B.A. North American Studies

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Students are required to complete three orientation modules in three of the six respective disciplines of the institute. Each module promotes an independent approach to central terms, theories, and methods of the individual discipline. Usually this is structured as a discussion of a concrete research question related to North American history, culture, literature, politics, society, or economy.

  • orientation module history (10 CP)
  • orientation module culture (10 CP)
  • orientation module literature (10 CP)
  • orientation module politics (10 CP)
  • orientation module sociology (10 CP)
  • orientation module economy (10 CP)

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 / oral exam (equivalent to 7 CP points). For these modules, students can choose from a wide variety of topics and courses.

Multidisciplinary Studies

For the Multidisciplinary Orientation Modules, students take part in at least one multidisciplinary lecture series (Ringvorlesung), which is offered every winter Semester. Students often take two Ringvorlesungen to earn the required 10 CP in this area, but you also have the option of taking a Mediating and Advanced Writing Skills course of the FU Language Center. You will therefore take two out of three of the below modules:

  • Multidisciplinary Orientation Module A (5 CP) 

  • Multidisciplinary Orientation Module B (5 CP) 

  • Mediating and Advanced Writing Skills (5 CP) [offered at the FU Language Center]

Example Orientation Modules

Click the modules below to learn more about what an orientation module course could look like in different departments.

Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk all claim that Artifical Intelligence (AI) may soon grow into the greatest existential threat to face humanity. Some people believe that technology, and AI in particular, may be ready to overtake humans in intellectual ability. Current debates focus on whether AI can be programmed to “produce humanity” by way of great works of music and visual arts, or conversely, to what an extent the final vista of human programming will be borne out by total surveillance, invisible border controls, and automated fake news. The U.S. is often portrayed as a “technological society,” and technology has often featured as a central feature of American history. That history of technology is in many ways a story of control, with visions of gaining more or losing it all, complete with hair-raising scenarios associated with technological change and invention. What can we learn from this history in order to address the future? This course is a fun and exploratory introduction to thinking and working like a historian, and will peruse some of the questions and ideas above by way of lecture, reading, discussion and hands-on virtual labs and a particular emphasis on the North American region.

This course will engage students with the topic of polarization in the context of the politics of the United States. In examining polarization in US politics, this course seeks to understand changes in the behavior and characteristics of individuals, institutions and organizations in American politics. We will focus particularly on factors that shape the attitudes of actors in the political system. These actors include voters, the media, political activists and donors, candidates, members of Congress, and the President. The causes – and consequences – of polarization will also be examined in depth. We will read competing academic literature on the topic and students will be encouraged to reflect critically on both the subject and these contested understandings of its manifestation in American politics. Through our readings we will look at the kinds of questions political scientists ask about polarization in the American political system and how they investigate those questions.

This interdisciplinary lecture series will zoom in on popular forms of culture, media, and politics in the US in the past and present. It brings together scholars both from the social sciences and the humanities to explore practices and aesthetics of US popular culture and its global reach, as well as to examine forms of political communication and the relationships between popular media and politics. The series will analyze how US media system has changed over the past decades and centuries, especially investigating the cultures and media of populism across this history as well as the current resurgence of populist rhetoric and political styles. The interdisciplinary lens is specifically aimed at the intersection of popular culture, diverse forms of media representation, and the political landscape of the US.