Course title: The History and the Paradigms of American Studies
Instructor: Prof Stipe Grgas
ECTS credits: 6
Status: mandatory for American specialization; otherwise elective
Semester: I or III
Enrollment requirements: enrollment into the graduate program
Course description: The course explores the history of the development of American Studies and the different paradigms that were initially employed in reading the United States. To a large extent this phase corresponds to the myth and symbol school. The course offers readings of texts that are representative of the following key paradigms: errand into the wilderness, “nature’s nation”, virgin land, the machine in the garden, the democratic polity, Brooklyn Bridge as symbol and fact.
Objectives: The objective of the course is to acquaint the students with these founding paradigms, to explore the procedures and methodology that was involved in their construction, to illustrate how they can be used in understanding US identity and to point to the possibilities of critically questioning their veracity and their ideological bias.
Course requirements: attendance, continual evaluation, oral presentations, written seminar paper and a written exam at the end of the course.
Week by week schedule: interdisciplinarity as a method, the establishment of American studies as a peculiar discipline, errand into the wilderness, “nature’s nation”, virgin land, the machine in the garden, the democratic polity, Brooklyn Bridge as symbol and fac.
Reading: The students are required to read a selection of texts from the work of the following authors: Perry Miller, Henry Nash Smith, Leo Marx, F.O. Matthiessen, , Alan Trachtenberg and others.