American History 1: 1607 – 1900
You will be provided with a broad introduction to the history of the United States of America, from its colonial origins to the end of the nineteenth century. You'll spend around 4 hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American Literature 1: American Literature to 1900
An introductory survey of major American literature, exploring a wide range of nineteenth-century American writers of fiction and poetry. You’ll also address questions raised about the nature of the 'canon' raised by recent critics. Around 4 hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
Canadian Literature, Film and Culture
An introduction to Canadian cultural studies, you’ll examine selected literary, film and visual texts from the twentieth century. Topics studied will include Native culture, the emergence of cultural nationalism, popular culture, and Canada’s relationship to the U.S. You’ll spend around 2 hours per week in lectures and seminars, and 2.5 hours per week in workshops, studying this module.
Approaches to American Culture
You’ll focus on some of the key features of American culture throughout history, including music, paintings, photographs, and buildings, theatres and museums, advertisements, newspapers and magazines. A year- long module, you will spend around 2 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
American History 2: 1900-Present Day
You’ll examine the history of the United States in the twentieth century, assessing changes and developments in the lives of the American people who have faced the challenges of prosperity, depression, war, liberal reform, political conservatism, minority protests, multicultural awareness, and international power. Around 4 hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American Literature 2: American Literature 1900-Present Day
A general survey of American Literature from 1900 to the present, you’ll study a selection of American fiction, poetry and drama, with a variety of writers considered. Examples may include: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Gerald Vizenor, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Eugene O'Neill and David Mamet. You’ll spend around 4 hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.
North American Regions
This module will deploy the concept of "region" and, more broadly, “place” to explore key North American texts - primarily drawn from the spheres of film, television and literature. The notion of the "regional" will be applied expansively as well as
conventionally to incorporate everything from the urban to the
suburban/exurban; border territories; the transnational. Possible areas of study may include the American West; the Pacific North-West; New York City; the black inner city “ghetto”; "mountain" people and the Appalachians; Hispanic-America; first nations; French-Canada; Texas; Chicago; New Orleans; California; and the transnational impact of extensive US Military occupations
(post-war Japan; South Vietnam; twenty-first century Iraq).
Key Texts in Social and Political Thought
From its colonial past to its present status as a
global superpower, American history has been riven with debates about society and politics. This module will reconstruct these debates by analysing key texts in the history of American political and social thought, from the settlement period to the present. You will be introduced to debates over such perennial issues as religion, race, class, capitalism, gender, sexuality, and war, as
they arose in different periods. We will use primary sources to probe and interpret these debates, and show how they continue to shape American society and politics in the present. For this module you will spend around four hours per week in lectures, seminars and workshops.
America in the 1960s
You’ll be introduced to debates surrounding the thought, culture and politics of America in the 1960s by examining the reflection of key issues in intellectual documents, from political speeches to acid-rock music, film documentaries to manifestoes. If you study this module you’ll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The CIA and US Foreign Policy, 1945-2008
You’ll examine the role played by the Central Intelligence Agency in the development and implementation of US foreign policy from 1945 to the present, considering its contribution in terms of both intelligence analysis and covert operations, from the Cold War to the war on terror. Around 3 hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars in this module.
Beyond Chaps and Maps: Themes in American Foreign Policy
In this module, you’ll consider the way that US foreign policy has been influenced by a range of factors, such as conceptions of empire, race, religion, gender, domestic politics, and the agency of nations beyond the US. You’ll consider the influence that these factors have had, through broad and specific case studies in a 3 hour workshop once per week.
African American Protest Literature
You’ll examine protest movements from the nineteenth century to the present day, studying, fiction, drama, speeches, pamphlets, autobiographies, photographs and more. From abolitionism to contemporary activism, voices of resistance that pointed the nation towards a better collective future will be considered. You’ll spend around 3 hours in seminars and workshops per week, and will also visit exhibitions, protest sites, and guest talks by protest writers and activists.
North American Film Adaptations
You will examine North American short stories and novels and their film adaptations, paying attention to the contexts in which both the literary and the cinematic texts are produced, as well as analysing the texts themselves. If you study this module you’ll spend around 2 hours in lectures and seminars, and 4 hours in film workshops, per week.
The American Pop Century
Beginning with a survey of the development of African American music, you’ll consider genres such as the minstrel show, blues, jazz, rock and roll, electronic music, and rap. In addition, the popular music industry will be situated in relation to other modern cultural industries such as radio and television. You'll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.
The Contemporary American Novel
You’ll be given an understanding of the wide range of ideas, forms and themes examined in the contemporary American novel. Examples of works explored include Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, and Don DeLillo. If you study this module, you’ll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Civil Rights Media Cultures
A range of narrative forms (such as photography, journalism and movies) used to promote civil rights initiatives, or to mobilize massive resistance to the movement, will be analysed. Examples include texts such as Stetson Kennedy’s mock tourist Jim Crow Guide, satirical journalism by P.D. East and William Faulkner, William Bradford Huie’s investigative journalism and films including Mississippi Burning. Around 2 hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars, along with around 3 hours per week in workshops.
