nl en

Culture North America


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


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

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • discuss different understandings of culture, race, and ethnicity in North America;

  • describe historical trends in immigration in North America and changing attitudes towards immigration;

  • analyze the role of race, gender, language, and social class in shaping the cultures of North America;

  • examine relations of dominance and subordination between diverse cultural groups in North America;
    identify the role of ideology in supporting and sustaining belief systems that favor established, dominant groups;
    Other skills to be trained include:
    Basic research and written presentation skills:

    1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
    2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
    3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
    4. to explain clear and substantiated research results;


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Lecture course with tutorials.
Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Course Load

Total course load for the course is 5 EC x 28 hours is 140 hours, broken down by:

Lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks =24 hours
Tutorials: 2 hours every 3 weeks (4 weeks) =8 hours
Reading: 35 pages per week (approximately 7 pages per hour) =60 hours
Assignments (including time for reading and research): =48 Hours
Total =140 hours

Assessment method

Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Paper 40%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

There will be a course packet/reader containing the required reading materials. Other reading materials will be available on Blackboard.


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


This course is co-taught with Inge ’t Hart.


Dr. S. Moody, email
I.M.W. t Hart, MPhil, email