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Righteous Might: American Politics & Society since 1877 - HIS00004I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Shaul Mitelpunkt
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

The long 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 the rise of White Power under Trump, and from the era of the Cold War concensus into the age of political and social fractures as laid bare in the current Pandemic. Throughout our lectures and discussions we will pay particular attention to the way domestic and transnational structures and processes shaped one another as the US transitioned from relative isolationism to political, economic, cultural, and military involvement throughout the world.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to important specific historical themes and topics with a clear chronological or geographical focus;
  • To enable them to work on those topics by combining access to the specialised expertise of staff through lectures with their own close study and discussion of issues and reading;
  • To deepen students’ understanding and appreciation of a range of historical subjects and issues; and
  • To support students’ progression from the broad chronological and conceptual work undertaken at Stage 1 of their programme to more detailed and rigorous study of particular topics.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Have a broad overview of specific historical themes and topics with a clear chronological and geographical focus;
  • Be able to evaluate different interpretations of the subject matter and approaches to it;
  • Gain a critical awareness of the primary material and secondary works used in these interpretations and approaches; and
  • Be able to synthesise information from lectures, discussion groups and reading to make evidence-based arguments both orally and in writing

Module content

Teaching Programme:

This 20-credit module consists of sixteen twice weekly lectures delivered in weeks 2-9 plus one round-up session in week 10, and eight 90 minute discussion groups.

  1. Introduction
  2. The Gilded Age
  3. Jim Crow and Spanish-American War: Violence, Legal and Ilegal
  4. The Progressive Movement
  5. The Wilsonian Moment at home and abroad
  6. The Shock of Depression - Populism and the Dust Bowl
  7. The New Deal
  8. US in World War II
  9. The American Century?
  10. Emergence of the Cold War outside and within
  11. The Civil Rights Movements
  12. Choosing Vietnam
  13. From Saigon to Watergate
  14. Intimate Politics in the Age of Malaise
  15. The Neoconservative Project
  16. 9/11 and the Invasions that Followed
  17. From Obama to Trump
  18. Wrap up

Seminar discussions will deal with the following:

1.            Gilded Age

2.            Progressive Era

3.            Hard Times and New Deals

4.            WWII and the Establishment of the Warfare State

5.            Rights Movements in the Cold War Era

6.            Suburban Politics and Conservatism

7.            The Neoliberal Project in Late 20th Century U.S.

8.            Friendly Fire from Iraq to Ferguson

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
2000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Students will be required to write a 2,000-word procedural essay for formative assessment, due in either week 5 or week 7 of the autumn term. They will then complete a 2,000-word essay for summative assessment, due in week 1 of the spring term.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
2000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline unless submitted in week 5 of the summer term, in which case these are available within 25 working days. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

Gilmore, Glenda and Thomas J. Sugrue. These United States: A Nation in the Making, 1890 to the Present. New York: W.W. Norton, 2015.

Rodgers, Daniel. Age of Fracture. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U Press, 2011.

Kessler-Harris, Alice. In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in 20th Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students