English - Elective 1, topic 1: Introduction to American Studies

Course content

In this course, we will take an interdisciplinary approach to aspects of American history, literature and culture. We will consider not only J. Hector St. John de Crevecouer’s famous question “What is an American?” (from 1782’s Letters from an American Farmer) but also “What is American studies”? In other words, we will study the United States through the (inter- and multi-disciplinary) lens of American studies, while also self-reflexively considering the history and methodology of American studies itself—a scholarly field which has changed considerably over the last few decades. In particular, we will consider (in the last few weeks of the course) the “transnational turn” in American studies.


Rather than focusing only on literature and history, this course will analyze and discuss a wide range of primary “texts” from different cultural fields, and through an interdisciplinary approach: sermons, essays, speeches, political documents, autobiography, songs, poetry, novels, non-fiction, and film. These primary texts will be supplemented by secondary reading in scholarship from the course textbooks, as well as critical essays in American studies and related fields. The course will be divided into sub-sections or sub-themes in which we will consider specific aspects of American literature, history and culture through both the primary texts and the secondary reading.



Texts featured on the course may include (NB: final selection and book order to be confirmed via Absalon course room):

  • Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty!: An American History
  • Neil Campbell and Alasdair Kean, Introduction to American Cultural Studies
  • Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

Students are encouraged to see ‘Introduction to American Studies’ as a course that will help to prepare them to take further American studies courses at both the valgfag and MA level.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 162,75
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • English
  • 204,75