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Undergraduate Courses 2017

American Studies - BA (Hons)

Canterbury

Overview

Kent provides a blend of established staples in American Studies such as the Civil War, slavery and contemporary politics, along with innovative modules on Native American literature, US environmental issues, and Latin American history and culture (including a Spanish language option). A wide range of modules are on offer in both three- and four-year programmes.

This programme is a three-year degree, with the option of spending one term at a US university in your third and final year. We also offer a range of four-year degree programmes with a year abroad (see our related courses below).

The University of Kent has been teaching and researching in the field of American Studies since 1973. The programme is taught by an impressive range of internationally recognised scholars who specialise in American film, literature, history and politics. Students are encouraged to visit the United States or Latin America through our exchange system. Please visit our website and feel free to contact us.

Independent rankings

American Studies at Kent was ranked 4th in The Times Good University Guide 2016 and 6th in The Complete University Guide 2017.

For graduate prospects, American Studies at Kent was ranked 2nd in The Complete University Guide 2017. American Studies students who graduated from Kent in 2015 were the most successful in the UK at finding work or further study opportunities (DLHE).

In the most recent research rankings, English at Kent was 10th in the UK for research intensity and 15th for research power; history at Kent was 8th in the UK for research intensity and in the top 20 for research power (REF 2014).

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes offered by the University in order that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas of interest to you or that may further enhance your employability.

Stage 1

Possible modules may include:

EN303 - Introduction to American Studies (30 credits)

The aim of this module is to provide a broad introduction to the literature, art, history and sociology of the United States. Some of the themes to be explored are: the natural environment, colonial life, slavery, US political culture, Native American representation, the 20th Century novel and poem, American architecture, music and popular culture, America at the new millennium. The module establishes a firm base from which students can proceed to Stage 2 modules and ultimately go onto study at institutions in the United States. The emphasis throughout is in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary thought. The module is loyal to the ethos of American Studies as a groundbreaking fusion of theories, pathways and academic criticism.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN331 - Readings in the Twentieth Century (30 credits)

This module emphasizes the links between literature, history, and culture. It introduces students to the formative events, debates and struggles of the twentieth century, and how these have been addressed by different modes of creative and critical writing. Topics such as Modernism, the Holocaust, the US culture industry, postcolonial studies and neoliberalism will be considered and discussed in relation to fictional and critical literature, films, photography, graphic novels, music, and other media. Weekly screenings will run alongside lectures and seminar discussions. Literary works across all genres will be read in relation to visual material – such as paintings, photography, feature and documentary films – and a range of selected critical reading. The majority of writing samples are drawn from English, American and more broadly Anglophone writing, though several instances of writing in other languages will also be included (all taught in translation).

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN332 - Writing America (30 credits)

This module aims to emphasize connections between literature and culture in the USA, from early considerations of a distinct American literature to the present day. By way of six key themes or preoccupations, the module will introduce students to some of the major debates and antagonisms, and rhetorical and stylistic modes, that have formed and modified American literary and intellectual culture Questions of Belief, Gender, Race, Economy, Space, and Time will be approached through a range of textual forms set against their historical contexts and within the broader nexus of cultural production including the visual performing arts where appropriate. Students will be encouraged to examine the specific local, regional, and national frameworks within which these texts are produced, but also to look at the ways in which they resist and transcend national boundaries, in the development of an American register in world literatures for instance.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN333 - Romanticism and Critical Theory (30 credits)

This year-long course examines some of the most significant writing of the Romantic period (1780-1830) - a period in which the role and forms of literature were being redefined - alongside recent debates in critical theory. You will study a wide range of literary texts from the poetry of Blake, Wordsworth and Keats to the novels of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, with reference to contemporary literary and political debates and against the backdrop of the period’s turbulent history. In parallel, this module explores fundamental critical questions about literature: Why read it? What is an author? What is the role of poetry in society? How is literature shaped by culture? What is ‘Art’? Continuities and disjunctions between Romantic writers’ answers to these questions and those provided by more recent literary theorists will be a central concern of the course.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HA314 - Introduction to Contemporary Art (15 credits)

This course aims to draw on both the history and theory of art in order to present a wide range of contemporary forms of art and artistic practice, and to articulate some key distinctions useful for addressing the question of the place of art in culture. In particular, a discussion of ideas of the avant-garde, of modernity and postmodernism will be relevant here. The course will explore, through pursuing general themes and case studies of particularly controversial art objects, the different means by which our notions of art and of the artist are 'framed' today, and it will therefore both inform students' broader study of the history of art and complement their individual artistic practice.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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HA315 - Introduction to Contemporary Art (30 credits)

This course aims to draw on both the history and theory of art in order to present a wide range of contemporary forms of art and artistic practice, and to articulate some key distinctions useful for addressing the question of the place of art in culture. In particular, a discussion of ideas of the avant-garde, of modernity and postmodernism will be relevant here. The course will explore, through pursuing general themes and case studies of particularly controversial art objects, the different means by which our notions of art and of the artist are 'framed' today, and it will therefore both inform students' broader study of the history of art and complement their individual artistic practice.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HA354 - Introduction to the History of Art (15 credits)

