English - Elective Subject, topic 2: American Studies, American Politics, and American Society

Course content

This course combines two essential elements of interest to the student of the U.S. Christina Fogarasi’s component, “Introduction to American Studies,” trains its focus at the interdisciplinary mix of culture and literature in the US. Joe Goddard’s component, “American Politics and Society,” analyses the interplay between governing structures, policy formation, and social outcomes. The two elements complement each other but run separately.


Component 1: Issues in Contemporary American History, Politics, and Society (Joe Goddard)

“Issues in Contemporary American History, Politics, and Society” focuses on American politics and society as we approach the 2024 presidential elections. What fundamental political and social concepts unite and divide Americans? How adept has the U.S. political system been recently, in terms of accommodating the unconventional or reverting to the norm? Has Joe Biden’s administration re-established politics as normal? Answering the questions above requires knowledge of the US political system, how it works and how that system interacts with wider American culture outside of Washington, D.C.

This valgfag component also explores the issues, preoccupations, and dreams that the nation addresses through a variety of sources. Which issues excite American passions, political and social? How salient are race, ethnicity, gender, and class in contemporary America? How accessible is the American dream of mobility in an age of blinding and increasing diversity? Does the dream of personal equality and opportunity still hold credence? The component will foreground the present while using the period from 1970 onwards as context. A variety of source types will be used. The Issues in Contemporary American History, Politics, and Society component helps support BA projects, as well as providing a foundation for MA courses.


Component 2: Introduction to American Studies (Christina Fogarasi)

In this component of the valgfag course, we will take an interdisciplinary approach to aspects of U.S. literature and culture, with considerable reference to its historical context. 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”? We will study the United States through the inter- and multi-disciplinary lens of American studies, while also considering the history and methodology of American studies itself.  Particular attention will be paid to American literary history, as it links to political and cultural shifts. For example, we will consider how the 19th century abolitionist project harnessed literary “sentimentality” as well as how 21st century national traumas (e.g. 9/11) consolidated a literary “trauma plot.” 


We will analyze and discuss a wide range of primary texts in various cultural forms: sermons, essays, speeches, autobiographies, popular music, short stories, poetry, and novels. These primary texts will be supplemented by secondary reading in relevant scholarship from American studies, literary studies, and other fields.

This course does not take a strictly chronological approach; nor does it try to adhere to or reaffirm traditional or canonical understandings of U.S. literature, culture, and history. Instead, the course will be divided into four sub-sections or sub-themes in which we will consider specific aspects of American literature and culture through both the primary texts and the secondary reading. Each of the four sub-themes will last for either three or four weeks; there will also be links between and across the four sub-themes. To facilitate connections with Joe Goddard’s component, “Introduction to American Studies” will devote particular attention to the contemporary period.

Students are encouraged to see “Introduction to American Studies” as a course that will help to prepare them to take further courses in American literature, history, and culture at both the valgfag and MA level.



Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 84
  • Preparation
  • 325,5
  • English
  • 409,5


Course number
Programme level

1 semester


Dette er et kursus via tompladsordningen mod betaling på Åbent Universitet. Tilmeld dig og se aktuel prisoversigt på denne side.

See link to schedule
If there are more registrations than places, the places are allocated by random draw.
Study board of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting department
  • Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinators
  • Joseph Goddard   (7-6b736868657668446c7971326f7932686f)
  • Christina Jolan Fogarasi   (3-686d6b456d7a7233707a336970)
Saved on the 02-11-2023

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