Introduction to American Studies - EN303

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
4 30 (15) DR J Wills







This module offers students the opportunity to explore the breadth of American life in a critical, academic fashion. It covers a wide variety of topics, from Native American culture to McDonaldization, all united by the concept of American Studies and the aim to understand the mechanics of the modern US experience. The module establishes a firm base from which American Studies degree programme students can proceed to Stage II modules here at Kent and ultimately go on to study at US institutions, while also providing English and History students with a useful introduction to American Studies. The emphasis throughout the module is in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary thought, and stays loyal to the ethos of American Studies as a groundbreaking fusion of theories, pathways, and academic criticism. Study skills sessions are also included in the module, including a library tour and writing workshops.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 44
Private study: 256 hours
Total study hours: 300 hour

Method of assessment

Coursework Essays: 45%
Comprised of 1 x 1000 word essay (15%); 1 x 2000 word essay (30%)
3 hr Exam 45%
Seminar Performance 10%

Indicative reading

C. Bigsby & H. Temperley (eds), A New Introduction to American Studies (2006)
Richard Horowitz, (ed) American Studies Anthology (2003)
J. Saldivar, Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies (1997)
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (2013)
Robert Kaplan, An Empire Wilderness (1999)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

~ show a good, broad understanding of the American experience commensurate to a 1st year survey course, and appropriate to embarking on an American Studies degree
~ show familiarity with a number of different disciplines that usually contribute to American Studies, most notably US history, literature, and politics
~ recognize core issues of race, gender, class and environment in the development of the nation and national culture
~ critically analyse the US experience, identifying problematic assumptions linked to key terms (such as 'wilderness', 'freedom' and 'identity')
~ show confidence in discussing key concepts in American Studies such as 'exceptionalism' and the 'American dream'

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