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American Studies

Research Approach and Themes

The research carried out by the Department of American Studies, by and large, mirrors the main concentrations in our educational agenda. At the heart of our research efforts, and hence of our curriculum, are three separate themes:

  • Early American culture and history  
  • Contemporary socio-political issues 
  • Popular culture and media studies 

Given the nature of American Studies, the key distinguishing feature of our research as well as in our teaching is that it is truly  interdisciplinary in approach in which the individual researchers actively work  across  different disciplines and methodologies as opposed to, for example, research on American topics carried out in the History Department, which would generally reflect historical approaches only. 

The same is true for our teaching agenda: individual teachers are required to be versatile in more than one discipline as all major survey courses combine a range of disciplinary areas, approaches, methodologies, and data sets. Aligned with our teaching practices, our research is generally problem-driven as well as theory-driven. That is to say, we explore specific issues that are controversial, contested, or under-investigated, and then seek to resolve these issues through the generalization of our findings, incorporating elements associated with both the structure and the process of the phenomena we study. Among the themes we are currently exploring are: 

  • Contemporary migration and mobility issues in the Americas 
  • Alliance cultures in the modern media landscape 
  • Cultural memory and popular culture 
  • Circum-Atlantic reconstructions the era of the eighteenth-century Revolutions 
  • Transnational perspectives on the idea of “America” and the Americas (both in historical and contemporary contexts)

Research Team and Projects

Within the Department of American Studies, research is facilitated by five senior researchers and four PhD students. Please visit the Faculty Roster and the Faculty Projects sections of the Departmental website to view a listing of current American Studies faculty members and their individual research initiatives.

  • Testimonial van

    You have the possibility to choose courses that fit your interests

    'I had a hard time finding a bachelor program, until I read about the American Studies program in Groningen. As I am quite fascinated by the United States, the program looked appealing to me, especially because it is the only three-year American Studies bachelor program in the Netherlands and, moreover, is fully taught in English.

    Personally, I think that it is great that although you have to take mandatory courses, you also have the possibility to choose courses that fit your personal interests. I really liked 'The Americas' courses so far, in particular The Americas II, in which you learn more about themes I knew little about, like The Frontier and Slavery. You will only have six classes a week as a first-year student, but that means that you will have to read a lot of material each week on your own. The American Studies department is relatively small, so you will get to know many of your fellow students in your year pretty soon. Joining the student association is also a great way to get to know older students too. They may be able to give you tips as well!'

  • Testimonial van

    The program is a unique combination of American history, politics, theory and culture

    'The first time I heard of an American Studies program was a sheer coincidence, however, when I learned more about the program, I knew that this study was the perfect match. The American Studies program, here at the RUG, not only forces me to speak as much English as possible, but it is also a unique combination of history, politics, theory and culture.

    Moreover, the program offers an exchange program with America and gives me the opportunity to get to know the American culture. I am also participating in a minor in Journalism, and I was chosen to participate in the Honours College of the RUG. Besides this, I am also a member of the American Studies student association, EPU, and worked in the Almanac committee. Being part of EPU and the Honours College is a great experience for me, it is the perfect opportunity to get to know new and interesting people, and helps you to broaden your horizon. I am very proud that I have the opportunity to go to UNC-Chapel Hill; it is one of the rare chances in life that can make a difference!

    After finishing my bachelor, I would like to follow the international Journalism Master here at the RUG. I have fallen in love with Groningen and its great mixture of big city life and small-town cosy atmosphere!'

  • Testimonial van

    My internship broadened my horizon and increased my employability

    'The American Studies program (and a minor in film and television) allowed me to explore my interest in American popular culture. During my MA, I decided to look for an internship to put into practice what I had learnt during my studies and to broaden my horizon.

    I interned for five months at the marketing, promotions and publicity department of Universal Pictures International Netherlands. UPI NL handles the distribution of cinematic releases of films by Universal Pictures and Paramount in the Netherlands, and during my internship I worked on films such as Super 8, Captain America: The First Avenger, Johnny English Reborn, Puss in Boots, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax and American Pie: Reunion. I would definitely recommend every American Studies MA student to do an internship because it hugely increases one's employability. At the end of my own internship at Universal Pictures, I was offered a job as marketing assistant. In this capacity I maintain social network sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Hyves, arrange promotional contests in magazines and websites, do translations, look for promotional partners, and help organize premieres. My workdays are never exactly the same as we work on many different projects and many different films at the same time.

  • Testimonial van Robert Lagestee

    I fell in love with the U.S. and its (political) culture

    – Robert Lagestee
  • Testimonial van

    The program deals with Latin America, Canada and the U.S. in an international context.

    "The American Studies program at the University of Groningen especially appealed to me after having lived in the United States for a year. My favourite course in the first semester introduced me to theories that I can also apply to other cultures, not only the U.S. What I like in particular is that the program does not only cover the United States, but also deals with Latin America, Canada and the U.S. in an international context.

    There is a substantial amount of independent work, but in the American Studies department you are not only a number. The contact with instructors is very personal because of small seminar groups. Working independently and managing the workload myself also gives me the opportunity to do sports and other things at different times of the day. Groningen is a great city for Dutch and international students because you can follow your study program and develop your athletic and/or cultural interests simultaneously."

  • Testimonial van Constantijn van den Hoorn

    I have a passion for everything to do with America

    My name is Constantijn van den Hoorn, and I’m a second-year Bachelor’s student of American Studies. After completing senior general secondary education, I decided I wanted to get my propaedeutic certificate as quickly as possible at a university of applied sciences, in order to then transfer to a university to study my dream programme: American Studies. My biggest hobby is writing, so I write for The American Studies Herald , published by the E Pluribus Unum study association. I have a passion for everything to do with America, from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Hillary Rodham Clinton. I follow American politics and watch C-SPAN in my spare time.

    Why American Studies

    American Studies matches my interests precisely. For years I’ve been fascinated by American history, the country’s politics circus and its wider culture. The best TV series and films come from America, and it's always fascinating to see the influence the United States has on the rest of the world. I grasp every opportunity I get to travel to America, and my love for the country even resulted in my living in Hollywood for a couple of months at one point. American Studies gives you the opportunity to study the entire American continent and to examine events critically, as well as teaching you to construct sound arguments.

    Read more about Constantijn and why he chose to study American Studies in Groningen.

    Questions? Send Constantijn an email.

    – Constantijn van den Hoorn
  • Testimonial van Daniel John O'Neill

    You do not pay for your degree; you are expected to earn it.

    The choice to study in Groningen was not easy, but it was a decision that has changed my life and moulded me into an ambitious, active, and adaptable student. I wanted to experience something very different to what many of my peers would experience. I have developed into a more independent student and grown very mature at a young age through my time in Groningen.

    Academic and personal supports for international students at the University of Groningen have only developed and improved since I first arrived in 2012. From the International Student Office to monthly faculty borrels (a term you will become familiar with and happy to hear after hard day’s work) to the endlessly friendly and approachable staff members, your exciting new educational journey will be made more manageable and enjoyable throughout your time as a student.

    However, you are still expected to be independent and innovative. By paying considerably less tuition fees than the average university student in the United Kingdom, you will sometimes feel the pressures to give more of yourself in your studies, and you will soon realise why the University of Groningen remains one of the top universities in the world: do not let the relatively low grade admission requirements fool you. The dropout or failure rate in my course, for instance, is high. You do not pay for your degree; you are expected to earn it. In the long-term, however, this is hugely beneficial, and something that employers will greatly appreciate.

    Read more about Daniel and his student life in Groningen.

    – Daniel John O'Neill
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