The module is intended as an introduction to the History of Art, as a body of visual artefacts and as an academic discipline. It is intended to be accessible to those with little or no previous experience, but also stimulating and informative to students with more background knowledge. The approach is chronological, focussing on a sequence of canonical works of art produced within the Western tradition. Such works provide a frame for introducing students to many of the basic analytical concepts and terms routinely deployed by art historians in describing, analysing and interpreting works of art: period, style, iconography, meaning, material/medium, technique, composition, creative process, representation, tradition, social function, patronage, genre etc.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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HA355 - Introduction to the History of Art (30 credits)

The module is intended as an introduction to the History of Art, as a body of visual artefacts and as an academic discipline. It is intended to be accessible to those with little or no previous experience, but also stimulating and informative to students with more background knowledge. The approach is chronological, focussing on a sequence of canonical works of art produced within the Western tradition. Such works provide a frame for introducing students to many of the basic analytical concepts and terms routinely deployed by art historians in describing, analysing and interpreting works of art: period, style, iconography, meaning, material/medium, technique, composition, creative process, representation, tradition, social function, patronage, genre etc.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HA361 - Introduction to Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art (15 credits)

This course aims to provide students with an introduction to aesthetics and the philosophy of art. The first part of the course focuses on some of the major texts in the history of the philosophy of art in the western tradition (e.g., Plato's Republic, Aristotle’s Poetics, Hume’s Of the Standard of Taste and Kant’s Critique of Judgement). The second part of the course focuses on central contemporary debates in the philosophy of art (e.g., What is Art? Artistic and Aesthetic Evaluation and the problem of forgery, Intention and Interpretation, Ethical criticism of art, Art and Emotion, Art and Feminism.) The student will be encouraged to see connections between the two parts of the module and to understand how contemporary debates (both philosophical and those found in the public opinion and art criticism) can be traced back to or even helpfully illuminated by old and contemporary philosophical debates.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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HA362 - Introduction to Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art (30 credits)

This course aims to provide students with an introduction to aesthetics and the philosophy of art. The first part of the course focuses on some of the major texts in the history of the philosophy of art in the western tradition (e.g., Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Poetics, Hume’s Of the Standard of Taste and Kant’s Critique of Judgement). The second part of the course focuses on central contemporary debates in the philosophy of art (e.g., What is Art? Artistic and Aesthetic Evaluation and the problem of forgery, Intention and Interpretation, Ethical criticism of art, Art and Emotion, Art and Feminism.) The student will be encouraged to see connections between the two parts of the module and to understand how contemporary debates (both philosophical and those found in the public opinion and art criticism) can be traced back to or even helpfully illuminated by old and contemporary philosophical debates.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HI390 - The Emergence of America:From European Settlement to 1880 (15 credits)

The module will focus primarily on the period from the 18th century onwards but will begin with an outline treatment of the British colonies in North America from initial European settlement. Interactions between Native American, African, African-American and European populations will be emphasised in the colonial period. Thereafter the module is pursued via the first anti-colonial revolution in modern history and the creation of a new nation and concludes with the reconstitution of the nation after a bloody civil war and on the eve of large-scale industrialisation. Themes include the causes and consequences of the Revolution, the new political system, the development of mass democracy, economic development and territorial expansion into the West, reform movements, sectional conflict between North and South, slavery, the Civil War and the re-establishment of a national order during Reconstruction.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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HI391 - The Rise of the United States Since 1880 (15 credits)

The module will introduce the students to the history of the U.S during its dramatic rise to industrial and international power. Beginning with the transformation of the U.S into an urban industrial civilisation at the end of the 19th Century, it ends with a review of the American position at the beginning of the 21st century. Themes include early 20th century reform, the rise to world power by 1918, prosperity and the Depression, the New Deal, war and Cold War, race relations, Vietnam, supposed decline and resurgence from Nixon to Reagan, the end of the Cold War, the Clinton Administration.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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HI426 - Making History: Theory and Practice (30 credits)

This module has two aims:



1) to contribute towards equipping the students with the necessary practical and intellectual skills for them to think and write as historians at an undergraduate level;



2) to encourage them to think reflectively and critically about the nature of the historical discipline, its epistemological claims, and why we, as historians, do what we do in the way we do it. This will be achieved through four blocks of seminars and lectures.



These will cover:

• The practice of history, introducing history at university level at both a practical and conceptual level.

• Historical methodology. This will cover the development of university history in the nineteenth century and how this differed from the study and writing of history that had gone before. It will also consider the impact of the Social Sciences on the historical profession during the twentieth century.

• The varieties of history. This will examine some of the major themes and approaches, such as Marxism or nationalism, in modern historical scholarship.

