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Module HTH-2142:

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Alexander Sedlmaier

Overall aims and purpose

Reaching the status of world power at the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States have influenced the world heavily, not only politically but equally in terms of economy and culture. While European societies experienced effective setbacks due to the World Wars, the United States - on the basis of expansive potentials in areas such as capital, production, military, science, technology, management, or popular culture - emerged as a model of a modern society. Real and imagined influences from "America" were subject to debate, adaptation and promotion, but also caused anxiety, criticism and conflict in receiving societies. Seminar discussions will approach the concepts Americanisation and anti-Americanism critically and confront them with recent approaches to transnational exchanges, perceptions and transfers. Drawing on selected examples, the module will examine the history of U.S. influences on the rest of the world - Europe in particular - and the emergence of ideological resistance to U.S. hegemony throughout the twentieth century.

Course content

This module examines the United States' impacts on the rest of the world - in particular Europe - and addresses reactions to these focused by a critical approach to the concepts 'Americanisation' and 'Anti-Americanism'. In particular: Attraction and resistance: ambivalences of Americanisation Images and enemy images The reciprocity of transatlantic cultural transfers Anti-Americanism as a projection Anti-Americanism in the inter-war period Nazi Germany and America GIs as agents of Americanisation Americanisation and Sovietisation Anti-American propaganda in the Cold War The anti-Americanism of the New Left Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism Shopping mall, Disneyland and theme park in Europe

Assessment Criteria


Threshold students (D range) will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make partly-successful attempts to frame an argument that engages with historiographical controversies. Performance in the oral examination will be graded by considering content (the range of knowledge displayed); the directness and clarity of the argument; and the analysis (the ability to judge between interpretations and back arguments with evidence). Candidates will be expected to support their answers with examples and evidence; to demonstrate that they have done relevant reading; to show that they can analyse and use some of the evidence presented in this reading; and to engage with current historiographical controversies.


Good students (B range) will show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria of the paragraph above.


Excellent students (A range) will show a solid level of achievement across the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a wide-ranging and conceptual knowledge of the United States' impact on the rest of the world in the 20th century and the debates that accompanied it.

  2. Show a detailed knowledge of specific aspects of the topic, in particular Americanisation and anti-Americanism in different European contexts.

  3. Judge between alternative historical interpretations of the topic, including current historiographical positions and critical approaches to the two title concepts.

  4. Present clear historical arguments about aspects of Americanisation and anti-Americanism and back these arguments with detailed evidence.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY 3000 word essay on specific issues/events/localities/periods

Essays will test knowledge and understanding of the development of the American impact on the rest of the world – in particular Europe – in the twentieth century and the perceptions, reactions, and interpretations this triggered. Questions are on specific issues/events/localities/periods of the broader topic. Essays must conform to departmental guidelines in respect of presentation. Essays should be correctly referenced with footnotes, particularly when quoting verbatim. They should also include a bibliography of the sources employed in writing that should again conform to the regulations. Essay questions are to be chosen from a list. Students should not change the questions in any way. You should ensure that you fully engage with the question. Do not waste words on unnecessary narrative or background. Only include what serves a purpose for your argument. It will be possible to submit an essay plan, but beyond this, no drafts of assessed work will be read.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Lectures will be discussing the historical significance of central topics and review relevant historiographical debates.


Seminars will cover topics and themes that are either not covered or covered only briefly in the lectures. Discussions will be based on assigned reading and preparatory research.


There will be the opportunity of individual or group tutorials to provide feedback on presentations and essay plans, and to prepare for the oral examination.

Private study

Students must spend significant periods of time working on this module. Simply attending the lectures and workshops will not be sufficient. You should aim to spend at least 15 hours a week during the teaching period reading the assigned texts and working on the various tasks for this module.

Group Project

Students are required to join a small group of students to deliver a seminar presentation at the beginning of their chosen seminar session which will be supported by a handout and followed by questions from the audience. The presentation should be no longer than 15 minutes and should address the following aspects: A summary of the seminar reading which highlights central arguments, themes and controversies rather than simply retelling every detail of the text(s) at hand. This should be supported by selected quotations from the text(s) (not too many). Relate the text(s) at hand to one of the assessed essay questions and discuss what they can do (and what they cannot do) towards answering the question. Develop at least two questions for further discussion which originate from the material presented so far. Be prepared to engage your audience and to make them talk even if they are silent initially. The presentation should be supported by a handout (max. 2 pages) providing relevant material (quotations, illustrations, questions, etc.). The presentation will be followed by 10 minutes of discussion. It is essential that the group will meet at least once before the presentation. While the whole effort should be cooperative, it will be sensible to divide responsibilities roughly along the following lines: one person responsible for the actual delivery of the presentation, the next person in charge of the handout, and the third person prepared to conduct the discussion and to answer questions. Presentation groups are encouraged to come and see me immediately after the session for feedback on their performance.

Study group

Film screening and discussion


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
  • demonstrating an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
  • appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
  • engaging with relevant aspects of current agendas such as global perspectives, public engagement, employability, enterprise, and creativity


Resource implications for students

No obligatory resource implications; perhaps the purchase of a few books.

