HISTORY 302 - Topics in History
Section: 003 The United States in the World: Are we and Empire Afterall?
Term: WN 2009
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
May be elected three times for credit.
Primary Instructor:

The spread of U.S. power and influence in the world over the past century has been rapid and extensive. What was/is the nature of this global expansion of U.S. cultural, economic, political, diplomatic, and military interests over the past century? Given the pervasive presence of the U.S. on a global scale today, is it fair to call the United States a kind of empire despite the denial of that term embedded within U.S. political discourse?

Though there is no way to tackle such large questions in any one course, such questions have become all the more pressing in the aftermath of 9/11, U.S. military operations in the Middle East, and recent meltdowns in global financial institutions. This course allows the student to begin thinking about the role and identity of the U.S. as a world leader, as a global hegemon, as an imperial power, as a “superpower,” as the “one, indispensable nation,” as a “market empire,” through historical consideration of competing views and definitions of what the United States should be and where it should go as a nation. What kinds of national narratives have arisen that aided U.S. citizens in “making sense ”of their nation’s role in the world and its relations with other nations, cultures, religions, races, and political/economic systems? How did U.S. foreign policy evolve in response to growing interests abroad and changes in domestic politics? What were the consequences of those preferred narratives and foreign policies both inside and outside the U.S.? The primary goal of this class, therefore, centers on an examination of the changes and continuities of debates over the international role of the U.S. during the past century and their ramifications over time and place. To that end, we will look at classic documents and policies from U.S. diplomatic history as well as debates playing out in U.S. popular culture such as novels, films, and newspaper and magazine articles. We will encounter divergent views of what the United States ought to be doing in the world as well as conflicting historical interpretations of the role played by the U.S. over the past century. Just as there is no consensus today as to the proper role of the U.S. in the world, neither was there any consensus in the past. The political and historical debates were just as intense then as they are now.

The following books are required for the course and can be purchased or are on Reserve at the library.

  • Robert D. Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), Sixth Edition.
  • Michael Hogan and Thomas Paterson, Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, Second Edition (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004)
  • Matthew Jacobson,Barbarian Virtues
  • Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment
  • Ernest May, American Cold War Strategy
  • Melani McAlister, Epic Encounters
  • Christian Appy, Working-Class War:
  • Greg Grandin, Empire’s Workshop
  • Thomas Ricks, Fiasco
  • Graham Greene, The Quiet American
  • Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried (New York: Broadway Books, 1990).

Coursepack with selections from various journals, magazines, monographs, and newspapers.

HISTORY 302 - Topics in History
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
Note: Section 001: meets with POLSCI 389
002 (LEC)
W 4:00PM - 7:00PM
003 (LEC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

No Syllabi are on file for HISTORY 302. Click the button below to search for a different syllabus (UM login required)

Search for Syllabus
The CourseProfile (ART) system, supported by the U-M Provost’s 3rd Century Initiative through a grant to the Office of Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (ART)