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The Intermestic Cold War: How the Bipolar Conflict Reshaped US Foreign and Domestic Policies


Admission requirements

History students should have successfully completed their propaedeutic exam and both second-year BA-seminars, one of which in Algemene Geschiedenis.


The Cold War was a forty-year struggle for world hegemony. It was an ideological conflict, at the center of which stood the struggle between capitalism and communism. It was a military conflict that witnessed the creation of opposing alliances, the rise of international tensions due to a spiralling nuclear arms race, and the mushrooming of “local” and “proxy” wars in several areas in the world. It was also an overarching political conflict, in which the two superpowers confronted each other not only through conventional diplomacy, but also through the mobilisation of private institutions, NGOs, and public opinion. This course will address this complex and multi-dimensional nature of the Cold War by mostly focusing on the conseuqences it had on both the American foreign and domestic policy making. Throughout the Cold War the US transformed itself into the world’s leading power, yet, at the cost of fundamentally rearranging its domestic priorities. The consequences of this process affected civil rights and immigration policies, created an overintrusive national security state and paved the way for an unprecedented growth of the executive power, transformed American industry and influenced American (popular) culture. By considering and assessing simultaneously the international and domestic (that is, “intermestic”) consequences that the Cold War had on the US, this course will eventually provide the students with a many-sided and interdisciplinary view of post-1945 US and international history.

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 specialisation General History: of the place of European history from 1500 in a worldwide perspective; with a focus on the development and role of political institutions;
    -in the track 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;
    -in the track History of European Expansion and Globalisation: of the development of global networks which facilitate ann ever growing circulation of people, animals, plants, goods and ideas, and the central role of European expansion in this from around 1500.

  • 8) Knowledge and insight in the main concepts, the research methods and techniques of the specialisation, more specifically;
    -in the specialisation General History: of the study of primary sources and the context specificity of nationally defined histories;
    -in the track American History: of exceptionalism; analysis of historiografical and intellectual debates;
    -in the track History of European Expansion and Globalisation: of the combining of historiographical debates with empirical research of primary sources and/or the combining of various historiographical traditions through the use of innovative research questions.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this specific seminar

By the end of the course, the students will be able to:

  • 9) Elaborate on the ‘origins’ of the Cold War and on the different interpretations of it;

  • 10) Understand and discuss the impact that the Cold War ihad on US foreign and domestic policies;

  • 11) Assess the long -asting consequences of the Cold War, both for the US and for the rest of the world;


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.

  • Lectures: 26 hours

  • Preparation for classes (including oral presentations): 24 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 80 hours

  • Writing a paper (including literature study): 150 hours

Assessment method


  • Written paper (6000-7000 words, based on problem-oriented research using primary sources, excluding front page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    measured learning objectives: 2-5, 9-11

  • Oral presentation
    measured learning objectives: 3-5, 10

  • Participation
    measured learning objectives: 6, 10-11


  • Written paper: 60%

  • Oral presentation: 20%

  • Particiation: 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 deadlines

Reading list

  • John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy during the Cold War (New York: Oxfrod University Press, Revised and Expanded Edition, 2005)

  • Craig, Campbell, and Fredrik Logevall, America's Cold War: The Politics of Insecurity (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012)

For each class, the instructor will distribute further bibliographical references, including primary sources, e-reserve articles, and excerpts from books.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dario Fazzi