In the first year of the program, students are expected to take one class on theories and issues, one class on academic writing as well as a class on presentation and media skills. While enrolled, students are obliged to attend the Ph.D. Colloquium (from which they can be exempted when on research trips). In addition, regular progress reports and consultation with supervisors form an integral part of the Ph.D. program.
Theories and Issues in American Studies
Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss, Dr. Wilfried Mausbach,
PD Dr. Martin Thunert, Dr. Tobias Endler et al.
The Theories and Issues course is designed to acquaint Ph.D. students with key concepts and debates in the disciplines that make up the core of American Studies at the HCA: history, political science, literature and culture, geography, and religion.
The course cuts across disciplinary landscapes and boundaries, in order give students a better understanding of the major contentions that each of the disciplines brings to the pluralistic, contested, and dynamic field of American Studies. True to the interdisciplinary fabric of the HCA, the course is co-taught by faculty members with different areas of specialization.
Among the various theorists and writers to be discussed are Hayden White, Peter Novick, Winfried Fluck, Barbara Johnson, Jane Tompkins, Sacvan Bercovitch, Edward Soja, Thomas Tweed, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Louis Hartz, and Richard Rorty.
We will address issues such as deconstruction, imagined communities, gender, performance, post-colonialism, historical objectivity, memory, globalization, constructivism, liberalism, communitarianism, and much more.
Dr. Anja Schüler
A successful doctorate depends on good research ideas and hard work, but also on careful planning, drafting, writing, revising, upgrading and finishing your text. This class will focus on the academic writing process. This includes planning a sequence of chapters, organizing chapters and papers, writing in a clear professional style, managing your writing process, and pulling together a final draft. It also addresses problems of grammar and style and gives many practical suggestions students can try out and adapt to their own needs.
In addition, many PhD students find that dealing with these issues as a group helps them to confront and solve the dilemmas every author encounters throughout the process of writing.
Presentation and Media Skills
Millie Baker, M.A.
This course is a 4-day seminar, split into 2 modules, in which students are encouraged to gain an insight into the subtleties of verbal and non-verbal communication to help get their message across. They learn how to assess their own presentation strengths and weaknesses and try out new communication strategies where appropriate. Furthermore, this course helps students to develop a critical awareness of their own and each other’s presentation styles; to build on and practice the English phrases of academic presentation; to develop strategies for dealing with unexpected or difficult situations, e.g. answering questions, technical problems, audience hostility; and to develop confidence and enjoyment in public speaking. For this purpose, it is essential that participants receive not only verbal feedback from the trainer and each other, but also see themselves presenting on video (each student receives a copy of this video on disk to study at home).
The Ph.D. colloquium provides Ph.D. candidates with an opportunity to present and discuss their research projects in an interdisciplinary setting and a highly cooperative atmosphere. Participants are expected to engage in scholarly debate. The Ph.D. colloquium takes place on a weekly basis during the winter semester. In the summer semester, it convenes for one extended two-day session at our Pfälzerwald retreat in Annweiler/Trifels.