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American Studies L1

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American Studies
Elec1ve
Course European Studies Dave van Ginhoven

Tuesday, April 9, 13

Welcome
§ Welcome to American Studies
§ An Elec7ve Course § 5 ECTS Credits

§ Meet your teachers
§ Dave van Ginhoven § Ovaal 4.36 § d.vanginhoven@hhs.nl / @mrginhoven

§ Geoffrey Lord
§ Ovaal 4.69 § G.w.lord@hhs.nl
Tuesday, April 9, 13

Today’s subjects
§ Why we’re here § Explana7on of the course and exam § Discussion about American Iden7ty
§ Chapters 1 and 2 of The American Civiliza0on
§ If you haven’t read them yet…

§

“Truth, Jus7ce and The American Way” And study for your exam

§ How to read a textbook
§

Tuesday, April 9, 13

Why are we here?
§ What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the US? § What about “truth, jus7ce and the American way”?
§ Why?

§ How much do you actually know about the US? § Where did your informa7on and opinions come from?
Tuesday, April 9, 13

Why are we here?
§ Percep7on is shaped by Perspec7ve
§ § § Our own cultural norms The Love/Hate rela7onship Even US media is prone to Oversimplifica7ons and extremes

§ Stereotypes

§ O]en there may be some basis for strong statements § How can you reach an informed opinion?

Tuesday, April 9, 13

What does this image say to you?

Tuesday, April 9, 13

How about this one?
§ Is Captain America propaganda? § Look at this first issue from 1941
§ Does anything stand out?

§ If you see it in the context of the 7mes, a different meaning emerges
Tuesday, April 9, 13

Why are we here?
§ § We are NOT here to promote (or condemn) America The point is to put things in the proper context
§ To develop an understanding of the most powerful country on Earth and its people

§

You have (a right to) to make up (and speak) your own mind, but to have an informed opinion…
You
must first get to know the US and how it came to be as it is § You must compare how America sees itself and how others (including yourself) see it Things are rarely as black and white (or red, white and blue) as you might think §

§

Tuesday, April 9, 13

We are here because…
§ There is no single truth about America
§ Or any country

§ There are different sides to every story

§ § § The US is o]en cri7cized for unilaterally interfering in interna7onal affairs But the world would be a different place if they didn’t Some7me the US is cri7cized for not gedng involved or not doing enough

§ Consider all sides
Tuesday, April 9, 13

Why does it maeer?
§ Why does a European Professional need to understand America? § Europe is not alone in the world § The effects of globaliza7on
§ What happens in America affects your life (and pocketbook) whether you like it or not Trade, security and other issues And that’s a good enough reason

§ The US is important to Europe
§ §

§ Because it’s interes7ng

Tuesday, April 9, 13

In this course…
§ Star7ng today, we will spend six weeks discussing…
§ § § § § § American Iden7ty The American People American Poli7cs Crime and Punishment Foreign Affairs and the Economy American Media and (popular) culture

§ Along the way we will talk about history, art, educa7on and other interes7ng themes
Tuesday, April 9, 13

BTW: This picture is NOT Photoshopped

Where is it all going?
§ There is an Open Ques7on exam
§ Short answers (30 points)
§ § § You will be given a list of terms from The American Civiliza0on (they are listed at the end of every chapter) Choose 10 and provide a defini7on and explana7on of their importance (1-­‐3 sentences) Each explana7on is worth up to 3 points There will be a list of 15 ques7ons based on the reading and/or class discussion Choose 7 ques7ons and provide detailed answers (4-­‐6 sentences) showing your insight on America Each long answer is worth up to 10 points

§

Long Answers (70 points)
§ § §

§

See sample in the course manual and be sure to strategize carefully

Tuesday, April 9, 13

How to prepare
§ If you want to do well on the exam, do the following:
§ Take good notes in class
§ Write down any important terms and what they mean § Lecture content will be shared (temporarily) on Blackboard but is not enough for effec7ve study
§ The slides will give you some of the important concepts but you need meaning and context from the text

