American Studies (with a study abroad year) BA

American Studies

Key information

Duration:
4 years full time
Typical A-level offer:
AAB-ABB
UCAS code:
T700
Start date:
September 2017

Learn from leading experts in American Studies, and explore the literature, culture and history of a global powerhouse.

With your year abroad, you not only study America, but you experience it too. Build your confidence and expand your intellectual horizons with this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

I chose Sussex so that I could learn from academics who have made groundbreaking contributions to their fields.”Oliver Hypolite-Bishop
American Studies BA 

Entry requirements

A-level

Typical offer

AAB-ABB

Other UK qualifications

Access to HE Diploma

Typical offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma with 45 level 3 credits at Merit or above, including 24 at Distinction.

Subjects

The Access programme should be in the humanities or social sciences.

Advanced Diploma

Typical offer

Pass with at least grade B in the Diploma and A in the Additional and Specialist Learning.

Subjects

The Additional and Specialist Learning must be an A-level (ideally in a humanities or social science subject).

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma

Typical offer

DDD

International Baccalaureate

Typical offer

34 points overall

Scottish Highers

Typical offer

AABBB

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma

Typical offer

Grade B and AB in two A-levels.

International baccalaureate

Typical offer

34 points overall

European baccalaureate

Typical offer

Overall result of at least 77%

Other international qualifications

Australia

Typical offer

Relevant state (Year 12) High School Certificate, and over 85% in the ATAR or UAI/TER/ENTER. Or a Queensland OP of 5 or below.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Austria

Typical offer

Reifeprüfung or Matura with an overall result of 2.2 or better for first-year entry. A result of 2.5 or better would be considered for Foundation Year entry.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Belgium

Typical offer

Certificat d'Enseignement Secondaire Supérieur (CESS) or Diploma van Hoger Secundair Onderwijs with a good overall average. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Bulgaria

Typical offer

Diploma za Sredno Obrazovanie with excellent final-year scores (normally 5.5 overall with 6 in key subjects).

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Canada

Typical offer

High School Graduation Diploma. Specific requirements vary between provinces.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

China

Typical offer

We usually don’t accept Senior High School Graduation for direct entry to our undergraduate courses.

However, we do accept one of the following qualifications for our International Foundation Years:  

  • Senior High 2 at an average grade of 75% with a minimum of five academic subjects including key subjects
  • Senior High 3 at an average of 70% or above in a minimum of four academic subjects including key subjects.

If you successfully complete the International Foundation Year you can progress on to a relevant undergraduate course at Sussex. 

Check which qualifications we accept for the International Foundation Year.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Croatia

Typical offer

Maturatna Svjedodžba with an overall score of at least 4-5 depending on your degree choice.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Cyprus

Typical offer

Apolytirion of Lykeion with an overall average of at least 18 or 19/20 will be considered for first-year entry.

A score of 15/20 in the Apolytirion would be suitable for Foundation Year entry. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Czech Republic

Typical offer

Maturita with a good overall average.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Denmark

Typical offer

Højere Forberedelseseksamen (HF) or studentereksamen with an overall average of at least 7 on the new grading scale.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Finland

Typical offer

Finnish Ylioppilastutkinto with an overall average result in the final matriculation examinations of at least 6.0.

France

Typical offer

French Baccalauréat with an overall average result of at least 13/20.

Germany

Typical offer

German Abitur with an overall result of 2.0 or better.

Greece

Typical offer

Apolytirion with an overall average of at least 18 or 19/20 will be considered for first-year entry.

A score of 15/20 in the Apolytirion would be suitable for Foundation Year entry. Find out more about Foundation years.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Hong Kong

Typical offer

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) with grades of 5, 4, 4 from three subjects including two electives. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Hungary

Typical offer

Erettsegi/Matura with a good average.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

India

Typical offer

Standard XII results from Central and Metro Boards with an overall average of 75-80%. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Iran

Typical offer

High School Diploma and Pre-University Certificate.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Ireland

Typical offer

Irish Leaving Certificate (Higher Level) at AABBBB.

Israel

Typical offer

Bagrut, with at least 8/10 in at least six subjects, including one five-unit subject.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Italy

Typical offer

Italian Diploma di Maturità or Diploma Pass di Esame di Stato with a Final Diploma mark of at least 81/100.

Japan

Typical offer

Upper Secondary Leaving Certificate is suitable for entry to our Foundation Years. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Latvia

Typical offer

Atestats par Visparejo videjo Izglitibu with very good grades in state exams.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Lithuania

Typical offer

Brandos Atestatas including scores of 80-90% in at least three state examinations (other than English).

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Luxembourg

Typical offer

Diplôme de Fin d'Etudes Secondaires.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Malaysia

Typical offer

Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM). As well as various two or three-year college or polytechnic certificates and diplomas.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Netherlands

Typical offer

Voorereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO), normally with an average of at least 7.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Nigeria

Typical offer

You are expected to have one of the following:

  • Higher National Diploma
  • One year at a recognised Nigerian University
  • Professional Diploma (Part IV) from the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology of Nigeria
  • Advanced Diploma

You must also have a score of C6 or above in WAEC/SSC English.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Norway

Typical offer

Norwegian Vitnemal Fra Den Videregaende Skole - Pass with an overall average of 4.

