Course code: bbnan03400 Time and place: Mondays 14. 15, Amb 208 Instructor



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USA: From Colonies to Colonies – cultural foundations and expressions of expansion.

/US history, Culture, Foreign Policy, International Relations/



Course code: BBNAN03400

Time and place: Mondays 14.15, AMB 208

Instructor: Balogh Beatrix

Office Hours: Mondays 13.30-14.15 Amb 134, or by appointment at trixiebalogh@yahoo.com

Language: English

Purpose: Critical reading of US expansion; getting acquainted with US ideology underlying acquisitions and exerting influence; reading contemporary reflections, and honing critical thinking skills.

Brief summary: It is a seminar course that discusses the evolution of the United States as an “Empire” spanning a continent, and stretching way beyond its shores. We are going to explore the path from the original 13 colonies to the quasi colonies, termed US Overseas Territories, and to the present “imperial politics” in the international arena. Why has the US expanded westward and beyond? What have been the underlying cultural, economic, and strategic considerations for annexing new territories or letting them “into a sisterhood of states”?

Does Manifest Destiny, opening new Frontiers, military strategic considerations, or the need for new markets, the urge to spread democracy, or fighting for global freedom provide better explanation? Is American Exceptionalism, another metaphoric understanding of expanding control, or some down-to earth explanation is the answer? Should the roots of imperial quest be found in domestic political-cultural factors or the tenets of International Relations theories? And indeed, would the same factors explain US behavior in international politics?

Apart from getting acquainted with the historical and diplomatic crossroads of “Imperial stretching” our in-class discussions will center on the question “why”. Readings include text-book chapters, internet sources, and brief studies from a variety of authors treating certain aspects of US expansion. It will be our task to then clash these ideas.

Requirements: class participation, Home assignments, end-term test

Students are expected to prepare for each class and participate in discussions. Bring ideas about the assigned readings. Complementary - primarily internet-based research - is encouraged. Evaluation and grading is based on active and meaningful class participation, completion of home assignments (two article summaries: one assigned, one chosen), occasional in-class quizzes, and an end-term test.

Students may also give a short presentation in class (non-compulsory) highlighting the main ideas of a recommended reading or the intriguing issues of a specific expansion-move (more details in syllabus). The short talk should be accompanied by a typed hand-out that contains the key points of the presentation and your sources.

The draft syllabus below provides an overview of the main topics and questions to be discussed during the course and indicates some of the recommended readings from which we will select relevant excerpts (usually 5-8 pages for each class). Further details on the requirements, attendance and grading policy will be provided at the first class session.



Draft Syllabus

I. Myths of empire

  • Introduction, syllabus, assignments, requirements, clarifying terminology, discussing bibliography, PLEASE bring the printout of the syllabus to the first class.

  • A case study: Puerto Rico from colony to statehood (ppt) AND Intro to reading scholarly texts

  • Is there an American Empire? – Myth and realities, AND How do myths relate to metaphors? Untying metaphors I: American Exceptionalism, Global police, Harbinger of democracy and freedom, the inadvertent or benevolent empire

  • Untying metaphors II: Metaphors in Culture and Language, Conceptual Metaphors, ICMs, and derivatives: Wars, games, family, The Fairy tale scenario, The Global Sheriff, Family Models and FP

II. The Westward Expansion

  • The Westward expansion, Pioneers, Settlers and opening new lands –Organizing space

  • Wars over territories, Purchases and the close of Frontier

  • Manifest Destiny, Frontier, and the Monroe Doctrine – discussion of cultural-ideological motivations for expansion

  • Non-contiguous territories: Alaska and Hawaii AND State centered realism

III. Overseas Expansion

  • The Spanish American War, The underlying metaphors for colonialism

  • The underlying IR theories (realism, liberalism, constructivism)

  • The emergence of a superpower – World War II and after

  • Conclusions (Is there a single organizing force? departure/contiguity, national/international patterns)

Planned dates: Feb 10, 17, 24 Mar 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, Apr 7, (Easter Holiday: 14, 21) 28, May 5, 12, 19

Recommended Readings (the reading list may be subject to change):

Caroll, Peter N. and David W. Noble. The Free and the Unfree. A New History of the United States. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1987, Chapter 7

Eubanks, Virginia. “The Mythography of the “New Frontier” MIT communications forum papers WEB http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/papers/eubanks.html

Fein, Bruce “The Myths that Made and Empire” The American Conservative, August 2010

Frederick Jackson Turner, 1893 “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” WEB

Hunt, Michael. Ideology and US Foreign Policy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987, Chapter 6, and “afterword” in the new (2009) edition available online

Lubragge, Michael T. “Manifest Destiny - The Philosophy That Created A Nation” WEB

Munro, John. “Empire and Intersectionality. Notes on the Production of Knowledge about US Imperialism.” WEB

Odom, William E. “American Hegemony: How to Use, it How to Lose it” Monterey Institute of international Studies, Middlebury.edu

Odom ,William E. America’s Inadvertent Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. Chapters 1, 2

O'Sullivan, John L. on Manifest Destiny, 1839 Excerpted from "The Great Nation of Futurity," The United States Democratic Review, Volume 6, Issue 23, pp. 426-430.

Patterson, Michael, at al. A History of American Foreign Relations. Volume 2. 6th ed. Chapters 1, 2, 12

Schumacher, Frank. “The American Way of Empire: National Tradition and Transatlantic Adaptation in America’s Search for Imperial Identity, 1898-1910” GHI Bulleting No 31. Fall 2002) 35-50.

Slaughter, Anne-Marie. “International Relations, Principal Theories” in Wolfrum, R. (Ed.) Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Oxford University Press, 2011) www.mpepil.com

“Milestones: 1866-1898”: “Annexation of Hawaii, 1898” and “The Spanish-American War” From Office of the Historian, US Department of State. http://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/Annexation_of_Hawaii

Zakaria, Fareed. From Wealth to Power. The unusual Origins of America’s World Role. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1999, Introduction, Chapters 2,3, 5





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