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Culture: North America

Vak 2018-2019

Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.

Description

When studying a particular region of the world, knowledge of its cultural universe is crucial; the study of culture allows the understanding of the deeper structures behind history, politics and economy. Culture is the symbolic repertoire that gives form and content to national and collective identities, the subjectivity of individuals, and the environment. Culture is expressed in both material and immaterial resources, through which relations of legitimacy and domination are built in specific temporal and geographical contexts. Culture is a domain in which strategies for winning consent and cohesion are reflected, but it also includes mechanisms of in- and exclusion or conflicts on the basis of e.g. nationality, language, religion, ethnicity, or gender. This course looks at these processes in specific cultural contexts of the world, and revises the regional scholarly traditions in the study and circulation of culture.

This course is an introduction to the study of contemporary culture in North America. We draw upon a variety of ethnographic, literary, historical, visual, and musical sources to examine how the diverse identities of North Americans have been defined and shaped. We attend to the ways that gender, religion, sexual orientation, and social class impact the experiences of different cultural groups as we explore sociocultural issues such as race and racism, immigration, cultural imperialism, and the spread of American values. Particular attention will be paid to intersections of and resistance to sociopolitical and economic power structures in North America. Other topics to be discussed include the indigenous cultures of North America and their struggles for cultural and territorial sovereignty, and the role of language in the social life and culture of communities in North America.

Course objectives

The student:

  • has a thorough understanding of the cultural context of a particular geographical area in the world from a global perspective;
  • is familiar with cross-cultural communication aspects of international relations within the context of a specific area;
  • is able to critically reflect on the cultural developments in the chosen geographical area from a global perspective;
  • has in-depth knowledge of cultural production and identity formation in a geographical area in its global context;
  • has the ability to analyse an artefact of the chosen area using the concepts and theories introduced in Cultural Studies, Sociolinguistics and Introduction to International Studies;
  • has the ability to reflect on the meaning of the main concepts in cultural-, sociolinguistic-, and intercultural communication studies as applied in different cultural contexts;
  • has the ability to use the theories discussed in the course to identify and compare communicative, narrative, and visual productions from regions of their choice;
  • is able to situate a cultural artefact within the context of the cultural production and cultural policies of the region of their choice;
  • has the ability to collect and analyse specialised literature using traditional and electronic methods and techniques;
  • has the ability to formulate a well-defined research problem based on specialised literature; set up, under supervision, a study of a limited size and formulate a reasoned conclusion;
  • has the ability to explain research findings in a clear and well-argued way in the form of a short essay;
  • is able to present his findings and arguments in a coherent and clear way in the form of a short presentation and during in-class debates;
  • is able to give and receive feedback to and from peers in a constructive fashion and use reasoned criticism to revise one’s own point of view or own argumentation;
  • is able to take on board the instructions and criticism of supervisors, and take previous instructions and criticism into account in new situations.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Lectures

Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.

Tutorials

Tutorials are held once every two weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance. Being absent at more than two of the tutorial sessions will result in a lowering of your tutorial grade (30% of the end grade) with 1 point for each session missed after the first two sessions. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the tutor.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), which equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 24 hours
  • Attending tutorials: 12 hours
  • Assessment hours (exams): 4 hours
  • Study of compulsory literature (approximately 7 pages / hour): 64 hours
  • Completing assignments, preparing for classes and exams: 36 hours

Assessment method

Assessment

  • Midterm Exam:
    Written examination with 5 open questions / essay questions.
  • Final Exam:
    Written examination with 5 open questions / essay questions.

Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of Tutorial grade, Midterm Exam grade, and Final Exam grade.
  • The weighted average of the Midterm Exam grade and the Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.
  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.

Resit

If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the weighted average of Midterm- and Final Exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier Midterm- and Final Exam grades. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2018 – 2019.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

  • Literature will be announced on Blackboard before the start of the course.

Registration

  • Enrolment through uSis for Tutorials and Lectures is mandatory.
  • Students will be enrolled for Exams by the Administration Office, provided they have a valid Tutorial enrolment.

  • General information about uSis is available here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact

Dr. S. Moody
L. van Kessel MA

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number, and tutorial group number.