HENB01351U English - Elective 1, topic 1: Introduction to American Studies

Volume 2017/2018



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 self-reflexively considering the history and methodology of American studies itself—a scholarly field which has changed considerably over the last few decades. In particular, we will consider (in the last few weeks of the course) the recent “transnational turn” in American studies.


Rather than focusing only on, say, (highbrow) literature and history, we will analyze and discuss a wide range of primary “texts” from different cultural fields: sermons, essays, speeches, political documents, autobiography, songs, poetry, novels, non-fiction, and film. These primary texts will be supplemented by “secondary reading” in scholarship from the core textbooks (probably Eric Foner's Give Me Liberty: An American History_ and Neil Campbell and Alisdair Kean's Introduction to American Cultural Studies), as well as critical essays in American studies, literary studies, and other fields.


The course will be divided into around four sub-sections or sub-themes, at least partly reflecting the research interests and specialisms of the two teachers, 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will consider specific aspects of American literature, history and culture through both the primary texts (literature, historical documents, visual culture, etc.)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). Each of the four sub-themes will last for either three or four weeks. There will also be links between and across the four sub-themes. 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