Pakistan

Typical offer

Bachelor (Pass) degree in arts, commerce or science.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Poland

Typical offer

Matura with three extended-level written examinations, normally scored within the 7th stanine.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Portugal

Typical offer

Diploma de Ensino Secundario normally with an overall mark of at least 16/20. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Romania

Typical offer

Diploma de Bacalaureat with an overall average of 8.5-9.5 depending on your degree choice.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Singapore

Typical offer

A-levels, as well as certain certificates and diplomas.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Slovakia

Typical offer

Maturitna Skuska or Maturita with honours, normally including scores of 1 in at least three subjects.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Slovenia

Typical offer

Secondary School Leaving Diploma or Matura with at least 23 points overall.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

South Africa

Typical offer

National Senior Certificate with very good grades. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Spain

Typical offer

Spanish Título de Bachillerato (LOGSE) with an overall average result of at least 8.0.

Sri Lanka

Typical offer

Sri Lankan A-levels.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Sweden

Typical offer

Fullstandigt Slutbetyg with good grades.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Switzerland

Typical offer

Federal Maturity Certificate.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Turkey

Typical offer

Devlet Lise Diplomasi or Lise Bitirme is normally only suitable for Foundation Years, but very strong applicants may be considered for first year entry. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

USA

Typical offer

We look at your full profile taking into account everything you are studying. You must have your high school graduation diploma and we will be interested in your Grade 12 GPA. However, we will also want to see evidence of the external tests you have taken. Each application is looked at individually, but you should normally have one or two of the following:

  • APs (where we would expect at least three subject with 4/5 in each)
  • SAT Reasoning Tests (normally with a combined score of 1300) or ACT grades
  • and/or SAT Subject Tests (where generally we expect you to have scores of 600 or higher). 

We would normally require APs or SAT Subject Tests in areas relevant to your chosen degree course.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

My country is not listed

If your qualifications aren’t listed or you have a question about entry requirements, email ug.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

6.5 overall, including at least 6.0 in each component

IELTS scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test.

If you are applying for degree-level study we can consider your IELTS test from any test centre, but if you require a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for an English language or pre-sessional English course (not combined with a degree) the test must be taken at a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)-approved IELTS test centre.

Find out more about IELTS.

Other English language requirements

Proficiency tests

Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English (CAE)

For tests taken before January 2015: Grade B or above

For tests taken after January 2015: 176 overall, including at least 169 in each skill

We would normally expect the CAE test to have been taken within two years before the start of your course.

You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about Cambridge English: Advanced.

Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

For tests taken before January 2015: grade C or above

For tests taken after January 2015: 176 overall, including at least 169 in each skill

We would normally expect the CPE test to have been taken within two years before the start of your course.

You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about Cambridge English: Proficiency.

Pearson (PTE Academic)

62 overall, including at least 56 in all four skills

PTE (Academic) scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about Pearson (PTE Academic).

TOEFL (iBT)

88 overall, including at least 20 in Listening, 19 in Reading, 21 in Speaking, 23 in Writing

TOEFL (iBT) scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about TOEFL (iBT).

The TOEFL Institution Code for the University of Sussex is 9166.

English language qualifications

AS/A-level (GCE)

Grade C or above in English Language.

Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE)/ AS or A Level: grade C or above in Use of English

French Baccalaureat

A score of 12 or above in English.

GCE O-level

Grade C or above in English.

Brunei/Cambridge GCE O-level in English: grades 1-6.

Singapore/Cambridge GCE O-level in English: grades 1-6.

GCSE or IGCSE

Grade C or above in English as a First Language.

Grade B or above in English as a Second Language

German Abitur

A score of 12 or above in English.

Ghana Senior Secondary School Certificate

If awarded before 1993: grades 1-6 in English language.

If awarded between 1993 and 2005: grades A-D in English language. 

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE)

 Level 4, including at least 3 in each component in English Language.

 

Indian School Certificate (Standard XII)

The Indian School Certificate is accepted at the grades below when awarded by the following examination boards:

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) – English Core only: 70%

Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) - English: 70% or Grade 3

 

International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB)

English A or English B at grade 5 or above.

Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) 119/GCE O-level

If taken before the end of 2008: grades 1-5 in English Language.

If taken from 2009 onwards: grade C or above in English Language.

The qualification must be jointly awarded by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).

West African Senior School Certificate

Grades 1-6 in English language when awarded by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) or the National Examinations Council (NECO).

Country exceptions

Select to see the list of exempt English-speaking countries

If you are a national of one of the countries below, or if you have recently completed a qualification equivalent to a UK Bachelors degree or higher in one of these countries, you will normally meet our English requirements. Note that qualifications obtained by distance learning or awarded by studying outside these countries cannot be accepted for English language purposes.

