Course title:

Introduction to American Studies

Странознание САЩ


Tutor: Milena Katsarska


Mode of delivery: Face-to-face lectures and seminars, discussions, screenings of documentaries, tutoring, independent work, guided reading

Course place and status within the program


This is a core course runs for all majors containing an English component and its contact hours and credit workload varies according to different degrees.


For English Studies students: The course comprises 45 academic hours of contact hours (both lectures and seminars) during the Spring Term (Second term) of the academic year for second year students and awards 4 credits.


For Applied Linguistics (English and another language) and Linguistics and IT (English and another language): The course comprises 30 contact hours in lectures and seminars and runs in the Spring Term for first year students, awarding 3 credits.


For Applied Linguistics where English is a Second Foreign Language: The course is for second year students during the Fall Term and comprises 30 contact hours, awarding 4 credits.


Note: Lists of readings for different majors may vary, according to linguistic competence and credit weight


Competence expectations


Students taking this course are expected to


  1. have an advanced to proficiency level of English (upper-intermediate where English is a Second Foreign Language)

  2. be interested in American Culture Studies


A useful background to the course are previous courses in any of the following: Introduction to British Studies, Critical Theory, Critical Reading and Writing


Aims and objectives of the course


This course provides students with an introduction to key concepts in the interdisciplinary approach to American Studies and a general awareness of its disposition as a field. The focus will be upon trans-historical ideas that have structured the ideological field of the American imaginary, while at the same time enabling students to discuss and analyze their manifestations in texts of a variety of genres: fiction, philosophical essays, policy documents, court cases, etc.


By the end of the course, students will have:


  • become familiar with some of the most important and influential concepts in American history and culture, as well as with some of the major cultural events in American history

  • acquired a sense of the development of American ideology over the course of its history

  • acquired a repertoire of relevant terms and improved their ability to apply them

  • improved their ability to analyze ideological formations and debates, particularly with regard to race, class, and gender

  • improved written and oral presentation skills, especially with a view to reading texts within their contexts of production and circulation from a historical perspective


Course requirements

To successfully complete the course, students should:


  1. attend seminar discussions regularly

  2. watch all the assigned documentary film texts in the course

  3. complete their reading assignments on a weekly basis (about 10-20 pages per week)

  4. take an end-term Quiz

  5. sit for an exam


Mode of assessment


Active participation in seminar discussions and occasional oral presentations on a given topic/text – 40%

Quiz – 40%

Exam – Essay discussion 20% (the first two may lead to exam exemption)




Core books:

Mauk, David & John Oakland. American Civilization: An Introduction. 5th edition, NY & London: Routledge, 2010.

Urofsky, Melvin I. ed. Basic Readings in US Democracy. USIA, 1994.

McDonogh, Gary W., Robert Cregg, and Cindy H. Wong, eds. Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Culture. London & New York: Routledge, 2005.


General reading:

Campbell, Neil, Jude Davies & George McKay, eds. Issues in Americanization and Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.

Campbell, Neil & Alasdair Kean. American Cultural Studies: An Introduction to American Culture. NY & London: Routledge, 2005.

Cincotta, Howard, ed. An Outline of American History. Washington DC: USIA, 1999.

Horwitz, Richard P. The American Studies Anthology. Washington, Delaware: A Scholarly Resources Inc. Imprint, 2001.

Kroes, Rob. If You've Seen One, you've Seen the Mall: Europeans and American Mass Culture. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.

Lane, Jack & Maurice O'Sullivan, eds. A Twentieth Century American Reader. Vol. 1 (1900-1945) & vol. 2 (1945 – present) Washington DC: USIA, 2000, 2002.

Sardar Ziaudin & Merryl Wyn Davies. Why Do People Hate America? London: Icon Books, 2002.


Electronic Sources:

Youtube series Crash Course in US History, hosted by John Greene

American Corner at Plovdiv University website:

Washington State University resources in American Studies:

USIA electronic publications: