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:
- democracy and modernity
- globalization and capitalism
- racism and immigration
- 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.