Reading list

General and introductory reading: M. Adas, Dominance by Design: Technological Imperatives and America’s Civilizing Mission (2006) V.R. Berghahn, ‘The debate on “Americanization” among economic and cultural historians,’ Cold War History 10,1 (Feb 2010): 107–130 J. Borneman, ‘Is the United States Europe’s Other?’, American Ethnologist 30,4 (2003): 487–492 R.H. Bowen, ‘American cultural imperialism reconsidered’, Revue française d’études américaines 24/25 (1985): 179–193 I. Buruma & A. Margalit, Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (2005) J.W. Ceaser, Reconstructing America: The Symbol of America in Modern Thought (1997) G. Chiozza, Anti-Americanism and the American World Order (2009) L. Dinnerstein & D.M. Reimers, Ethnic Americans: A History of Immi-gration (4th ed. 1999) D. Ellwood, The Shock of America. Europe and the Challenge of the Century (2012) M. Epitropoulos, ‘Anti-Americanism and Americanization in Greece’, M. Epitropoulos & V. Roudometof (eds), American Culture in Europe: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (1998) S. Fabbrini, ‘Layers of Anti-Americanism: Americanization, American Unilateralism and Anti-Americanism in a European Perspective’, European Journal of American Culture 23,2 (2004): 79–94 H. Fehrenbach & U.G. Poiger (eds), Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan (2000) M.P. Friedman, Rethinking Anti-Americanism: The History of an Exceptional Concept in American Foreign Relations (2012) P. Gassert, ‘The Spectre of Americanization: Western Europe in the American Century’, in D. Stone (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History (2012) J.C.E. Gienow-Hecht (ed.), Decentering America: New Perspectives in Culture and International History (2007) J.C.E. Gienow-Hecht, ‘Shame on US? Academics, cultural transfer, and the Cold War – a Critical Review’, Diplomatic History 24,3 (2000) V. de Grazia, Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance through Twentieth-Century Europe (2005) J. Gulddal, Anti-Americanism in European Literature (2011) H. Hagermann, ‘European émigrés and the “Americanization” of economics’, European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 18,5 (2011): 643–671 R. Higgot & I. Malbasic (eds), The Political Consequences of Anti-Americanism (2008) S. Hilger, ‘The Americanisation of the European Economy after 1880’ (2014), G. Hodgson, ‘Anti-Americanism and American Exceptionalism’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies 2,1 (2004): 27–38 P. Hollander, Anti-Americanism: Critiques at Home and Abroad, 1965–1990 (1992) P. Hollander, The Only Superpower: Reflections on Strength, Weakness, and Anti-Americanism (2008) P. Hollander, Understanding Anti-Americanism: Its Origins and Impact at Home and Abroad (2004) S. Huntington, ‘The American Creed and National Identity’, in American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony (1981) D.S. King, Making Americans: Immigration, Race, and the Origins of Diverse Democracy (2000) A.M. Kraut, The Huddled Masses: The Immigrant in American Society 1880–1921 (2nd ed. 2001) R. Kroes (ed.), Cultural Transmissions and Receptions: American Mass Culture in Europe (1993) R. Kroes, If You’ve Seen One, You’ve Seen the Mall: Europeans and American Mass Culture (1996) H.L. Malchow, Special Relations: The Americanization of Britain? (2011) A.S. Markovits, Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America (2007) P.H. Melling & J. Roper (eds), Americanisation and the Transformation of World Cultures: Melting Pot or Cultural Chernobyl? (1996) M. Nolan, ‘Americanization as a Paradigm of German history’, in F. Biess et al. (eds), Conflict, Catastrophe and Continuity: Essays on Modern German History (2007) M. Nolan, The Transatlantic Century. Europe and the United States, 1890–2010 (2012) B. O’Connor & M. Griffiths (eds), Anti-Americanism: History, Causes Themes, 4 vols (2007) B. O’Connor & M. Griffiths (eds), The Rise of Anti-Americanism (2006) B. Ostendorf, ‘Why is American Popular Culture so popular? A View from Europe’, Amerikastudien/American Studies 46,3 (2001): 339–366 R. Pells, ‘From Modernism to the Movies: The Globalization of American Culture in the Twentieth Century’, European Journal of American Culture 23 (2004): 143–155 R. Pells, Not Like Us: How Europeans Have Loved, Hated, and Transformed American Culture since World War II (1997) A. Portes, Immigrant America: A Portrait (2nd ed. 1996) J.B. Priestley, ‘Who Is Anti-American?’, in: Essays of Five Decades (1969): 255–259 J.-F. Revel, Anti-Americanism (2003)
G. Ritzer & T. Stillmann, ‘Assessing McDonaldization, Americanization and Globalization’, in U. Beck et al. (eds), Global America: The Cultural Consequences of Globalization (2004) A. & K. Ross (eds), Anti-Americanism (2004) B. & J.C. Rubin, Hating America: A History (2004) R.W. Rydell & R. Kroes, Buffalo Bill in Bologna: The Ameri-canization of the World, 1869–1922 (2005) H.G. Schröter, Americanization of the European Economy: a compact survey of American economic influence in Europe since the 1880s (2005) H.G. Schröter, ‘Economic culture and its transfer: an Overview of the Americanization of the European economy, 1900–2005’, European Review of History 15,4 (2008): 331–344 [also see the contributions in the same special issue on ‘Americanization in Europe in the Twentieth Century’] E. Shiraev, Anti-Americanism in Russia: from Stalin to Putin (2000) R. Stam & E. Shohat, Flagging patriotism: crises of narcissism and anti-Americanism (2007) A. Stephan (ed.), The Americanization of Europe: Culture, Diplomacy, and Anti-Americanism after 1945 (2006) J.E. Sweig, Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century (2006) J. Zeitlin & G. Herrigel (eds), Americanization and Its Limits: Re-working US Technology and Management in Post-War Europe and Japan (2000)

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: