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Mas Disciplines
Contact

Julia Lichtenstein, M.A.

Office hours:
Thursdays, 1 – 2 p.m.
and by appointment

T: + 49 (0)6221 / 54 3713
F: + 49 (0)6221 / 54 3719

mas@uni-hd.de

 
News

MAS Newsletter 2/2017: A New Research Program and Many New Faces

This edition features our Commencement 2017 and an introduction and welcome of our visiting scholar James Strasburg. We also report about the HCA’s newest research program, the Graduiertenkolleg “Authority and Trust in American Culture, Society, History and Politics,” which was approved late last year by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

 

American Studies

Der Fachrat ist die fachbezogene Zusammenkunft von Studierenden, akademischen Mitarbeitern und Hochschulprofessoren eines Instituts der Universität.

 
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Curriculum 2017/2018

History

Reluctant Empire? U.S. Foreign Relations in the 20th Century

Prof. Dr. Manfred Berg

Mondays, 11am–1pm, History Department (Lecture Hall)

Tutorial: Everett Messamore, M.A., Thursdays, 2–4pm, HCA (Stucco)

On the eve of the 20th century the United States emerged as a major player in world politics. Over the course of the “American Century,” the United States triumphed over all rivals for global hegemony. At the turn of the 21st century, Americans marveled at their country being the sole remaining superpower. Curiously, Americans continue to debate whether their country is or should be an empire. And if so, what kind of empire? A traditional empire seeking power and domination? A liberal empire committed to spreading freedom and democracy? An informal empire predicated on economic expansion and cultural attraction? Has America actively sought hegemony or has it taken up the burdens of empire reluctantly? This lecture course will provide an overview of America’s rise to world power in the 20th century. I will trace major events and developments from the Spanish American War to 9/11 and I will discuss the traditions, ideologies, and interests that have shaped America’s interactions with the world.

Literatur: George C. Herring. From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776. New York 2008; Dennis Merrill and Thomas G. Paterson, eds. Major Problems in American Foreign Policy. Volume II: Since 1914. 6 ed. Boston and New York 2005; Michael J. Hogan, ed. Ambiguous Legacy: U.S. Foreign Relations in the ´American Century.` Cambridge 1999; Manfred Berg. “America, United States of: 3. 20th Century to the Present.” In Encyclopedia of Empire edited by John M. MacKenzie. 88-99. Malden 2016.

 

Geography

North American City

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Gerhard

Tuesdays, 9-11am, Neue Universität (Lecture Hall 04)

Tutorial: Martin Holler, Dipl. Geogr., Fridays, 4-6pm, HCA (Oculus)

Comprehensive overview of the Urban Geography of North America: Urban systems, recent and historical urban developments (urbanization, suburbanization, reurbanisation), internal structure of cities (esp. urban inequalities), modeling and theorizing urban space, urban policies, planning the twenty-first-century city, future of cities.

 

Political Science

Government and Politics of the United States

PD Dr. Martin Thunert

Wednesdays, 2–4pm, HCA (Oculus)

Tutorial: Natalie Rauscher, M.A., Mondays, 4–6pm, HCA (Stucco)

As the recent 2016 election cycle in the United States - resulting in the unexpected victory of Donald J. Trump - demonstrates, America’s usually optimistic self-perception has been challenged by a darker narrative about the state of the nation, by an increasingly polarized electorate and political class, by a resurgent, but still flagging economy, and by uncertainty about its place in a changing global order. After a brief overview of US history, of the land and its people as well as America’s unique political and cultural traditions, we shall be looking at the diverse and changing American electorate, analyze the role of parties, interest groups, social movements, lobbyists, consultants and the media and the way in which average citizens participate in the political process. We will also explore the constitutional order – especially federalism -, major governmental institutions - Congress, the President and the executive branch, and the Supreme Court. Finally, we will draw our attention to selected policy fields, especially foreign affairs and world politics.

