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.
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.
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.
American Fictions of Violence: From the Colonial Period to the Present
Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss
Wednesdays, 11am-1pm, Neue Universität (Lecture Hall 08)
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).
- 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.
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.
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.
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.