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Introduction to the cultural history of the USA

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 2


This seminar will be divided into two segments of unequal length. The first one (weeks 1 to 4) will address methodological concerns and focus on the nature and specificity of cultural history as distinct from other types of history. It will highlight the diversity of objects that can be studied through the lens of cultural history but also some specific notions resorted to by cultural historians (such as agents, constructivism, memory, practices, representations).

The second segment (weeks 5 to 12) will concentrate on a number of topics and issues emblematic of the cultural history of the United States, introduced every week by means of assigned readings.

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Contrôle des connaissances

  • Students attending classes: oral participation in classes (40%) + two written assignments (60%).
  • Other students : oral exam testing the knowledge and understanding of Avila’s and Kempf’s books as well as the documents used in class discussions during the term.
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Informations complémentaires

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles. 

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All students are expected to read the two following books in order to acquire a panoramic knowledge of the United States’ cultural history from the 18th to 21st centuries:

  • Eric AVILA, American Cultural History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford UP, 2018).
  • Jean KEMPF, Une Histoire culturelle des États-Unis (Armand Colin, 2015).


Complementary readings:

  • Christopher BIGSBY, Cambridge Companion to Modern American Culture (Cambridge UP, 2006)
  • Claude S. FISCHER, Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character (University of Chicago Press, 2010)
  • Michael KAMMEN, American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the 20th Century (NY : Basic Books, 1999).
  • Lawrence W. LEVINE, The Unpredictable Past: Explorations in American Cultural History (Oxford UP, 1993)
  • Janice A. RADWAY et al. (eds.), American Studies: An Anthology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)
  • Daniel ROYOT, Jean-Loup BOURGET, Jean-Pierre MARTIN, Histoire de la culture américaine (PUF, 1993).
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