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Program and Learning Outcomes

America today is more powerful than any other country or empire in human history. At times, its influence on the world is “soft,” by dint of cultural diplomacy, transnational webs of relation and exchange, and the allure of its popular cultures. As a land of opportunity through the centuries, the United States has embraced – and been remade by – the people, cultures, and religions of the world, even as it has seduced large swaths of the world with its ideas, lifestyles and culture. At other moments, however, America’s work in the world is “hard”, even vicious: military invasions, the ruthless imposition of neoliberal market regimes, covert destabilizations, and global wars on drugs and terror that regularly violate international conventions on human rights, ethics and justice. Time and again, America has sought to remake the world in its own image, in line with its own interests, by dint of military force, interventions, international organizations, globe-spanning corporations, development aid, torture and boycotts.

The program contains several obligatory foundation courses. These are "American Studies: Theories & Practices" on theoretical and methodological developments in relation to the discipline of American Studies in Europe as well as in the United States.; "The Future of American Power," a course which discusses the future of US power in the world; "Religion and American International Relations" on the significance of religion in American culture, society and politics. It explores the influence of religious thought on US Foreign Affairs; and "Transatlantic Transfer and Cultural Mobility: Grounding Transnational American Studies,'" a course on moments of intercultural confrontations and processes of democratization, cultural appropriation, cultural transfer, and cultural mobility from Modernism to the digital age of globalization. In addition, students participate in MA Thesis Colloquium to help them structure their MA Thesis research and support their writing process. There is a small elective space in the program which enable students to place personal emphases or to engage in an internship. Options for elective courses include a special course on the Politics and Cultures of the Black Freedom Struggle; North American Indians or American Constitutional Law (taught in Dutch). The American Studies Master's program has relations to two Nijmegen research programs: "Performances of Memory and Identity" and "Studying Criticism and Reception Across Borders" (SCARAB).

Learning Objectives

  • have detailed knowledge of US foreign policy, especially following World War II, and a thorough understanding of its political and cultural consequences;
  • have a thorough understanding of major political and social problems within North American society and is able to analyze these in their historical and socio-cultural contexts;
  • are able to analyze how the United States sought to remake the world – politically, culturally, and economically – and how the United States have been shaped and transformed by that world from a comparative and transnational perspective;
  • have the skills to formulate research questions, to independently engage in research activities and to report on their research findings in academic fashion in excellent English.