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Mas Disciplines
A Wide Range of Disciplines
Courses in U.S. Constitutional Law, Political Economy, Religious Studies,
and Human Geography stand out as unique features of the MAS
Contact

Dr. Anne Sommer

Office hours:
Tuesdays, 3 - 4 p.m.
and by appointment

T: + 49 (0)6221 / 54 3713
F: + 49 (0)6221 / 54 3719

mas@uni-hd.de

 
News

MAS Newsletter 2/2016:
The American Dream Lives Large at the HCA

This edition features the HCA’s commencement celebration for the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. classes of 2016. Current MAS student Jessica Hagen writes about her life alongside the MAS. Ana Maric-Curry (MAS Class of 2011) shares how her academic and personal life have evolved after the MAS. Finally, Zachary Holler, a current MAS student, reports about the first student conference at the HCA, where he participated in the panel discussion about the American Dream in the 21st century.

 
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Curriculum 2016/2017

History

Global Giant – Multicultural Society: The United States from the End of the Second World War to 9/11

Prof. Dr. Manfred Berg

Mondays, 11am–1pm, History Department (Lecture Hall)

Tutorial: Everett Messamore, M.A., Tuesdays, 11am–1pm, HCA (Oculus)

In the decades after the Second World War, the United States America achieved unprecedented global power and affluence. At the same time American society underwent sweeping changes, including revolutions in its race relations and ethnic make-up. New ideas about gender roles, privacy, and sexual relations challenged traditions and provoked a series of backlashes and culture wars. The liberal welfare state came under pressure from the advocates of unfettered capitalism. From the Cold War to the War on Terror, Americans have hotly debated how to use their immense military and economic power in international affairs. Thus, recent American history offers us a complex and fascinating picture of a global giant and a vibrant multicultural society.

Literatur: Manfred Berg, Geschichte der USA (München, 2013); Richard M. Abrams, America Transformed: Sixty Years of Revolutionary Change, 1941-2001 (New York, 2006); James T. Patterson, Grand Expectations. The United States, 1945-1974 (New York, 1996); ders., Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore (New York, 2005); Jean-Christophe Agnew, Roy Rosenzweig, eds., A Companion to Post-1945 America, (Malden, MA, 2002)

 

Geography

North American City

Gregg Culver, PhD

Tuesdays, 9-11am, Neue Universität (Lecture Hall 04)

Tutorial: Cosima Werner, Wednesdays, 9-11am, HCA (Stucco)

Comprehensive overview of the Urban Geography of North America: Urban systems, recent and historical urban developments (urbanization, suburbanization, reurbanisation), internal structure of cities (esp. urban inequalities), modeling and theorizing urban space, urban policies, planning the twenty-first-century city, future of cities.

 

Political Science

Contemporary Politics in the United States

PD Dr. Martin Thunert

Wednesdays, 2–4pm, HCA (Oculus)

Tutorial: Natalie Rauscher, M.A., Tuesdays, 4–6pm, HCA (Oculus)

As the recent 2015 election cycle in the United States demonstrates, America’s usually optimistic self-perception has been challenged by an increasingly polarized electorate and political class, by a resurgent, but still flagging economy, and by uncertainty about its place in a changing global order. After a brief overview of US history, of the land and its people as well as America’s unique political and cultural traditions, we shall be looking at the diverse and changing American electorate, analyze the role of parties, interest groups, social movements, lobbyists, consultants and the media and the way in which average citizens participate in the political process. We will also explore the constitutional order – especially federalism -, major governmental institutions - Congress, the President and the executive branch, and the Supreme Court. Finally, we will draw our attention to selected policy fields, especially foreign affairs and world politics.

This course attempts to teach American government, politics and policy-making in a way that goes beyond the basics, but without ignoring the basics. It will be taught as a lecture class with opportunities for questions and answers at the end of each session. The tutorial (exclusively for MAS students) will focus primarily (a) on the study of political science in general and issues such as inequality, digitalization, parties and movements in particular (b) deepening selected lecture topics and (b) on oral student presentations.

 

Literature

The Literature of the American Renaissance

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss

Wednesdays, 11am-1pm, HCA (Oculus)

Tutorial: Tim Sommer, Thursdays, 2–4pm, HCA (Stucco)

In 1941, Harvard Professor F.O. Matthiessen published a study entitled American Renais-sance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman that is regarded by many critics as the founding book of American literary studies. Matthiessen identified the second third of the nineteenth century as the age in which American literature experienced its first ‘flowering’; henceforth this period came to be considered American literature’s classical age. Matthiessen also assembled a list of writers – Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman – who came to be looked upon as the core authors of the American literary canon. In addition, he extracted from this period and its writers an individualistic ethos that came to stand for the American spirit par excellence. In this lecture course, we will study selected works by the writers included in Matthiessen’s canon and explore their literary, social, and ethical philosophies. In addition, we will consider works by authors of the period that did not make it on his list, namely those written by women and African Americans. In studying the literature of the American Renaissance, we will try to understand the processes by which a particular brand of individualism, namely non-conformism and anti-establishment thinking, came to be lodged at the heart of American democratic culture, and develop an explanation for why this ethos has remained attractive ever since. In looking at the critical debates that have surrounded the Matthiessen’s American Renaissance canon, however, we will also see how contested this ethos has become in the past decades and perhaps also get a sense of its limitations.

