American Studies, the University of Bucharest
The idea of teaching American Studies and founding a program in American Studies was first voiced in the long meetings of faculty and students held at the University of Bucharest soon after the collapse of the communist regime in December 1989. The proposal was one of many that reflected the spirit of reform and hope for radical changes at the outset of Romania’s transition to democracy. In the early 1990s, within the English department at the University of Bucharest, a new emphasis was laid on American studies and an exciting course was introduced to students, majoring in English, i.e. American Civilization. The course was a groundbreaking success and it set in motion the numerous achievements in the field of American studies which were to come in the following years.
The initiative to introduce a more extensive study of American Literature and Civilization (four semesters) and, later to develop the American Studies program belonged to Professor Rodica Mihaila, whose first book The American Challenge: An Introduction to the Study of American Civilization (1994), was an innovative, interdisciplinary, and up-to date approach to American culture. As a result of Prof. Mihaila’s relentless efforts, in 1996 the first graduate program in American Studies opened its doors at the School of Foreign Languages and Literatures. The graduate program offered us a module-based curriculum, which could accommodate a large variety of topics, such as Reconfiguration of American Studies, Film Studies, Sociology, Mass Media and Popular Culture, Gender and Psychoanalysis, Postmodernism and Visual Arts or U.S. Political Traditions; these were just some of the courses offered by faculty coming from different departments of our university and from other academic institutions in Bucharest or by Fulbright Visiting Scholars.
The program was intended to analyze American civilization in its origins, ideals, and historical development. Its inter- and trans-disciplinary approach, utilizing, besides history, the resources of literature, political science, economics, sociology, philosophy, and the fine arts, offered students the flexibility to work across discipline and address American culture through a variety of perspectives and methodologies.
Founded in 1999, the B.A. in American Studies at the School of Foreign Languages in the University of Bucharest has served as a center for creative multi- and interdisciplinary study and teaching about the United States. It has attracted some of the most talented and intellectually adventurous students at the Faculty of Foreign Languages, by offering them a prestigious minor (and a major, as of 2004) at the undergraduate level. However, it was in 2005 that “American Studies” was finally included on the national list of specializations.
Organized and coordinated by Professor Mihaila, the program director, the purpose of the American Studies program at the undergraduate level has been to provide students with the opportunity to gain a broader understanding of the United States through the study of diverse aspects of American culture, the use of several disciplines and approaches, and the development of a comprehensive view of America’s past experience and present situation.
Since its start, the program has developed throughout the years and has enjoyed the participation and support of American Fulbright scholars, whose innovative, inspiring and challenging courses on Film Studies, Mass Media and Advertising, Law, or Journalism have become cornerstones for both students and young scholars willing to gain valuable fresh insight into the various topics covered. They have been matched by colleagues from other departments and institutions (History, Political Science, The Academy of Economics, The Center of Contemporary Art) whose invaluable contribution to the program of American Studies has proved its interdisciplinary dimension.
American Studies, Ovidius University, Constanta
The American Studies program was concomitantly, though individually, organized as a major at the undergraduate level at several Romanian universities starting with 2004 and 2005. In the 2005-2006 academic year, students who opted for undergraduate studies at Ovidius University, Constanta had the chance to select the major in American Studies at the Faculty of Letters. The American Studies program was organized by Professor Adina Ciugureanu as a three-year undergraduate program in accordance with the Bologna requirements for university education. It was immediately followed by a four-semester graduate program in Anglo-American Studies that focused on both British and American culture.