American Utopianism from the Settlement Narrative to Science Fiction
Beginning with Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), this module will track utopian thought through the Revolutionary period into its most influential incarnations in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854) and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward: 2000-1887 (1887). Moving into the twentieth century, texts considered may include Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915), George Schuyler’s Black No More (1934), and Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974). You’ll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.
Twentieth Century Neo-Slave Narratives
You’ll examine the survival of slave narratives after the abolition of slavery, by the study of novels based upon the form and/or the material of slave narratives. Authors considered will include: Charles Johnson, Sherley Anne Williams, David Bradley, Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler. You’ll study topics such as: differences between nineteenth- and twentieth-century slave narratives; issues of the politics of identity; race and representation. You'll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.
You will undertake an in-depth study of a chosen subject within American and Canadian Studies and produce either a 6,500 or a 12,500 word dissertation.
You’ll explore the United States' experiment with Prohibition during the period 1918 to 1933, with particular focus on crime, disorder and policing. The rise of organized crime will be considered, along with gangsters and G-men, the expanding crime fighting role of the state, the federal crime crusade of the early 1930s and the inglorious end of Prohibition. You’ll spend around 4 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Latino Expressive Cultures
Latino cultural expression will be examined, exploring genres, forms and sites involved in the production and consumption of Latino culture and its positioning within mainstream US society. You’ll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars if you study this module.
Representing the South: Literature, Film and History
You’ll be introduced to a variety of texts and debates surrounding the construction of the American South in image and idea. Learning to examine and interpret problematic narratives of regional consciousness, you’ll explore how the South has been shaped by popular cultural representations. Around 2 hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars, alongside 3 hours per week in workshops.
Abraham Lincoln Then and Now
The ideas, intellectual and cultural legacies of the life and presidency of Abraham Lincoln will be considered. You’ll explore his significance in American thought and culture, and as a global figure, through examining texts such as his speeches, public and private writings, as well as critically analysing the representation of Lincoln in cartoons, cinema, documentary, music, painting and literature. You'll spend around 2 hours in seminars alongside a 2 hour workshop per week.
Popular Music Cultures and Countercultures
You’ll examine the role played by American popular music in countercultural movements, focusing on the ways in which subordinate groups have used popular music as a vehicle for self-definition. Considering key issues and moments in American popular music history, you’ll cover topics such as the folk revival and the 1930s, rock 'n' roll and desegregation in the 1950s, rock music and the 1960s, and postmodernism in the music of the MTV age. Around 3 hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
African American Photographic Culture
You’ll explore the politics of representation in African American photography, discussing the relationship of photography to central themes in black culture and creative expression, including confined space, invisibility vs. visibility, heroism, and historical “truth.” We’ll set photographs in their historical context, discussing slavery, lynching, migration, segregation and poverty. You’ll spend around 3 hours a week in seminars and workshops, as well as visiting exhibitions, public art sites, and guest talks by photographers.
Recent Queer Writing
Focusing on the representation of gender and sexuality, lesbian, gay, transgender and queer writing will be considered through the analysis of selected contemporary texts. Issues for discussion will include: constructions of masculinity and femininity; representations of ‘alternative’ sexuality and lifestyles; the relation of race, ethnicity, class and nationality to issues of gender and sexual identity. Authors studied include: Timothy Findley; Daphne Marlatt; Dionne Brand; Shani Mootoo; Shyam Selvadurai; Tomson Highway; Ivan E Coyote; Dorothy Allison; Leslie Feinberg. If you choose this module you’ll spend around 3 hours per week in seminars.
History of the Civil Rights Movement
You’ll examine a range of documents and scholarly controversies relating to the Civil Rights Movement between 1940 and 1970. Documents considered include public and organizational records, photo- journalism, speeches, memoirs and personal papers. Controversies include those relating to the chronological limits, spatial dynamics, and gender politics of the movement, as well as those relating to the movement’s goals and achievements. You’ll spend around 3 hours a week in lectures and seminars if you study this module.
In the Midst of Wars: The United States and South East Asia, 1940-1975
You’ll consider American attitudes, perceptions and policies toward South East Asia from the Second World War until the end of the Vietnam War. Focus will be on the course of the Vietnam War, the role of different players (beyond the US) and the reasons that the US became involved. You’ll also consider the wider scope of US policy in Asia during the period and the outlines of the wider Cold War. For this module, you’ll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
US Foreign Policy, 1989-2009
An introduction to the key institutions, structures and processes that combined to produce American foreign policy in the post-Cold War period. You’ll analyse the role of the bureaucracy, Congress, public opinion and the media to understand how US foreign policy is formulated and conducted. You'll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars if you study this module.
Fictions of America
Exploring a number of works of fiction that engage with the nature of America in a transnational and cultural context, you’ll cover topics including: the consequences of American engagement with the East; the Americanisation of the Holocaust; the Black Atlantic model of the African; American Imperialism and the frontier thesis; the globalisation of the American South. You'll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.
The Civil War and its Origins 1850-1865
You’ll consider the collapse of the American Republic in 1861, including events in the decade preceding it and at the course of the war which followed it. You’ll focus on the origins of the Civil War and the reasons for Union victory, spending around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.