• Beyond history. The final block will consider the ‘linguistic turn’ and new ways of studying and writing history in the twenty-first century.



A fifth component, concentrated in the first three or four weeks of the module, will provide training in core, practical skills (library and bibliographic skills, IT skills and the use of MyFolio and PDP).

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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FI313 - Film Style (30 credits)

The course introduces students to the language of film, from aspects of mise-en-scène (setting, performance, costumes, props, lighting, frame composition) to framing (camera movement, shot scale, lenses), sound (fidelity, volume, timbre) and editing (from requirements for spatial orientation through matches on action, eyeline matches and shot-reverse-shot structures to temporal manipulations through ellipsis and montage). The study of these elements enables students to understand the spatial and temporal construction of films, as well as the stylistic, expressive and/or dramatic functions of specific strategies.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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FI314 - Hollywood Studios (30 credits)

The module studies the emergence and consolidation of the studio system in Hollywood, between the coming of sound in 1929 until the collapse of the studios in 1960.. Studied topics will include the rise of the star system; the emergence of genres; self-regulation and censorship; developments in technology; and changes in audience. Examination will be made of the development of the 'classic Hollywood cinema' style of film against the backdrop of varying contexts of production, distribution, exhibition and regulation. A focus on genres (such as the gangster film, western and musical) in their various phases of development and permutation will be a lens for student understanding of the importance of standardization. Studio development and collapse are also seen in broader historical and political contexts, enabling students to appreciate the forces that motivated film production, distribution and exhibition during the period.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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FI315 - Film Theory (30 credits)

This module approaches the "big questions" that have surrounded film and the moving image and puts them into historical context. Although specific topics will vary, representative topics may address competing definitions of film and its constitutive elements, the effects that cinema has on spectators, the social, cultural and political implications that moving images reproduce, and the status of the medium between art and entertainment. Students will debate seminal writings on the nature of film and bring their arguments to bear on exemplary film productions.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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FI316 - Film Histories (30 credits)

This course examines film history and historiography through a series of case studies. In carrying out this investigation students will be invited to work with secondary and primary sources held in the library and will be encouraged to evaluate the aesthetic, technological, economic, social and political histories presented in this module. Students will understand the role and value of the contextual study of film and will be given the opportunity to research and write on selected aspects of film historiography. The choice of case studies will depend upon the expertise of the module convenor and is not restricted to a particular national cinema or period; case studies may include, for instance, the history of film by means of the study of a particular theme and cultural context in the history of film.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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MU327 - Understanding Popular Styles (15 credits)

This module examines the origins and development of the major popular musical styles that have emerged in the twentieth century, with a focus on the synthesis of African and European musical elements on the American continent. The module will explore the full complexities of the idea of the popular and the shifting and contested meanings of genre and style. Links between oral traditions of music making, musical literacy, technology and changes in popular musical styles will be made.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PO305 - International History and International Relations (15 credits)

This module introduces first year undergraduate students to some of the key historical events of modern history, and related debates and questions that have occupied the discipline of International Relations (IR). The focus is on communicating a few key themes, ideas, issues and principles that recur throughout the history of the last hundred years, and that cut across various theoretical approaches and different schools of thought. These key ideas include: war, conflict, violence and terror; international reformism; the nature of international order under conditions of anarchy; the balance of power; the influence of ideology on international affairs and on theorising; the tension between order and justice in the international sphere; and the nature of imperialism and its effects. Exploration of these themes, ideas, and issues emerges through analysis of the World Wars, the Cold War, decolonisation and the emergence of the US as the world's sole superpower in the post-Cold War era. The course places an emphasis on historical events between the global North and South, as these events often led to dramatic shifts and changes in international relations and foreign policy. Students will be encouraged to identify significant continuities and changes in international politics across the period studied.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PO327 - Introduction to Comparative Politics (15 credits)

The module introduces students to the empirical study of the key structures, institutions and processes in political life. It does so through the lens of the comparative method, in which political systems are compared and contrasted to test hypotheses about the factors producing similarities and differences across countries and over time. The module first introduces the comparative method, and then discusses the different ways in which political systems can be organized and classified. It focuses on the three key powers in all political systems – executive, legislative and judicial – the ‘intermediate’ actors that link people to their governments, namely political parties, interest groups and the media, and how citizens behave politically in relations to such institutions and actors. Throughout the module, students are encouraged to identify the factors and the processes leading to different political outcomes across states and over time and to use both qualitative and quantitative data to support their arguments.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage


Stage 2

Possible modules may include:

EN665 - American Studies: Reputations (30 credits)

This module is designed to introduce students to a range of key themes of American culture during the middle years of the 20th century, with an additional emphasis on aspects of Latin American culture and the transnational. Taught via the traditional 2-hour seminar/1-hour lecture format, with additional film screenings, the module will build on the first year 'Introduction to American Studies' module in order to develop students’ understanding of twentieth-century American culture, give them a firm grounding in the interdisciplinary nature of American Studies, and begin the preparation for their final year interdisciplinary long essay. 'Topics in American Studies' draws on expertise from a range of areas of American Studies, addressing specific historical events through various cultural lenses. Topics to be considered on a week-by-week basis include:



The ‘Twenties.

Interwar Black culture

Mexico and modernism

Changing representations of the Agrarian South

World War II

Culture in the '50s

The New West

Castro and the intellectuals

Environmentalism

The '60s



Many of the above topics will pick up and expand on questions, themes, and problems considered on EN303, placing greater emphasis on cross-disciplinary methods and a deepening awareness of transnational and transcultural relationships. Presented here as a decade-by-decade lecture series the module will nevertheless challenge students to assimilate and navigate recurring comparisons and tensions across the middle portion of the twentieth century.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN675 - Declaring Independence: 19th Century US Literature (30 credits)

When the Long Island-born poet Walt Whitman proclaimed in 1855 that the “United States” were history’s “greatest poem” he made an important connection between national political culture and literary expression. In some ways this was no exaggeration. As a new experiment in politics and culture, the United States had to be literally written into existence. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson’s dramatic Declaration of Independence in 1776, followed by the drafting of the Constitution after the Revolutionary War with Britain, the project of shaping the new United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was essentially a literary one.

In this module we will explore how American writers in this period tried in numerous, diverse ways to locate an original literary voice through which to express their newfound independence. At the same time, the module includes the work of writers who had legitimate grievances against the developing character of a new nation that still saw fit to cling to such “Old World” traditions as racialized slavery, class conflict and gender inequality.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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CP627 - Science Fiction: History and Innovation (30 credits)

This module examines the development of science fiction from the second half of the nineteenth century to its current global status in both serious and popular culture. It explores how science fiction has developed via the interaction of different genres, different media and different national cultures. The module begins with the work of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells since their fiction is at the root of international variants of science fiction. Special attention will be paid to the comparative analysis of science fiction from the Americas, Western and Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union. Consideration will also be given to the relationship of literature to film, especially surrounding topics such as aliens and alienation, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, dystopia and apocalypse.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN677 - The Contemporary (30 credits)

This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of contemporary literature written in English, where ‘contemporary’ is taken to refer to twenty-first century work. It will equip students with critical ideas and theoretical concepts that will help them to understand the literature of their own time. Students will consider examples of a range of genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and the essay. They will also be selectively introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. Over the course of the module, students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts. They will consider writers’ responses to, for instance, questions of migration, environmental change, and financial crisis. They will also consider a range of aesthetic developments and departures, for example: new conceptualism and the claim to unoriginality; the turn to creative non-fiction; the re-emergence of the political essay. The module will not focus on a given national context. Instead it will set contemporary writing against the background of identifiably international issues and concerns. In so doing it will draw attention to non-national publishing strategies and audiences. Overall, the module will aim to show how writers are responding to the present period, how their work illuminates and reflects current cultural concerns. The module will alternate, week by week, between thematic and formal concerns.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN695 - Empire, New Nations and Migration (30 credits)

This course will introduce students to the field of postcolonial literature, focusing on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The course will be divided into three consecutive areas: empire and colonisation; the processes of decolonisation; and migration and diaspora. Centred primarily on canonical British colonial texts, the first part of the course will explore issues surrounding language, cosmopolitan encounters, Orientalism, modernism and the genres of imperial fantasy. The texts in the second part of the module will be drawn from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. The intention is to allow students to bring these disparate regions and texts into a productive dialogue by reflecting on their common engagement with colonial and liberation discourses, as well as the legacies of partition. The course further aims to sketch a narrative of empire and decolonisation that links these issues to the context of narrating migration in our contemporary postcolonial world, a subject taken up more directly in the final part of the course.



Some brief extracts from critical material on colonial discourse and history, decolonisation, postcoloniality and migration will be considered alongside the primary text each week. Together with a broad primary textual arc that stretches from the British empire to the contemporary metropolis, the course will give students a coherent intellectual narrative with which to explore changing conceptions of culture, history and postcolonial identity across the modern world.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN721 - American Modernities: US Literature in the 20th Century (30 credits)

This module is a study of twentieth-century American literature and culture organized conceptually around the idea of modernity. Students will explore the interconnections between modernity in the United States and the literary and philosophical ideas that shaped it (and were shaped by it) from the start of the century to its close. At the core of the module will be a necessary focus on two versions of American modernity, broadly represented by New York and Los Angeles respectively. Novels, works of art and critical texts will be read alongside one another to explore how these major regional hubs of aesthetic and cultural output developed competing conceptions of "modernity", “American culture” and the place of “the urban” in twentieth-century life, with important effects on contemporary perceptions of the USA. Moving beyond a sense of “modernism” as simply an aesthetic challenge to nineteenth-century modes of romanticism and realism, to consider the embeddedness of “modernist” literature within the particularities of its cultural and historical moment, students will be asked to develop a more nuanced approach to critical reading that pays close attention to the role of differing conceptions of modernity in the USA. The rise of mass culture, the L.A. film industry, the importance of Harlem to the history of race, the role of the intellectual, the urban challenges of the automobile, the birth of the modern American magazine, and questions of conservation and “creative destruction” in cities will all be considered through readings of key novels and critical texts from what Time Magazine editor Henry Luce famously called “The American Century”.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HI6056 - The British Atlantic World c.1580-1763 (30 credits)

