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Dr Lydia Plath Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr Lydia Plath Canterbury Christ Church University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr Lydia Plath Canterbury Christ Church University

2  What is “American Studies” to potential students?  There is no American Studies option at A Level  Students drawn from a mixture of backgrounds and interests  Students are influenced by external factors  The Bush decline and the “Obama bounce”  Some aversion towards “studies” degrees

3  Should we offer students a degree that is disciplinary, multidisciplinary, or interdisciplinary?  How do we offer students a degree programme that encourages them to think interdisciplinarily?  How do we keep such a degree programme coherent between modules and levels?

4  “Area studies programmes are emphatically multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, encouraging the analysis of an area from various approaches drawn from the arts, humanities and the social sciences. Such an approach enables students in area studies to acquire a unique depth and breadth of insight into the social, cultural and political dynamic of a region”  “The multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary nature of area studies provides a rich, rewarding and diverse student experience. Area studies students operate across academic disciplines, learning how to integrate a variety of approaches in formulating and solving problems, and using diverse materials and information sources. This synthesising prerogative in area studies can work across, as well as interrogate, traditional disciplinary boundaries in innovative ways, meaning that area studies is well positioned to respond to new local and global issues, and academic debates, with both established and emerging methodologies. One key contribution of area studies has been (and will continue to be) its unique perspective on the process of globalisation. Area studies brings an in- depth regional perspective to the study of globalisation that other subject domains rarely manage to achieve.”

5  “The principal objective of area studies programmes is to study the area itself, using whichever disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches are most appropriate to understand the aspects of the area on which they wish to concentrate. Comparative analysis or understanding can be implicitly or explicitly embedded in the curricula.”  “The coherence of any area studies programme can be conceptualised in two ways:  the degree of methodological and conceptual coherence, deriving from the understanding and application of different disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches  the overall cohesion of a range of modules focused on a specific society or set of geographically and culturally related societies.  There is always a complex trade-off between breadth and depth within and between these dimensions.”

6  “The subject-specific skills acquired on completion of an honours degree in area studies will include:  an ability to critically engage with the area studied from a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, including anthropology, archaeology, art history, cultural studies, economics, film and media studies, geography, history, language(s) other than English, literature, philosophy, politics, religious studies and sociology  the ability to compare and contrast the appropriateness of different disciplinary approaches in an examination of the area studied  the ability to use and critically interrogate a range of primary and secondary written and/or oral and/or visual sources, in their original language, where appropriate”  [Language and other generic skills]

7  “American Studies is a culture, not a discipline” (Christopher Bigsby)  “American Studies in the twenty-first century is less a distinctive subject than a critical methodology ” (Paul Giles)  “American Studies is no longer coterminous with US Studies” (Susan Castillo)  “the model of American Studies in the UK has a conservative side and an adventurous side ” (Celeste-Marie Bernier)

8  The wide-ranging examination of “America”  A multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary study of American history, politics, literature, culture, society, and values. But:  Most degrees emphasise History/Politics OR literary/visual culture  What about anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, language(s) other than English, philosophy, sociology, and other disciplines?  Most degrees emphasise 20 th & 21 st centuries  What about early America?  Most degrees emphasise the US  What about Canada; Latin America; the “Atlantic World”; the Pacific; the “global”?

9  How do we construct a coherent undergraduate programme?  Is “it’s all about America” enough?  What balance should we strike between different disciplines?  Especially between History & Politics and Arts & Culture?

10  Should we emphasise breadth or depth ?  How do we integrate multidisciplinarity and especially interdisciplinarity ?  How do we deal with practical constraints ?  university structures  Timetabling  limited staff expertise  content

11  Offer breadth in year one, building to depth in year three/four  Consider an interdisciplinary core module in year one  Allow flexibility and diversity of module choices  Offer choices to all years  Share modules across departments  Include multi- and interdisciplinarity within modules, as well as between them  E.g. use music, film and literature as well as “traditional” sources in “history” modules  Use innovative assessment methods  Coursework, projects, op-eds, presentations, group work  Larger dissertation or project opportunities that encourage an interdisciplinary approach  Make the most of exchange / study abroad opportunities  Encourage students to take more diverse options not offered in the standard degree

12  To provide students with a critical understanding of the USA in terms of its social and cultural diversity and its global significance by offering a coherent programme that conveys the complexity of the USA and the forces that have shaped its development;  To enable students to engage in a wide ranging multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary study of the USA by providing modules that facilitate linkage between different disciplines in the context of the USA and integrate approaches from the arts, humanities, and social sciences (including enabling Combined Honours students to develop links with their other subject);  To enable students to develop an area of expertise within the broad field of American Studies by providing a choice of specialist Strands in the history, culture and politics of the USA (these are: Culture and Society, History of Race, History of Native Americans, Art and Literature, Literature, Cinema, Foreign Policy, and Politics);  To equip students with the inter- and multidisciplinary skills to undertake extensive independent research

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14 Year Three / Four Lynching in America Slavery in the American South Modern Black Freedom Movement Contemporary Native America New Voices in Ethnic American Literatures Politics, Identity, and US Foreign Policy Individual Study Year Two Race and Racism in the US Removal to Red Power Popular Culture in American History “Classic” Ethnic American Literature Extended Essay Year One History Survey: A Story of American Freedom?

15  QAA Benchmarking Statement for Area Studies (2008)  ocuments/areastudies08.pdf ocuments/areastudies08.pdf  ‘American Studies in the UK, ’  content/uploads/2010/03/american%20studies%20in%20the% 20uk% pdf content/uploads/2010/03/american%20studies%20in%20the% 20uk% pdf  CCCU American Studies Programme Validation Document


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