M.A. American History, Culture and Society
The master’s degree program American History, Culture and Society is a research-oriented and highly flexible program of study. It offers advanced knowledge on historical, social, cultural, literary, economic and political topics in the USA as well as Canada and encourages its students to develop and pursue individual research interests. In order to complete the 120 credit point program, nine modules have to be taken over the course of the first three semesters. The fourth semester is dedicated to writing the master’s thesis.
Faculty teaching in this program have particularly strong research credentials in the fields of history, literature, media and visual culture, popular culture, gender, race and ethnicity, technology, and cultural theory. Students developing research projects are encouraged to place them in a transatlantic, transnational or global framework and to use comparative or interdisciplinary approaches.
How we study the United States, Mexico and Canada
“America,” named after the Florentine navigator and adventurer Amerigo Vespucci, was not synonymous with the United States until well into the nineteenth century, but stood for the entire American continent—from Alaska to the southern tip of Chile. While the focus of the master’s program American History, Culture and Society lies on the United States, Mexico and Canada are also geographically part of North America. Thus, we offer expertise on both these countries as well, and beyond to the Caribbean and Latin America.
Some US states such as California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, much of Arizona, and Colorado belonged to the Spanish colonial empire for centuries, and subsequently Mexico, before being annexed by the United States. Today, Mexico and the United States are separated and connected by a 3,100-kilometer-long multi-ethnic border region that is also the habitat and cultural space of Indigenous Peoples. The US is a popular host country for refugees and migrants from Mexico and Central America. As a result, more than forty million people in the United States have Spanish as their first language. We accommodate this cultural diversity through our research and teaching. We offer courses on the US-Mexico border region and discuss the significant role of Latinas and Latinos in business, politics, and popular culture in the United States.
Since the United States is the traditional territory of numerous Indigenous Peoples, as a country of immigration, and as a former slave-owning society, it can be compared particularly well with Latin American states such as Cuba and Brazil. Courses in our study programs reflect this thematic and multi-perspective diversity. This unusual range in teaching and research, our understanding of the United States in a trans-American, transatlantic, and global context, also clearly distinguishes the profile of the “Amerika-Institut” at LMU Munich from other institutes of American Studies in the German-speaking world.
As a consequence, Canada and Canadian Studies are an integral part of teaching and research. Special attention is paid to the historically transatlantic, but also continental interconnections of Canada and the relationship of Indigenous Peoples to the Canadian state, as well as the aftermath of this complex history on the politics, society, and culture of contemporary Canada.
The history of Canada must be understood by also looking at the history of France and Great Britain, at the history of the expansion of imperial powers into the so-called “New World,” and the conflicts that arose from it. To this day, the British monarch is the head of state of the country, which grants the francophone province of Québec special status as a "nation within a nation." Separatist tendencies and cultural conflicts continued to shape Anglo-Franco-Canadian coexistence in twentieth-century Canada. Research at the institute on this is incorporated into the course program for more advanced students.
At the same time, the history of Canada is a history of the oppression of Indigenous Peoples. The history of residential schools, but also of treaties, the question of land ownership and belonging, citizenship and Indigenous sovereignty are still central to Canadian politics, culture, literature, and society today. Especially in relation to Indigenous Peoples, Canada is often perceived as more advanced in terms of its commitment to reconciliation than the US. We discuss such notions in more advanced seminars, as well as the issue of environmental injustice, which links the country's conflicted history to the present. Doctoral students working on these issues in their dissertations are regularly involved in teaching and are thus able to report to students on their current research.
In addition, looking beyond Canada's southern border to the US allows students to understand the country's history not only from its European interconnections and the nation's and provinces' treatment of Indigenous Peoples, but also from its constant efforts to distinguish itself from the United States. From the American Revolution to the cultural policies of the 1920s/30s and the politics of multiculturalism that began in the 1970s to today's visual campaigns, the history, culture, and literature of the two nations are closely intertwined. From a Canadian perspective, the US has too often been the proverbial “elephant in the room.” In our seminars, we examine the bilateral relationship between the US and Canada, both politically and culturally, focusing on transfer processes. The history of Canada thus ultimately appears as multiply integrated, both in continental and transatlantic contexts, which have shaped and continue to shape the idea of the “nation of Canada,” but also contribute to illuminating it critically.
The program consists of three basic modules: “American Studies,” “Literature and Media” and “History and Society.” Students can specialize in the fields of literary, media or historical studies, or they can combine them. They may also get up to 18 credit points in the third semester in a wide range of disciplines (e.g. history, literary studies, cultural studies, gender studies). For most of these programs excellent German language skills are needed and special requirements may apply. More detailed information about the program can be found here. Students wishing to enter the program need to meet certain requirements. More information on the application process can be found here.