The curriculum works systematically through the exploration and settlement of different regions, with weekly material covering particular migratory pathways, including Chesapeake planters, New England puritans, pirates and settlers in the Caribbean, and other seminal cultural zones including attention to the Middle Colonies and the Lower South. Introductory coverage will explore the "prehistory" of British colonialism through an examination of the plantation of Ulster, and other aspects of migration and imperialism will be treated through engagement with the Scottish experiment at Darien and English attempts to gain footholds in West Africa. The curriculum will concentrate on particular themes to help sustain integrity across this diffuse oceanic domain: encounters with indigenous peoples, Atlantic imperialism, settlement demographics, and cultural folkways. The final weeks of the course will treat points of convergence and integration, including the growth of cities, religious movements, political commonalities, and the eighteenth-century wars for empire in the Atlantic, culminating in the Peace of Paris of 1763.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HI795 - Inviting Doomsday: US Environmental (30 credits)

Condemned by the international community for refusing to sign the Kyoto Accords, rendered powerless by electricity blackouts, and stricken by the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the United States of America is today embroiled in a narrative of environmental controversy and catastrophe. This module explores to what extent the USA has been ‘inviting doomsday’ throughout the modern (twentieth-century) period. Commencing with an introductory session on writing and researching American environmental history, the module is then split into four sections: Science and Recreation, Doomsday Scenarios, Environmental Protest, and Consuming Nature. Over the twelve weeks we will consider a range of environmental issues that include wildlife management in national parks, pesticide spraying on prairie farms, nuclear testing in Nevada, and Mickey Mouse rides in Disneyland. By the end of the module, we will have constructed a comprehensive map of the United States based around themes of ecological transformation, assimilation and decay.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HI5023 - The American Civil War Era 1848-1877 (30 credits)

This course will examine this key era of US history by examining the key political and social events, developments in the history of ideas and historiographical controversies from the victory over Mexico to the final withdrawal of US troops from the South. It will focus on the changes that occurred and the changing interpretations of them. Students will be able to see the interplay of forces and ideas that led to a conflict that few, if any, wanted and lasted for longer than anyone expected. Historical and fictional depictions in art and film will be evaluated for the ways they shape perspectives. The key historical topics include the rise of slavery as a public issue in the late 1840s, the attempts to find compromise within the Constitutional framework, the activities of the extremists, the changing nature and goals of the war, the effects the war had on both sides, the plans for the post-war period, the changing elite and popular attitudes, the nature of the final, pragmatic arrangements that the country accepted. Students will be able to pursue topics of their choice alongside and as part of these themes.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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PO617 - Contemporary Politics and Government in the United States (30 credits)

PO617 offers a comprehensive introduction to the politics and national government of the United States. It introduces students to the ‘foundations’ of the US political system, examining the history of the republic, its economy and society, the values and beliefs American people subscribe to, and the basic structure of the political system. We will also examine those ‘intermediate’ institutions (interest groups, parties, elections and the media) that link people to their government, and the three key institutions of the federal government: the Congress, Presidency and Supreme Court. Lastly, we focus on the policymaking process in the US. We will look at economic policy, civil rights and liberties and foreign policy, ask how and why policy is made as it is, and examine the extent to which the policy solutions produced by the political system are optimal.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage


Stage 3

Possible modules may include:

HI560 - American Studies Extended Essay (30 credits)

For details please see the Centre for American Studies course booklet.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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PO616 - The Politics of Trust (in the USA) (15 credits)

Much recent academic and popular commentary has focused on citizens’ supposed mistrust of government, especially in the United States of America. The central aim of the Politics of Trust is to uncover the reasons for Americans’ malaise. However, students will also examine other western democracies where trust has fallen to see if these countries’ experiences can inform our understanding of the US case specifically and the politics of trust more generally. The course begins with a history of trust in America, with an overview of the putative reasons for declining trust in the post-World War II period, with an examination of the experiences of other western democracies. The second part turns to the specific explanations for declining trust as posited by academics and political commentators. Explanations include the crisis of government performance, spin, the internecine warfare between Republicans and Democrats, the changing nature of the modern labour market, declining social capital, and the media.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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HI5024 - The American Civil War Era 1848-1877 (30 credits)

