Anglo-American Cultures

A.Y. 2016/2017
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Focusing on the literary and non-literary works, films, art forms, discourses and cultural practices which inform and characterize the current expressions of, and debate on North-American national, racial and cultural identities against the backdrop of the continent's history and global scope, this course aims to enhance the students' knowledge and understanding of these themes, which are central concerns in our experience of contemporaneity. This aim is pursued through the methodological and critical tools of cultural studies, which privilege an understanding of ideological and socio-spatial relations, as well as a multicultural and interdisciplinary approach. The course is meant to foster active participation from the students, so as to enhance, beside their English speaking skills, their ability to make judgements and recognize the differences and connections among divergent forms, genres, and cultures.

Objectives include:
- Knowledge and understanding - Students will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- a range of cultural practices, productions (visual art, films, writing, performances), and literary texts, primarily in English
- the most relevant approaches of Cultural Studies on contemporary American issues and contexts
- historical, political, social, and cultural contextualization of the contemporary practices and events taken as case study

- Definitions and revisions of US identity, cultures and role in the world against a multicultural and multi-ethnic social reality: issues of inclusion and exclusion; the American Dream; American imaginaries and their representation across multiple public spheres and in literature, film, art, and music.
Depending on the specific focus of the programmes, a variety of other relevant notions and issues may be presented and analysed. These include, but not exclusively:
- power, ideology, hegemony and the ways they are reflected in cultural phenomena
- issues of identity, alterity, difference, hybridity, hyphenated identities
- race, ethnicity, multiculturalism, and cosmopolitanism
- the conditions of cultural production and consumption
- the discourses and practices of consensus and resistance

Applying knowledge and understanding - Students will apply their acquired knowledge and understanding to:
- close read and analyse cultural productions and literary texts
- select and synthesise relevant information
- debate and discuss relevant texts and issues in the class and in groups
- produce brief oral or written work, and powerpoint presentations, consistent with the topics of the course

- Making judgements - Students will acquire the following skills relevant to making judgements:
- adopt intercultural and plural perspectives of analysis
- develop analytical and critical attitudes towards cultural productions and literary texts
- draw comparisons and establish connections between the various contexts under scrutiny and their own situated experience

- Communication skills - The course will enable students to:
- present their own work to an audience of peers
- organise and structure group work among peers
- use IT technology to support both academic work and networking

- Learning skills - Through active participation and independent work, students will be able to:
- undertake further study with a higher degree of intellectual curiosity, autonomy, and ability to discriminate
- transfer the acquired skills to related fields of analysis
- apply a methodological approach to future research and activities
Expected learning outcomes
Acquired knowledge and skills will match the objectives of the course by allowing students to select, contextualise, critically analyse, evaluate and discuss the thematic threads, the cultural practices, discourses and productions of contemporary North America showing an awareness of their historical, political, social and cultural contextualizations. This will be done from a variety of perspectives and using the methodological approaches of Cultural Studies.
Beside consolidating their skills in comprehension, and oral and written English, students will acquire interdisciplinary methodological and cultural tools for discussing and analyzing cultural, political and media discourses and practices, fictional and non-fictional texts, visual culture, documentaries and films. The acquisition of these skills will be fostered by encouraging active participation and dialogue, and by enabling the students to draw comparisons between the American context and their own situated experience of being Italians and citizens of the world, so as to facilitate forms of engagement with the issues and challenges of the present.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Teaching Unit 1
Course syllabus
Module 1 - " 'God bless America': the American Presidency and US presidential rhetoric in the run up to the 2016 election"
Keeping on track the approaching US presidential election, which will take place in Autumn 2016, and the result of which will be discussed during the lectures, module 1 will address the institutional and cultural evolution of the figure of the US President and its symbolic meanings, along with the contextual changes in presidential rhetoric. After a brief survey of the main characteristics of some iconic presidents of the past, the course will focus on George W. Bush's rhetoric of the "war on terror" and the controversial social and symbolic imaginaries embodied by the presidency of Barack Obama.
Teaching Unit 2
Course syllabus
Module 2 - "Representations of US Presidents and the dynamics and imaginaries of presidential power in US films and TV series"
Module 2 will focus on film and TV representations of real and fictional US Presidents, addressing, in particular, the way power is managed, communicated and exerted by Presidents and their advisers, and the revolving-door system connecting the White House and the media. Special attention will be given to works directed since the 1990's.

