MA Modern History (American History Pathway)
Semester 2 (Jan - June)
Co-ordinator: Catherine Clinton
What is this module about?
The history of the United States is one filled with contradictions. Although perceived around the globe as a young nation, the United States is the oldest republic in the modern world. The successful American revolt in the 1770s against alleged enslavement to Britain nevertheless denied freedom to the nation's black slaves. When emancipation arrived in the 1860s after years of bloody warfare over the issue, the promise of racial equality and voting rights went unfulfilled to African Americans for another hundred years. Worse, the attempt to grant racial equality through political rights immediately after emancipation explicitly denied women's voting rights until amended in 1920. And all of this occurred as the nation struggled to industrialize as well as to integrate millions of immigrants of different ethnic and religious backgrounds into its society. This module will therefore examine the major political, economic, social, and cultural topics that shaped the American past between 1700 and 2000 by analyzing and discussing significant historical works in the field. As the module draws on the current research interests of the teaching staff, the precise topics and works covered may vary from year to year.
How will this module be taught?
Each week will consist of a 2-hour seminar which will focus on a particular major issue in United States history. The seminar will consist of student presentations, group discussion, and analysis of key primary and secondary sources. In addition to the core readings, students usually will have the opportunity to select some readings closer to their particular interests for discussion within the seminar.
How will this module be assessed?
Students write two essays (3,000 words) for this module, normally based on their seminar presentations. Each essay represents 50% of the overall mark.
What can I read over the summer?
Students should familiarize themselves with the broad outline of U.S. history. The following are significant, sweeping studies that make for an excellent starting point:
1.) Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America
2.) Bruce Levine, Half Slave Half Free: The Roots of Civil War
3.) C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow
4.) Robert Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877-1920