You will normally be expected to have completed the qualification within two years before starting your course at Sussex. If the qualification was obtained earlier than this we would expect you to be able to demonstrate that you have maintained a good level of English, for example by living in an English-speaking country or working in an occupation that required you to use English regularly and to a high level.

Please note that this list is determined by the UK’s Home Office, not by the University of Sussex.

List of exempt countries

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada**
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Kingdom
  • USA

** Canada: you must be a national of Canada; other nationals not on this list who have a degree from a Canadian institution will not normally be exempt from needing to provide evidence of English.

Admissions information for applicants

InterviewNo
Transfers into Year 2

Yes. Find out more about transferring into Year 2 of this course. We don’t accept transfers into the third or final year.

If your qualifications aren’t listed or you have a question about entry requirements, email ug.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk.

Why choose this course?

  • Ranked 1st in the UK for American Studies (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018).
  • More prestigious American partner institutions – including UC Berkeley and Georgetown – than any other programme in England.
  • Flexible degrees that allow you to specialise in history, literature or culture.

Course information

How will I study?

Modules introduce you to the history, politics, visual culture and literature of the Americas. Your studies traverse America from Columbus’s encounter of the ‘New World’ in 1492 to the counterculture of the 1960s to 9/11.

Literary and cultural texts – including John Winthrop’s Puritan sermons, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and Harriet Jacobs’ slave narratives – enrich your understanding of the Americas.

Your work is assessed through presentations, exams and essays.

Modules

Core modules

Options


Customise your course

At Sussex, you can choose to customise your course to build the sort of degree that will give you the knowledge, skills and experience that could take you in any direction you choose.

Explore subjects different to your course – electives and pathways allow you to complement your main subject. Find out what opportunities your course offers

How will I study?

You choose from a range of modules. Some focus on New Orleans, where you explore the roots of jazz music. Others focus on New York City, where you will analyse the long, rich, transnational history of this centre of immigration, business, entertainment and culture.

In literature, you analyse significant texts by writers including Gertrude Stein and Zora Neale Hurston, and learn about American modernity and postmodernist aesthetics.

History modules include a survey of the black freedom struggle, and a study of how the American Civil War has been remembered since 1865.

Modules

Core modules

Options


Customise your course

At Sussex, you can choose to customise your course to build the sort of degree that will give you the knowledge, skills and experience that could take you in any direction you choose.

Explore subjects different to your course – electives and pathways allow you to complement your main subject. Find out what opportunities your course offers

Gain programming skills and apply them to areas such as digital media, business and interactive design. Find out about our Year in Computing

You spend your third year studying at one of our US or Canadian partners’ campuses. Our range of partner institutions represents every facet of the American experience, and includes:

  • UC Berkeley and UCLA
  • Tulane University in New Orleans and the University of North Carolina
  • Georgetown University and George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Whether you are interested in Native American culture, the Civil Rights movement, or American modernist poetry, Sussex offers you a unique experience while studying in North America.

Please note

Programs with a study abroad year are not eligible for USA federal Direct Loan funds. Find out more about American Student Loans and Federal Student Aid

How will I study?

You write a dissertation on a topic of your choice, with one-to-one supervision.

Dissertations can be on topics as varied as gun control, to the 60s counterculture, to Black Lives Matter, to trans rights issues and to the musical Hamilton.

You also choose options from a range of modules and special author courses on writers such as Herman Melville, John Ashbery and Henry James.

Modules

Options

Find out about American Studies at the University of Sussex

Fees

UK/EU students:
£9,250 per year
Channel Islands and Isle of Man students:
£9,250 per year
International students:
£15,100 per year
Study abroad:
Find out about grants and funding, tuition fees and insurance costs for studying abroad

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

Find out about typical living costs for studying at Sussex

Scholarships

Our focus is personal development and social mobility. To help you meet your ambitions to study at Sussex, we deliver one of the most generous scholarship programmes of any UK university.

Careers

Graduate destinations

American Studies at Sussex is ranked 1st in the UK for career prospects (The Guardian University Guide 2018). Recent American Studies graduates have started work as:

  • talent scout EMEA, Adobe
  • data processor, Adetiq
  • press and marketing intern, Gigwise.

(Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015)

Your future career

You gain skills in critical thinking across disciplines, attention to detail, flexibility of thought, self-confidence, teamwork, research and written communication.

Using the cultural and social insights from your year abroad, you can work in fields such as journalism, media and marketing, education, publishing, libraries, archives and museums, law, and the Civil Service.

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work

I couldn’t have done any of this without Sussex. Living and studying in another country has been crucial to my career.”Lucy Westcott
International Reporter, Newsweek 

American Literature to 1890: Part I

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

This module will introduce you to the major trends and texts of colonial America from the Iroquois Indians and Christopher Columbus through to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. These are not simply 'authors,' in the modern sense, writing 'great books' but diverse voices whose class, gender, race, nationality and religious persuasion influence the sense they make of America, and of themselves, in their writing. For example, some texts articulate ancient native traditions and myths without the benefit of a written tradition, while others are trying to come to terms in literary ways with experiences of migration to an unknown and wild place, captivity by the Indians, conflict, and slavery. Questions of national identity and the role that literature plays in constructing and communicating an 'American experience' are therefore central to the module.

