American History

Despite its recent economic difficulties, the United States remains a military, economic and cultural superpower.

Whether inspiring admiration or hostility, the United States is a nation which is impossible to ignore.  At Monash, we examine the expansion of the United States from a small nation on the fringes of the nineteenth-century world to a global force in the modern era.

We look at the great events and central themes of the American past, including the Civil War, race relations, and foreign policy. Our aim is not only to understand the complex forces which have shaped American society, but also the history of a world which continues to be decisively affected by American influence and power.

Staff Research Areas

The History Program includes a number of staff working on topics in American History:

Tim Verhoeven       Modern American history
Kat Ellinghaus        Social and cultural history of the United States and Australia
Clare Corbould       Modern American history; urban history; sound and senses; performance; biography; race
Taylor Spence         Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century American colonialism; colonial expansion

Undergraduate Units Offered

We offer a number of units in American history. For a full list of units, see handbook but you might want to consider:

ATS2908/3908 – Making the American century: US expansion from colonies to superpower Semester 2 2012. This unit examines the history of the US in the world, asking how a federation of former colonies eventually became a political, military and cultural power of global reach. It focuses on the early-mid twentieth century, but sets this period against themes and problems arising from 19th century continental expansion. The course explores the validity of imperialism, nationalism and internationalism as conceptual frames, explores the development of distinct foreign policy platforms in domestic politics, and covers such themes as US relations with Latin America, the problem of Americanization, the shaping of post-war world orders, and the use of covert and overt military interventions.
ATS2616/3616 – Twentieth-century America: Race, rights and power Not offered in 2012. After providing a general overview of the history of the United States in the twentieth century, this unit examines three key themes. ‘Race’ traces struggles over the meaning of racial difference in America, with a particular emphasis on the civil rights and black protest movements. ‘Rights’ examines the contest over civil, social and human rights in the United States between 1900 and 2000 and the meaning of ‘freedom’ for women, cultural minorities and the poor. ‘Power’ examines Americans’ continuing debates about their place in the world, with a particular emphasis upon the role of the United States in twentieth-century global and regional conflicts.


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