European Studies SMLC HKU School of Modern Languages and Cultures HKU
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BA Course

Core Course
AMER1050 Foundations of American Studies, I: The origins of the nation 6 credits
This is the first of three Foundation courses in American Studies (including AMER2050 and AMER3050). It focuses on the historical period beginning with Columbus’s voyage and concluding with the Civil War. Our goal will be to develop a definition and understanding of American Culture by reading, viewing and discussing documents and images that are central to the theory and reality of the United States as a nation. Texts will include political and legal documents, novels, poems, an autobiography, a slave narrative, speeches, visual art and contemporary films. We will consider the ways in which the story of the United States has changed over time as we look for consistent ideas in what it means to be American. We will identify the authors’ various claims of American distinctiveness and evaluate these claims in relation to the legacies of slavery and Manifest Destiny in an international context. As we study the past, we will see how important it is to understand the present and thereby enrich our skills of interpreting contemporary literature, film and current political events. The course will also introduce theories of nationalism and print culture that students will find extremely useful in other courses and in interpreting the world today.
Assessment: 100% coursework.
(Offered in 2018/2019, 1st semester)

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