B.A. North American Studies

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Advanced Modules

In the advanced modules, students aim for further sophistication in their respective disciplines. The seminars address relevant research topics in North American Studies and in the individual disciplines, providing students with the theoretical frameworks, methods, and materials to independently conduct research. At the end of the semester, students often extend the scope of the seminar into their own research by dealing with the course's themes in a term paper. As students are required to complete two advanced modules for each of their three focal disciplines*, they are able to compare the different disciplinary approaches to issues in North American Studies. 

a) History:

  • Advanced Module: History A – History of North America until 1865 (10 CP) and
  • Advanced Module: History B – History of North America since 1865 (10 CP)

b) Culture:

  • Advanced Module: Culture A – History of Ideas and Cultural History of Individual Media (10 CP) and
  • Advanced Module: Culture B – Theories of American Culture and the History of Ethnic, Regional and Gender-specific Cultures (10 CP)

c) Literature:

  • Advanced Module: Literature A – Literary Epochs (10 CP) and
  • Advanced Module: Literature A – Literary Genres (10 CP)

d) Politics:

  • Advanced Module: Politics A – Policies and Politics (10 CP) and           
  • Advanced Module: Politics B - State and Civil Society (10 CP)

e) Sociology:

  • Advanced Module: Sociology A – Social Structures (10 CP) and
  • Advanced Module: Sociology B - Social Processes (10 CP)

f) Economics:

  • Advanced Module: Economics A – Growth, Distribution and Conjecture (10 CP) and
  • Advanced Module: Economics B – Economic History and Financial Markets (10 CP)

Associated Module*

Instead of a second advanced module in their third discipline, students can choose to complete an associated module in their first discipline. This means they will be able to obtain 60 CP in one discipline – a requirement for many Master programs – and allow them further insights into disciplinary discussions. For the associated module, students can complete classes at most related departments of the Freie Universität. Please note that only few of these classes will be taught in English

  • Associated Module in History
  • Associated Module in Literary Studies
  • Associated Module in Political Science
  • Associated Module in Cultural Studies
  • Associated Module in Sociology
  • Associated Module in Economics and Business

Orientation, advanced, and associated modules usually consist of two seminars. There are two types of credit for these classes: active participation, which is ungraded (equivalent to 3 CP points), and Leistungsschein, which is graded based both on active participation and a written exam, term paper, or oral exam (equivalent to 7 CP points). Students are able to choose from a wide variety of courses for the advanced and associated modules.

For a sample of what kinds of courses may be available, check out the descriptions of the seminars below. 

In this course, we will consider the many uses and meanings of U.S. photography over the last seventy years. A broad variety of photographic practices will be considered, including street photography, figure and portrait photography, and the recent boom in photography of the environment. In addition to this focus on work conventionally understood as artistic photography, the course will consider the increasingly prominent roles that photography has played in other recent artistic practices, including pop art, performance, conceptual art, site-specific sculpture, and painting. We will also critically analyze American photojournalism as well as the ascendancy and changing roles of amateur snapshots. Some meetings will introduce particular themes and movements, while others will focus intensively on small bodies of work. 

The seminar introduces students to the most important aspects of the current monetary and financial system (with a special focus on the United States). We will discuss the significance of commercial banks in the creation of money and the allocation of financial capital, the role of the central bank in the monetary and financial system, the workings of the key money, capital, and foreign exchange markets, and many other topics. Coursework includes a final exam and a short presentation.

This seminar will introduce students to the study of the interactions between literature and the environment. We will first examine key ecocritical terms, such as nature, wilderness, pastoral, anthropocentrism, and biocentrism, through examples of contemporary nature writing and environmental studies. We will then look at exemplary texts in the U.S.-American literary tradition from Romanticism to the 21st century, focusing on how literature explores the possibility of a new relationship to nature. Authors will include Henry David Thoreau, Jack London, Willa Cather and Rachel Carson, as well as theoretical writings by Ursula Heise, Leo Marx, Lawrence Buell, and Rebecca Solnit.

In this course, we use a sociological perspective to analyze the complex issue of new digital brands and American dominance: Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon. We will take a detailed look at framework conditions, concepts, strategies and systemic interactions after an initial study of theories that will aid us in addressing this topic. We will also adress the importance of communication in considering these phenomena. Appropriate practical examples and case studies will be discussed alongside contemporary research in the discipline. A comprehensive, critical examination – including an outlook on future trends – forms the conclusion of this seminar.

Events and trends on the inter- and transnational stages are increasingly confusing. One (by now famous) populist never tired of asking: "What is going on?" We will address just this question. This seminar aims to illuminate the emerging global landscapes by introducing students to the main concepts, theories and issues of IR and global politics. Concepts and theories, diverse and competing assumptions and interpretations like positivism, constructivism, realism, institutionalism, liberalism, and others will be presented, debated, and applied. Course participants will be organized in working groups that each focus on one of six regional problems and conflicts, for example within China, Eastern Europe/Russia, MENA, the USA and the EU. A clear focus will be put on non-state-centred concepts like flows, networks, global cities etc., and the consequences of non-polarity. In addition, topics such as security, culture, and populism will inform sections of the course.

The political and social history of the American Jewish community in the twentieth century is complex and colorful, transcends the borders of the United States, and thus leads to large historical perspectives. This course aims to provide an overview of American Jewish history beginning in the late 19th century, and ending at the beginning of the 21st century. Did a distinctly American Jewish experience exist throughout the twentieth century? How was this experience different from and similar to the history of other religious, ethnic, and racial minorities in the U.S.? These questions frame this survey course of the historiography of twentieth-century American Jewry. A number of themes will be covered in the semester including immigration, assimilation and acculturation, Diaspora, cosmopolitanism and nationalism, race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.