The Leipzig Model for American Studies seeks to combine classroom and practical learning to help students be able to engage their community and careers with well-founded confidence.

Welcome to American Studies at Leipzig

Area Expertise. Transcultural Literacy. International Skills. Community Dialog.

We practice American Studies as an interdisciplinary field of knowledge that examines the literature, culture, history, society, and politics of the United States, including its global contexts and entanglements—from the continent’s early history to the contemporary era. In our work, we pursue four interrelated goals:

  • To encourage knowledge about a critical area of the world
  • To explore cultural differences to help students understand the dynamics of American culture
  • To empower students to acquire essential international skills for today’s globalizing employment markets
  • To engage the broader community in dialog about the many facets of American life.

We are delighted that you are visiting our website to learn a bit more about what makes our program so unique. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

enlarge the image: American Studies Leipzig is located at Leipzig University's GWZ (Humanities Building), to the left, with the University Library Albertina right across the street, Image Credit: ASL
American Studies Leipzig is located at Leipzig University's GWZ (Humanities Building), to the left, with the University Library Albertina right across the street, Image Credit: ASL

The Leipzig Model for American Studies combines classroom and practical learning to help students be able to engage their community and careers with well-founded confidence.

The Leipzig Model brings together coursework that gives students a breadth of knowledge about the United States, repeated opportunities to participate in knowledge creation through research projects, and the steady acquisition of international skills.

The leitmotif for the Leipzig Model is to synthesize the virtues of the ‘Humboldtian Ideal’ with the strengths of ‘Dewey Pragmatism’ to create a unique liberal arts education experience in the field of American Studies.

The ‘Humboldtian Ideal’ is the concept at the heart of Europe’s great universities that research or the pursuit of new knowledge should shape the classroom experience. The German reformer Wilhelm von Humboldt’s idea is built into the American Studies Leipzig program through regular research projects that students undertake in all their modules, and the opportunities students receive to discuss their research with fellow students and faculty.

Dewey Pragmatism’ originates with the American reformer John Dewey, who called for more practical skills and experiences to shape the pursuit of education. Dewey’s vision is built into the BA and MA program at American Studies Leipzig with our Professional Skills Modules (Schlüsselqualifikationsmodule), our Programs’ emphasis on study abroad and internships, and the public outreach and community networks in which we are involved.

American Studies Leipzig has a strong research profile, with a robust track record in innovative publications and in projects that have won prestigious grants. Among other things, ASL has won funding for projects in two Collaborative Research Centers, a Scientific Network, and an Individual Research Grant, all funded by the German Research Foundation, as well as a grant in the Volkswagen-Foundation’s program “Original – isn’t it? New Options for the Humanities and Cultural Studies.” ASL is particularly dedicated to supporting the research activities of emerging and early career scholars, as e.g. reflected in the dissertations completed at the institute. In the first (and so far only) national evaluation of research in American Studies by the Wissenschaftsrat, ASL achieved excellent results.

Enabled by the institute’s three full professorships, research at ASL covers a broad interdisciplinary range that spans from work on United States literature over work on (popular) culture, history and memory studies, to ethnic minority studies. While each colleague at ASL has their own unique research interests and strengths, there are areas of synergetic overlap. A key such area revolves around the question how ‘America’ has been constituted in terms of bodies and spaces: How, for one, ‘America’ has been defined and contested, demarcated and entangled by way of bodies—bodies that are, e.g., racialized, gendered, framed as normative or ‘other’ or deviant, as belonging or not belonging, as threatened or threatening, as material, embodied, and affectively charged in distinct ways. And, for another, the question how ‘America’ has been constituted in and through spatial formations on different scales and ranging from the macro to the micro, including geographical, political, social, narrative and other spaces such as the continent, the region, borders, the home, the university, the sports arena, or various media ecosystems and textual formations.

American Studies Leipzig was founded in 1993, making it the first and still only department entirely focused on American Studies in the area of the former GDR (outside of Berlin). It looks back on a long and distinguished tradition of research and teaching on topics related to American Studies at Leipzig University.

An official history of the Institute for American Studies was completed by Dr. Anja Becker for the 600-year anniversary of Leipzig University in 2009. It can be viewed below:

Whether you are a prospective student from Germany, Europe, North America, or anywhere in the world, please do contact us with your questions about our programs. We would love to hear from you!

There are at least ten outstanding reasons to pursue a degree in American Studies in Leipzig:

  1. Unique and Important Program
    The Leipzig Model for American Studies is unique, and it is completely tailored to meet student demands for becoming confident and effective members of their community and to pursuing a successful career, especially internationally. And if your main interest is improving your English-language skills, then this program is hard to beat: Teaching, assignments, and events are all done in English.

  2. Excellence of Program
    American Studies Leipzig is one of the fastest growing programs in the country and is well-known for its research. It has been ranked as excellent by the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat). The Center for Higher Education (CHE) has also provided the BA and MA programs with the ranking of excellent.

  3. Language
    Advanced English is used throughout in the programs for reading, writing and speaking.

  4. American Presence in Leipzig
    There is a rich cultural, economic, and diplomatic presence in Leipzig, including festivals like Euro-Scene, Honky-Tonk, and poetry slams; companies like Amazon, DHL, and Price-Waterhouse-Cooper; and the Consulate for the United States representing all of central Germany as well as the German-American Institute of Saxony with its mission to strengthen German-American relations.
  5. Studying America in Its Full Diversity
    American Studies Leipzig offers courses in literature, history, culture, politics, society, and language. Whatever your special interest in the United States, you can almost certainly pursue it while earning a degree in Leipzig.
  6. You Are Part of a Scholarly Community
    As part of the liberal arts education philosophy, we integrate students into the pursuit of knowledge creation from very early on in their studies. Students, staff, and scholars at the Institute for American Studies do not create a hierarchy but a community of colleagues for learning.
  7. You Are Part of a Local Community
    The Leipzig Model for American Studies stresses that education should not be an “ivory tower existence.” Through the student body, the alumni Association, and regular institute events, we create a sense of community among students so that they do not pursue their studies in relative isolation. Moreover, scholars and staff at the institute regularly engage the local community to show that we want to be an active citizen helping encourage dialog between cultures.
  8. Your Are Part of an International Community
    Leipzig University has a diverse and international student body. Students from around the world are eager to take courses in American Studies because they get to pursue knowledge about America in a global setting. Whether a student from Germany, Europe, North America, or from around the world, there is no better learning environment than to sit with fellow students from around the world and debate the uniqueness, importance, and controversies surrounding the culture, history, and society of the United States. In our courses we have had students from Mexico, Kenya, South Africa, Algeria, Japan, India, Poland, Ukraine, Norway, Ireland, Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece, to provide just a sample of students pursuing American Studies in Leipzig.
  9. Leipzig is a Great University
    Leipzig University is one of Europe’s oldest and most distinguished universities. In its more than 600 years of existence (since 1409), Leipzig has earned an international reputation as a leading center of learning and scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, matural sciences, and medicine.
  10. Leipzig is a Great City!
    Let’s face it, no one wants to study twenty-four hours a day. And so, when you leave the library, where you study takes on a different importance. And Leipzig is a great university town. With its lakes, parks, pubs, music scene, affordable housing, great public transportation, and friendly people, Leipzig is hard to beat. It is rapidly earning an international reputation as one of Central Europe’s most exciting cities.
    For information on how to apply to our programs, please see the section for prospective students.

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