§

Keep up with the reading

§ Most of what is on the exam (including all the key terms) is included in the book

Tuesday, April 9, 13

Reading
§ Every week there are reading assignments from The American Civiliza0on § All students are advised to read How to Read a Textbook in the manual

§ § § § § Don’t try to read every word Study the structure Iden7fy main points Be bold and Iden7fy Italics Quiz yourself with ques7ons

Tuesday, April 9, 13

Make a study guide
§ § The best way to prepare for an exam is to make a proper study guide and work on it weekly Go through every assigned chapter and…
§ § § Skim each sec7on to get the main points and summarize them for yourself Iden7fy and define key terms (bold text, italics, lists at the end of the chapter) Check to see if you can answer the review ques7ons in the chapter

§ §

Put your reading notes together with your class notes and other materials § Look for similari7es and differences

See the manual for more informa7on on how to make a study guide, try it out, and consult your teacher if you need to

Tuesday, April 9, 13

What else are we going to do?
§ This course has its own Blackboard site
§ Enrol by going to COURSES and entering AMERICAN Studies in COURSE SEARCH

§

You’ll find the manual, these slides (in PDF format) and a Discussion board
§ § Share opinions, study materials, ar7cles, videos or anything else Like the US, this course is built on Free Speech
§ Use it

§

Please note that slides will be posted on Thursday a]ernoons and will be removed on Saturdays
§ Get ‘em while they’er hot
16

Tuesday, April 9, 13

Today’s subject: American Iden7ty
§ We have already talked a liele about how the world sees America § What about how America sees itself? § This week: Chapters 1 and 2 § The core themes are:
§ § § American Iden7ty Different types of culture The way the country is divided
§ Geographically and culturally Tuesday, April 9, 13

Key factors
§
§ § §

To understand American iden7ty, you have to consider…
The
history

§ From the first colonies un7l today

The people The size and shape of the country

Tuesday, April 9, 13

The American Dream
§ Another key factor and o]en misunderstood
§
§
§ See The Great Gatsby

Associated with dreams of gedng rich quick

It really refers to the idea that in

America…
§ §

Everyone can start over Everyone is free to pursue their own poten7al § But they have to do it on their own

§

America is a meritocracy

Tuesday, April 9, 13

Individualism
§ The American Dream is connected with…
§ Individualism and liberty § People are encouraged to follow their own dreams § People value personal freedom and dislike (government) interference

§ These beliefs are captured in the Declara7on of Independence and the US Cons7tu7on
§ § Checks and Balances The Bill of Rights

Tuesday, April 9, 13

American Culture
§ There are four kinds of culture according to Mauk & Oakland:
§ Ethnic Culture § Religious Culture § Poli7cal-­‐Legal Culture § Economic Culture

Tuesday, April 9, 13

Ethnic Culture
§ Background plays a big role
§ Most Americans descend from immigrants § Many hold on to their origins as a key aspect of their iden7ty § The country has always been mul7-­‐cultural § Though not necessarily harmonious § There is a dominant group § White Anglo-­‐Saxon Protestants § Like the first Americans
Tuesday, April 9, 13

Religious Culture
§ § Religion is at least as important as ethnic background The founders were Protestants hoping to build a perfect society
§ The source of American Excep7onalism

§

Despite the official separa7on of church and state, religion plays a huge role in society
§ This can bring people together or drive them apart

§

America bucks interna7onal trends through religious revival

Tuesday, April 9, 13

Poli7cal-­‐Legal Culture
§ Diversity creates a need for pluralism § America has a na7onal moeo:
§ E Pluribus Unum

§ Unity is (partly) created by the cons7tu7on § It is meant to be the glue that keeps America(ns) together

§ ‘Civil Religion’ is also used as a unifying force
§ § Thanksgiving The Pledge of Allegiance

Tuesday, April 9, 13

Economic Culture
§ The economy is based on individualism and free enterprise
§ § Compe77on is encouraged and success is celebrated Emphasis on liberty and personal responsibility § Survival of the Fi

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