Politics of Reform in the United States since 1890

Tutor: David Huyssen

Module type: Period Topic

Module Code: HIS00060C

This module examines disparate reformers and reform movements advocating for social or legislative change in America, from the Progressive Era to the present day. In various areas of public debate – inequality, public morality, race relations, sexuality, and educational policy, to name just a few – it will probe the relationship between reform, radicalism, and mainstream discourse, clarifying not only what role reform and reformers have played in transforming the United States, but also the limits to what “reform” can achieve.

Each week in seminar, in addition to discussing readings and situating them within broader historiographical debates, we will collectively examine a single primary document relevant to the main assignment, integrating conversations about historical practice and method in preparation for your writing assignments.

Seminar topics may include:

  • The Populist movement
  • Anti-lynching reform
  • Progressive Era urban reform
  • The labour movement and the New Deal
  • Jim Crow and conservative reform
  • Civil rights and “second-wave” feminism
  • Welfare reform of the 1990s
  • Contemporary educational reform

To find out more

You might like to look at the following:

  • Hofsatdter, Richard. The Age of Reform. New York: Vintage, 1955.
  • Fraser, Steve. Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015.


For more detailed information, please visit the module catalogue.