This course will examine this key era of US history by examining the key political and social events, developments in the history of ideas and historiographical controversies from the victory over Mexico to the final withdrawal of US troops from the South. It will focus on the changes that occurred and the changing interpretations of them. Students will be able to see the interplay of forces and ideas that led to a conflict that few, if any, wanted and lasted for longer than anyone expected. Historical and fictional depictions in art and film will be evaluated for the ways they shape perspectives. The key historical topics include the rise of slavery as a public issue in the late 1840s, the attempts to find compromise within the Constitutional framework, the activities of the extremists, the changing nature and goals of the war, the effects the war had on both sides, the plans for the post-war period, the changing elite and popular attitudes, the nature of the final, pragmatic arrangements that the country accepted. Students will be able to pursue topics of their choice alongside and as part of these themes.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HI5072 - The American Revolution (30 credits)

This source-based class challenges participants to consider the background, causes, and content of the American Revolution from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean from the Stamp Act debates to the election of Thomas Jefferson as President. Students will be asked to digest primary documents from political speeches in the British Parliament, to American political pamphlets. Students will consider the character and place of the American Revolution within European and American economic, political, and cultural development. The course will examine the conditions under which American Revolution emerged; the part played by empire, and the distinctive combination of ideological and theological strands that produced a compelling challenge to British Parliamentary authority for the first time.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HI796 - Inviting Doomsday: US Environmental (30 credits)

Condemned by the international community for refusing to sign the Kyoto Accords, rendered powerless by electricity blackouts, and stricken by the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the United States of America is today embroiled in a narrative of environmental controversy and catastrophe. This module explores to what extent the USA has been ‘inviting doomsday’ throughout the modern (twentieth-century) period. Commencing with an introductory session on writing and researching American environmental history, the module is then split into four sections: Science and Recreation, Doomsday Scenarios, Environmental Protest, and Consuming Nature. Over the twelve weeks we will consider a range of environmental issues that include wildlife management in national parks, pesticide spraying on prairie farms, nuclear testing in Nevada, and Mickey Mouse rides in Disneyland. By the end of the module, we will have constructed a comprehensive map of the United States based around themes of ecological transformation, assimilation and decay.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN703 - The 'Real' America: Class and Culture in the American Gilded Age (30 credits)

What is at stake when artists and writers decide to take the "real world" as the subject of their art? In the later nineteenth century, to depict "reality" in fiction and art became a radical act of social protest and critique. In an endeavour to locate the "truth" behind American society, realists moved well beyond pre-existing societal norms to investigate the squalid living conditions of immigrants in the New York slums, participate in Native American religious ceremonies, and probe the psychosexual neuroses of the middle classes. This module explores the American "ideology of realism" (Michael Elliot) in the late nineteenth- and early- twentieth centuries as expressed in a variety of forms and genres, including: the novel, painting, anthropology and photography. We will discuss the reasons behind the emergence of realism in the later nineteenth century, how it interacted with the new "mass culture", whether it critiqued or reinforced dominant racial, sexual, ethnic and class-based prejudices, and, finally, why it declined in the twentieth century as the favoured aesthetic of the American avant-garde. On this module we will move far beyond seeing realism as merely a tame, neutral artistic style to investigate how it pointed to a radical “way of seeing” the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century world. The module includes only 3 longer works (Wharton, Howells, and Twain).

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN714 - Utopia: Philosophy and Literature (30 credits)

The module examines some key texts in the theory and literary presentation of utopia. In the first part of the module we will examine classic early utopian texts (Plato, More) and will set these in the context of the modern theory of historical progress (Hegel) the failure of that progress to materialise (Agamben) and the nature of hope for the future (Bloch). In the second part of the module, we will examine modern classics which look at the failure of the communist utopia (Zamyatin, Huxley, Orwell) and at later texts which revived the genre of utopia (LeGuin, Atwood).

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN716 - Marxism, Literature and Culture (30 credits)

This module offers students a synoptic perspective on Marxist cultural criticism from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day in Europe, Russia and North America. It begins with an analysis of a selection from Marx’s own writings, with the aim of introducing key terms, such as “alienation,” “ideology,” and “dialectic.” Students’ understanding of these terms and their critical uses for literary and cultural studies will develop during the course of the module, as they encounter a range of important Marxist thinkers and their writings.



