About the department

The Department of American Studies covers all aspects concerning North America in the subject English and American Studies, which students can complete with a BA degree, a subsequent MA degree, or a teaching degree (subject: English - with a BEd degree and a subsequent MEd degree). Our aim at the department is to expand and deepen the understanding for the many cultural aspects of North America. In order to fulfill this task, we have developed several new research areas over the past years, e.g. film and media studies, television studies, narrative studies, interdisciplinary research on literature, philosophy, music, theater, performance, the fine arts, as well as transdisciplinary research in medical humanities, legal humanities, and mountain studies. 

In the course of their studies, students can specialize in the subjects American Studies (literature and culture) and film and media studies.

In order to enable the student as well as our faculty a close contact with the USA, the department makes use of various joint study programs and friendship agreements that the university has with various universities in the USA. These include Utah State University, Appalachian State University, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Notre Dame.

Areas of research and teaching

American Literature | American Culture | Film and Media Studies

  • Overview of American literature and culture, from the beginnings to the present
  • Interaction between American literature and culture with the rest of the world in the context of history and contemporary culture
  • Canadian Studies
  • Analysis of literature and history
  • Philosophy, art and the analysis of social institutions and the media
  • Socio-anthropological and semiotic studies of multicultural American society and life
  • Significant and influential systems like film, music, advertisement, etc.
  • Questions of class, gender, ethnicity and identity; research on migration
  • Techniques and methods of academic research and writing
  • Knowledge of text analysis (terminology and methodology)
  • Discussion of the most important theories of literary and cultural studies
  • Research of relevant and different types of texts and media (e.g. fiction, areas of popular culture, film, theater, print media, internet)
  • For students in the teacher training program: practical use of the mentioned content in teaching situations

Special activities of the department

  • Video Archive: Video and DVD collection for research with more than 10,000 titles
  • Theater Group: Acting as a multiple possibility for learning: acting, language, text, and context
  • American Corner Innsbruck: interdisciplinary, public institution for USA-specific questions
  • ZIAS: Cooperation with the Center for Inter-American Studies at the University of Innsbruck
  • ESCAPE: European Slaves: Christians in African Pirate Encounters: Barbary Coast Captivity Narratives (1550-1780) - FWF-Project

Aims and competences

  • Analysis and interpretation of literary and culturally relevant texts
  • Recognizing and analysing the interrelation between culture and literature
  • Recognizing and explaining cultural, historical and sociological phenomena
  • Development of understanding for the multitude and complexity of American society
  • Development of intercultural competence
  • Critical discussion of cultural phenomena in modern society
  • Preparation for teaching English at high schools and in adult education


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