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Why American Studies? Why Here?

American Studies is an interdisciplinary project bringing together multiple academic perspectives to analyze North American and particularly US-American cultures of the past and present. In practice that means that key cultural forms such as the novel are analyzed within broader social, historical, and medial contexts rather than in isolation. Such work draws on and further develops expertise in literary studies, but also cultural and media studies as well as history, political theory, ethnic and gender studies, to name just a few of the disciplines that can be brought into conversation with each other within an American Studies framework.   

Students choosing an emphasis in American Studies within their undergraduate degree programs - Bachelor and Lehramt - or further graduate studies - Master of Arts "English-Speaking Cultures" or Doctoral Programs - acquire focused and systemic knowledge of the United States. At the same time, they gain insight into the larger global dynamics that American cultures have participated in and decisively shaped in the last centuries. American Studies dissertation projects are generally anchored within the framework of the Graduate School of Humanities. Our doctoral students are well-represented in the interdisciplinary Environmental Humanities Class, led by American Studies chair Prof. Dr. Catrin Gersdorf, and the Philososophie, Sprache und Künste Class.

In keeping with this double focus on the national specificity of the United States, on the one hand, and its international entanglements, on the other, research and teaching in American Studies at Würzburg investigate key challenges of modernity such as the transformation of culture and society in the human-made geological age of the anthropocene, human rights in the context of global mobility and exploitation, and media change as a motor of human connection as well as disconnection in the contemporary moment.

American Studies students in Würzburg actively participate in this exploration of modernity and its challenges from their first semester on. Student involvement and collaborative teaching formats are key to our pedagogical approach. In the last semesters Würzburg students have joined established scholars and networked with students across the globe to explore key historical and contemporary issues. Recent cooperative international seminars include: "Monuments and Memory” (a collaborative seminar with Flagler College Florida and JMU Regional History within the framework of WueGlobal / DAAD IVAC-Initiative, Summer Term 2021),  “The Green Atlantic Revis(it)ed: Irish, American, and Irish-American New Historical Fiction (a collaborative seminar with University College Cork within the framework of WueGlobal / DAAD IVAC-Initiative, Summer Term 2021), and“#BlackLivesMatters and Human Rights" (JMU seminar in dialogue with parallel seminars at the University of California at Merced and Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, Senegal, Winter Term 2018/2019). Students are also an integral part of the international conferences and symposia organized by American Studies such as the Challenges of Modernity Summer Symposium “Climate | Changes | Global Perspectives” within the framework of WueGlobal / DAAD IVAC-Initiative, August 2021) and further academic events.

Qualification in American Studies paves the way for a variety of careers, including journalism and media work, cultural and arts management, public relations, publishing, advertising, international business and administration as well as teaching.

If you are interested in joining the American Studies community at the JMU Würzburg as a student, please feel free to contact any member of our teaching team during their office hours for further information on our program and approach. During the semester breaks, faculty members offer student advisory services for prospective students as well as for students already studying in Würzburg. General information on requirements, deadlines, and further bureaucratic specifics for applying to the JMU Würzbug can be found under "Studying in Würzburg." Information on English and American Studies in Würzburg can be found under "Studienfächer/Anglistik" and also on the English & American Studies Department page.