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Major Issues in American History


Admission requirements

Open to MA students only


This course focuses on a few of the scholarly debates about American history that historians have engaged in. Exploring classic works and recent studies about aspects of American history such as the American Revolution, American foreign policy, slavery, and immigration history, students will become acquainted with the major facts and aspects of these topics of American history and the presuppositions (theoretical and otherwise) and biases of the historians discussing them.

Course objectives

The course aims to make students familiar with a few topics of American history, the academic debates about these topics, and the theoretical issues involved in the debates.


See course-schedule

Mode of Instruction

Class discussion of individual authors and of class presentations

Assessment method

Participation in class discussions, presentation, and paper.



Reading list

  • Stanley Elkins, Slavery (1959)

  • Jane Tompkins, Sensational Designs (1985)

  • Bell Hooks, Yearning (1990)

  • Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1993)

  • Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob, Telling the Truth about History (1995)

  • Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence (2002)

  • David Roediger, Working toward Whiteness (2005)

  • George McKenna, The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism (2007)


See enrolment-procedure

Contact Information

With the tutor: Dr. E.F. van de Bilt