The following works will be discussed in detail: “The American Scholar,” “Experience,” and “The Poet” by Ralph Waldo Emerson; Walden (in particular the “Economy” chapter) and “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau; “The Great Law Suit” by Margaret Fuller; “The House of Usher” and “The Philosophy of Composition” by Edgar Allan Poe; The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne; “Bartleby the Scrivener” and “Benito Cereno” by Herman Melville; Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beacher Stowe; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Life of a Slave Girl; and Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Most of these texts can be found in The Norton Anthology of American Literature (Volume B).

Texts:

  • Nina Baym et al. (eds.). The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 5 vols. Eighth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. You only need to buy Volume B!
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (Penguin American Library edition or Signet edition or Norton Critical Edition)
  • Additional reading material will be provided on the University’s e-learning site (Moodle)

 

Methodology

Introduction to American Studies (Part 1)

Hannes Nagl, M.A.

Thursdays, 11am-1pm, HCA (Oculus)

The “Introduction to American Studies” differs from other classes offered in the MAS program in that it is not concerned with any particular aspect of American culture, such as history, religion, literature, or law. Instead, following Henry Nash Smith’s famous call, the course is designed to look at American Studies “as a whole.” It thus addresses questions such as: What issues and questions informed the development of American Studies as an academic discipline? What are its methodological and theoretical foundations and problems? What categories and concepts inform current debates in the field? In order to discuss these questions, students are asked to read two to three essays on the history, theory, and methods of American Studies for each class session. In addition, they are required to write three short papers, each in response to one of the assigned articles.

Texts: A course reader will be made available.

 

Methodology

Academic Writing (Part 1)

Dr. Anja Schüler

Thursdays, 9–11am, HCA (Oculus)

This course offers students practice in writing and evaluating several types of English texts. In particular, it will be dedicated to the process of academic writing, including planning, drafting, editing, and proofreading your class papers and eventually your M.A. thesis. The format of the seminar consists of both whole-class and small-group discussions. I will expect you expect to share your writings as well as your opinion of the writings of others, students and non-students. At the end of the semester, you should be ready to start conceptualizing, researching and drafting your M.A. thesis Students are welcome to discuss any questions related to the academic writing process in class.

 

MAS Colloquium

Dr. Wilfried Mausbach / Dr. Anne Sommer

Thursdays, 6–8pm, HCA (Stucco)

The Interdisciplinary Colloquium provides a venue for MAS students to meet with renowned experts from various fields, such as politics, economics, journalism, or academia. Most of them will be Americans who will share with us their current interests or most recent scholarship. The Interdisciplinary Colloquium will also serve as a forum for the presentation and discussion of state-of-the-art research in academic disciplines that are not otherwise represented in this year’s curriculum. In addition, field trips will acquaint students with political and business leaders from the Rhein-Neckar region.

Participation in the Interdisciplinary Colloquium is mandatory for MAS students. You are strongly encouraged to make your own contributions, either comments or questions. That is what it means to be a member of an intellectual community! Your grade will depend on your attentiveness and active participation. At the beginning of the third semester there will be a workshop in which you are expected to both present an outline of your own M.A. thesis and constructively discuss the work of your classmates.

 

Religious Studies

History of Christianity in the United States, 1800-1900

Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann

Tue 11am - 1pm; Wed 11am - 12pm, Neue Uni (HS 08)

Tutorial: Everett Messamore, M.A., Wed 2-4 pm, HCA (Stucco)

This lecture course offers a survey of the history of Christianity in North America from the revolutionary period to the end of the nineteenth century. Always with an eye on the European background, the course will examine the often surprising ways in which the various forms of Christianity that were imported from the Old World developed in different contexts of westward expansion, immigration, revivalism, intercultural contact and conflict. While special attention will be given to the American transformations of Christianity, we will also discuss the fate of indigenous religions, and look at the development of non-Christian immigrant faiths and the birth of new religious movements such as Mormonism, Spiritualism, and New Thought. As we trace the evolution of churches, traditions, beliefs, practices and communities from independence to the closing of the frontier, students will be familiarized with important primary sources and key-concepts for this period of American religious history.

After the lecture class on Wednesday (11-12) we will discuss one central primary document relevant to each week’s topic. This additional “Quellenübung” is highly recommended but optional.

Recommended Reading:

  • Edwin Gaustad and Leigh Schmidt. The Religious History of America (Harper, 2002)
  • Sidney E. Ahlstrohm. A Religious History of the American People (Yale UP, 1972)

 

Law

Introduction to the Law and Legal System of the United States

Cynthia Wilke, J.D.

Fridays, 11am–1pm, Neue Uni (HS N.N.)

Tutorial: Cynthia Wilke, J.D., Fridays, 1:30–3pm, HCA (Stucco)

The goal of this course is for students to acquire a basic understanding of and introduction to the U.S. legal system. Students will study the origins and development of the common law in the United States, as well as certain fundamental differences between the U.S. common law system and a civil law legal system. Additional topics will include case law, the principle of precedent in U.S. legal analysis, and the structure and role of the federal and state court systems. Special attention will be paid to the unique procedural aspects of the U.S. system, such as the role of the jury and the adversary system of dispute adjudication. Students will also receive an overview of legal education and the practice of law in the U.S. Several hours will be devoted to an introduction to the U.S. Constitution and selected topics in substantive law.

 

Interdisciplinary Seminar I: History/Geography

Planning and Protest: Urban Development and Its Discontents in Twentieth-Century Washington, D.C. and Chicago

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Gerhard/Dr. Wilfried Mausbach

Tue 2-4 pm, HCA (Stucco)

We will focus explicitly on the connection between urban planning and civic protest which shaped urban developments throughout the American urban history. Success and failure of urban planning policies depend to a great degree on the legitimization of such ideas among citizens but also – and related to that – on societal, economical and political conditions and development. The two cities Chicago and Washington will serve as main case studies to analyse and discuss the influential relationship between planning and protest.

Principle texts for preparation:

  • Boehm, Lisa Krissoff and Steven H. Corey. 2015. America's Urban History. New York: Routledge.
  • Hall, Peter. 2014. Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design Since 1880. 4th ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell.

 

Interdisciplinary Seminar II: Religious Studies/History

Religion in the Antebellum Period and Civil War

Prof. Harry S. Stout (Yale University)/Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann

May 5 (10-5:30pm), May 6 (10-5:30pm) and May 12 (10-5:30pm), May 13 (10-5:30pm), HCA (Oculus)

This compact seminar gives students the opportunity to engage with one of the leading experts on the history of American religion and the religious dimension of the Civil War more specifically: Prof. Harry S. Stout (Yale University), who comes to Heidelberg as the sixth recipient of the James W.C. Pennington Award. The class pursues two basic questions: What role did religion play in the developments, debates, and conflicts of the antebellum period that contributed to the coming of the Civil War? And how did religion factor into the ways in which the military conflict between the North and South was understood and conducted on both sides? Over the course of four full-day sessions we will discuss, among other things, the formative influence of evangelical Protestantism on the abolitionist movement, the theological battles over the biblical justification of slavery, religious interpretations of the conflict in high-brow discourse as well as popular media, and the evolution of American civil religion in the context of the war.

Please buy and read:

  • Harry S. Stout. Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War (2007)

 

Methodology

Introduction to American Studies (Part 2)

Hannes Nagl, M.A.

Thursdays, 11am-1pm, HCA (Oculus)

Methodology

Problems in Academic Writing

Dr. Anja Schüler

Thursdays, 10–11am, HCA (Oculus)

This course offers students practice in writing and evaluating several types of English texts. In particular, it will be dedicated to the process of academic writing, including planning, drafting, editing, and proofreading your class papers and eventually your M.A. thesis. The format of the seminar consists of both whole-class and small-group discussions. I will expect you expect to share your writings as well as your opinion of the writings of others, students and non-students. At the end of the semester, you should be ready to start conceptualizing, researching and drafting your M.A. thesis Students are welcome to discuss any questions related to the academic writing process in class.

 

Presentation Skills Workshop

Millie Baker, M.A.

Group A: Fri, June 2 and Sat, June 24; 10am to 5pm
Group B: Sat, June 3 and Fri, June 23; 10am to 5pm

MAS Colloquium

Dr. Wilfried Mausbach / Dr. Anne Sommer

Thursdays, 6–8pm, HCA (Atrium/Stucco)

The Interdisciplinary Colloquium provides a venue for MAS students to meet with renowned experts from various fields, such as politics, economics, journalism, or academia. Most of them will be Americans who will share with us their current interests or most recent scholarship. The Interdisciplinary Colloquium will also serve as a forum for the presentation and discussion of state-of-the-art research in academic disciplines that are not otherwise represented in this year’s curriculum. In addition, field trips will acquaint students with political and business leaders from the Rhein-Neckar region.

Participation in the Interdisciplinary Colloquium is mandatory for MAS students. You are strongly encouraged to make your own contributions, either comments or questions. That is what it means to be a member of an intellectual community! Your grade will depend on your attentiveness and active participation. At the beginning of the third semester there will be a workshop in which you are expected to both present an outline of your own M.A. thesis and constructively discuss the work of your classmates.

 

HCA-MAS: Email
Latest Revision: 2017-02-16
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