This course in American Studies help to develop an understanding of the forces that have moulded and continue to shape America, and helps us to make sense of our contemporary world. The comparative study of the history and culture of the United States addresses themes such as immigration, democracy, slavery, imperialism, multiculturalism, religion, the economy and, more recently, terrorism. These issues do not just concern the past; they are directly relevant to the world we live in.
The Department of Political and Cultural Studies (PCS) boasts a dynamic research environment with a committed staff all of whom are research-active. Academic members of staff have a very considerable range of research interests on which we offer supervision for research degrees in American Studies.
An MA by Research in American Studies gives you the chance to pursue a major research project based around your own passions and interests, leading to a qualification which can open the door to an academic career or boost employment prospects outside academia. It will give you the freedom to explore a topic of your choosing and develop a methodology under the close supervision of two experienced academics but without attending regular classes as required in taught programmes.
Typically, you will work closely with your supervisors, meeting them regularly, in many instances fortnightly, in the first term and at regular intervals thereafter. Meetings are logged and goals agreed each time.
Students enrolled in the MA by Research American Studies are required to attend skills and training courses at College and University level. You may also be expected to give presentations to other research students and staff at departmental seminars and attend the postgraduate conference of the College of Arts and Humanities which is held in October.
Research proposals are invited on any topic for which American Studies staff can provide supervision. It is a good idea to enter into discussions about your research project with the Department's Director of Postgraduate Research, Professor Roland Axtmann ([email protected]
), before drawing up an initial proposal and starting the application process.
At any one time, the department has over forty research students who work together with their supervisors on their projects.
Staff research interests cover the core disciplines of American Studies: literature, history, politics and film.
Particular research strengths include:
• American politics and government
• US foreign policy
• US “War on Drugs”
• The UN and international drugs policy
• Surveillance and urban America
• The American Civil War
• The American South
• The impact of war on American society
• Hollywood film and American society
• American ethnicity and multiculturalism
• African-American literature and culture
• The Harlem Renaissance
• The American West
• American crime fiction and film noir
• Contemporary American literature
• Silent cinema and popular culture
• Representations of the Vietnam War
American Studies is involved in collaborative research projects with several universities across the United States and there is a
programme of visiting speakers from Britain and the USA. Staff have written and edited book-length studies of American literature,
popular culture, modern poetry, war and memory, labour leaders, political processes and philosophy.
Our extensive library holdings support our research needs. A particular strength is the Allan Milne Collection of approximately
3,000 works pertaining to the American Civil War, which was gifted to American Studies in 2010 and continues to grow. One of the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom, the Milne Collection is particularly varied and boasts an impressive assemblage of primary
and secondary source materials that document many social, political, economic and military aspects of mid- to late-nineteenth
century American history and politics.
Research Institute for Arts and Humanities
The Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH) supports two major Research Centres, including the Callaghan Centre for the Study of Conflict, Power, Empire. The Callaghan Centre produces world-class research in the areas of conflict and security, empire and postcolonialism, ‘digital’ war, and conflict and culture. It also manages major Research Council funded projects, and promotes collaboration between scholars, policymakers and cultural providers. RIAH also supports a wide range of research groups, which provide a focus for specialist projects, postgraduate research, grant applications, seminar series, and contact with external partners.
Research groups include:
• CECSAM, the Centre for the Comparative Study of the Americas
• GENCAS, the Centre for Research into Gender in Culture and Society
All American Studies research students belong to the Graduate Centre in the College of Arts and Humanities. The Centre provides pastoral as well as administrative support and is also responsible for research skills training and support, and facilitating a lively intellectual environment for the College’s postgraduate research community of 200 students.