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, through revolution, civil war and industrialisation to the end of the nineteenth century. You'll spend around 4 hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American Literature and Culture 1: To 1945
An introductory survey of major texts, authors and developments in American literature. You will explore a range of forms (novels, short stories, autobiography and poetry) and issues (race, class, gender) as they have been dealt with by writers. 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 Contemporary American Culture I & II
You’ll focus on some of the key features of contemporary American culture, including music, visual art, photography, advertisements, film, television and social media. 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 and Culture 2: Since 1945
You’ll study a selection of American fiction, poetry and drama, exploring changes in literary form, the rise of women’s and ethnic literatures, and the relationship between literature and its social and political contexts. 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.
North American Film and Television
This module examines the form and content of North American cinema and television in the twenty-first century and the forces and trends shaping the nature of American and Canadian films and television programmes. Topics for discussion will include the different film and broadcasting industries in the US and Canada, representation of the past in contemporary cinema and television, representations of technology, identity, gender, and race, and the Canada-US border. If you study this module you’ll spend around 2 hours in lectures and seminars, and 2.5 hours in film workshops, per week.
The American Pop Century
This module examines the history of American popular music in the Twentieth Century, focusing on the major genres and exploring the artistic, cultural and political issues they raise. You will examine music’s aesthetic qualities genre by genre, as well as key developments within the music industry, the ways in which commercial and technological changes have influenced the production and consumption of music, and the ways in which musicians and audiences use pop music to engage with American culture and society. You'll spend around 4 hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.
The Contemporary American Novel
This module covers a representative sample of important literary fiction produced since 2000. It explores how writers have engaged with themes of race, class, gender, religion, labour and war, and the uses of historical revisionism, identity politics, and regionalism. The module covers a variety of narrative forms, genres and critical theories, from fictionalised life-writing and family sagas to speculative fiction and counter-historical narratives to transnational writing and war fiction. If you study this module, you’ll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
African American History and Culture
This module examines African American history and culture from slavery to the present through a series of case studies that highlight forms of cultural advocacy and resistance. Examples may include the persistence of African elements in slave culture, the emergence of new artistic forms in art, religion and music during the segregation era, and the range and complexity of African American engagement with US public culture since the 1960s across art, literature and popular culture. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
This module will examine American radicals since the American Revolution. Nineteenth-century subjects will include the abolitionists, early feminism, utopian socialism, anarchism, and farmer populism. Twentieth-century subjects will include the Socialist Party in the 1910s, the Communist Party and the anti-Stalinist left in the 1930s, opponents of the Cold War, the 1960s New Left, Black Power militancy, and recent radicalisms, including the gay liberation movement, women's liberation, and resistance to corporate globalization. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
The US and the World in the American Century: US Foreign Policy (1898-2008)
This module examines how America’s involvement abroad has changed over time from the war of 1898 to the twenty-first century. It analyses how traditional political and diplomatic issues, the link between foreign and domestic policies, and the role of foreign actors and private organisations—from religious groups to NGOs—have shaped America’s actions abroad. It also explores the significance of race, gender, emotions, and religion in shaping US foreign policy. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
American Violence: A History
This module analyses the patterns and prevalence of violence in the USA. It will consider theories about its origins in frontier settler societies, the relationship between violence and the gun control debate and the related issue of American ideological antipathy to state power. It will consider the celebration of violence as a source of conflict resolution and examine the US government’s use of violence as an instrument of foreign policy. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States
This course examines the history of immigration to the United States from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It traces the development of immigrant communities, cultures and identities from the nineteenth century to the present day. The module draws on historical, literary and cultural texts, with sources ranging from political cartoons, fiction and testimony to photography, documentary film, digital art and video performance. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
A History of Crime and Punishment
This module explores the history of crime and punishment in the United States from the period of the US Civil War through to the post-World War II/Cold War years. It looks at the shift from public to ‘private’ punishments, including the early nineteenth century ‘invention’ of the penitentiary and development of ‘modern’ police and the emergence of distinct regional differences in rates of violent crime and official responses. You will spend 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
You will undertake an in-depth study into a chosen subject within American and Canadian Studies and produce either a 5-7,000 word or a 10-12,000 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 four 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 three hours per week in lectures and seminars if you study this module.
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 three 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 three 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 three 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 three 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 three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
American Madness: Mental Health and Illness in History and Culture
This module explores how ideas about madness, insanity, and mental illness have changed from the mid-nineteenth-century to the present. We will consider how and why medical authority, gender, and class have all impacted the way in which mental illness is understood, and consider the significance of changing approaches to treatment. Sources used on this interdisciplinary module range from medical accounts and psychiatric theory to memoir, fiction and film. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
The American Theatre
This module explores the main developments in North American drama from the late-eighteenth century to the present day. It examines how different theatrical movements – melodrama, minstrelsy, the ‘freak’ show, expressionism, social realism, the musical – connect with major historical events such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression and the Cold War. The module includes practical workshops around the staging, acting, directing and promotion of specific plays. You will spend 4 hours per week 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 three 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.