Throughout the module students will be invited to interrogate and transgress the boundaries separating literary from critical texts, and theory from practice. They will be invited to consider creative practice and Marxist criticism in dialogue with one another at particular historical moments. Although anchored in the literary and the textual, the module will also offer opportunities to think critically about the term “culture” itself in its broadest senses, encompassing a range of aesthetic and social practices, such as sport and music. Progressing through the great class conflicts of the early twentieth century, the Frankfurt School, New Left and anti-racist decolonization movements of the postwar period, up to the contemporary neoliberal moment, the module aims finally to offer students a set of tools with which to understand their own cultural encounters in the present as well as to reconfigure and re-evaluate the cultural knowledge they have accumulated in stages one and two of their degree programmes.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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FI584 - The Gothic in Film (30 credits)

This module will investigate "the Gothic" as a significant and recurring cycle within Hollywood film with recognisable tropes and themes, and a dominant tone and style. Beginning with the 1940s cycle of “Women's Gothic” which emerged at the same time as Film Noir, and visually and thematically overlapped with it, the module will explore the particularly filmic ways that such texts manage to evoke the menacing atmosphere and the tone of sexualised danger and suspense achieved by the Gothic’s source novels and short stories. Continuing from the original cycle of films, the module will examine later Hollywood films that have employed the themes and imagery of the Gothic to tap into similar complex anxieties and desires, before inspecting films from other cinemas (for example, those of Europe or Asia) which also make use of the dominant Gothic tropes.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN676 - Cross-Cultural Coming-of-Age Narratives (30 credits)

If the Bildungsroman has been criticised for being outmoded and conservative, how do contemporary writers interrogate and expand its scope and importance? Are coming-of-age narratives merely private stories or can they be read in ways which highlight their social functions, and what kind of theoretical, aesthetic and cultural perspectives can we apply to scrutinise these functions? This module will bring together a range of texts and films from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that can be read within and against the literary tradition of the Bildungsroman or the coming-of-age narrative. Drawing on material from the US, the Caribbean, Asia and Europe, we will spend time analysing the representation of the coming-of-age experience in terms of content and form and assess the ideological functions of the Bildungsroman in a cross-cultural context. Particular attention will be given to questions of racial and ethnic identity, migration, colonialism, memory, trauma, belonging and sexuality. We will also explore the connection of the Bildungsroman with genres such as autobiography, memoir, young adult fiction, travel narrative, graphic novel, and film.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN667 - Harlem to Hogan's Alley: Black Writing in North America (30 credits)

This module will bring together works of poetry and fiction by a number of black writers in the USA and Canada in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. With a particular emphasis on migration, music, and urban space, we will explore the intellectual, political, and aesthetic imperatives that drive these writers to address questions of race, ethnicity, gender, belonging, representation, poverty, privilege, and trauma.

Beginning in Harlem in the 1920s, the moment when “the Negro was in vogue”, students will examine the ways in which black Americans and Canadians have sought to make their impact on the literary landscape, by turns exposing and employing the power structures of the dominant culture. This comparative look at US and Canadian literatures, however, also challenges students to scrutinize the construction of literary and other categories, and to consider the commonality and distinctive difference between black experience north and south of the 49th parallel.

Lectures/workshops will emphasise discussion of key moments and movements in African American / African Canadian arts; the significance of linguistic distinctiveness; the cultural self-categorisation of black, African American, Africadian and Halfrican identities; and the rise of African American literary theory.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN588 - Innovation and Experiment in New York, 1945-2015 (30 credits)

The module is structured around poetry and fiction produced in New York since the war. The emphasis is primarily upon New York's experimental and avant-garde traditions, and one organising principle is the inter-connectedness of the arts in New York. The module introduces students to some of the main areas of culture in the city, from the New York school of poetry through Abstract Expressionism, early Punk and on to post-modern fiction. Writers to be studied will include John Cage, William Burroughs, John Ashbery and Paul Auster.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN623 - Native American Literature (30 credits)

The module focuses on the literary production of North America’s indigenous peoples, drawing on the historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts of one tribe, the Anishinaabeg, or Ojibwe. Students will be encouraged to explore aesthetic and intellectual developments in Native literature and theory; to examine the nature of indigenous status in relation to both North America and the wider world; and to draw on their understanding of canonical literature and literary theory to isolate points of intersection and divergence between Native American and American literatures. We will cover a wide range of literary forms, from transcriptions of oral traditions, through autobiography, to the postmodern novel; and scrutinize and employ a number of strategies of reading the unfamiliar, from ethnological discourse to tribal literary nationalism.



The relationship between Native American literature and art will be a key feature of lecture/workshop discussion and, where appropriate, film screenings will be offered.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN658 - American Crime Fiction (30 credits)

This module explores the history and practice of crime fiction in the United States, from the detective stories of Edgar Allan Poe in the 1840s through the evolution of hardboiled narratives in the early and mid-twentieth century, and on into the 21st century novel. Attention is also paid to developments in film and television which parallel those in fiction, such as the birth of film noir and the contemporary cop series. During the course of the term, our readings of crime fiction will be supported by critical and theoretical texts by Franco Moretti, Tzvetan Todorov and others. Topics we will address include the relationship between high and low culture, how and why genres evolve, and the ways in which crime fiction addresses questions of race and gender

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN661 - The Stranger (30 credits)

This module takes the figure of ‘the stranger’ as a starting point for exploring the different ideas and contexts of belonging that have shaped the novel over the last century. Contexts will include modernity and the Holocaust, race and gender in modern America, and contemporary fictions of exile and encounter. Among the writers considered will be Joseph Conrad, Toni Morrison, and J M Coetzee. The course will also draw on a variety of twentieth-century cultural, social and psychological conceptions of belonging, from the work of Sigmund Freud through to the more recent ideas of Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Zygmunt Bauman.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Teaching & Assessment

Stage 1 modules are usually taught by lectures and seminars. Stage 2/3 main modules are taught either by lectures and seminars, or by seminars alone. You usually have around ten hours of contact with staff each week.

Depending on the modules you select, assessment varies from 100% coursework (extended essays or dissertation), to a combination of examination and coursework, usually in the ratio 50:50, 60:40 or 80:20.

Programme aims

Our aims are to provide students with:

  • an understanding of the culture and history of the United States
  • a multi- and inter-disciplinary understanding of American culture and history
  • a flexible, structured degree, with the opportunity to study abroad
  • teaching informed by research and scholarship to inculcate specialised regional knowledge
  • key skills to develop the capacity to learn and be prepared for employment or further study
  • the knowledge to develop students' own interests and expertise in the humanities with the possibility of continuing their studies at postgraduate level
  • the ability to develop independent critical thinking and judgement
  • the skills to operate across various disciplines, to use a variety of approaches in formulating and solving problems using diverse materials and information sources.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the culture of the US from colonial times to the 20th century
  • methodical research and study practices
  • the study of the subject in relation to other disciplines
  • the terminology used in the field of American Studies
  • the similarities and differences between areas, fostering cross-cultural and international perspectives
  • texts and other source materials, addressing questions of genre, content, perspective and purpose
  • the problems inherent in the cultural record, and the limits within which interpretation is possible.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual abilities:

  • the application of the skills needed for academic study and inquiry
  • to evaluate research findings
  • the ability to synthesise information from a number of sources to gain a coherent understanding of critical theory and general methodology
  • to discriminate between and select from relevant information sourced from a wide and large body of knowledge
  • to exercise problem-solving skills

Subject-specific skills

You gain specific skills in the following:

  • an enhanced ability to conduct the close critical analysis of documents of American culture, politics and society
  • an informed understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the subject
  • the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to American Studies
  • develop an appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work
  • the ability to understand and combine a multidisciplinary academic subject, with its array of literature, history and other discourses
  • the ability to construct an independent, research-led argument

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • the ability to organise information clearly; respond to written sources and present information orally; adapt style for different audiences; use images as a communication tool
  • to assimilate and organise substantial quantities of complex information
  • IT, including producing written documents, conducting online research, communicating via email and processing information using databases
  • working with others, defining and reviewing the work of others; work co-operatively on group tasks and understand how groups function
  • develop learning skills, including autonomy, explore personal strengths and weaknesses; time management; review the working environment (especially the student-staff relationship).

Careers

Many employers view a graduate with overseas study experience as more employable. Studying American Studies gives you transferable skills, such as the ability to work independently, to assimilate and analyse information and to present that information clearly and concisely in written form, and with passion and confidence orally.

Our graduates have gone on to careers in business, further professional training, management, broadcasting and media, teaching and a variety of other occupations in Britain, Europe and the USA.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications, typical requirements are listed below, students offering alternative qualifications should contact the Admissions Office for further advice. It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

ABB

Access to HE Diploma

The University of Kent will not necessarily make conditional offers to all access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. If an offer is made candidates will be required to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF;OCR) on a case by case basis please contact us via the enquiries tab for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 16 points at HL

International students

The University receives applications from over 140 different nationalities and consequently will consider applications from prospective students offering a wide range of international qualifications. Our International Development Office will be happy to advise prospective students on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about our country-specific requirements.

Please note that if you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes through Kent International Pathways.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

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.

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. Our funding opportunities for 2017 entry have not been finalised. However, details of our proposed funding opportunities for 2016 entry can be found on our funding page.  

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. Details of the scholarship for 2017 entry have not yet been finalised. However, for 2016 entry, the scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications as specified on our scholarships pages. Please review the eligibility criteria on that page. 

Enquire or order a prospectus

Resources

Read our student profiles

Contacts

Related schools

Enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827272

Fees

The 2017/18 tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £13810

The Government has announced changes to allow undergraduate tuition fees to rise in line with inflation from 2017/18.

The University of Kent intends to increase its regulated full-time tuition fees for all Home and EU undergraduates starting in September 2017 from £9,000 to £9,250. This is subject to us satisfying the Government's Teaching Excellence Framework and the access regulator's requirements. The equivalent part-time fees for these courses will also rise by 2.8%.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

Key Information Sets


The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

The University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in its publicity materials is fair and accurate and to provide educational services as described. However, the courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Full details of our terms and conditions can be found at: www.kent.ac.uk/termsandconditions.

*Where fees are regulated (such as by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills or Research Council UK) they will be increased up to the allowable level.

Publishing Office - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000