Syllabus for American Studies B1

USA-kunskap B1


  • 30 credits
  • Course code: 5EN721
  • Education cycle: First cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: English G1F
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
  • Established: 2006-12-07
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Languages
  • Revised: 2015-06-04
  • Revised by: The Department Board
  • Applies from: week 01, 2016
  • Entry requirements: American Studies A1 or 30 credits within the humanities or social sciences disciplinary research domain.
  • Responsible department: Department of English

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, students will have a deeper knowledge of central features of the cultural and societal life of the United States, especially in the subjects of history, politics, mass media, and literature. Students will also have developed their ability to communicate in English, both orally and in writing, on the issues and problem complexes treated in the course.

The goals for each course component are given below.

Component 1. United States history (7.5 credits)
Upon completing the component students will be able to

  • show, in English, a good knowledge of selected themes in American history
  • analyse in English the factors and events that have influenced American history within these themes
  • analyse in written English a history text about the history of the United States.

Component 2. United States politics (7.5 credits)
Upon completing the component students will be able to
  • evince a good knowledge of some of the issues and problem complexes that characterise today’s US domestic and foreign policy
  • argue in English for or against a particular standpoint in a current issue of contention in US politics
  • analyse in written English a given text in English in the field.

Component 3. United States mass media II (7.5 credits)
Upon completing the component students will be able to
  • Give an account in English of the main features of several central media theories pertaining to American media productions
  • Discuss in English the historical and cultural conditions in the US during the 20th and 21st centuries of relevance to different mass media
  • Critically discuss in English the many different roles of US media in national and international contexts.

Component 4. American literature during the 20th century (7.5 credits)
Upon completing the component students will be able to
  • give an account in English of intellectual and cultural history behind a number of representative works from the 20th century
  • give an account in English of social and cultural conditions in the US during the 20th century
  • argue in English for their interpretation of a text with the support of the text
  • present an independent analysis in English, in essay form, of literary texts in English.


The course consists of four components, each worth 7.5 higher education credits as shown below.

American History 7.5 credits

The component discusses selected important themes and problems in American history from both historiographical and analytical perspectives. The choice of themes can vary from term to term.

American Politics 7.5 credits

The component takes up some current problems in present-day US politics, such as the declining importance of parties, voter turnout, financing election campaigns, relations between the president and Congress, the power of the courts, and current US foreign policy.

American Mass Media 7.5 credits

The component discusses problems and issues regarding modern U.S. mass media. We read and discuss texts, study different forms of media and place them in their political, cultural, and historical contexts. Topics that may be covered include news assessments, cultural memory, visual culture, race/ethnicity and gender, popular culture, political communication, and the Internet.

American 20th-Century Literature 7.5 credits

The component comprises readings and discussions designed to elucidate, on the one hand, representative texts from the 20th century and, on the other hand, the cultural and intellectual background to these texts.


Group instruction. Instruction, class discussions, and examinations in all components are in English. Special emphasis is placed on written assignments in the components. All course reading is in English.

Active participation in course seminars is obligatory. In cases of absence students will be given the opportunity to complete an extra assignment within the framework of the course period.


Examination is both oral and in writing. Grades used are either Fail, Pass, or Pass with Distinction. To receive a grade of Pass with Distinction for the whole course, students must have achieved the grade of Pass with Distinction for at least three of the course components.

Students who do not achieve a passing grade on the regular examination will have another opportunity to take the examination within a reasonable period of time after the regular examination.

Students who fail a certain examination twice have the right upon request, following consultation with the head of department, to have another examiner appointed.

Transitional provisions

For transitional regulations in the case of changes in the syllabus, please contact the student adviser.

Other directives

Results that are more than five years old are normally not recognised if the syllabus for the course component has been changed.

If the syllabus or course reading for a component has been changed, students have a right to be examined under the original syllabus and course reading on three occasions during the following three semesters. Normally this right then expires. Otherwise there are no limitations on the number of examination opportunities.

The course may not be included in a degree if equivalent parts have been read within another course included in the degree.

Reading list

Reading list

A revised version of the reading list is available.

Applies from: week 03, 2016

American History

  • Hoxie, Frederick E. A final promise : the campaign to assimilate the Indians, 1880-1920

    Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002

    Find in the library


  • Roediger, David R. Working toward whiteness : how America's immigrants became white : the strange journey from Ellis Island to the suburbs

    New York: Basic books, 2005

    Find in the library


  • Smallwood, Stephanie E. Saltwater slavery : a middle passage from Africa to American diaspora

    Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007

    Find in the library


American Politics

  • McKenna, George.; Feingold, Stanley Taking sides. : clashing views on political issues

    16th ed.: Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, c2013

    18th edition

    Find in the library


  • Schier, Steven E.; Eberly, Todd E. American government and popular discontent : stability without success

    Find in the library


  • Zakaria, Fareed. The post-American world : release 2.0

    New York: W. W. Norton, c2011

    Find in the library


American Mass Media

The course reading is compiled in a compendium supplied by the department.

American 20th-Century Literature

  • Williams, Tennessee; Browne, E. Martin A streetcar named desire

    [New ed.]: London: Penguin, 2009

    Find in the library


  • Lee, Harper To kill a mockingbird

    London: Vintage, 2004

    Find in the library


  • Morrison, Toni Beloved

    London: Vintage Books, 2005

    Find in the library


  • Villanueva, Tino Scene from the movie Giant

    1. ed.: Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1993

    Find in the library


  • Foer, Jonathan Safran Everything is illuminated

    Penguin Books Ltd., 2003

    Find in the library


  • Hamid, Mohsin The reluctant fundamentalist

    [New ed.]: London: Penguin, 2008

    Find in the library


Ginsburg, Allen. "Howl", "A Supermarket in California", "America" (handout)

Cisneros, Sandra. "Never Marry a Mexican" (handout)

Reading list revisions