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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.

These themes are:

  • 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 four senior researchers, one Rosalind Franklin Fellow, and three 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 Mabel Wale

    The topics are fascinating, the teaching first-class, and the seminar format challenging yet exciting

    After completing my Bachelor's degree in Social and Political Sciences at The University of Cambridge, I was interested in continuing with my studies; however, the astronomical fees charged by UK universities meant that it was not a practical option to do so at home. The significantly lower rates of tuition in The Netherlands, combined with The University of Groningen's strong international reputation and welcoming attitude to foreign students made studying here a very appealing option.

    I chose a Master's in American Studies because it allowed me to work once again in an interdisciplinary environment – something which I really valued during my undergraduate degree, while focusing on America - the most fascinating, diverse and exciting place in the world. I had high expectations of the course when I began, but it has managed to far exceed them. The topics are fascinating, the teaching first-class, and the seminar format challenging yet exciting. The faculty staff really make an effort to get to know all of the Master's students individually, take a keen interest in their progress, and go out of their way to provide them with all the help they could need. It's this that really makes the American Studies Master's program in Groningen so exceptional.

    – Mabel Wale
  • Testimonial van Taran Draper

    The Americas have always peeked my curiosity with its similarities and stark differences to European cultures.

    My name is Taran Draper, and I am a recent graduate of the Bachelor of American Studies and 1st year student of the Master North American Studies. After having lived abroad for my entire life, yet being Dutch and having family throughout the Netherlands, I decided to come study at the University of Groningen and pursue a degree in American Studies. I enjoy reading, writing, watching all the latest TV shows and most of all following American politics.

    A fascinating culture

    American Studies matches my interests precisely because for me the U.S. and its wide variety of inhabitants are the source of many into questions from an outsiders perspective. The Americas have always peeked my curiosity with its similarities and stark differences to European cultures. The U.S. is also the source of many cultural aspects of our everyday lives and the study of how this culture has evolved helps us understand elements of modern day life. The Masters program gives you the opportunity not only to learn more about this fascinating culture but also to develop your skills in academic writing and critical thinking.

    – Taran Draper
  • Testimonial van Pirmin Olde Weghuis

    Liaison Officer Europe at VH Strategies

    During my Master's degree programme in American Studies I gained a lot of knowledge about the United States. I also improved my research, writing and spoken English skills. This is of great benefit in my current work for an American political consultant. I deal with transatlantic issues and developments in American politics on a daily basis.

    What attracted me to the Master’s programme in American Studies was that you learn how to critically analyse culture, history and politics. Following this programme also gave me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of two areas that interest me: the history of the American Revolution and American political culture.

    The Lantos Congressional Fellowship was a major highlight for me. In my six months as Lantos Fellow I worked for Congresswoman Napolitano in the House of Representatives. It was a fantastic experience to be able to walk round right at the heart of American democracy. 

    I also did an exchange at Central Michigan University. This too was one of the best experiences of my studies. Although I really enjoy my current work in American politics, in the future I would like to study for a second Master’s degree at a top university in the United States. 

    – Pirmin Olde Weghuis
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