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Right-wing Politics in the U.S. since 1945


Admission requirements

History students should have successfully completed their propaedeutic exam and both second-year BA-seminars, one of which in Algemene Geschiedenis. By choosing this seminar, students also choose Algemene Geschiedenis as their BA graduation specialisation.


This course traces and analyzes the development and significance of right-wing politics in U.S. domestic politics and foreign relations from the 1940s to the present. We will examine right-wing activism and mobilization on issues ranging from economic policy to race, class, and gender, and, in foreign policy, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. We will focus on key conservative figures such as Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, as well as grassroots right-wing mobilization from John Birch Society to the Tea Party. Our seminar discussions will draw upon exciting and cutting-edge scholarship as well as primary sources including written texts, music, art, and video clips ranging from U.S. government civil defense propaganda from the 1950s to conservative televangelist sermons in the 1980s.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student can:

  • 1) devise and conduct research of limited scope, including:
    a. identifying relevant literature and select and order them according to a defined principle;
    b. organising and using relatively large amounts of information;
    c. an analysis of a scholarly debate;
    d. placing the research within the context of a scholarly debate.

  • 2) write a problem solving essay and give an oral presentation after the format defined in the first year Themacolleges, including;
    a. using a realistic schedule of work;
    b. formulating a research question and subquestions;
    c. formulating a well-argued conclusion;
    d. giving and receiving feedback;
    e. responding to instructions of the lecturer.

  • 3) reflect on the primary sources on which the literature is based;

  • 4) select and use primary sources for their own research;

  • 5) analyse sources, place and interpret them in a historical context;

  • 6) participate in class discussions.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

  • 7) The student has knowledge of a specialisation, more specifically in the General History track of American History: of American exceptionalism; the US as a multicultural society and the consequences of that for historiography; the intellectual interaction between the US and Europe; of exceptionalism; analysis of historiografical and intellectual debates;

Learning objectives, pertaining to this specific seminar

The student demonstrates

  • 8) the ability to conduct independent research in the field of American History, thereby showing the ability to comprehend and apply relevant theoretical insights and multidisciplinary methodological approaches;

  • 9) the ability to describe and justify the adopted research methods;

  • 10) the ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question that is based on a problem that reflects insight into the key discussions and methods of the field;

  • 11) the ability to identify and collect primary and secondary sources in the field of American History;

  • 12) the ability to critically analyze primary sources in American History and situate them in their cultural and historical context;

  • 13) the ability to apply knowledge of North American history and culture to current issues and developments, nationally and internationally;

  • 14) the ability to judge the relative merits of academic opinions and scholarly arguments on contemporary developments in the field of American History;

  • 15) the ability to orally present and defend in correct academic English the result of individual and group research;

  • 16) the ability to effectively communicate research results in correct academic English in various written formats, including written responses, and a research essay;

  • 17) the ability to provide constructive feedback to, and formulate criticism of, the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it.


The timetable is available on the BA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)

This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 uur.

  • attending classes: 24 hours

  • preparation: (including assignments and individual presentation: 26 hours

  • Required reading: 80 hours

  • research and writing paper (including studying literature): 150 hours

Assessment method


  • Research essay (6000-7000 words, based on problem-oriented research using primary sources, excluding front page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    measured learning objectives: 1-5, 7, 8-12, 16

  • Research Proposal
    measured learning objectives: 1, 7, 8-11, 16, 17

  • Oral presentation
    measured learning objectives: 2, 15

  • Assignments (literature reviews), attendance, and class participation
    measured learning objectives: 3, 5, 6-7, 13-14


  • Research Proposal: 10%

  • Research essay: 60%

  • Oral presentation: 10%

  • Assignments (literature reviews), attendance, and class participation: 20%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Blackboard.


The written paper can be revised, when marked insufficient. Revision should be carried out within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Blackboard.

Exam Review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of assignments and deadlines

  • readings

Reading list

To be announced


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. William Michael Schmidli


Course readings, discussions, and written assignments will be in English.