HY245 - United States and the World since 1776
Dr Megan Black
This course explores how the United States has engaged the wider world since 1776. Throughout, the course analyzes state-to-state policy-making alongside a wide array of non-state actors and institutions that have also shaped U.S. global power. It opens with foundational concerns in the field about the nature of American exceptionalism—the belief that the United States is fundamentally different than other nation-states and empires—before exploring themes such as settler colonialism, race, gender, capitalism, imperialism, immigration, and transnationalism. The course arc will begin in the earliest founding of the American Republic. Since independence, the nation looked outward to the vast expanse of territory westward across the continent. It spearheaded expansion through indigenous land dispossession and contests with competing European empires. When the United States met territorial limits to continental expansion at the end of the nineteenth century, it initiated an era of formal overseas imperialism in the Pacific and Caribbean. In and through two World Wars, the United States jockeyed for a lead role in constructing an international global order organized around commitments to self-determination. These commitments rang hollow, however, as the United States intervened across the Third World as part of a Cold War contest with the Soviet Union to win hearts, minds, and allies. With decolonization movements, the international order began to fragment, a process accelerated by a new era of globalization. The course will trace this arc and end by considering such transnational forces, including migration, environmentalism, humanitarianism, financialization, and terrorism, which have underscored the recent emergence of a nationalist brand of anti-globalization in the United States and wider world. Throughout, we will ask, what historical conditions incited and enabled the projection of American power in the world? How have forces of globalization impacted the nation-state?