This course attempts to teach American government, politics and policy-making in a way that goes beyond the basics, but without ignoring the basics. It will be taught as a lecture class with opportunities for questions and answers at the end of each session. The tutorial (exclusively for MAS students) offered by Natalie Rauscher, MA will focus primarily (a) on the study of political science in general and issues such as inequality, digitalization, parties and movements in particular (b) deepening selected lecture topics and (b) on oral student presentations.

 

Literature

American Fictions of Violence: From the Colonial Period to the Present

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss

Wednesdays, 11am-1pm, Neue Universität (Lecture Hall 09)

Tutorial: Katia Rostetter,  M.A.

Although very few of us are likely to encounter physical violence in our everyday lives, we are confronted with it on a daily level in the world of literature and the media. In fact, depictions of violence have become an integral part of the ‘Western’ imagination. The cultural products of the United States make no exception to this. In fact, the fascination with images of violence may even be more extreme in the United States than it is in Europe. Indeed, it has pervaded American literature from the beginning: from the captivity narratives in the 17th through the frontier novels in the 19th to the Western movies in the 20th century – with the rough world of the frontier, the United States have contributed a genuinely American sujet to the literature of violence.

In this lecture course, we will look at what motivates this fascination with depictions of violence in American literature. Is it to be seen as response to the violence occurring in American society? Is there perhaps a violent streak in the ‘American character’, as some critics have argued? Or should the images of violence in fiction be treated as something altogether different from acts of violence in real life? Do fictional representations of violence establish a literary tradition or convention of their own – a convention that can be manipulated by the writers or artists independently of their (original) referential function? Why are these images of violence so attractive to modern democratic audiences? In order to answer these and other questions, we will study a diverse body of works reflecting different historical, ethnic, gender, and genre perspectives: A Narrative of the Captivity ... of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682); James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans (1826); Edgar Allan Poe, “The Black Cat,“ “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Philosophy of Composition”; Richard Wright, Native Son (1940); Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club (1996); and Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (2006).

Texts:

  • Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative and Poe’s works can be found in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, ed. by Nina Baym et al. (Vols. A and B).
  • The novels are available in inexpensive paperback editions (Last of the Mohicans – Penguin; Native Son – Vintage Classics; No Country for Old Men – Picador; Fight Club – Random House). The novels should be read before the term starts.
  • Introductory reading: Richard Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860.

 

Methodology

Introduction to American Studies (Part 1)

Hannes Nagl, M.A.

Tuesdays, 11am-1pm, HCA (Oculus)

The “Introduction to American Studies” differs from other classes offered in the MAS program in that it is not concerned with any particular aspect of American culture, such as history, religion, literature, or law. Instead, following Henry Nash Smith’s famous call, the course is designed to look at American Studies “as a whole.” It thus addresses questions such as: What issues and questions informed the development of American Studies as an academic discipline? What are its methodological and theoretical foundations and problems? What categories and concepts inform current debates in the field? In order to discuss these questions, students are asked to read two to three essays on the history, theory, and methods of American Studies for each class session. In addition, they are required to write three short papers, each in response to one of the assigned articles.

Texts: A course reader will be made available.

 

Methodology

Academic Writing (Part 1)

Dr. Anja Schüler

Thursdays, 9–11am, HCA (Oculus)

This course offers students practice in writing and evaluating several types of English texts. In particular, it will be dedicated to the process of academic writing, including planning, drafting, editing, and proofreading your class papers and eventually your M.A. thesis. The format of the seminar consists of both whole-class and small-group discussions. I will expect you expect to share your writings as well as your opinion of the writings of others, students and non-students. At the end of the semester, you should be ready to start conceptualizing, researching and drafting your M.A. thesis Students are welcome to discuss any questions related to the academic writing process in class.

 

MAS Colloquium

Dr. Wilfried Mausbach / Julia Lichtenstein, M.A.

Thursdays, 6–8pm, HCA (Stucco)

The Interdisciplinary Colloquium provides a venue for MAS students to meet with renowned experts from various fields, such as politics, economics, journalism, or academia. Most of them will be Americans who will share with us their current interests or most recent scholarship. The Interdisciplinary Colloquium will also serve as a forum for the presentation and discussion of state-of-the-art research in academic disciplines that are not otherwise represented in this year’s curriculum. In addition, field trips will acquaint students with political and business leaders from the Rhein-Neckar region.

