HIS 392 • Readings in US Foreign Relations
This course has three purposes. First, it aims to familiarize graduate students with the development over the past fifty years of the rich and contentious historiography of U.S. foreign relations. In the first few weeks, the course will survey some of the major debates and methodological innovations that preoccupied scholars of past generations. It will then shift to a closer examination of more recent work by younger scholars who have revitalized the field by exploiting new sources, examining the cultural context of decision-making, and taking account of influences beyond the state. Throughout, the course will range across the full span of U.S. history, although the emphasis will be on the twentieth century. Second, the course aims to help students develop important professional skills, above all the writing of book reviews. Each student will be responsible for writing three journal-quality book reviews of differing lengths. Third, the course aims to help students develop their own interests in the field of U.S. foreign relations, broadly defined. The end-of-term assignment requires that each student write a 3,500-word review of a handful of books dealing with similar topics or themes. Students may use one of the required books for this paper but must choose the others based on their own research interests. In this way, the paper can help to lay the historiographical groundwork for future research. Possible readings include William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy; Robert Kagan, Dangerous Nation; John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know; Kristin Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood; Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment; Jeremi Suri, Kissinger; Christopher Endy, Cold War Holidays; Paul Kramer, The Blood of Nations; Jeffrey Engel, The Cold War at 30,000 Feet; Melvin Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind; and various excerpts and articles.