We will look at the writing of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, beginning with Native American accounts of creation, the travel journals of Columbus, and an account of the conquest of the Aztec empire. American literature in this early period does not come in the usual forms of fiction, poetry, and drama that we are used to studying in European literature, nor is all of it written in English. We will be reading a variety of forms, such as Native American stories, accounts of conquest in South America and settlement in the English colonies, Puritan sermons, autobiography, political tracts, captivity narratives, poetry, and letterssome in translation, others in their original English. While these texts are not all recognisably what you might think of as 'literature,' they are the founding documents and genres of the Americas and their influence is felt in American culture to the present day.

Introduction to American Studies

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1
This module introduces you to a range of key concepts, methodological tools, and theoretical approaches to the interdisciplinary study of American culture.
 
You'll use these analytical and intellectual frameworks throughout your degree and beyond. Throughout the module, you apply these concepts, methods, and theories to a range of cultural material, including:
  • film
  • music
  • images
  • literature.
We also provide guidance and instruction in essay writing, referencing and effective reading of academic texts.

Roots of America: From Colonial Settlement to the Civil War and Reconstruction

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

This module provides a foundational survey of the history, literature, and culture of the United States (and the colonies which preceded it) to 1900. It begins with the Columbian encounter in 1492, when two worlds were brought into sharp conflict with each other and continues through English settlement and colonisation in the 17th century to growth, expansion and the articulation of a specific American identity by the middle of the 18th century. It assesses the creation of the American nation through war with Britain and through the imaginative construction of a new political relationship between people and government.

We will then proceeed to political and cultural formations in the 19th-century republic. You will focus on why the newly formed nation should ultimately falter on the issue of slavery and why the concept of the United States and the 'Union' became such contested terms. You will examine how contested visions of America's future and its 'manifest destiny' cohered and divided the citizenry, and ultimately ask, as Abraham Lincoln so aptly put it in 1855, 'can we, as a nation, continue together permanently--forever-half slave, and half free?'

Our attention subsequently turns to the mammoth transformations to American life unleashed by the Civil War and Reconstruction; events, historian James McPherson calls the 'Second American Revolution.' Among the many topics, we will consider the emergence of a modern activist central government committed, albeit temporarily, to constitutional protected civil rights; we will address how Americans, in both North and South, understood the meaning of Union and nation after the carnage of Civil War; and how industrialists, immigrants, and union activists attempted to shape and influence the rapid growth of American urban life in the final quarter of the 19th century. Finally, we will consider the plight of black Americans as the promises of emancipation gave way to racial segregation in the South and the rise of the urban ghetto in the North.

Students will be required to approach these topics from both a historical and a literary perspective, paying particular attention to formative texts. The writings of John Smith, John Winthrop, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, James Fenimore Cooper, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Henry James, Edith Wharton (among others) will be examined as a distinct American literary culture evolves in the 19th century. That culture – like all social values in the years preceding Civil War – would split in the North-South divide of the 1850s, but in the final lectures of the module, students will examine how literary works would ultimately bolster resurgent American nationalism in the decades following the War. Students will also be encouraged to think about the imaginative formulation of American identity and American character through representations of such matters in film.

American Literature to 1890: Part II

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

American Literature to 1890 II introduces you to the major trends and texts of a multi-ethnic America from Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper to Emily Dickinson and Henry James. These are not simply 'authors', in the modern sense, writing 'great books', but diverse voices constructed by class, gender, race, nationality and religious persuasion. Some texts articulate ancient native traditions and myths, others come to terms in writing with experiences of migration, captivity, conflict, and slavery. Central to the module are questions of national identity, and the role that literature plays in both constructing and communicating an 'American experience'.

Modern America

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

The early years of the twenty-first century have witnessed the United States achieve unsurpassed global economic and cultural power. This module assesses the dramatic developments that have shaped the U.S. during the twentieth century, often described as the 'American century'.

We will explore the transformations in American political and social life as the U.S. achieved economic supremacy, and extended this power on the world stage. As the nation increased its influence abroad, of module, it underwent a parallel series of turbulent changes at home. Hence we will also consider an America seen through the critical (and sometimes not-so-critical) lenses of writers, artists, commentators and filmmakers as they articulate the tensions and anxieties of modern U.S. life.

