Studies) into practice by setting up and carrying out an academically sound research project within clearly delimited boundaries. The BA thesis in American Studies is an extended, scholarly essay, which will be supervised by a designated member of the academic staff. It should demonstrate the capacity for (semi-)independent research, thought, judgment and writing. It should comply with the substantive and formal requirements and conventions of an argumentative essay. In other words, your thesis should have an introduction with a clearly-expressed thesis; chapters or sections in which the argument is developed through appropriate paragraphing, the use of academic vocabulary and appropriate secondary materials; a conclusion which indicates the general significance/application of your thesis to a particular field of research within American Studies, or to significant trends or developments in the field as a whole. The production of the thesis encourages independence of thought and requires students to acquire, process, and present complex material in a systematic fashion. It develops skills appropriate to upper BA level and provides the foundational skills for an MA degree.

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