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Course Description

English / North American Studies

Studying English/North American Studies in Germany

An article by Gabriele Meister. Cooperation from: Manuel Opitz

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That is what it's about

They read Jane Austen and James Baldwin or analyse how English is spoken in South Africa and India: English and American students are scientifically involved with the literature, culture and language of English-speaking societies. English Studies focus on Great Britain and the Commonwealth. American Studies focus on the USA, Canada and the Caribbean and at some universities also African countries. In addition, research is growing across disciplinary boundaries. For example: "Environmental Humanities" looks at how climate debates are reflected in English-language literature and art. Graduates go on to work in cultural institutes or foundations, for example, but also in publishing houses or in the communications departments of global companies.

This is how the course runs

In most cases, English and American Studies are offered in combination, often as "English and American Studies" or "British and American Studies". As a rule, the course is divided into literary studies, cultural studies, linguistics and language practice. Literary studies deal with the history and theory of texts, from medieval Beowulf to the contemporary social novel The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson.

Cultural studies, among others, is about how books and films shape identities, everyday and protest cultures. In linguistics, students learn how the English language is constructed and how it is used, examining its evolution and consider how English differs in different regions and between social groups. In practical language courses, students can practise conversation in small groups or write essays in English. Stays abroad are not always compulsory, but they are highly recommended. Because of the pandemic, some of them were postponed.

The subject suits you,...

... you not only like to speak English or watch international films in English, but you are also interested in the cultures of other countries and enjoy theoretical thinking. "Those who come to university to study English are not just learning a foreign language. We deal scientifically with language, literature and culture," says Catrin Gersdorf, professor of American studies at the University of Würzburg and managing director of the German Association for American Studies. Many first-year students are surprised, he says, when they must deal not only with literature but also with abstract theories, for example on linguistic structures.

In addition, you should be interested in global developments. American and English Studies students also study, for example, how immigrants from former English colonies such as India shape contemporary Britain. Approximately 70 percent of the students are women.

Is there a numerus clausus?

The majority of courses do not have admission restrictions (numerus clausus). If there are course admission restrictions, they are often in the two to three grade range. Student teachers must usually have a 1 grade before the decimal point. In some cases a Latinum is required or you are required to prove your knowledge of a second modern foreign language. Some universities require aptitude tests.