ENG2533 – American Exceptionalism
The belief that the United States is unique and uniquely blessed – a land of freedom that all other countries seek to emulate -- is central to popular constructions of American nationality. This ideology, known as American Exceptionalism, is essential for understanding American history, politics, and foreign policy. Communities demand that American History teachers and textbooks support this ideology wholeheartedly and without question. Politicians who question this belief in the slightest put their careers at risk. Despite the popularity of Exceptionalism, there are many challenges to the ideology.
This course will study the origins, practices, and results of the ideology of American Exceptionalism. We will consider both aspects that support the notion and aspects that challenge it. The class will examine several distinct aspects/events of American history from this perspective. We will look at how popular culture supports this ideology. We will examine debates over history curriculum for different educational levels and discuss the goals that affect the teaching of national history to various age/grade levels.
After completing this course, you:
- understand the theoretical concept of American Exceptionalism,
- can analyze how Americans learn about the place of the United States within the world,
- can analyze popular culture forms and public history exhibits in light of exceptionalism,
- can analyze movie versions of history, that use exceptionalism,
- understand American educational and political debates and policies regarding patriotism and the teaching of American History,
- can analyze how identity politics (race, gender…) fits into and challenges the belief in American Exceptionalism,
- can demonstrate abilities in reading, writing and communicating in academic English, using appropriate tools for documenting your work ethically,
- can demonstrate analytical abilities in constructing a text in academic English.
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If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.
Recommended previous knowledge
It is recommended that you have attended ENG1506 – American Civilization or similar courses.
10 credits overlap with ENG4533 – American Exceptionalism
Seminar, two hours per week for 10 weeks, 20 hours in all.
- Attendance is obligatory on 8 out of 10 seminars. Additional absences must be justified by documentation. Read more about rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for approved absences or postponements here.
- There will be two obligatory classroom group activities. Read more about guidelines for obligatory activities.
- All obligatory activities must be approved in the same semester.
The exam consists of two parts:
- A term paper. You are required to write ca. 7 pages (+/- 10%).
- A 2-hour written exam at the end of the term.
A pass mark is required on both parts. Both exam parts have to be taken in the same semester. The exams will be graded separately with a combined final mark. The term paper counts towards 60% of the grade and the 2-hour exam counts towards 40%.
The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.
Submission in Inspera
You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read more about how to submit in Inspera.
Use of sources and citation
Examination support material
You are allowed to use an English–English dictionary on the classroom exam.
Macmillan Dictionary will be offered in the digital examination system Inspera.
Language of examination
The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.
Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.
Explanations and appeals
Resit an examination
For those who want to retake their exam: Since this exam includes a term paper, you must follow the classes and write a new paper in order to qualify. Admission depends on capacity.
If it's just the written exam you have missed because of illness, it is possible to apply for a postponed exam. Please contact the exam consultant for more information.
Withdrawal from an examination
It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.
Special examination arrangements
Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.
The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.