The module addresses many social contradictions. The `Roaring Twenties, for example, was a period of consumerism and cultural experimentation that also gave rise to religious fundamentalism and Prohibition. Similarly, while the United States government in the 1950s was trying to `keep the world safe for democracy' in the face of communist expansion, it abused the constitutional liberties of its own citizens during the McCarthy witch-hunts. Although the country as a whole attained unprecedented levels of affluence in these years, poverty remained a persistent problem, and Americans continued to struggle with the repression of women, political dissidents and racial minorities. A crisis in American liberalism accompanied this proliferation of social and political protest, primarily due to American involvement in the Vietnam War. We will seek to understand how this war shaped protest politics, altered the relationship between Americans and the liberal state, and led to the Conservative resurgence in the 1980s. These events shattered the consensus belief in a modern America. We will evaluate what it then meant to live in a post-modern America, and how people adapted the conditions of post-modernity to cope with new and recurrent crises of difference, inequality, and insecurity. Through lectures that focus on the historical, literary and more broadly cultural aspects of the modern United States, students will learn to recognise the importance of cross- and inter-disciplinary work as they pursue the dynamic relationship between cultural forms and social, political and economic realities.

American Identities

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

In this module you study how Americans in different periods and different regions have thought, written, debated and talked about themselves in relation to their country in autobiography, poetry, fiction, and film.

You examine how race, gender, and sexuality impact on notions of American citizenship, and you discover how to become an American.

You explore American identity and stereotypes and look at:

  • optimism
  • individualism
  • the right to bear arms.

American Humour

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

Humour is probably among the most approachable of ways to introduce first year students to core issues in American Studies, and one of the most telling. Jewish humour, for example, which clearly informs, say, the films of the Marx Brothers, Heller's Catch-22,or the TV comedy of Seinfeld, can teach us much about the history and culture of immigration and assimilation so integral to American identity. Likewise, African-American comedians from the 70s to the 90s exemplify a particular, 'signifying' tradition, in Henry Louis Gates' phrase, as well as providing comment on the politics of the day. Or we might view the relationship between American economy and culture - a grand narrative of the twentieth century - as dramatised in the Fordist dystopias of Chaplin, the Southern Gothic of Flannery O'Connor and the acceleration from post-war boom in Thomas Pynchon to the vision of Wall Street excess in Ellis' American Psycho. In all these cases, humour provides both spectator or readerly pleasure and a form in which a more covert critique takes place, making it an invaluable mode for you to experience and consider key cultural and historical questions.

Incorporating literature, film, TV, live performance and visual art, the module will thus address the social, political and philosophical issues each topic raises and the context from which it has sprung, from the 19th century 'Connecticut wits' to more recent 'gross-out' comedy. By way of materials, an on-line module reader will be made available to YOU composed of a number of readable essays on the theory of humour as well as selected essays more directly relating to each specific topic and/or work. Interdisciplinary in nature, the module will hence encourage you to investigate how ideas about humour can work with other texts to become forms of critical thinking: Bergson's notion of comedic automatism, for example, read alongside accounts of the factory system can illuminate Keaton or Chaplin's cinematic commentary on the fate of the American industrial worker. Through such connections, you will be introduced to influential writers like Bergson and Freud in an accesible fashion and find ways to apply and adapt their ideas in the wider cultural field.

The Look of America

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

This module takes as its premise the notion that ever since the explosion of mass media and mass society in the industrial age, the United States has taken an increasingly dominant place in the global visual imagination. This process reached its peak at the beginning of the twentieth century, and since then America has generated for the world innumerable iconic and hegemonic visual representations of its own cultural narratives.

The task of this module will be to explore and deconstruct some of these visual representations, along with the ideologies and narratives that sustain and refract them. You will begin with an introduction to visual theory, especially as it applies to the American context, and acquire the critical tools necessary for the module. You will then locate the period under scrutiny within a broader visual and cultural 'prehistory', illuminating the roots of the modern world and its visual scene.

After this, you will concentrate on the culture of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Taking a thematic approach, you will examine the issues that emerge over the module of the twentieth century, referring forwards and backwards in order to generate connections where appropriate. The intention here is to introduce you to aspects of visual culture and its criticism, as well as to defamiliarise and explore some of the more familiar American iconography surrounding us.

American Literature Since 1890: Part I

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

This module will introduce significant and canonical texts by American writers produced since 1890 and throughout the first part of the twentieth century. By analysing the working of class, gender and race in these texts we will explore many of the social and cultural issues associated with the evolution of American modernity and American modernist aesthetics. We will observe the different ways in which writers tackle or avoid important economic and social questions of the period. We will examine how important socio-economic developments such as the rise of industrialisation and urbanisation, war, consumer culture, the question of women's rights and ideas of national identity shape the stylistic and thematic fabric of these works.

The African American Experience

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

This module examines the history of African-American political, cultural, and social developments from 1863 to the present.

Its principal goal is to familiarise you with the debates that African Americans have had among themselves between emancipation and the present day, thus establishing a deep historical understanding of the ongoing freedom struggle in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

It assesses intraracial arguments over the relationship of blacks to the US government in war and peace, over racial and class identities, and over diverse tactics and strategies for the advancement of the race.

Although particular attention is given to the longrunning campaign to destroy de jure segregation in the southern states (culminating in the successful nonviolent direct action campaigns of the 1960s), the module is predicated on the demonstrable fact that racial prejudice was a national, not a regional, phenomenon.

