This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.
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.
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 developed and exercised include:
Basic research and written presentation skills:
- to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
- to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
- to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
- to explain clear and substantiated research results;
The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website
Mode of instruction
One two hour lecture per week; tri-weekly tutorials.
Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform the tutor of the course in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).
Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:
Atending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks: 24 hrs
Atending attending tutorials 2 hours per three weeks: 8 hrs
Assessment hours (midterms and final exam): 4 hrs
Time for studying the compulsory literature: 68 hrs
Time for completing assignments, preparation classes and exams: 36 hrs
- Written examination with essay questions
- Written examination with essay questions
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40 %
To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.
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.
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.
A selection of readings will be made available.
Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs