America Through Foreign Eyes


The United States has always been a source of fascination – both attraction and repulsion – for Africans, Chinese, French, Mexicans, and Russians, as well as for many other people from other countries and regions. “America through Foreign Eyes” is an interdisciplinary, international course that features Rice faculty from a variety of disciplines and area studies. Focused on perceptions of America abroad, the course is a cross between World Cultures and American Studies.

The course features five core modules, each covering the perceptions and interactions of a particular region with America, Americans, and Americanization. An introductory module offers ways to approach cross-cultural study and a concluding module “reverses the gaze” and analyze what Americans said, thought, or perceived of African nations or Africa as a continent, of China, France, Mexico, and Russia.

“America through Foreign Eyes” is a course about the United States and Americans, but also about multiple African nations, China, France, Mexico, and Russia.

The course addresses 4 overarching themes about the United States:

  1. democracy and modernity
  2. globalization and capitalism
  3. racism and immigration
  4. intellectual and cultural life

Our approach is interdisciplinary: we draw from the fields of sociology, anthropology, political science, literature, philosophy, cinema studies, history, art history, archeology, and economics.


Do I need to speak the languages explored in the course?
No, the course content is presented in English. However, some course material will also be available in other languages.

What resources will I need for this class?
A working computer and internet connection.

What can I earn for completing this course?
You can earn a Verified Certificate by verifying your work. If you choose not to verify your work, you can still participate in the complete course and earn a Statement of Accomplishment.

Can I get credit for this course?
Academic credit for this course is not offered.


Any questions? Please e-mail