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Readings in American History


Admission requirements



This is a required course for students who start the program in February (instead of Major Issues in American History and Culture, which is only offered in the Fall semester).

This course examines some of the most important scholarly debates about American history, focusing on classic and recently-published works on such topics as the American Revolution, American liberalism, the South, immigration, the frontier, the Cold War, and the women’s movement. In addition to gaining an overview of American history, the course enables students to discuss important books in depth, and to examine the methodological and ideological approaches of leading historians.

Course objectives

Students will acquire knowledge and insight regarding:

  • the history and culture of the United States;

  • debates regarding key themes such as gender, transnational approaches to US history, US politics, and foreign policy;

  • trends in American historiography during the twentieth century and beyond.

Students will practice their ability to:

  • summarize, analyze, and discuss key texts in American history and culture;

  • place those texts in their historical context and identify the political and ethical values that influenced them (relativism);

  • relate historiographical and cultural debates to contemporary issues;

  • write concise pieces that analyse set texts;

  • introduce an oral discussion of a set text;

  • write a historiographical essay about a topic in American history and culture of their choice.


See timetable.

Mode of instruction

Literature seminar.

Course load

Total course load for the course (10 ec x 28 hours): 280 hours:

  • Lectures/class attendance = 30 hours;

  • Preparation tutorials = Study of compulsory literature

  • Study of compulsory literature = 100 hours;

  • Assignment(s) = 10 hours;

  • Tutorials = 30 horus;

  • Oral Presentation = 10 hours;

  • Research essay = 100 hours.

Assessment method


  • Oral presentation (15%);

  • Two short writing assignments (20%);

  • Blackboard postings and participation in class discussion (15%);

  • Historiographical essay (5000 words) (50%).


See assessment.


If the essay receives an insufficient grade, it may be rewritten.

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. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard gives access to syllabus, biblioraphy, documentary sources, and additional texts.

Reading list

  • Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

  • Chandra Manning, What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War

  • Paul A. Kramer, Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines

  • Jefferson Cowie, The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics

  • Mireya Loza, Defiant Braceros: How Migrant Workers Fought for Racial, Sexual, and Political Freedom

  • Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime

  • Mark Philip Bradley, The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century

  • A number of additional articles will be posted on Blackboard


Via uSis.




Mw. Dr. J.C. (Joke) Kardux (Chair MA North American Studies)