Holger Kersten
Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg
Institut für fremdsprachliche Philologien

Veranstaltungen im Wintersemester 2002/2003

Cultural Studies

HS: Immigration and Ethnicity
Tue 9-11 h
  It has often been said that America was built by immigrants. Between 1820 and 1979, more than 49 million immigrants came to the United States, attracted by reports of great economic opportunities and religious and political freedom. The influx of such a heterogeneous population created a tremendously dynamic society as well as a number of problems. – This course intends to outline the history of immigration to the United States with special emphasis placed on the social and political implications of this central issue in American culture. Course work will be based on readings from textbooks, historical documents, literary texts, and, to provide a context for the understanding of issues underlying the historical phenomenon, selected theories of ethnicity.
To facilitate the study of American immigration, prospective participants are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves in advance with the general aspects of this complex subject. Students wishing to sign up for this class should be aware that a significant amount of reading will have to be done during the entire semester. Since the individual sessions will be based on short oral presentations and an exchange of knowledge and viewpoints, active and informed participation is a basic requirement. Depending on the number of participants, an essay or a final exam may be required for a "Schein."

Introduction to American Studies
Tue 11-13 h
This class is designed as a general introduction to the study of American culture. Drawing upon a variety of cultural expressions such as literature, art, film, theater, architecture and music it aims at presenting a wide spectrum of American culture, including such issues as immigration, ethnicity, religion, gender, regionalism, and popular culture. Moreover, the course will introduce students to basic techniques of scholarly work. Course work will be based on Malcolm Bradbury and Howard Temperley, eds. Introduction to American Studies. 3rd ed. Harlow, Engl., etc: Longman, 1998

Literary Studies

PS: Great American Plays
Mon 13-15 h

Compared to other genres of American literature, American drama took a relatively long time to establish itself as a serious and artful contribution to world literature. When it reached its first climax, however, it did so with an impressive line of first-rate playwrights. This course is devoted to the classics of American theater, including such well-known plays as Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, and Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire. The purpose of the course is to familiarize students with significant American playwrights and their work as well as to introduce fundamental techniques of literary analysis. – The texts to be studied will be made available by the beginning of term.

Literary Studies

HS: Jack London
Mon 15-17

Although Jack London was one of the most popular and highest paid writers of his time, literary critics have mostly disregarded him in their studies. His range of themes seemed to be too limited, his writing style appeared to be artless, and his socialist tendencies made him suspect in a country that liked to think of itself as a classless society. In recent years, however, a new scholarly interest has revealed that the work of Jack London deserves attention for its psychological insights, its philosophical interests, and its effective literary style. A detailed look at three novels and a selection of short stories will provide students with an opportunity to appreciate the literary achievement of Jack London. – Students interested in signing up for this class should be willing to devote time and effort to the study of a significant amount of reading material. Moreover, participants will be required to work on a number of oral and written assignments, and to participate actively in in-class discussions.
The required reading, The Call of the Wild, The Sea Wolf, and The Iron Heel, is available in affordable paperback editions. Considering that the combined tasks of reading the novels and completing various assignments during the semester will put a significant strain upon prospective participants it is advisable to read the texts during the summer break. A selection of short stories will be made available in the course of the semester.