MA in American History University College Dublin

Posted: July 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Idea of America(Semester 1)
Professor Maurice J Bric
America is many things to many people and fixing the “idea” (referring to the mental representation
and conception of America and, more particularly, the United States) in a historical moment of time
can seem problematic. The module aims to introduce students to the formation and development of
ways people have conceived of America. The module consists of a weekly two-hour seminar
structured around both the positive and negative aspects of a particular historical idea of America,
including the United States and Canada. This is not a narrative module and neither is it confined to
purely American ideas – the global perspective is also explored. This module offers a historical
understanding of the key ideas of America, the debates surrounding them and the way they have
developed and changed over time.
The Making of United States Foreign Policy from FDR to GWB (Semester 2)
Dr Sandra Scanlon
is module uses a range of source materials to explore the making of United States foreign policy
from the Roosevelt to the Bush administrations. Students will consider the various inuences on
presidential foreign policymaking, including ideology, public opinion and relationships with allies.
Domestic constraints on presidential policymaking inuenced the grand strategies pursued by
administrations from Franklin Roosevelt’s attempts to overcome Congressional isolationism during
the 1930s to George W. Bush’s eorts to sell the Iraq War to a reluctant public in 2002-3. Case studies
are used to explore the relationship between domestic political considerations and foreign policy, for
example American responses to the Holocaust are examined to determine the extent of their
inuence on President Truman’s decision to recognise Israel in 1948. While the role of lobby groups
and ideological political action committees expanded over this period, the emergence of television
news and the Internet changed the ways in which the public learned of international events; each
altered the context in which the president could create and ‘sell’ his foreign policies.
In addition to these two core courses, students take one option (either in Semester I or in Semester 2)
from the wide variety of courses available in the School. These options include a course from the Mary
Ball Washington Professor of American History. The holder of this chair changes from year to year.
He/she will also be available to students for advice on dissertations.
continued overleafIn addition to the above academic modules, students will also take research training.
is training focuses on those skills required by research students to develop their work and
introduce students to dierent types of methodologies and archives. Of great importance is the
seminar itself which allows students to present their ideas, to structure an argument, and to have
these challenged. In this way, we encourage a variety of skills which can be used in ways other than
e culmination of the programme is a 15,000 word dissertation which is based on original research
and due at the end of July. Each student will be supervised by a member of the School who will meet
with him/her to assess progress and to discuss the project. ere is also an opportunity to present
aspects of their work to their peers.
Who does this MA?
e underlying objective of this MA is not only to provide upper-level students with a sense of how
the United States has evolved but more particularly to allow them to explore in greater detail areas
in which they have a special interest. As such, both the overarching core courses and the more
detailed optional modules allow the student to realise both a particular and a general knowledge of
the United States within the conceptual framework of “how America is perceived”.
In more general terms, this MA will give students a keener and more informed knowledge of politics
and society in the United States and how they impact on the world at large. We receive students
from diverse backgrounds and our students return to many backgrounds. Some of course decide to
pursue further study and we gave such students every encouragement to do so.


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