American Studies

American Studies - MA, MPhil, PhD

2018

Members of the Centre for American Studies provide supervision in many aspects of American Studies. Supervision is team-based and reflects the active research interests of the Centre.

2018

Overview

We treat the American experience in a critical and reflective manner, and offer an extremely good base for postgraduate study. While able to supervise a wide range of American topics, the Centre currenlty operates three specialist research clusters of particular interest to candidates; the American West; US Environmental Issues; Race, Ethnicity and Borders. 

About the Centre for American Studies

American Studies at Kent dates back to 1973 and, over the last few decades, has developed a strong research culture; this matches the commitment of the University to interdisciplinary study as well as the mandate of American Studies to explore the American experience in ground-breaking ways. 

Our team of scholars maintains close links with a number of North and South American research institutions and archives, and the University’s Templeman Library houses impressive collections on slavery, Native American culture, and photography/visual materials.

We treat the American experience in a critical and reflective manner, and offer an extremely good base for postgraduate study. While able to supervise a wide range of American topics, the Centre currently operates three specialist research clusters of particular interest to candidates:

  • The American West
  • The Study of US Environmental Issues
  • The Study of Race, Ethnicity and Borders.

National ratings

School of English

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of English was ranked 10th for research intensity and 15th for research power in the UK.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 95% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
 

School of History

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of History was ranked 8th for research intensity and in the top 20 in the UK for research power.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 99% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Careers

Recent postgraduates now work in media, publishing and a variety of businesses in the UK, Europe and the USA. Teaching is also a popular option, as are marketing and public relations. A Master’s in American Studies gives you an intellectual grounding suitable for graduate work at MPhil or PhD level.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

American Studies benefits from excellent library resources, and is especially strong in literature, film and history. Specialist collections include slavery and anti-slavery, a large collection of works on photography and contemporary images, and a slide library with well over 100,000 classified slides. The Library also houses the British Cartoon Archive. Kent is within easy reach of London’s major library resources.

Postgraduate students have access to the resources provided by the Centre for American Studies and its related departments. The Centre runs regular research events each year. Other schools and departments such as English, Film, Politics and International Relations, and History also host research seminars that students are welcome to attend.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Journal of American Studies; American Review of Canadian Studies; European Journal of American Culture; and American Indian Quarterly. Details of recently published books can be found within the staff research interests section.

Researcher Development Programme

Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.

Entry requirements

A first or 2.1 class honours degree in an appropriate subject (for example, American Studies, History or English degrees with US study component).

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Staff interests broadly fit within the parameters of American literature, American history, American film and American politics, although we actively welcome interdisciplinary projects that investigate several areas of study.

Current strengths in American Studies at Kent are: Native American literature and culture; African-American history; slavery and the Atlantic world; the American West; US environmental issues; US visual culture; Disney and recreation; American realist fiction; modern American poetry; US immigration politics; American science fiction; Hollywood; US foreign policy.

The American West

Kent is the only UK institution to operate a research cluster on the American West, with five members of the Centre specialising in trans-Mississippi studies. The research cluster engages in pioneering work on Native American literature, Western films and video games, female frontiering and several other elements of the Western experience.

The Study of US Environmental Issues

US environmental history is a relatively new field of study, but of increasing importance. Our two environmental specialists work on wildlife management, animal studies, nuclear protest and concepts of ecological doomsday.

The Study of Race, Ethnicity and Borders

The Centre has a long history of studying race and ethnicity. Currently, six members of the team cover a range of topics that include African-American political, cultural and social history, Native American literature, Latin American relations and immigration writing and politics.

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the school websites:

Literature: www.kent.ac.uk/english/staff

History: www.kent.ac.uk/history/staff

Politics: www.kent.ac.uk/politics/about-us/staff

Film: www.kent.ac.uk/arts/staff

Latin American Studies: www.kent.ac.uk/secl/hispanicstudies/staff

Staff research interests

Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the school websites:

Literature : www.kent.ac.uk/english/staff

History: www.kent.ac.uk/history/staff

Politics: www.kent.ac.uk/politics/about-us/staff

Film: www.kent.ac.uk/arts/staff

Latin American Studies: www.kent.ac.uk/secl/hispanicstudies/staff/

Dr Stella Bolaki

Multi-ethnic American writing, particularly migration/diaspora and transnational approaches; the Bildungsroman; gender theory; life writing; illness/disability; medical humanities.

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Dr Michael Collins

Nineteenth-century print culture, theatre, American studies and New York intellectual history; performance theory; new historicist and/or transnational methodologies.

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Dr Will Norman

Twentieth-century American literature and culture; crime fiction; postmodernism; theories of time in relation to literature; and the critical work of Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and Fredric Jameson. 

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Professor David Stirrup

Native American literature and culture; 20th-century American literature; the American midwest.

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Dr George Conyne: Lecturer in American History

American, constitutional, political and diplomatic history; Anglo-American relations; British diplomacy in the 20th century; the Cold War.

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Dr Karen Jones: Senior Lecturer in American History

American West; environmental history; the wolf: science and symbolism; hunting, nature and American identity; human relationships with animals.

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Dr John Wills: Senior Lecturer in American History

The 1950s; California; cyberculture and computer games; Disney, theming and recreation; environmental protest; nuclear age; US sociology and popular culture.

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Dr Ruth Blakeley: Senior Lecturer in International Relations

US foreign and security policy, US-Latin American relations, terrorism studies, and human rights. 

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Dr Andrew Wroe: Senior Lecturer in American Politics

Politics and process of direct democracy; social inclusion and exclusion; immigration and race/ethnicity.

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Dr Tamar Jeffers McDonald: Reader

Genres, including romantic comedy, melodrama and the gothic; stardom; film costume; strategies and representation of sex and virginity; performance.

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Professor Peter Stanfield: Professor of Film; Head of School of Arts

Cultural history of American film concentrated on and around the film criticism of Lawrence Alloway; American underground cinema of the late 1950s; the film adaptations of Mickey Spillane; pulp film and the avant-garde; ‘Baby Face Nelson’ and the 1950s retro-gangster cycle. 

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Dr William Rowlandson: Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies

Visual and textual representations of the Cuban Revolution and the revolutionary era.

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Dr Natalia Sobrevilla Perea: Reader in Hispanic Studies

State formation and political culture in the Andes from the end of the colonial period throughout the 19th century; race, ethnicity and military culture in the 19th and 20th centuries in South America.

Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for Home/EU PG Research programmes have not yet been set by the Research Councils UK.  This is ordinarily announced in March. 

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: