HENA01091U English - Elective 1: Introduction to American Studies A:

Volume 2014/2015

In this valgfag course, we will take an interdisciplinary approach to aspects of American history, literature and culture. We will consider not only J. Hector St. John de Crevecouer’s famous question “What is an American?” (from 1782’s Letters from an American Farmer) but also “What is American studies”? In other words, we will study the United States through the (inter- and multi-disciplinary) lens of American studies, while also considering the history and methodology of American studies itself—a scholarly field which has changed considerably over the last few decades. Rather than focusing only on (highbrow) literature and history, we will analyze and discuss a wide range of primary “texts” from different cultural fields: sermons, essays, speeches, political documents, autobiographies, songs, short stories, poetry, novels, films, and photography.

These primary texts will be supplemented by secondary reading in scholarship from Neil Campbell and Alisdair Kean’s American Cultural Studies and Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty!: An American History. These textbooks have been chosen partly because they are both organized thematically (Campbell and Kean around various subthemes within American studies; Foner around the concept of “freedom”), and this thematic approach will inform the structure of the course itself. The course will be divided into four sub-sections or sub-themes in which we will consider specific aspects of American literature, history and culture through both the primary texts (literature, historical documents, visual culture, etc.) and the secondary reading (the academic scholarship). There will also be links between and across the four sub-themes. The four sub-themes will be (NB: subject to final confirmation):

  • THEME #1 (weeks 2 to 4): Give Me Liberty!: American Struggles for freedom
  • THEME #2 (weeks 5 to 8): American exceptionalism and the mythology of the American Dream
  • THEME #3 (weeks 9 to 11): The Nation’s Region: the U.S. South
  • THEME #4 (weeks 12 to 14): Transnational American and the Transnatioonal Turn in American Studies

Students are encouraged to see “Introduction to American Studies” as a course that will help to prepare them to take further American studies courses at both the valgfag and MA level.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 162,75
  • Total
  • 204,75
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assesment