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Elective: Why America Fights: Justifying War on the U.S. Home Front

Vak
2016-2017

Admission requirements

This course is only available for second year students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

In this course we will explore how subsequent U.S. government administrations have tried to “sell” foreign wars to their own citizens during the long 20th century. We will explore the American government’s domestic justification of the Spanish-American War, the First and Second World Wars, move on to Korea and the Cold War, study the Vietnam War and end with the ‘War on Terror’. This historical perspective will allow us to study patterns of continuity and change over time as we explore topics like the importance of popular support for war in a liberal democracy, the arguments used to justify wars, the role of ‘American exceptionalism’ and enemy images in this process and the domestic ramifications of uniting a country as diverse as the United States against a foreign ‘other’, the tools used to convey the government’s message to its citizens and the role of the media in this process.

We will look at the role of propaganda posters and documentary films and discuss concepts like ‘framing’, ‘spinning’ and ‘ perception management’ while trying to answer questions such as: what is propaganda and how does it relate to ideas of freedom and democracy in the United States – a country in which these ideas are not only closely related to domestic conceptions of national identity, but in which they have often been presented as the very reason to go into battle in the first place? What forms of domestic opposition did the U.S. government encounter? What was the role of the media, the so-called ‘fourth estate’ in the processes of political legitimization? Did journalists act as watchdogs of democracy or as docile lap dogs amplifying government narratives? How free was the American press during the different wars and how did the American government try to manage media coverage?

Along the way, students will be guided through individual research projects on a related topic of their own choice assisted by W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.
Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.
Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.
Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the "BA International Studies website":http://www.hum.leiden.edu/international-studies/

Mode of instruction

Seminar and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 80 hours

  • Completion of short assignments: 46 hours

  • Researching and writing final paper: 130 hours

Assessment method

  • Class participation: 10%

  • Web postings: 20%

  • Presentation: 10%

  • Literature review: 10%

  • Final Paper (5000 words): 50%

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average
To pass the course, the weighted average has to be 5.5 at least.

Blackboard

"Blackboard":https://blackboard.leidenuniv.nl/ will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in "uSis":https://usis.leidenuniv.nl
Students are requested to register on "Blackboard":https://blackboard.leidenuniv.nl/ for this course.

Reading list

  • Susan A. Brewer, Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

  • W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

A full reading list will be made available on Blackboard.

Registration

Enrolment through "uSis":https://usis.leidenuniv.nl is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in "English":http://hum.leiden.edu/students/study-administration/usis-english.html and "Dutch":http://hum.leidenuniv.nl/studenten/administratie/

Contact

“Ms. N.A. Bloemendal MA”:https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/albertine-bloemendal

Remarks

All other information.