American and Canadian Studies Year 1 modules

Compulsory modules

Introduction to American and Canadian Studies

This module introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of American and Canadian Studies. In essence it asks students to consider what it means to be American or Canadian. Students will consider if there is such a thing as a national culture and identity in the United States and Canada and they will examine the often-fierce debate over who can and cannot be an American or a Canadian. The module will consider a diverse set of works from literature to history to cultural criticism to the visual arts. It will contemplate how Americans and Canadians from different backgrounds, living in different eras, have understood and argued over the meaning and significance of an American or Canadian national identity.

Research Skills in American and Canadian Studies

This module will enable students to develop skills of independent research and constructive team working which they will use throughout their American and Canadian Studies degree (and beyond). The module will give students first-hand experience of the interdisciplinary character of ACS research. They will learn to identify and frame a valid, intellectually coherent research question; identify, find and consider the sources they will use and how they will use them; and engage with the diverse group of methods that defines ACS scholarship. Students will interact and work with staff from different academic and research backgrounds to consider different modes of analysis. 

United States History, 1607 - 1865

This module offers a broad survey of the history of the United States from the first landing of English colonists at what would become Jamestown to the end of the Civil War. It pays particular attention to the political, economic, intellectual, social, and cultural history of European settlement on the American continent. It emphasises the contestations and collaborations between a diverse set of people in the colonial period and examines the path toward revolution and nationhood. The module will explore how a nation founded on the principles of liberty and freedom could tolerate chattel slavery and how the failure to address this problem would ultimately tear the nation apart. Topics may include: Native American life, Colonial society and politics, westward expansion, the American Revolution, the rise of racial slavery, the cotton boom, Jacksonian Democracy, the sectional crisis, and the Civil War. 

United States History, 1865 - 2000

This module offers a broad survey of the history of the United States from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the new millennium. It pays particular attention to the political, economic, intellectual, social, and cultural history of the United States in this period. It explores the aftermath of the Civil War, the rise of the United States as an industrial powerhouse, the emergence of the nation as a global power, its role in both World Wars, and the on-going struggle for a more equal democracy by its citizens. Topics may include: Reconstruction, mass immigration, the Spanish-American War, the First World War, the Jazz Age and Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression and New Deal, the Second World War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and the Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton administrations. 

Discovering North American Literature (to 1900)

This module provides a chronological survey of North American literature from the 18th century to the end of the 19th century. Themes that may be considered include: the Puritan origins of American literature, American Enlightenment, westward expansion and conquest, transcendentalism, gender, race and slave narratives, the American Gothic, and literary realism and naturalism. Typical authors may include Benjamin Franklin, Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Emily Dickinson, Harriet Jacobs, Herman Melville, and Edgar Allen Poe. 

Discovering North American Literature (1900 onwards)

This module provides a chronological survey of North American texts written during the 20th and 21st centuries. Themes that may be considered include: the spread of consumer culture and the emergence of a new kind of American city culture; individual and collective identities; vernacular, folk culture; protest writing; representations of domesticity, relationships, and gender; race; post-war conformity; the counterculture; the Vietnam war; indigenous writing; the changing ethics and politics of a pre- and post-millennium nation.