Lectures and seminars analyse the connections between African American history and culture. Emphasis is given to well-known black leaders like Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and Martin Luther King Jr., but female activists and the unsung black masses themselves also receive close attention.

Theoretical Concepts for American Studies

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2
This module provides theoretical tools for interpreting literary, historical, and cultural objects found in American Studies.
 
You'll familiarise yourself with important concepts that you may encounter in your reading and research. You'll be able to apply these concepts accurately and appropriately, focusing on social and political theory.
 
Topics covered may include:
  • historical materialism
  • ideology and ideology critique
  • cultural capital
  • sexuality
  • nationhood/nationalism
  • biopower
  • intersectionality
  • neoliberalism.

American Literature Since 1890: Part II

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module will introduce significant and canonical texts by American writers produced since 1945. By analysing the working of class, gender and race in these texts we will explore many of the social and cultural issues associated with the American modernity and American post-modernist aesthetics. We will observe the different ways in which writers tackle or avoid important economic and social questions of the period.

American Cinema B

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

An awareness of how Hollywood cinema was shaped, how it acquired its position of dominance, and the forms and aesthetic conventions that characterise it, is essential to an understanding of cinema more generally. Accordingly, this module will focus on the formation of Hollywood in the 1910s through to the post-World War 2 era, with particular emphasis placed on the development of the 'studio system' and Hollywood's 'golden age' of the 1920s to 1950. You will view a range of representative Hollywood films made during the period and analyse them in relation to the industry and its practices. You will also situate Hollywood cinema within the political and social life of the United States in the period.

Modernism and Childhood

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

You examine the role of childhood in British and American literary modernism, as well as the role of modernity in childhood, with an emphasis on American culture.

In this module you explore ideas such as cuteness, innocence, play, and learning as they were constructed in the early twentieth century, and the roles that they played in the overlap between modernism and children's literature.

You touch on some canonical children's literature including Winnie-the-Pooh, A Child's Garden of Verses and canonical modernist literature such as Harmonium, and Tender Buttons.

You devote significant portions of the module to understanding psychoanalysis, both as a critical tool and as a set of powerful primary texts of modern childhood.

Modernism and Childhood

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

This module will examine the role of childhood in British and American literary modernism, as well as the role of modernity in childhood, with an emphasis on US culture. Many modernist authors were fascinated by childhood and wrote books intended for children; meanwhile, scientific and pedagogical theories of childhood – prescriptive, descriptive, and everything in between – proliferated, revealing the degree to which childhood has always been subject to historical and cultural contingencies.

We will explore ideas like cuteness, innocence, play, and learning as they were constructed in the early twentieth century, and the roles that they played in the overlap between modernism and children’s literature. We will touch on some canonical children’s literature (Winnie-the-Pooh, A Child’s Garden of Verses) and some canonical modernist literature (Harmonium, Tender Buttons), as well as some literature that fits neither category very comfortably. We will also devote significant portions of the module to understanding psychoanalysis, both as a critical tool and as a set of powerful primary texts of modern childhood.

Women in America

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

In this module, you explore the changing experiences of women in America as recorded in history and represented in literature and film.

You also look at the relationship between gender, race, class, and ethnicity and how this is reflected in politics, economics and social developments in the United States.

You'll study historical and political debates about women's work, family life and citzenship and the different ways women have challenged gender oppression through social movements and creative arts activism.

In your lectures, you'll learn about women's history and gender relations in America from the pre-Colonial period to the present day. And in your seminars you'll study individual women's lives and artistic productions in relation to the weekly lecture topic.

American Cities: New Orleans

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

The Big Easy evokes dozens of images from Spanish moss draped buildings, mint juleps by the Mississippi, Mardi Gras parades and Louis Armstrong's horn, to desperate crowds in Hurricane Katrina. Some of the images are based in reality, others in fantasy and others form part of a constructed narrative. In this module you will contextualise the city's place in French and Spanish colonisation and we will consider the growth and expansion of the city, considering New Orleans' pivotal role in the slave trade and the regional cotton economy. You will examine the environmental history of the city, assess the importance of the Mississippi to its growth and consider its liminal position between the Caribbean and America.

Turning to the 20th century you will assess why New Orleans was among the first cities to institute racial segregation and how its black population resisted those efforts in politics, writing and of course in jazz music. You will also assess the rich literary tradition of New Orleans' writers from George Washington Cable to Kate Chopin, William Faulkner and to more contemporary writers in south Louisiana such as Earnest Gaines. You will explore why the city became America's notorious center of vice (long before Las Vegas) and we discuss why Americans have long considered the city a den of iniquity, mired in gothic exceptionalism, somehow removed from the national story, but so representative of it. Finally we take our story to the present and unpack why in a land of exceptional plenty there should be such urban poverty exposed for the world to see during Hurricane Katrina.

