There are several pathways through this programme, all of which consider relations between different countries and different communities. You are encouraged to think beyond American Studies and consider notions such as Anglo-American Relations, Euro-American Relations, North American Studies, Black Atlantic Culture, Migrant Communities, Comparative Urbanism, Women and Internationalism.
The pathway in Film Studies allows you to develop a specialism in American film. You will study four core modules (Research Skills and Methods; Death and the Moving Image; Film, Theory Politics; and Guided Reading for Dissertation) and two optional modules.
This pathway is co-taught by staff in the departments of American and Canadian Studies and the Department of English. You are able to select from a wide range of modules offered in these departments in order to build a programme of study, which includes three core modules (Research Skills and Methods; Film, Theory; Politics; and Guided Reading for Dissertation) and three optional modules.
This pathway considers not only the historical and current issues in US Foreign Policy but puts this study in the context of ideology, media and culture, as well as 'orthodox' geo-political concerns. The Department's approach to Foreign Policy seeks to go beyond standard debates amongst US based academics to provide a new interpretation that is of contemporary relevance. You will study three core modules (Research Skills and Methods; Approaches to US Foreign Policy since 1945; CIA and Foreign Policy) two optional modules (from a choice of: Anti-Americanism; Globalisation since 1945; and Guided Reading for Dissertation). You will also study Mass Society and Modernity in Europe and America or US Foreign Policy and Terrorism since 1945.
All pathways also include a 15,000-word dissertation.
Core module for all students:
Research Skills and Methods
This module aims to provide you with the skills essential to the preparation and production of your dissertation, as well as developing some additions skills, such as oral presentations. The module will review research and study skills, presentation and writing skills, and discuss the role of research methodology. It is designed to run alongside the online skills training developed by the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.
Core module for Film Studies pathway:
Death and the Moving Image
This module investigates the representation of death, and its surrounding debates, across a range of genres and aesthetic practices, to position it within a socio-cultural, historical, and critical context. Through consideration of the various forms and functions of the spectre of death, or of cinematic death itself, it explores their relationship to narrative, ideology and spectatorship.
Core modules for Film Studies and Film and Literature pathways:
Film, Theory, Politics
This module examines the interaction between film, film theory and politics. It will provide you with a solid grounding in some of the critical debates of the discipline, and in related cultural issues central to its development and our focus on American Film. As such, it will enable you to assess the impact of politics on various levels of film analysis and production: from the ideology of the classical apparatus and text to the race or sexual politics of Hollywood cinema, from the censoring of the Production Code era to the attempted radicalism of post-modern film practices.
Plus – Guided Reading for Dissertation.
Core modules for US Foreign Policy pathway:
Approaches to US Foreign Policy since 1945
This module aspires to re-examine US foreign policy by considering dimensions from geopolitics to economics to culture and ideology. More importantly, it looks to shed light on the contemporary by considering the historical and, conversely, using ideas on current US foreign policy to illuminate issues of the last 60+ years. You will use primary documents and secondary sources to examine how geopolitical considerations interacted with factors such as domestic politics, alliance politics, and US conceptions of freedom and democracy.
CIA and Foreign Policy
You will examine the role of American intelligence, principally but not exclusively in the form of the Central Intelligence Agency, in American foreign policy after 1945. Topics include; Secret Intelligence and the CIA: Role, Methods and Objectives; The Cold War, the CIA and ‘Containment’; The CIA in Eastern Europe, 1948-56; The ‘Golden Age’ to Cuba: 1952-62; The CIA, the State-Private Network, and the Cultural Cold War; The CIA and Vietnam; The Downfall of the CIA in the Seventies; and Intelligence and the ‘War on Terror’.
Since 11 September 2001, substantial discussion as to the motivations for the attacks has ensued. Some of the discussion has focused on the resentment and hatred toward the United States by many nations and their citizens around the world. Employing interdisciplinary methods, this class will examine anti-Americanism, including its historical roots, its relationship with U.S. foreign policy, feelings towards the United States in literature and film and the impact of the attacks of 11 September on attitudes toward the United States.
Cold War Film
This module aims to examine films of the Cold War era c.1946-1965. The module will examine the political and economic context of the production of film, looking at issues such as political control via McCarthyism and the HUAC, and the economic demands that directed and constrained film production. You will then examine a series of films, in order to assess the extent to which film reflected or engaged with social, cultural and political debates of the time.
Contemporary Literary Cultures: Performance
This module investigates key problems in performance history and historiography. You will consider a range of conceptual and methodological issues raised by the historical analysis of theatre and performance. You will focus particularly on the strategies and politics of historical representation in drama and theatre studies, looking at how performance practices have been narrated within theatre studies and how these narratives represent theatre's relationship with other social practices.
Contemporary Literary Cultures: Politics
Focusing on texts written since about 1990, this module explores the production and dissemination of literary texts, as well as recent developments of style and content. You will consider contemporary literary cultures from a variety of perspectives, and to employ a range of methodological, theoretical and critical approaches that enable the appraisal of the literary work within diverse social and artistic contexts.
Globalisation since 1945
The module examines various aspects of global history in the second half of the 20th century. It takes its cue from a growing literature which sees ‘globalisation’ as a key feature of global history over the last half century.
Mass Society and Modernity in Europe and America
This module examines various aspects of the first half of the twentieth century, focusing largely on Europe and America. It examines the rise of mass society and modernity as social and cultural phenomena, the rise of mass politics, the main strands of totalitarian ideology and liberal democracy, mass mobilisation in war and politics, economic and military conflict and the growing ascendancy of the United States.
This core module will enhance your knowledge of a range of key issues within the study of literature in the 1910s, 20s and 30s, introducing some of the more challenging texts written during these years, as well as recent scholarly thinking on the literature of the period more generally. You will be encouraged to rethink mainstream definitions of the literary history of the early twentieth-century, and examine the complexity of the literary and cultural moment of modernism.
US Foreign Policy and Terror since 1945
Since the attacks of 11 September 2001, the relationship between U.S. Foreign Policy and terrorism has received a great deal of international attention and discussion. This has focused not only on U.S. Foreign Policy as a cause of terrorism, including acts against the United States itself, but also over the effectiveness and appropriateness of American responses to terrorism. This module will help you to develop a deeper understanding both of this dialogue and the nature of terrorism and counter-terrorism, while supplying new insight into the current ‘War on Terror.’
This module allows you to explore the diversity of literary impulses in a turn-of-the-century period characterised by literary non-conformity. Major topics covered include: Decadence, counter-Decadence, aestheticism, and early modernism. These will be studied across a variety of genres and authors, with reference to formative theorists/philosophers of the period.
Modules and courses are constantly updated and under review. As with most academic programmes, please remember that it is possible that a module may not be offered in any particular year. The University of Birmingham reserves the right to vary or withdraw any course or module.