HENKE2106U English - Free topic F: Issues in American Culture and History: “The American City,” and “Turning up the Power.”
Issues in American Culture and History: “The American City,” and “Turning up the Power.”
This course focuses on two themes/elements within American culture and history. Jon Ward’s element, “The American City,” provides an ideal “way in” (or indeed, “way out”) to thinking about the ways in which subjectivity, history, narrative, and identity, function in American culture. Joe Goddard’s element, “Turning up the Power,” surveys theories and outcomes of American foreign policy decision making since 1960. The two courses run independent of each other. Each element consists of fourteen sessions that run two hours a week. The Study Program’s (Studieordnings) learning objectives for this course are on pages eight and nine of the 2019 Study Program, amended in 2021.
Element 1) The American City
Element Description: The city provides an ideal “way in” (or indeed, “way out”) to thinking about the ways in which subjectivity, history, narrative, and identity, function in American culture. In this course, each week we will take as our point of departure specific cultural constructions of the American city, and we will look at the ways in which these cultural texts reveal and/or obfuscate (dis)embodied experiences of urbanity, and the ways in which these experiences are implicated within American culture more broadly. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach and examines a range of cultural texts, including literature, film, art, and photography, and will work to contextualize each week’s text(s) in terms of cultural history, and investigate these texts using a variety of theoretical approaches.
There will be a central set of questions that we will be thinking about across the course:
- Who occupies the city?
- Who is the city “for”?
- What is the city’s function? What is the “function” of the city’s occupants?
- What is the relationship between the city and its population?
- What tensions and/or experiences does the text reveal/obfuscate?
- How is the city/populace represented in the text?
- Who sees, and who is seen? Who uses, and is used?
- How is the city navigated?
In thinking about these questions, this element will develop students’ ability to do the following:
- Articulate key issues pertaining to the city in American culture, such as space, race, gender, sexuality, class, and citizenship.
- Contextualise American culture within a wider social, political and economic framework, both national and transnational.
- Communicate reading and research effectively, through seminar presentations and discussion
- Develop and sustain an argument, drawing on appropriate resources.
- Analyse literary, historical, and cultural texts within an interdisciplinary framework
The seminar format of this component requires active participation, including obligatory student-led seminar presentations using visual materials (e.g. PowerPoint). Seminar presentations ensure that everyone brings substantive knowledge to class. Presentation topics are self-chosen, but need to engage with primary and secondary material. Presentations should be limited to ten minutes (plus discussion and feedback). Your participation in this element will be examined via the portfolio requirement (20-25 pages). Within two weeks of the classroom presentation (and no later than December 1), students will upload their PPT slides and submit a four-page hand-in paper analyzing and reflecting upon their topic, presentation, and feedback received. This element concludes with an eight-page essay, due at the end of the semester.
Materials used in the course will be determined by the early summer of 2021. Possible texts may include:
- Todd Haynes (dir.), Carol (2015)
- Sui Sin Far, Mrs Spring Fragrance (1912)
- Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)
- Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha (1953)
- Selection of Edward Hopper Paintings (c. 1927 - 1939)
- Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives (1890)
- Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893)
- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
- Hubert Selby Jr., Last Exit to Brooklyn (1964)
- Sean Baker (dir.) Tangerine (2015)
- Don Delillo, Cosmopolis (2003)
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)
- John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer (1925)
- Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of American Cities (1961)
- WEB Du Bois, The Comet (1920)
- Adrienne Brown, The Black Skyscraper:Architecture and the Perception of Race (2019)
Element 2) Turning Up the Power: American Foreign Policy Decision-Making.
Element description: Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, Lebanon, Grenada, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq again, Syria, ISIL, Ukraine, Russia, and China. This course explores American foreign policy decision-making, a sub-field of international relations, since the Kennedy years, using insights from history and political science. One central question asked is how the U.S. navigates its foreign and domestic policy to transcend the nation’s borders. The element examines theories of foreign policy decision-making, where the roles of presidents, administrations, rationality, and intentionality are interrogated critically as decisions are forged. As we will see, decisions are made by a multitude of players at different levels. Through studies of foreign policy cases, the seminars will focus thematically on aspects of U.S. relations since the sixties. Bringing the course fully into the present, seminars will focus on current foreign policy decision dilemmas faced by the Biden administration.
The seminar format of this component requires active participation, including obligatory student-led seminar presentations using visual materials (PowerPoint/Keyboard, etc.). Course materials combine set books with auxiliary texts and electronic resources allotted where appropriate. Seminar presentations ensuring that everyone brings substantive knowledge to class. Presentation topics are self-chosen, but should unite theory and analogy from the main course texts. Presentations should be limited to ten minutes (plus discussion and feedback). Your participation in this element will be examined via the portfolio requirement (20-25 pages). Within two weeks of the classroom presentation (and no later than December 1), students will upload their PPT slides and submit a four-page hand-in paper analyzing and reflecting upon their topic, presentation, and feedback received. This element concludes with an eight-page essay, due at the end of the semester.
Materials used in the course will be determined by the early summer of 2021, dependent on availability of new publications. Possible texts may include:
Gordon M. Goldstein (2008) Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam, New York: Times Books.
Gvosdev, N., Blankshain, Jr., & Cooper, D. (2019) Decision-Making in American Foreign Policy: Translating Theory into Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Richard Haass (2021) The World: A Brief Introduction, New York: Penguin.
Alex Mintz and Karl DeRouen Jr. (2010) Understanding Foreign Policy Decision Making, New York: Cambridge University Press
- Class Instruction
- 15 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Portfolio, A joint portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline January 5th 2022Two seminar papers, two concluding essays (one for each element)
Two seminar papers of four pages each, due latest Dec. 1 and two concluding essays of eight to ten pages, due January 3.
- Exam registration requirements
This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.
Criteria for exam assesment
- Course code
- 15 ECTS
- Full Degree MasterFull Degree Master choice
- 1 semester
- See schedule
- Course is also available as continuing and professional education
- Study board
- Study board of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
- Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
- Faculty of Humanities
- Joseph Goddard (7-69716666637466426a776f306d7730666d)
Jonathan David Thomas Ward