Participation in the Interdisciplinary Colloquium is mandatory for MAS students. You are strongly encouraged to make your own contributions, either comments or questions. That is what it means to be a member of an intellectual community! Your grade will depend on your attentiveness and active participation. At the beginning of the third semester there will be a workshop in which you are expected to both present an outline of your own M.A. thesis and constructively discuss the work of your classmates.

 

Religion

History of American Evangelicalism from the Colonial Period to the Civil War

Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann

Tuesdays, 11am-1pm and Wednesdays, 11am-1pm, Neue Uni (Grabengasse 3-5, HS 06)

Tutorial: Everett Messamore, M.A., Wednesdays 2pm-4pm, HCA (Stucco)

The evangelical movement is often regarded as the most distinct feature of the American religious landscape. It has had a major influence on U.S. culture and society more generally. Evangelicalism was formed and evolved through periodical waves of revivalism or “awakenings.” This lecture course offers a survey of the early history of American evangelicalism from its Puritan-Pietist origins in the colonial period through the period of its rapid expansion, diversification, and eventual splintering before the Civil War. We will cover what is traditionally called the First and Second Great Awakening during the middle decades of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth century. Attention will be paid to the new theological ideas and religious practices that developed across a wide spectrum of Protestant churches and groups associated with the evangelical movement, including Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists, including their African American branches, as well as unique products of the frontier environment such as the Restorationist movement. The course will also familiarize students with the many important ways in which early evangelicals were involved in American politics and reform efforts such as abolitionism and temperance.

After the lecture class on Wednesday (11-12) we will discuss one central primary document relevant to each week’s topic. This additional “Quellenübung” is highly recommended but optional.

Literature:

  • Thomas. S. Kidd. The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (Yale UP, 2007).
  • Mark A. Noll, American Evangelical Christianity: An Introduction (Blackwell, 2001).

 

Law

Introduction to the Law and Legal System
of the United States

Cynthia Wilke, J.D.

Mondays, 11am-1pm (starting April 23, 2018), Juristisches Seminar (Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 6-10 / JurS HS)

Tutorial: Theodor Shulman, Wednesdays 9-11am, HCA (Oculus)

The goal of this course is for students to acquire a basic understanding of and introduction to the U.S. legal system. Students will study the origins and development of the common law in the United States, as well as certain fundamental differences between the U.S. common law system and a civil law legal system. Additional topics will include case law, the principle of precedent in U.S. legal analysis, and the structure and role of the federal and state court systems. Special attention will be paid to the unique procedural aspects of the U.S. system, such as the role of the jury and the adversary system of dispute adjudication. Students will also receive an overview of legal education and the practice of law in the U.S. Several hours will be devoted to an introduction to the U.S. Constitution and selected topics in substantive law.

Literature:

  • Outlines, terminology lists, suggestions for outside reading and helpful websites will be provided throughout the course.

 

Interdisciplinary Seminar

The American Presidency: Politics, Literature, Culture

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss / PD Dr. Martin Thunert

Tuesdays, 2-4pm, HCA (Oculus)

Co-taught by a political scientist and a literary historian, this interdisciplinary seminar will trace the relationship between the sphere of American politics and the cultural and literary realms from the early republic onwards to the present day. We will assess the ways in which the presidency has changed and yet – from a constitutional point of view – has remained the same over the past 229 years. We shall look at models and tools of presidential leadership, discuss campaign-related issues and study how the American public regards the office. The literature and culture component will address the following questions: What is the attitude, American presidents have taken towards literature and the arts? How have literature and the arts dealt with the institution of the American presidency as well as with individual presidents? Have the emergence of modern media and the increasing importance of popular culture changed the way people view presidents? How has the rise of the social media transformed the relationship between the president and the public?

Students will be introduced to various controversies, theories, and multidisciplinary perspectives concerning the U.S. presidency. From Alexander Hamilton’s contributions to the Federalist Papers to current reactions of writers and journalists to the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump, we will study primary source materials as well as read classic and contemporary works – fiction and non-fiction – to uncover many facets of the office and of the personalities that held it.

