U.S. in the World
The field of United States history is currently experiencing a period of profound transformation as scholars work to eradicate the disciplinary barriers that often distinguished between national and world history as mutually exclusive pursuits. Over the past decade, Texas A&M’s Department of History has been the gathering place of much remarkable research working to re-orient U.S. history in order to better understand how the nation’s past has long been embedded in far larger planetary systems of migration, economic development, technological adaptation, and communication. This cluster is part of a broader intellectual push to reframe United States history as deeply immersed in hemispheric and global affairs. We posit that American history is more fully and best understood as entangled in other histories, and that other histories gain enhanced perspective when told in relationship with the United States. We also seek to study the very meaningful ways that events within and decisions made by the United States have resonated around the wider world. We help both our students and ourselves to become more conscientious national and global citizens by emphasizing the longstanding intercultural connections that have transcended the territorial limits of the nation-state and bound people together. We stress that good history should also teach humility: the United States is more productively studied not as an exceptional country or “blessed among nations,” but rather as a “nation among nations” subject to the same processes and global systems that simultaneously shaped other places and other peoples.
Rationale, or, “Why this Cluster?”
A U.S. in the World cluster, with its emphasis upon expansiveness—both geographic and thematic—is particularly appropriate given the department’s desire to foster dialogue across a variety of fields. The traditional separation between the United States and “everything else” might be more effectively overcome by a paradigm that fundamentally rejects that distinction. A U.S. in the World cluster has the added benefit of placing the department well in line with an emerging scholarly trend. We provide an important locus of transnational and comparative research and teaching of significance to the discipline more broadly. Over the past decade at least, several important scholarly journals such as the American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Journal of the Early Republic, and Diplomatic History have dedicated special issues to the debate over internationalizing American history. Moreover, professional organizations such as the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Society for the Historians of the Early American Republic, and Society for the Historians of American Foreign Relations spend larger and larger portions of their annual conferences discussing research related to situating U.S. history alongside that of the wider world. Our faculty have produced (and are currently producing) books, textbooks, articles, and papers deeply engaged with those conversations. Our graduate students, meanwhile, have also presented research at these venues, and are themselves being trained in dramatically expanded conceptions of what constitutes U.S. history. New methodology is being employed within our graduate program that emphasizes the need to study non-state actors in foreign relations, the importance of utilizing international archives, and the valuable perspective that multi-lingual research can bring to scholarship. In other words, this is an enormously vibrant and still-growing thrust within the field that shows little sign of abating. Our program has long included productive members of this discussion, and it is useful, therefore, to more formally organize.
The internationalization of U.S. history, however, is not merely a matter of academic concern. As part of the College of Liberal Arts’ (and Vision 2020’s) mission to globalize Texas A&M University, a U.S. in the World cluster provides our students the opportunity to study the past with an eye to the connective links that have long bound together seemingly dispersed peoples. If familiarizing students with cultural difference and enabling them to navigate the immense diversity of the present is one advantage of history, it follows that classrooms which emphasize the largest context of the American past would be most beneficial. Our cornerstone U.S. history survey courses that connect us most closely to the university’s entire student body, HIST 105 and 106, have already reflected this shift in the core conceptions regarding how we present the nation’s past. Syllabi and teaching material for those classes reflect the commitment of our faculty to offering a more complex understanding of American history as embedded in international affairs. It stands to reason that a U.S. in the World cluster would allow us to build off that precedent to offer a more thematically and intellectually coherent series of courses designed to prepare students for their self-consciously global lives in the twenty-first century.
Undergraduate courses which fit into a U.S. in the World cluster and in which the international dimensions of American history are particularly evident include:
HIST 105: U.S. to 1877
HIST 106: U.S. 1877 to the present
HIST 319: U.S. Immigration and Ethnicity
HIST 343: Inter-American Relations
HIST 359: American Environmental History
HIST 360: History of the American Petroleum Industry
HIST 363: History of Science in America
HIST 364: History of Technology
HIST 367: Colonization of North America
HIST 368: The Early Republic
HIST 374: U.S. after WWII
HIST 443: American Military History to 1901
HIST 444: American Military History since 1901
HIST 453: The American Frontier
HIST 462: American Foreign Relations to 1913
HIST 463: American Foreign Relations since 1913
HIST 464: International Developments since 1918
HIST 470: History of American Business
HIST 481: Various Senior Seminars
HIST 601: Colonial North America
HIST 604: The Early Republic
HIST 613: Twentieth Century United States Diplomacy
HIST 621: The Emergence of Modern America
HIST 622: War, Prosperity, and Depression
HIST 623: America since World War II
HIST 645: Modern Military History
HIST 646: Readings in Military History
HIST 666: History of Technology
HIST 678: Comparative Border Studies
HIST 679: Topics in Comparative Border Studies
HIST 634: Maritime History and Sea Power
Terry Anderson is Professor of History and Cornerstone Faculty Fellow. He was a Fulbright Professor in China, Indonesia, and the Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History at University College, Dublin. He is the author of numerous articles on the 1960s and has authored The Movement and the Sixties, and numerous editions of The Sixties, both of which investigate the American experience in the Vietnam War. He has examined the daily lives of servicemen during World War II in The Flying Tiger's Diary (with pilot Charles Bond), and U.S.-British-USSR relations with his The United States, Great Britain, and the Cold War, 1944-47. His most recent book is Bush's Wars (2011).
Troy Bickham's research and teaching interests place the early American experience in the context of the global British Empire. His work has examined such topics as how colonial interactions with American Indians influenced British religious and intellectual culture, how the American Revolution shaped popular political culture in Britain, and, most recently, how the North American War of 1812 played out in a global context. His courses on American history (HIST105 and HIST368) treat the American colonies and early United States as parts of global networks of commerce, politics and culture that shaped the political developments of the United States and the lives of ordinary Americans even to the extent to what they ate and how they ate it.
