Introduction to American Studies 2081


After this course, the students should be able to

  • answer the question “What defines/characterizes the United States?”
  • understand the historical and cultural development of the United States through the use of a variety of sources and genres , such as poetry, fiction, history, autobiography, political writing, film and photography
  • recognize and discuss some of the most influential American authors
  • analyze and discuss literary texts using relevant terminology


This foundational course is an interdisciplinary study of American literature, history and art. It is designed to equip the European student with knowledge of the American experience from the first colonial settlements to the present day. We will examine how the traditions of the early settlers shaped a new culture of conflict and possibility and how this culture evolved into a society of progress and discourse. In a famous poem written in 1923 the English writer D. H Lawrence hailed America as ‘The Evening Land’ and exclaimed: ‘Oh, America/The sun sets in you. /Are you the grave of our day?’ In the twentieth-century America emerged as the most influential western culture of modernity, a culture of innovation, wonder and contradiction that Europeans at the same time often admired and occasionally distrusted. From the time of slavery to the days of social media, America has crossed various paths of crisis and rebirth. Our objective is to examine how different stages of the American experience –the influence of religion, the impact of the Civil War and the Reconstruction, Industrialization, Urbanization- led to the creation of a powerful nation. Some of the topics we will consider are the origins of the American Dream, the idea of the Melting Pot and a multinational society, the emancipation of the American Woman, the legacy of Individualism and the evolution of America as a ‘photogenic culture’ through the lens of Hollywood.

Arbeids- og læringsformer

The goal of this course is to teach students how to critically examine, analyze and evaluate competing perspectives on American topics. The course will run like a workshop with lectures, discussions, interactive assignments, presentations, film screenings and field trips. Reading, research and writing are all parts of the coursework. The readings will include literary and historical texts (entire or selections), essays and films. In conjunction with the other two courses of the program, Business English and Introduction to Writing, the students will have an opportunity to practice their writing techniques in writing responses and papers related to the course’s material


There will be a midterm, final examination, one oral presentation (as part of a group work) and a few informal written

  • Midterm Exam 30% of the grade
  • Final exam 40% of the grade
  • Oral Presentation 20% of the grade
  • Informal Writing Assignments 10% of the grade

Det tas forbehold om mindre justeringer i planen.

Publisert av / forfatter Eline Flesjø <>, sist oppdatert av Ralph Ingemar Stålberg - 16.02.2013