High school graduates interested in studying in English found the interdisciplinary agenda of American Studies not only challenging, but also capable of ensuring a pragmatic education for their prospective careers. After a most serious exam, fifty-four candidates became students in American Studies in 2005. The English Department is fully prepared for the future students eager to discover the United States of America, as the American Studies BA program gives a comprehensive coverage of many aspects of American culture and civilization as well as of the American economic, political, and administrative system. Since its start, the American Studies program has focused on American multiculturalism, mentality, religious pluralism ethnic and gender studies, civil rights and democratic institutions, education models, art, music, popular culture, literature as well as globalizing aspects in economy and culture. The curriculum contains a philological module that includes, besides literature, a course on developing skills in English, American language, along with specialized courses such as Contemporary Critical Theory and Language and Society. The socio-cultural module offers students an Introduction to American Studies and U.S. History, U.S. Cultural Geography and Anthropology, Media Studies and Popular Culture, U.S. Religion and American Art. The wide range of elective courses further consolidates the students’ knowledge of, and skills in, specific areas of interest. Going from courses such as American Political System and Institutions, US Constitution, Ethnic Studies,to Gender Studies, History of U.S. Press and Film Studies, Contemporary American Theatre, US and Globalization, the students have the chance to get acquainted not only with most relevant topics in the field, but also with the expertise of the professors, associate-professors and assistant-professors from Ovidius University and from American universities, affiliated at Ovidius as visiting Fulbright lecturers.
The BA program is intended to offer its students both a philological training and a large intercultural perspective with a view to understanding the USA in its past, present and future and to use the information acquired in their future jobs as educators, journalists, translators and interpreters and various administrative positions.
The American Studies program continues at the next level with the Anglo-American Studies graduate program, which opened in 2006. Organized as a research MA program, whose aim is to develop the students’ critical thinking and research skills, Anglo-American Studies addresses graduates of both British and American undergraduate programs with a view to contrasting and comparing the two cultures and to developing stronger competences in areas such as history, politics, literature, language, theater, media, film, globalization and identity formation, consumerism.
American Studies, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj
The inauguration of the B.A program in American Studies at the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj reveals itself as a fortunate opportunity to realize the unprecedented growth of academic specializations in our University, along with the intellectual commitment of researchers and professors determined to carry out the demanding scientific and cultural tasks of academic modernization.
The emergence of American Studies should be regarded as natural in the framework of an already established and accredited specialization—international relations and European Studies. The foundation for the emergence of this B.A. specialization at Babes-Bolyai University Cluj, was laid in 1997, when an interdisciplinary master degree in American Studies was established, this being subsequently included among the master programs of the Faculty of European Studies (in 1999). The master degree enjoyed the support of many prominent personalities within the faculty, the university, and from outside the academic environment. The partnerships developed since the establishment of the master program were continued and extended with the creation of the B.A. in American Studies (2004, re-accredited in 2014), international cooperation being one of the pillars upon which academic performance and competitiveness was based. The most enduring and fruitful relationships have been those with the Fulbright Commission and the Romanian and American Studies Association, with Michigan State University, Plymouth State University, as well as with the American Studies Seminar in Salzburg. These partnerships, following in the footsteps of those established by European studies —which resulted in joint and double degree programs for the B.A. and M.A. level— have yielded similar results leading to a better understanding of the complex realities of contemporary American society. These studies, beyond their mediatic appearance, actually refer to more than just history, literature, politics or economics—they deal with the intertwining of the American and European realities pertaining to the two most significant actors on the contemporary world stage.
The interdisciplinary character, the teamwork, the constant updating of the scientific discourse mean not only the acknowledgement of a new specialization, but also the leading principles upon which this has been built. American-European modernity should be setting the pragmatic basis of the contemporary world ; thus, this specialization addresses not only high school graduates, but also different categories of specialists interested in acquiring knowledge from a different and innovative field, motivated by a necessity imposed by the pragmatic world we live in. The idea of political, military, economic and, why not, cultural hegemony may also have been one of the sparks which ignited the interest for American Studies. All these elements cannot be simply tackled at a journalistic level; they need a foundation of academic institutionalization, offered by both the undergraduate and graduate programs in American Studies at Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj.
American Studies, Al. Ioan Cuza University, Iasi
Traditionally, there has always been a one-year course in American Literature for senior students at Iasi University, acquainting them not only with the literature but also with other aspects of the culture of the United States. Beside this course that functions as a compulsory topic of study, the department has offered students a number of optional courses dealing with specific aspects of American culture.
