Colloquium 5 - History for Educators: The U.S. and The World

In 1941, the imperious Henry Luce, the publishing magnate of Time Magazine and other journals of news and opinion, declared that the 20th century should be "the American Century."And, indeed it was. American economic and military power reigned supreme, our culture was in high demand and high regard around the world, and the United States was undergoing a democratic foment at home and projecting a progressive imageabroad. Throughout the balance of the 20th century, the United States remained the most significant player on the global stage. But, what are the implications of this American Century?

One thing we know is that brief though it has been, the 21st century has challenged our notions of America's place in the world. The United States already has a very different relationship with the rest of the world. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989—and the subsequent drawing back of the Iron Curtain—we have witnessed the rise of a neoliberal economic order, the beginnings of a massive global labor migration, the growing threat of global climate change, the rediscovery of poverty around the world, September 11th and the "war on terrorism," and, of course, global economic crisis. Unsurprisingly, these currents and events have led to a renewed interest in the history of U.S. foreign relations—itself re-christened as the study of 'the U.S. and the World.' Whereas the "old" diplomatic history sought to understand the levers and gears of international history on battlefields, in formal treaties, among statesmen, and at peace conferences, we will be casting a much wider net. This spring, we will explore the history of "America in a global context" by looking at culture and cultural exchange, at migrations and social movements, at the role of economics and commerce, and at new interpretations of war and politics.

 

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