The interdisciplinary minor American Studies is aimed at students with a
broad interest in American history, literature, and culture, or students
who wish to understand this complex country better. An overview of
American literature and history will provide the main body of the minor,
but a number of courses take a more interdisciplinary approach or look
at specific regions, genres or themes.
Aside from the mandatory courses, students are required to attend three
of the four remaining courses. Students choosing the minor within the BA
programme Literature & Society must follow the courses ‘American Film’
and ‘The American South’ as well as the mandatory courses. Students
wishing to follow the minor within the BA programme History are required
to enroll for the courses ‘American Film’, ‘British and American
Literature’ and ‘American Literature’ on top of the mandatory courses.
Because of limited capacity for a number of courses early registration
A bird’s eye view of the courses:
‘Introduction to American Studies,’ the core course, is both
chronologically and thematically organized. Starting with the Puritans
who sailed to the New World, this course traces various tropes in
American Studies, for instance the idea of the Promised Land, the Self-
Made Man, and the Myth of the West. These myths will be juxtaposed to
the reality of how Americans lived in the past and now.
In ‘American Literature: 1900-present’ we zoom in on how the myth of
American identity as a monolith was shattered in the twentieth century,
and replaced by a sense of multiple identities (racial, ethnic, and
sexual). This course traces how various American writers have reacted to
and represented important events and developments in American history.
‘Social History of the United States’ focuses on the question how this
country was able to become such an enormous economic powerhouse in the
twentieth century, wielding an immense influence – economically,
politically, and culturally – on the rest of the world.
In ‘American Film’ students analyze a number of key representations of
the "Other" – primarily in terms of race, gender, and sexuality – in
American cinema. Each week, we link a theoretical perspective –
stereotyping, character engagement, the male gaze – to the analysis of a
classic American film.
The problematic history of the southern part of the United States is the
topic of ‘The United States South’, focusing on plantation economies,
slavery, the free black population, the American Civil War, the
abolition of slavery, the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, the
Jim Crow segregation laws, the economic problems in the Interbellum, and
the Civil Rights Movement.
‘Transatlantic Travel Writing’ introduces students to American and
British literature written between the end of the 18th century and the
beginning of the 20th century, focusing on travel writing. New critical
paradigms of transnationalism and globalization necessitate a new and
serious look at this forgotten genre.
For further information, please contact prof. Diederik Oostdijk