American Cities: New York

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

From New Amsterdam to 9/11 and beyond, New York has always been iconic. We experience the Big Apple through the sounds and sights that came before us: the movies, the music, the literature, the songs. But what goes on behind these images of ceaseless activity and glamour? Now the hub of global finace, New York was also a haven for immigrants, with Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty sitting right there in its harbour. Because of its diversity of population and ever-changing urban development, we will in this module be looking at the city from many perspectives, and find that to study its history and culture is to discover that the city that never sleeps never ceases to pose questions either.

American Drama

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

American Popular Music

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module examines the historical, social and cultural contexts of American popular music, focussing predominantly on the USA. Emphasis is placed on popular genres and styles of the twentieth century, the period in which the USA took on a dominant role in the creation and spread of popular culture across the globe.

As well as charting this growth in dominance, the module analyses popular music as representative ‘people’s music’. Genres and styles – including the blues, jazz, country, soul, funk, punk, disco, hip hop and grunge – are used to read aspects of change and continuity in the American twentieth century. Rather than providing a simple chronological history of musical styles in the USA, the module uses the music to examine concepts of race, place, tradition, commerce and authenticity. The music industry is analysed in terms of American business models, and recording and revival are explored as ways of thinking about representation, commercialization and exceptionalism.

Vital socio-historical moments, such as the emergence of rock and roll and the use of music in the civil rights era, are studied alongside the ‘invention’ of the teenager and the rise of a counterculture. The module concludes with a series of reflections on the various soundscapes associated with America and with the notion of multiple Americas audible through the myriad of non-Anglophone genres that exist within North America.

Picasso to Kahlo: Transatlantic Dialogues

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

You will explore around fifty years in the history of 20th-century art, during which the exchange between European and North-American artists intensified.

Starting with the shocking art of Dada artists in New York (Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Man Ray and the Baroness Elsa von Freytag), we will go back to Paris to examine the queer enclave of American artists and critics (Romaine Brooks and Gertrude Stein). Passing via the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich, we will return to New York and discuss the significant role of Peggy Guggenheim in supporting those artists who fled from Nazi Europe (Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Joan Miró).

The module will also look at representations of African-American artists in Paris and Berlin (Josephine Baker), and the stories around the controversial murals of socialist Mexican artists in New York and Detroit (José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo).

Politics of Governance: USA

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module examines four approaches to understanding contemporary US politics that emphasise the role of institutions, ideas, individuals and interests. These approaches are applied to the three main institutions of the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court and to the nature of political parties and voting in the US.

The Nineteenth-Century American Short Story

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module will be an in-depth examination of the nineteenth-century American short story. In the wake of Washington Irving’s influential 1820-1 The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., writers such as Catherine Maria Sedgwick, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville quickly developed the short story into a potent and enduring American literary form.

In addition to these writers, we will read a wide range of authors who used the genre:

  • to creatively examine the nation’s colonial past and to articulate new possibilities for American individual and collective identity
  • to question the often violent exclusion of women, African Americans, Native Americans and immigrants from public life
  • to end slavery and improve working conditions
  • to describe the alienation of urban and frontier life
  • to confront the demands of industrialization and mass culture
  • to orient themselves within intellectual terrain shaken by new movements in philosophy, religion and science.

At the same time, we will pay close attention to how these writers cultivated the art of the short story itself. They undertook bold stylistic experiments in narrative form, characterization, and tone, accented their work with words from foreign languages or regional dialects, wrote with journalistic clarity or created densely allusive arabesques. They often became the sharpest theoreticians and critics of the genre in their essays and reviews. In short, whether these writers sought to educate their readers concerning social inequities, to horrify or to titillate them, they opened new, dynamic possibilities for the short story within a growing nation and an emerging literary marketplace.

The Nineteenth-Century American Short Story

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

Time and Place: 1831: Slave Revolts

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

In August 1831, Nat Turner launched the most significant slave revolt in American history. Murdering 60 whites in a bloody spree, Turner's revolt convulsed the region. Seventy two hours later, militia units crushed the revolt. The backlash was frenzied with at least one hundred enslaved people executed by local militiamen. Yet despite Turner's subsequent execution, neither the rebel slave nor the insurrection he initiated could be entirely exorcized from the minds of contemporary southerners.

In December 1831, 60,000 enslaved people in western Jamaica rebelled against the island's slaveholding elite. It was the final, and one of the largest, revolts in the history of Caribbean slavery.

These revolts laid bare the revolutionary capability of enslaved people, they exposed the enmity that most slaves bore toward their masters, and they visibly revealed that enslaved people would adopt desperate means to secure their freedom. They also demonstrated how enslaved peoples utilized evangelical and small-scale trading networks to mobilize communities. And the revolts exposed how rebel leaders exploited national and transatlantic tensions over the future of slavery and harnessed direct action to the political tide of anti-slavery in Britain and America. But the frenzied backlash also revealed white anxieties over slavery, the nature of race, and the longeveity of slavery. As enslaved rebels demonstrated their rage against slaveholders and their aspirations for freedom, whites responded with fear, resentment, and paranoia to the rebel threat. Some condemned outside agitators, notably vocal abolitionists and evangelical liberals, while others redoubled their commitment to racialized slavery.