Study material and readings: Module 2
· James R. Keller, "The Vice in Vice President: House of Cards and the Morality Tradition", Journal of Popular Film and Television, 43:3, 2015, pp. 111-120
· Mario Klarer, "Putting television 'aside': novel narration in House of Cards", New Review of Film and Television Studies, 12:2, 2015, pp. 203-220
· Alice J. Marianne Fritz, "The West Wing and House of Cards: A Comparison of Narrative Strategies of Two Politically-themed Dramas", Colloquy, 11, 2015, pp. 126-152.

· Analyses of excerpts taken from films featuring US Presidents and from the TV series "House of Cards" and "The West Wing". A list will be published on the Ariel website after the beginning of the course.

· Slides and files available on the Ariel website of the course.
Teaching Unit 3
Course syllabus
Module 3 - "Rapping against the machine: Hip hop as counter-culture"
(Dott. Claudia Gualtieri)

The module will discuss hip hop as a voice of resistance against the "machine" of power. First, in order to situate hip hop within a theoretical frame, a general overview of cultural and subcultural studies will be offered. Then, the historical and situational conditions for the birth of hip hop in North American cultures will be presented, with a particular focus on African-American, Indigenous North American, and working class cultural productions. The global language of hip hop -- expressed through rapping, writing, and dancing -- will be analysed as individual and group strategy of resistance against hegemonic forms of cultural assimilation and social marginalisation in special and unique contexts of expression and production. In conclusion, cultural examples will be offered from music, street art, break dance, body art, and visual arts. A critical view will be offered in order to focus on the contradictions as well as the fascination of hip hop for young generations.
Conferences by guest speakers will be part of the programme for students attending the course. Materials will be available on the ARIEL website of the course.
The module will be taught IN ENGLISH.

Study material and readings: Module 3
· Pedretti, Roberto e Vivan, Itala. Dalla lambretta allo skateboard: Teorie e storia delle sottoculture giovanili (1950-2000), Milano: Unicopli, 2009, pp. 7-75.
· Porfilio, Brad J. et al. & Viola, M. Eds, "Ending the 'War against Youth': Social Media and Hip Hop Culture as Sites of Resistance, Transformation and (Re) Conceptualization", The Journal of Critical Education Policy Studies, vol. 11, 4, 2013, pp. 85-105.
· "Hip Hop Archive"
· "Beat Nation: Hip hop as indigenous culture"
· "Claiming space: Voices of urban aboriginal youth"
· Course notes and materials on the ARIEL website of the course.
Teaching Unit 1
Course syllabus
The same as for attending students.

Students are welcome, if they wish, to replace the study material and readings of module 1 with the following:
· Jonathan Charteris-Black, Politicians and Rhetoric: The Persuasive Power of Metaphor, 2nd edition, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Ch. 4 (Martin Luther King - pp. 79-108); ch. 10 (George W. Bush and the Rhetoric of Moral Accounting - pp. 251-279); ch. 11 (Barack Obama and the Myth of the American Dream - pp. 280-310). N.B.: these sections are missing in the 2005 edition, students have to read the 2011 edition of the book.
Teaching Unit 2
Course syllabus
The same as for attending students. Students are welcome, if they wish, to replace the film, television and audiovisual material with the following additional essay:
· MatthieuQueloz, "The Janus Face at the Edge of the Frame: Breaking the Fourth Wall in House of Cards", pp. 1-13
Teaching Unit 3
Course syllabus
The programme is the same as for attending students.
Study materials and suggestions will be available on the ARIEL website of the course. Conference by guest speakers will NOT be part of the programme.
Teaching Unit 1
Lessons: 20 hours
Teaching Unit 2
Lessons: 20 hours
Teaching Unit 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Professor: Gualtieri Claudia