Unit US Foreign Policy

International relations
Study-unit Code
Conflitti internazionali, studi strategici e analisi di politica estera
Claudia Bernardi
  • Claudia Bernardi
  • 42 ore - Claudia Bernardi
Course Regulation
Coorte 2023
Learning activities
Attività formative affini o integrative
Academic discipline
Type of study-unit
Opzionale (Optional)
Type of learning activities
Attività formativa monodisciplinare
Language of instruction
The course traces the main historical processes related to US foreign policy in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Reference texts

The following text is mandatory for all attending students. Attending students are allowed to a maximum of 4 absences. All texts and materials are available in the university libraries and databases; some materials are provided by the instructor and uploaded to the educational platform.

Arnaldo Testi, Il secolo degli Stati Uniti, Il Mulino, 2022.

Each student will choose an option and present all the texts of the chosen option, critically analyzing their contents. Each option corresponds to a theme. The presentations will take place from mid-April.

Non attending students must study critically all the texts listed in A (common texts) and then choose two options among those listed in B.

The following texts are mandatory for all non-attending students. All texts and materials are available in the University Libraries and databases.
Arnaldo Testi, Il secolo degli Stati Uniti, Il Mulino, 2022.
Capitoli: I, II, III, IV, V, VI.
Bruno Cartosio, Gli Stati Uniti Contemporanei (1865-2002), Giunti, 2002.
Capitolo: VIII.
Howard Zinn, Storia del popolo americano dal 1492 a oggi, Il Saggiatore, Milano, 2007. [disponibile in inglese presso l’Ateneo: A People’s History of the United States, Harper, New York, 1990].
Capitoli: 1, 12.

Non-attending students must choose two options among the following ones and study critically all the texts listed in the two chosen options.

B1) Rachel St. John, Line in the Sand. A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border, Princeton University Press, Princeton-NJ, 2011 [Introduction, Chapter one]; Brian D. Behnken, Borders of Violence & Justice. Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Law Enforcement in the Southwest, 1835-1935, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2022 [Introduction and Chapter 1] - testi forniti dalla docente.

B2) Kiran Klaus Patel, Il New Deal. Una storia globale, Einaudi, Torino, 2016 [Capitolo I e III].

B3) Ferdinando Fasce, I presidenti USA, Carocci, Roma, 2014 [Capitoli 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

B4) Bruno Cartosio, Anni inquieti: società media ideologie negli Stati Uniti da Truman a Kennedy, Editori riuniti, Roma, 1992 [Prefazione, Capitoli I, II, III, IV, V, VI].

B5) William J. Brinker, “Oral History and the Vietnam War”, in OAH Magazine of History, Spring, 1997, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 15-19, https://www.jstor.org/stable/25163146.

Charles B. MacDonald, “Official History and the War in Vietnam”, in Military Affairs, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Spring, 1968), pp. 2-13, https://www.jstor.org/stable/1983585.

Phil Melling, “Old History New History, No History at All? The Vietnam War As Affirmation of American Values”, in American Studies International, October 1990, Vol. 28, No. 2, Special Issue on the Impact of US Culture Abroad, pp. 93-105, https://www.jstor.org/stable/41280774.

Phillip E. Catton, “Refighting Vietnam in the History Books: The Historiography of the War”, in OAH Magazine of History, October, 2004, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 7-11, Oxford University Press on behalf of Organization of American Historians. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25163715.

Tricia Edwards, “The Vietnam War: History, Learning, and Leadership”, in OAH Magazine of History, Winter, 2002, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 53-55, Oxford University Press on behalf of Organization of American Historians, https://www.jstor.org/stable/25163508.

B6) Timothy J. Dunn, The militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, University of Texas, Austin, 1996 [Introduction, Chapter 4: testo fornito dalla docente].

B7) Benedetta Calandra, Il Corpo del Caribe. Le politiche sulla riproduzione tra Puetro Rico e Stati Uniti (1898-1993), ombre corte, Verona, 2020 [Introduzione, Capitolo primo, Capitolo secondo].

