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Theme description HIS111

History of the United States

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Library of Congress

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HIS111 is a course which aims at giving a condensed introduction to the history of the United States of America from the first European settlement in 1607 to the present time. The course is organized around three main themes:

 

A. Democracy and Nation Building

This theme is covering the status of the 13 colonies inside the British Empire, their struggle for independence up to 1783, the development of a constitution and a federative state, and the consolidation of state and nation up to the crisis culminating by the Civil War 1861-65. The theme is then extended to the late 20th century, presenting the recent past with focus on political developments, social changes since World War II, civil rights and other reform movements.

B. Immigration and Industrialization

Starting with a retrospective on colonial North America, this theme is mainly concerned with the exceptional development of the US-economy during the 19th and early 20th century. Topics like agriculture, infrastructure, demography, social relations, education and science are included as well. The theme is rounded off by a description of the Depression and the New Deal of the 1930’s.

C. USA in the World

The third and last theme is covering the 20th century and exploring the US as an actor on the global stage. Participation in the two world wars is examined, as well as the role of the US in international relations during the long Cold War period, and the redefinition of this role after 1989. Events are considered both from an American and from an outsider’s perspective. Finally particular attention is given to American influence on the world economy.

 

Overview over lectures

  1. Introduction. The 13 colonies to 1750: lead-up to the American Revolution
  2. The struggle for independence and nation-founding. (A) 
  3. The young democracy in growth and crisis – to 1850: Federal era, Jacksonian era, sectional tensions. (A)
  4. The Civil War 1861-65: Background, warfare.(A/B) 
  5. Geographical expansion 1800-1900; The “American West and American spaces.” (B) 
  6. Expansion and the American Indians. (B) 
  7. Industrialization. (B) 
  8. Ideology and mythological America. (B) 
  9. Agriculture and industry, American West 1865–1930 (B)
  10. USA in international politics, economy and culture (to 1940) (C)
  11. American ideology and mythology. (B)