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Student perspectives

Here are some of our current and former students talking about their experiences of studying the Americas at York:

David, a recent graduate

"York is a particularly stimulating environment for exploring the Americas, and the kind of place where a question asked in a seminar can easily become a dissertation project and future MA or PhD research. During the seminar focused on Reconstruction on the module Race, War and Expansion in the Early United States, I asked a leftfield question: given the constitutional problems of the Civil War and Reconstruction, why did America not have a second constitutional convention? Luckily, the seminar tutor encouraged me to pursue the question as a dissertation. I had not explored the US dissertation option before, but a check of the library's catalogue of digital resources convinced me that it was entirely possible.

"As faculty members have been particularly supportive in collaborating to develop the dissertation into a larger project and navigating me through MA applications, this research will be developed into a larger project as part of a Research MA, for which I have offers from Cambridge and York with others pending. Before then, I will have spent the current academic year studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, and travelling through South America. The new language skills will allow me to develop my research interests in nineteenth-century constitutionalism in a hemispheric and comparative perspective."

Christina, a recent graduate

"As someone about to embark on PhD study in the US, I cannot emphasize enough how choosing postgraduate study at York facilitated the next steps in my academic career. The range of seminar courses available provided an excellent foundation in the kind of themes vital for historical study on the Americas: including the Enlightenment, race and gender. Of even greater importance, however, was the support the History faculty were willing to give during the dissertation process. Having developed a broad area of interest prior to starting the degree, my supervisor Nick Guyatt always made time to meet and discuss ideas for taking the project forward. Knowing that I wanted to focus on religious conservatism in the US, I eventually settled on the birth of the Fundamentalist movement in early twentieth century Los Angeles.

"Following a research trip to an archive in California in preparation for the dissertation, I took the decision to try and apply to PhD programmes in the US. Nick Guyatt in particular (along with many other faculty members in the department) couldn't have been more helpful in giving advice on the somewhat intimidating US PhD application process. I was subsequently offered places at two different institutions in America, and I'll be off to study at the University of Southern California this summer. The prospect is both exciting and, frankly, slightly terrifying, but I know I will definitely be using the skills I've developed during my time at York to build my doctoral research on religion in modern US history."

Courtenay, a recent graduate

"I came to the University of York following in the footsteps of my A-Level history teacher, with a vague notion that of all the subjects I’d studied at school, history was the one toward which I had developed the closest affinity. More specifically, I knew that I loved modern history. Like many secondary school students, however, much of my experience of history revolved around the World Wars, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

"My time at the University of York exposed me to many different areas of history but it was in my second year that I developed a real interest in American history, and more specifically, in the effects of American foreign policy. Alex Goodall’s course on the United States and Latin America Since 1945 sparked an interest in a regional relationship often ignored in much of the academic literature and led me to pursue a dissertation on US foreign policy and Perón’s Argentina.

"I have always known that I wanted to do an MA, but the ambition was always Oxford, LSE, or simply to stay at York. By the end of my second year, however, I decided to take the chance of applying for an MA in the US: where better to pursue the study of American foreign policy than in America itself? I was accepted to the University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations programme and have spent the last year on this intense course, working with world-renowned International Relations scholars, indulging my interest in issues of international security and US foreign policy, and immersing myself in American culture. I am currently pursuing an MA thesis on the topic of US intervention in Latin America and its implications for US security interests and plan to spend next year working in the foreign policy field before (hopefully) moving on to pursue a PhD in the US."