B8) Federico Romero, “La guerra fredda nella recente storiografia americana. Definizioni e interpretazioni”, in Italia Contemporanea, settembre, 1995, n. 200. Url: https://www.sissco.it/download/biblio_digitale/Romero_Guerra_fredda.pdf.

Michael F. Hopkins, “Continuing Debate and New Approaches in Cold War History.” The Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 4, 2007, pp. 913–34, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20175133.

John Lewis Gaddis, “The Tragedy of Cold War History.” Diplomatic History, vol. 17, no. 1, 1993, pp. 1–16. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24912257.

Odd Arne Westad, “The New International History of the Cold War: Three (Possible) Paradigms.” Diplomatic History, vol. 24, no. 4, 2000, pp. 551–65, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24914139.

J. Samuel Walker, “The Origins of the Cold War in United States History Textbooks.” The Journal of American History, vol. 81, no. 4, 1995, pp. 1652–61, https://doi.org/10.2307/2081654.
Educational objectives
• Develop an advanced knowledge of the main historical processes related to US foreign policy in the 19th and 20th centuries;
• Present the acquired contents into a coherent discourse considering the temporal axis;
• Develop students’ critical thinking through the analysis of the main historiographical approaches;
• Acquire the essential analytical tools for connecting historiographical issues to contemporary problems that are of greater interest to political science;
• Improve oral expressive skills through participation in class debate and through class presentation;
• Improve written expressive skills through a final test and the writing of a short essay.
A good knowledge of contemporary history and of the English language is required.
Teaching methods
The lessons will be carried out with the support of power point presentations to facilitate the first approach to the main historiographical issues. The course will use primary and secondary sources, including maps, films, photographs, documentaries, etc. During the lessons, all students are encouraged to ask questions, comment and join the discussion with doubts and insights to foster class debate and collective understanding. The second part of the course works as a seminar and will take place through the in-class presentation of selected essays by the attending students, from the end of April.
The instructor is always available to support the student in the study of primary and secondary sources, in the preparation of the in-class presentation, and in the writing of the short essay.
Other information
Class begins on Tuesday 21st of February.
Attendance is mandatory and students are allowed up to four absences.
CONTACT: claudia.bernardi@unipg.it

OFFICE HOURS: by appointment, please get in contact with the instructor. Before getting in contact with the instructor, please read the syllabus carefully.
Learning verification modality
The final grade will be calculated as follows:
• Attendance and participation (25%): the students will have to attend every lesson and are allowed to a maximum of 4 absences. Class discussions are the driving force behind this course as learning is a collective process that is enriched with everyone’s contribution. Students are warmly invited to discuss the topics raised in class, asking questions and commenting during the lesson.
• In-class presentation (25%): the students will choose one option among the eight proposed and prepare a 10-minute oral presentation to the class. The oral presentation is not a mere summary, but it is required to critically analyze the texts and present them clearly. The presentations will take place from 2 to 24 May.
• Short essay (25%): the students will prepare a short scientific article of 800/1000 words on the texts they have studied for the in-class presentation. The article is not a summary of the essays assigned, but a critical work in which doubts are raised, a historiographical problem is analyzed, further research hypotheses are proposed, also making use of additional sources. The article must be clear in terms of spelling and syntax. The short essay will be delivered via email to the teacher by 1 June 2023 (essays will not be accepted after this date).
• Final test (25%): the final test consists of multiple choice questions and open-ended questions and verifies the learning of the main historical processes studied during the lessons and through the study of the mandatory texts. The written exam must be clear in terms of spelling and syntax. The test takes place during the last lesson of the course.
Extended program
The course traces the main historical processes related to US foreign policy in the 19th and 20th centuries. At the beginning of the course, the main methodological tools for the study of the Americas will be provided.
The lessons will analyze the historiographical debate and the main historical transformations that have affected the United States, including the definition and militarization of the border, imperialism, US reproductive policies in the Caribbean, the crisis of 1929 in a global perspective, the Second World War, the representation of the USA in the media, the Alliance for Progress, the war in Vietnam, the Cold War. Particular emphasis will be placed on the most recent historiographical perspectives, providing insights into the global history approach to the study of the United States.
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