Minor in American studies
The Minor in American Studies consists of a wide range of topics, from television and film through to politics, and the connections in between.
It’s not just about study, this is your story
Minor requirements – US Credits 18 – UK Credits 72
Any two of the following:
AMS 3100 (3 CREDITS) Foundations of American Studies
The course serves as a broad introduction to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. The course aims to give the student a general understanding of key aspects of American history, politics and culture – stressing differences between the history, politics and culture of the United States and the rest of the Americas. Specific attention will be paid to the evolution of American Studies as a discipline.
FLM 4205 (3 CREDITS) Film in the Americas
This course introduces students to the theory and practice of transnational cinema, focussing specifically on film in the Americas. It begins with exploring Hollywood’s changing representations of national, ethnic and gender differences and its historical domination of world film markets. A variety of counter hegemonic responses of filmmakers from former colonial and less developed countries in the region are considered. The course also examines the role that television and new media technologies have played in shaping contemporary film studies within the context of identity politics and trans-border narratives.
HST 4100 (3 CREDITS) When World Collide:Race&Empire 1400-1888
The course follows the expansionist nature of colonial societies from the first contacts with sub-Saharan Africa to the abolition of slavery in Brazil. The overview is the effects these processes had on all the peoples involved, particularly around the growth of the slave trade and the consolidation of slave systems of labour. Emphasis will be placed on the factors involved in colonization and slavery: economic, cultural, racial, and religious.
HST 4105 (3 CREDITS) Versailles To Vietnam: US & the World
Provides an understanding of some of the major issues and themes that underlie the development of the United States from WWI to the end of the Nixon presidency. Particular attention is paid to the emergence of the United States as a global superpower, the consequences of such a rise to dominance, including the means by which America has projected its newly acquired power globally: financially, diplomatically and militarily.
plus any four from the following, two of which must be 6000 level:
AMS 5200 (3 CREDITS) Power in the Americas
This course aims to look at how the Latin American region was shaped by and in turn helped shape the contours of the contemporary global order. It has three main inter-related objectives. The first seeks to understand what role the ‘invention’ of Latin America has had on the development of modernity, particularly in the North Atlantic region, but more generally at a global level. This will involve specifically looking at the emergence of European colonialism as implemented in the Latin American region, its role in the formation of modern capitalism and the resulting social impact this has had in indigenous and colonisers alike, particularly with regard to issues of social inequalities of class, race and gender. The second objective will involve looking at the nature of power structures within the region and how these have manifested themselves at an economic, political, and social level. Finally, the course will seek to assess Latin America’s role in the contemporary global context, paying particular attention to the implementation of and responses to neoliberal globalization within the region and what these experiences can offer our own societies in terms of seeking alternatives to dominant economic, political and social models.
AMS 5400 (3 CREDITS) American Television Drama
The new ‘golden age’ of television, which has emerged since the beginning of the 21st Century, has become a significant and influential part of contemporary American culture. The course explores a number of cultural and technological shifts that have shaped the medium, and considers the ways in which writers are engaging with contemporary social and political realities and examining the values and myths of a society ‘conversing with itself.’ The course studies the reinvention of a variety of different genres, from crime fiction to science fiction, and students will have the opportunity to analyse some ground breaking series that offer portraits of a society undergoing crisis and change.
AMS 6200 (3 CREDITS) Contemporary American Culture
This senior level American Studies course is international and interdisciplinary in scope. It focuses on 20th and 21st century questions of Americanization and culture, examining discourses that have influenced and continue to shape the United States and its complex relations with the rest of the world.
AMS 6205 (3 CREDITS) The American Presidency
This course studies the American presidency in a deliberately multi-disciplinary fashion, taking into account the history of the office, its place within the American system of government as well as its cultural impact. The course considers the origins, history and evolution of the presidency; addresses the powers and limitations of the office; examines the individuals who have sought and held the title and explore the continuing cultural impact of the American Presidency.
AMS 6400 (3 CREDITS) Pop to Present:Themes in Contemp. US Art
The course is an in-depth critical examination of the major themes in U.S. art from the 1950s until the Present. Key art movements and artists are investigated with reference to the cultural and socio-political milieus within which they emerged. The international influence of key movements and artists is emphasised throughout the course.
COM 5105 (3 CREDITS) Modern Popular Music
An interdisciplinary course examining the historical, sociological, aesthetic, technological, and commercial elements of contemporary popular music. It deals specifically with the origins and development of contemporary popular music; the relationship between culture, subculture, style and popular music; and the production and marketing of the music. Audio-visual resources are combined with lectures, and where appropriate, field trips to concerts in London.
FLM 5200 (3 CREDITS) Mainstream Cinema: Studies in Genre
This course investigates the development of genre films over a historical period. Students examine issues critical to genre studies, which can include iconography, key themes, authorship, and stardom. Specifically, through a study of film criticism and theory, students examine distinct genres from the 1920s to the present. The course also explores the idea that genre films necessarily retain basic similarities to reflect cultural concerns and to keep audience interest. In addition, the course provides an opportunity for students to examine and compare the perspectives of Hollywood and non-Hollywood genre films.
