Institute of English Languages and Literatures

Frequently Asked Questions - M.A. American Studies

Where can I get help?

You can either come to the Helpdesk or make an appointment with one of the professors in American Studies (Michael Butter, Astrid Franke, Horst Tonn-Meller).

What courses should I choose in the Core Curriculum?

Two things are important: first, make sure to pick seminars offered by the American Studies department (you can find these on ALMA); second, one seminar needs to cover a topic before the Civil War (for the AMS-MA 02 module) and one a topic after the Civil War (for the AMS-MA 04 module).

What is a workgroup?

You will participate in two workgroups: in the modules on American Literature/Culture before and after the Civil War (AMS-MA 02 and 04). The workgroups will be supervised and coordinated by the instructors of the seminars you've chosen in these modules, so make sure to discuss your workgroup with them at the start of the class. Workgroups consist of small groups of students who explore different dimensions of the topic of the class in further detail. Workgroups are completed with a collective form of coursework such as a website, an exhibition, a map, or an annotated bibliography. Of course, workgroups are free to pursue other ideas in consultation with their instructor.

Which modules in the Core Curriculum end with an oral exam?

The modules on American Literature and Culture (AMS-MA 01) and Theory (AMS-MA 03) both end with a 30-minute oral exam covering both the seminar and the lecture you've chosen for the modules. The instructor of the seminar normally conducts the oral exam.

How does the final oral exam work?

The final oral exam is worth 10 ECTS points and lasts 1 hour. Normally, the supervisor of your M.A. thesis will conduct the oral exam. The oral exam will cover three broad themes that you and your supervisor will select: at least one of these themes needs to cover the period before the Civil War and at least one of these themes needs to cover the period after the Civil War. In addition, one theme needs to have a clear Literary Studies focus and one theme needs to have a clear Cultural Studies focus. You will prepare a reading list on these three themes.

How can I use the Practice Module?

You have several options:

  1. You can do an internship of at least 6 weeks (full-time). Please check with one of the student advisors or professors to make sure your internship is suitable. You can go to the university's Praxisportal for internship opportunities.
  2. You can apply to become a tutor in the English department and teach a tutorial to undergraduate students for one semester.
  3. You can apply to become a tutor in the Research and Writing Center for one semester.

To finish the Practice Module, you will write a 1,500 word report, discussing your initial expectations, your tasks/activities, any problems you encountered (and how you dealt with them), and the lessons you've learned.

What is the Research Colloquium?

In the third semester of your studies you will start participating in the colloquium. In the colloquium, staff members, guests and students will present research proposals, drafts of talks and articles, chapters of dissertations or books, etc. Once you have started working on your M.A. thesis, you will present your own outline or introduction to the members of the colloquium in order to get feedback.