Righteous Might: American Politics & Society since 1877

Tutors: Shaul Mitelpunkt and David Huyssen

Module type: Histories and Contexts

Module Code: HIS00004I

The twentieth century in American history could be described as an age of contradictions: a time in which Americans have expanded their influence overseas in the name of liberation and self-determination, enacted and enforced laws of racial segregation even as they spoke for progressivism, and came to see the individual pursuit of a higher Standard of Living as a way to express patriotic passions. Such processes, while seemingly distinct, actually reinforced and clashed with one another as the US rose to a position of unprecedented global hegemony.

This module will survey the twentieth century US from the struggles of the Great Depression through the promise of a consumer’s republic, from the roots of the civil rights movements for racial and gender equality to contemporary struggles around police brutality and reproductive rights, and from the era of the Cold War concensus into the age of political and social fractures. Throughout our lectures and discussions we will pay particular attention to the way domestic and transnational processes shaped one another as the US transitioned from relative isolationism to political, economic, cultural, and military involvement throughout the world.

The lecture programme will likely include the following:

  • Putting the Civil War Behind
  • Jim Crow: Violence, Legal and Ilegal
  • The Wilsoniam Moment and Manifest Destinies
  • Women’s Suffrage and the Politics of Gender Spheres
  • The Shock of Depression
  • Populism and the Dust Bowl
  • The New Deal
  • The American Century
  • Cold War Dominos
  • The Creation of the Average American
  • Civil Rights and Fights
  • The Duty to Buy
  • From Saigon to Watergate
  • Intimate Politics in the Age of Malaise
  • The Neoconservative Project
  • Race in the Age of Obama


Seminar discussions will likely deal with the following:

  • Jim Crow
  • Progressive Interventions
  • Hard Times
  • Welfare and Warfare
  • Cold War Syndromes
  • Civil Rights and the ‘Great Society’
  • Suburban Politics and Conservatism
  • Friendly Fire from Iraq to Ferguson


For more information, please visit the module catalogue.