This module will address:

  1. the role of enslaved peoples (and the concept of 'agency') in shaping liberation movements in a comparative context
  2. the factors underpinning the disintegration of Jamaican slavery and its defense in America
  3. the growth of anti-slavery in the Anglophone Atlantic and the expansion of abolitionist sentiment in Britain and the USA
  4. white slaveholding identities and meanings attached to slave ownership, including anxieties surrounding the loss of white racial authority during and after the revolts
  5. the value of comparative methodologies for understanding historical change.

In short, the module examines the material, political, psychological, and gendered parameters to racial slavery and emancipation within the early nineteenth-century Atlantic world and considers the rise and fall of slavery in two key settings.

Transatlantic Rhetoric: Public Speech and Anglo-American Writing 1750-1900

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

What is 'rhetoric' and why was it so important for literary life in nineteenth-century Britain and America? How can we begin to analyse public speaking as writing, and what is its relationship to literature in general?

You address these questions by exploring the cultural history of persuasive public speech between the American Revolution and the turn of the twentieth century, and the role it played in the development of literary expression.

Each week you look at a pair of one or more speeches from either side of the Atlantic, from across a range of genres including parliamentary oratory, radical political speechmaking, sermons, courtroom statements and comic lectures.

By training in the methods of rhetorical analysis you develop an understanding of how to comprehend the meanings and craft of public speech.

By placing speechmaking back into broader literary history, you begin to see rhetoric and voice as central themes in the history of Anglo-American writing.

Transatlantic Rhetoric: Public Speech and Anglo-American Writing 1750-1900

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

What is 'rhetoric' and why was it so important for literary life in nineteenth-century Britain and America? How can we begin to analyse public speaking as writing, and what is its relationship to literature in general?

You address these questions by exploring the cultural history of persuasive public speech between the American Revolution and the turn of the twentieth century, and the role it played in the development of literary expression.

Each week you look at a pair of one or more speeches from either side of the Atlantic, from across a range of genres including parliamentary oratory, radical political speechmaking, sermons, courtroom statements and comic lectures.

By training in the methods of rhetorical analysis you develop an understanding of how to comprehend the meanings and craft of public speech.

By placing speechmaking back into broader literary history, you begin to see rhetoric and voice as central themes in the history of Anglo-American writing.

America in the 21st Century

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

You examine the state of 21st century America and assess the challenges the country faces - evaluating how it is represented globally. You examine a wide range of texts, media, documentary film, fiction, and cultural theory. 

You look at topics including: 

  • America as a civilisation
  • how American values and concepts have shaped social and cultural formation in American life
  • 9/11 and the War on Terror
  • community and civic decline in American public life
  • the 21st century American city
  • race and ethnicity in 21st century America
  • the contemporary American novel
  • the American West
  • political activism and protest
  • consumer culture and religion in 21st century America. 

Documentary America: Non-Fiction Writing

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

The study of American fiction often precludes an examination of some of the best writing and forms of self-representation produced in America: political and photo-essays, social science publications, journalism, reportage, and documentary films. This module examines the development of iconic non-fictional literature and other forms of visual representation (such as film and photography) from the 19th and 20th centuries. We will look at the style, content and circulation of non-fictional forms and examine their relationship with other aspects of cultural, social and political representation in America. We will also look at the ways that these forms intersect with the development of modernist and postmodernist literature in the US more broadly.

For this module you will have to read from a broad selection of materials that do not necessarily fit into conventional literary genres. We will analyse why writers and artists have chosen to represent events in the way that they do and the wider cultural and ethical implications of those forms.

The United States in the World

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

As the 21st century begins, the United States is still the world's only superpower: no other nation possesses comparable military and economic power or has interests that reach the entire globe. To understand the place and power of the US in the contemporary world, it is vital to understand how its geopolitical strategies function, militarily and economically. Yet because US power is also secured through cultural and discursive strategies, it is equally important to analyse how US cultural/discursive products and processes participate in the construction of the US in all the varied ways it imagines itself. The aim of this module is to analyse how US cultural/discursive strategies participate in imagining the US in the world, either by being embedded within traditional geopolitical strategies or by sitting alongside them. Rather than taking an historical approach, the module is organised around specific theoretical and cultural/discursive themes and practices.

These include:

  • architectural theory and the building of embassies abroad
  • design theory and designing the nation through everyday objects
  • film theory and screening the nation through popular film
  • remediation theory and virtually remediating the nation
  • entertainmentality theory and exhibiting the nation in museums
  • performance/performativity theory and re-enacting the nation though historical re-enactments as well as song
  • advertising theory and advertising the nation to US citizens.

Along the way, significant foreign and domestic policy debates from Cold War politics to the 'War on Terror' to the US domestic 'War on Illegal Immigration' will be considered through political, cultural and discursive theories (eg Said's notion of orientalism, Foucault's notion of governmentality, Butler's notion of performativity and Ranciere's notion of the birth of the nation). 

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