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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2009

T C 357 • Key Debates in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations -W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42825 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
GAR 1.134

Course Description

This junior seminar will explore some of the most contentious and enduring debates in the history of U.S. foreign relations. The course will be divided into five segments focused on particular topics. For each segment, students will read various works introducing conflicting interpretive and methodological points of view. They will then read primary materials that will enable them to make their own judgments about the disputed topics.

In this way, students will gain in-depth experience with historiography as well as primary sources. More important, they will come to appreciate how and why scholars of different methodological and ideological persuasions interpret primary sources in conflicting ways. Although the course is focused on the work of historians, we will frequently examine the work of political scientists and ask how the peculiarities of different disciplines affect the interpretations that result. The course will also advance students' knowledge of issues that are intensely relevant in contemporary politics.

The course will begin with two or three sessions designed to orient them to the study of U.S. foreign relations. Above all, I will endeavor to introduce the major interpretive schools that have dominated the field and to show have they have developed over the last fifty years or so. The class will then shift to its first case study - the causes of U.S. intervention in Cuba in 1898, the decision that marked the beginning of Americas rise to world power. We will sample three different schools of thought, reading texts that emphasize U.S. domestic politics (Ernest Mays Imperial Democracy), American fears of Cuban independence (Louis Pérezs The War of 1898), and racial and gender ideologies among U.S. policymakers (Kristin Hogansons Fighting for American Manhood). We will then spend a week exploring a sample of primary documents that will be provided in a course reader.

Grading Policy

2 brief papers (3-5 pages) 30%
Term paper (15 pages) 40%
Class participation 30%


Kristin Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars
Ernest May, Imperial Democracy: The Emergence of America as a Great Power
Louis Pérez, The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba in History and Historiography
Gar Alperovitz, Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam
Herbert Feis, The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II
J. Samuel Walker, Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of the Atomic Bombs Against Japan
Christian Appy, Working Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam
Gabriel Kolko, Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, the United States, and the Modern Historical Experience
Harry Summers, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War
John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment
Stephen Kotkin, Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000
Richard Ned Lebow, We All Lost the Cold War
Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire
Lloyd C. Gardner and Marilyn B. Young, eds., The New American Empire
Joseph S. Nye, Jr., The Paradox of American Power

About the Professor
ark Atwood Lawrence writes and teaches about the history of U.S. foreign relations, especially during the Cold War. His book, Constructing Vietnam: The United States, Europe, and the Making of the Cold War in Indochina, is forthcoming from the University of California Press. The book explores the beginnings of U.S. involvement in Vietnam by setting American decision-making within a broad international context, showing the ways in which U.S. attitudes toward Southeast Asia were determined and constrained by international pressures in the early Cold War years. Professor Lawrence is also pursuing research interests in U.S. policy toward Latin America during the 1960s and in the history of U.S. nuclear testing programs between 1945 and 1963.


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