James C. Bradford Trained in early American history, Bradford has expanded his interests to include maritime, naval, and military history. His courses on American history (HIST 105 and HIST 368) place the early republic in the context of Revolutionary Europe and those in American sea power (HIST 232) focus on defense policy and strategy viewing American naval forces in the context of American foreign relations. These themes are developed in such edited works at Admirals of the New Steel Navy and Crucible of Empire. He is currently writing a biography of John Paul Jones which explores his role in North Atlantic commerce, relations with Revolutionary France, and the development of an American naval tradition.
Jonathan Coopersmith's research and teaching emphasize that technology cannot be viewed simply in a national context, but must be understood in a larger international context. His research on the history of the fax machine weaves a Möbius strip of a tale from Europe to the United States and Japan, while his classes show how technology has been essential to American identity, economic growth, and foreign policy.
Thomas Dunlap's research on America in the world centers on environmental issues. Nature and the English Diaspora compared ideas about nature in the Anglo settler colonies of the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, building on a comparison of U.S. and Canadian predator policies in his earlier Saving America’s Wildlife. In the classroom this interest appears in the continuing shift in lecture material in History 105-106 toward American ties to the rest of the world, beginning with the Atlantic World connections of the seventeenth century to globalization today.
Andrew J. Kirkendall's current research on the Cold War and Latin American democracy examines the role the US played in influencing the political evolution of Latin America from the 1940s through the early 1990s. On the undergraduate level he offers “Inter-American Relations” (HIST 343), and HIST 464, “International Developments since 1918.” In both classes, Kirkendall places a strong emphasis on the role of the US in the world. On the graduate level he has taught courses on U.S.-Latin American relations as a 689 and intends to propose that a regular course be added to the catalog on that subject.
Brian Linn is the Ralph R. Thomas Professor in Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. He is the author of four books emphasizing the US military role in the world: The U.S. Army and Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War (1989); Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940 (1997); The Philippine War, 1899-1902 (2000); The Echo of Battle: The Army’s Way of War (2007). His current research focuses on the US military overseas in the post-WW2 era. He has been an Olin Fellow at Yale University, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, and Woodrow Wilson International Center Fellow, and a Fulbright Fellow at the National University of Singapore. From 2009-2011 he served as president of the Society for Military History.
Harold Livesay's business history research and teaching of business history and the history of technology have always placed the American story in an international context. The second edition of Livesay’s book American Made focused on the impact of globalization; the just-published third edition has extended this coverage considerably. In HIST 105 and beyond, Livesay stresses that history shows that America has always functioned as part of global systems.
Jason Parker's research on US-"Third World" relations studies both the formal and informal "diplomacy" embedded in the interactions of empires, nations, and peoples. Parker examines the ways in which state- and non-state actors in the United States engaged with their counterparts abroad within a complicated matrix of strategy, security, decolonization, and race during the long "American Century." His first book looked at the actions of the US government and of African Americans in the push for independence in the British West Indies. Parker’s current project examines the US public-diplomacy campaigns to win the "hearts and minds" of the global South during the Cold War-- and how those campaigns inadvertently contributed to the formation of the Third World as a geopolitical concept and entity. His work moves across a number of subjects, areas, and themes-- empire, race/ethnicity, nationalism, and particular regions of the world-- but it is always rooted in an American connection of one kind or another.
Lisa Y. Ramos (American Southwest/Borderlands) Lisa Y. Ramos is interested in how people construct notions of race and ethnicity across various regions and time periods. Her current work examines how Mexican Americans reconstructed racial identities in the early to mid-twentieth century based upon Mexican and American notions of political belonging and rights. In Ramos’ second project, she plans to examine how women from the Americas influenced notions of human rights in the early twentieth century through organizations such as the Inter-American Commission of Women.
Brian Rouleau's research examines the ways in which America’s maritime community connected the nation to the wider world from the eighteenth century onward. His HIST 105, 453, and 462 classrooms, meanwhile, have all placed great stress on the transformative role that events overseas have had on U.S. history, as well as the influence America’s ideology and citizenry have had among other peoples and places.
Adam Seipp teaches courses in military history and the history of war and society. His current book project (forthcoming: Indiana University Press) examines the role of various categories of refugees in American-occupied Germany after World War II. He has written a number of book chapters and articles on American basing policy in Europe and everyday life in Germany under the occupation. He also supervises several graduate students working on topics related to the occupation and the early Cold War.
received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2011. Her book manuscript,
Nowhere to Hide: International Fugitives and American
Power, uses international manhunts as a window onto the nature of American informal imperialism at the turn of the twentieth century, exploring how the United States came to treat the Western Hemisphere, and eventually the entire globe, as part of its criminal jurisdiction. Her work argues that law is an important, but often overlooked, means of understanding how American actors wielded international power. She teaches an undergraduate course on American Empired
Julia Erin Wood's current work is a transnational history analyzing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), its relationship with international liberation struggles, and the place of Cold War politics in defining domestic civil rights from 1960 through the early 1970s. While the civil rights movement has typically been historicized as a southern and/or national phenomenon, it can be more fully understood as a transnational movement. There were symbiotic relationships between freedom struggles in the United States and in decolonizing countries, with peoples and events around the world inspiring and affecting one another. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, a cross-continental dialogue of race and rights emerged, and the civil rights movement needs to be placed within this transnational context. Wood argues that SNCC demanded social change within and beyond the borders of the United States, and that a better understanding of SNCC furthers the internationalization of U.S. history, and a new retelling of the Black freedom struggle. More broadly, she is interested in transnational United States history, as well as investigating the ways in which local, national, and international histories are intertwined.