In 1995, the English department started a one-year (2 semesters) M.A. program, later to be developed in a two-year (4 semesters) M.A. program in American Cultural Studies, with 11 students on governmental tuition and around 15 fee-paying students. Though organized under the umbrella of the Faculty of Letters in Iasi, this was more an interdisciplinary program since, beside the courses proposed by the professors from the English department, there was a constant co-operation with other departments in the University (History, Political Science, Philosophy and Journalism), the students enjoying a variety of perspectives on American culture. Thus, the courses offered by the department covered areas like American Poetics, Historicity and the Canon, Feminism, American History, American Art, Postmodernism, American English, Multiculturalism, and Film Studies, while students could also attend courses such as American Philosophy, Journalism, The American Political System, and Pragmatism.
Starting with 2004, the Department of English also organized a B.A. in American Studies as an option for students who chose to study English. In the first year 25 students opted for this new specialization. The BA was first structured on four years (eight semesters) but, after the implementation of the Bologna reform in education, it was restructured on three years (six semesters).
Students have been offered a package of compulsory courses organized in Cultural Studies (Introduction to American Studies, Ethnicity, American Art, Gender Studies, Critical Approaches and American Modern and Postmodern Theory), Literary History, Language, American History, Political Institutions, Society and Communication (American Economic System, American Political System, Mass-Media, American Constructivism) and a Practical Course, completed by a package of optional courses that cover more specific aspects of American culture (The American South, The American Modern and Postmodern Short Story, Pop Culture, Science Fiction, the Language of Advertising, American Regionalism).
In order to complete the students’ formation and offer them more opportunities on the job market after they graduate, the B.A. curriculum also includes the Methodology package, which is a set of courses and practical activities that are compulsory to those who want to become teachers of English.
The various multicultural aspects of the USA and Canada from an interdisciplinary perspective are taught at MA level in the American Studies graduate program whose purpose is to broaden the information acquired at the undergraduate level.
American Studies, University of West, Timisoara
The beginning of the academic year 2004-2005 witnessed the fulfillment of a dream: the English Department managed to devise a new and innovative MA program, meant to cover as many areas connected to American Studies as currently possible. Thus, benefiting from a close collaboration with the Political Science Department, this initiative was aimed at offering a panoramic view of the American socio-political and cultural space, as well as detailed outlooks on its specific issues. Graduates in letters, philosophy, journalism, political science etc. who are proficient in English were invited, and still are, to enlarge their knowledge of the ‘American Dream’ by means of attending series of lectures and seminars focusing on a large variety of study-topics.
The American Studies graduate specialization functions according to an interdisciplinary model of presentation and analysis: American culture, civilization and literature come to meet history, geography, religion, as well as gender and media studies or human rights in what is intended as an original and highly interactive program regarding the United States of America. This generous plan sets itself to open pathways to a better understanding of Transatlantic stereotypes and controversy, as well as to an accurate evaluation of the existing similarities and differences between American and European cultural patterns.
The objectives of this ambitious project are utterly diverse: offering the MA students solid knowledge of the above-mentioned fields of American Studies, it envisages their ulterior involvement in research, as well as the development of their analytical skills by means of comparative approaches. The students will be able to apply the acquired theoretical knowledge in practical situations typical of the American way of thinking and acting, in the context of their frequent meetings with foreign lecturers.
American Studies, Transylvania University, Brasov
A more recent American Studies program was organized at Transylvania University. Situated in the Carpathian Mountains, the university opened the undergraduate program in 2020. It is a three-year program in English whose aim is to develop critical thinking and communication skills with a view to improving social interaction through enlarging knowledge about the US culture and politics.
Courses including an introduction to cultural studies, American media, popular culture, US history, art, political thinking, American literature, culture and language are among the disciplines studied.
The students are trained to get jobs in fields such as teaching, translating, interpreting, foreign relation expert, cultural organization manager, editing and publishing, instructional designing.