Academic year
2023/2024 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LMJ290 (AF:459899 AR:250156)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
Go to Moodle page
The course is part of the graduate degree in American, European, and Postcolonial Languages and Culture, Language Sciences and Comparative International Relations (American curriculum). Its aim is to provide students advanced skill in and knowledge about the analysis of American culture through a multidisciplinary approach. Students are expected to develop autonomous critical skills and to be able to analyze and contextualize heterogeneous textual and visual cultural material, using a specific critical vocabulary.
This is an Advanced course in American cultural studies with the following learning goals:
a) development of students' critical skills by stimulating the elaboration of original ideas within a specific area of study
c) building students' analytical skills by adopting a multi- and interdisciplinary approach
d) development of independent and autonomous study through the possibility of personal research to be presented to the class.
Advanced knowledge of written and spoken English.
Ability to enrich the syllabus through individual research of material and independent study
This course will examine how the battle for different types of rights has defined the history of the United States. We will start from classic examples in American politics and culture, such as the Declaration of Independence, in which the British colonies asserted their rights to emancipate from British “tyranny”, and Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”, to continue with an examination on black subjects' civil and human rights through the question of abolitionism in the 19th century and African American political struggle in the 20th century. Through Malcolm X’s and Stokely Carmichael’s political speeches we will question whether the fight for civil and human rights coincides with a right to violence. After this initial focus on how the question of rights is linked to issues of race in the US, we will continue with some examples about women’s rights (Truth) and the Seneca Falls Convention; worker’s rights and socialism (The Jungle); and we will conclude with the discussion of environmental rights at the beginning of the 21st century by analyzing the novels How Much of These Hills Is Gold and The Secret History of Las Vegas.
Declaration of Independence, extract
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience (Norton)
Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave Is 4th of July?” (free online)
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Norton, selected chapters)
Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet” (free online)
Stokely Carmichael, “Black Power” (free online)
Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?” (Norton)
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle. Chapters 3, 9, 29.
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
C Pam Zhang, How Much of These Hills Is Gold
a) Final oral exam of about 30 minutes. Students must be able to discuss a topic thoroughly. Every student is asked 3 questions (specific or broad) on 3 different topics, which the students must use to organize their critical discourse on the themes of the course. The questions may be the comment of a text, a precise date/title/etc., or a broad investigation of a topic. The exam is not thought of as a test but as a critical discussion, whose aim is the assessment of the learning goals (knowledge of the historical and critical frame and of the texts; comparative and analytical skills; independent thought; communicative skills).
Primary and secondary sources are mandatory.

b) Participation during classes is highly encouraged and will be evaluated positively. Attendance is not mandatory; however, your active participation to the discussions and conversations in class is a fundamental contribution to the seminar.
Seminar with class debates/discussions and active participation by students.
Please, check the announcements on the professor's page and on Moodle. Remember also to active and daily check your institutional mail (

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Climate change and energy" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 08/02/2024