FLM 5400 (3 CREDITS) Science Fiction Film: Cowboys and Aliens
This course examines the important role that US science fiction (SF) film has played in the development of the genre as well as its wider significance politically, socially and culturally. It also recognises the influence that other cultures have had on the evolution of US SF film as well as the US’s impact globally. The class begins by looking at SF’s origins, defining features and some key theoretical concepts. It then examines SF’s significance in the US and globally by focusing upon the genre’s economic importance as well as a number of important themes, such as: (i) how SF film can be read as a means to analyse the social, cultural and political concerns of the day, including class/gender, Cold War/xenophobic anxieties and environmental threats; (ii) how SF film can be interpreted as a critique (and sometimes a champion) of American imperial hegemony; and (iii) finally the trans-national connections between American SF and other world SF literature and visual culture (including cinema and television). The course concludes by studying the role of the internet in marketing and re-shaping the genre. Where possible the class makes use of museum and archive collections in London as well as relevant film screenings.
HST 5405 (3 CREDITS) US and UK Comparative History
Focuses on shared themes from the 1880’s to the present day, using a variety of approaches to enable students from different disciplines to participate in the course. Issues around popular culture, gender and ethnicity will be looked at, as well as peoples’ responses to major events like the Depression and wars. Concepts from economic history will be used to analyze the booms and slumps that have occurred and the changes to the US/UK that have taken place as a result. The decline of Britain as a world power and the parallel rise of the US will be studied, and this will help put into context the current debates on the post Cold War world order and globalization.
HST 6220 (3 CREDITS) US History Since 1972
Provides an appreciation of the political, social and cultural developments that have defined the United States since 1972. Starting with the break in at the Watergate, the course considers the events, personalities and politics that contributed to make the ensuing 4 decades so turbulent and memorable. Particular attention is paid to issues of relative decline, the impact of Watergate and Vietnam on the national psyche, the rise of the new right and the new south, and the evolving role of minority groups. The course will address the manner in which the United States emerged from the Cold War but found little peace, domestically or internationally, in the aftermath.
INR 5400 (3 CREDITS) US Grand Strategy
This course examines the major issues that underlie the development of United States’ foreign policy. The course considers the theoretical and actual implementation of foreign policy, firstly by examining the constitutionally mandated practitioners of such policy and secondly by exploring the execution of policy in a series of case studies covering the latter half of the Twentieth Century and early Twenty-First Century. Individuals, structures and theories are examined and explained in a course designed to convey the complexities that contribute to the formulation of U.S. Grand Strategy.
LIT 6200 (3 CREDITS) American Writers Abroad
This course explores a variety of 20th-century writings primarily from the Lost Generation and the Beat Generation. American expatriate writers including Hemingway, Fitzgerald and TS Eliot, and the Beat Generation figures such as Kerouac and Ginsberg, who lived in various places in Europe, Mexico and Latin America, all expressed disillusionment with various aspects of American life. Representative texts will be studied within their socio-historical contexts along with the critical responses their works inspire. Students will be able to gain an understanding of the ways in which American literature interacts with and responds to foreign cultures and how these movements are interpreted in the 21st century.
PLT 5400 (3 CREDITS) Politics in the USA
Examines the nature of politics and political processes in the United States of America. The course considers the theoretical and actual implementation of policy. Constitutional mandates and constraints on the different branches of government are addressed, along with the impact of these on policy making processes. The course then examines and explores post-war policy practices, considering both internal and external influences on political processes in the USA.
PLT 5401 (3 CREDITS) Politics goes to Hollywood
Popular culture often reflects and shapes the political landscape of a given epoch. This course critically investigates the tensions between actual political conditions and events and their representations in popular culture, particularly in film. In using selected concepts and theories of political science this course seeks to identify and describe explicit and implicit political content in contemporary popular culture. The course will provide students with an opportunity not only to critically examine a variety of contemporary political analyses on key issues but also to independently assess the relevance and coherence of political concepts through the medium of film. Indicative themes studied may include changes in political economy, race and identity politics, contemporary warfare and ecological crises.
PLT 6430 (3 CREDITS) Democracy and Democratization
This course analyses the rise of democracy as an idea and as a practice using both theoretical and historical approaches, and processes of democratization in both theoretical and empirical terms. The course aims to (1) provide an introduction to the central models of democracy (namely classical democracy, republicanism, liberal democracy, deliberative democracy and cosmopolitan democracy); (2) to analyse problems associated with the practice of liberal democracy, namely political engagement, the advent of post-democracy and the rise of populism: and (3) to analyse the practice of democracy in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and its relation with Islam, particularly with reference to experiences with democratization.
Note: appropriate level 5 courses taken during a semester abroad in the USA/Latin America/Canada will also be considered. All normal course approval processes must be followed.