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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 Master Ambassador Stef Lage Venterink

    I did an internship at the Embassy in Washington, D.C. right in the political heart of the US

    Since last year, I have taken multiple classes that are engaging, motivating, critical and very informative. The groups are small, about twelve to fifteen people, and the professors are very much engaged with every single student and their projects. The classes are all seminars that are based on engaging group discussions. Usually students take three classes with a 3-hour seminar each week, which means that the remainder of the time is spent studying by yourself.

    The programme also offers students an opportunity to study abroad or do an internship, of which I have made use to intern at the Embassy in Washington, D.C. right in the political heart of the US. Friends of mine have been sent for internships to the Embassy in Ottawa, to the Consulate in New York, and to a law firm in San Francisco. So yes, you can find a job with this master’s.

    Read more about Stef Lage Venterink and why he chose to study American Studies in Groningen!

    Questions? Send Stef an e-mail!

    – Master Ambassador Stef Lage Venterink
  • Testimonial van

    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. 

  • 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
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