Literature:

  • Mausbach, Wilfried, Dietmar Schloss, and Martin Thunert. “The American Presidency: History, Politics, Culture”, in: The American Presidency. Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Eds. Wilfried Mausbach, Dietmar Schloss and Martin Thunert, Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2012. 1-36.

 

Interdisciplinary Seminar

The American Jeremiad and Social Criticism in the U.S.

Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann / Prof. Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Sessions on June 29 (10-5:30pm), June 30 (10-5:30pm), and July 6 (10-5:30pm), July 7 (10-5:30pm); HCA

This compact seminar gives students the opportunity to engage with one of the leading experts on African American religious history: Prof. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (Princeton University), who comes to Heidelberg as the seventh recipient of the James W.C. Pennington Award. The course examines the religious and philosophical roots of prophecy as a form of social criticism in American intellectual and religious history. Particular attention is given to what is called the American Jeremiad, a mode of public exhortation that joins social criticism to spiritual renewal. Michael Walzer, Sacvan Bercovitch, and Edward Said serve as key points of departure in assessing prophetic criticism’s insights and limitations. Attention is also given to the role of black prophetic critics.

Please buy and read:

  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963)
  • Sacvan Bercovitch, The American Jeremiad (1978)
  • Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual (1994)
  • Michael Walzer, Interpretation and Social Criticism (1987)

 

Methodology

Introduction to American Studies (Part 2)

Hannes Nagl, M.A.

Thursdays, 11am-1pm, HCA (Stucco)

The “Introduction to American Studies” differs from other classes offered in the MAS program in that it is not concerned with any particular aspect of American culture, such as history, religion, literature, or law. Instead, following Henry Nash Smith’s famous call, the course is designed to look at American Studies “as a whole.” It thus addresses questions such as: What issues and questions informed the development of American Studies as an academic discipline? What are its methodological and theoretical foundations and problems? What categories and concepts inform current debates in the field? In order to discuss these questions, students are asked to read two to three essays on the history, theory, and methods of American Studies for each class session. In addition, they are required to write three short papers, each in response to one of the assigned articles.

 

Methodology

Academic Writing (Part 2)

Dr. Anja Schüler

Thursdays, 10–11am, HCA (Oculus)

This course offers students practice in writing and evaluating several types of English texts. In particular, it will be dedicated to the process of academic writing, including planning, drafting, editing, and proofreading your class papers and eventually your M.A. thesis. The format of the seminar consists of both whole-class and small-group discussions. I will expect you expect to share your writings as well as your opinion of the writings of others, students and non-students. At the end of the semester, you should be ready to start conceptualizing, researching and drafting your M.A. thesis Students are welcome to discuss any questions related to the academic writing process in class.

 

Methodology

Presentation Skills

Millie Baker, M.A.

Group 1: 12.05.18 & 01.06.18 9am-5pm HCA (Oculus)
Group 2: 11.05.18 & 02.06.18 9am-5pm HCA (Oculus)

MAS Colloquium

Dr. Wilfried Mausbach / Julia Lichtenstein, M.A.

Thursdays, 6–8pm, HCA (Stucco)

The Interdisciplinary Colloquium provides a venue for MAS students to meet with renowned experts from various fields, such as politics, economics, journalism, or academia. Most of them will be Americans who will share with us their current interests or most recent scholarship. The Interdisciplinary Colloquium will also serve as a forum for the presentation and discussion of state-of-the-art research in academic disciplines that are not otherwise represented in this year’s curriculum. In addition, field trips will acquaint students with political and business leaders from the Rhein-Neckar region.

Participation in the Interdisciplinary Colloquium is mandatory for MAS students. You are strongly encouraged to make your own contributions, either comments or questions. That is what it means to be a member of an intellectual community! Your grade will depend on your attentiveness and active participation. At the beginning of the third semester there will be a workshop in which you are expected to both present an outline of your own M.A. thesis and constructively discuss the work of your classmates.

 

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Latest Revision: 2018-04-17
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