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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: The Rise of Modern U.S. Conservatism (online) (PGHC11392)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course investigates the history of political conservatism in the United States from the Great Depression to the Reagan years. As well as analysing the activities of the Republican Party in power and in pursuit of power, the course explores the development of conservative ideas and of conservative movements over time.
Course description Conservatism is currently among the most fertile fields of study on twentieth-century U.S. political history. In 1994, historian Alan Brinkley observed that scholars of the United States during the twentieth century had largely failed to explain the strength of conservative politics, generally choosing to focus instead on liberals and liberalism. Since then, this literature has undergone a significant transformation, as historians have tackled many of the oversights identified by Brinkley and have pursued other research questions as well. The result is an increasingly sophisticated body of work. This course will encourage students to explore the historiography of modern American conservatism and to engage with key debates within this literature. It will help students to identify research topics for further investigation. The course will investigate the modern history of conservative ideas in the United States, the strategies of conservative politicians in pursuit of power and their actions once they won power, and the development of movements that sought to mobilise grassroots support for conservative ideas. The most intensely contested debate that the course analyses involves the reasons for the decline of liberalism and the rise of conservatism from the 1960s onwards. The course will explore methodologies and approaches taken by scholars - including not only historians but also those working within other disciplines, notably that of politics - to their investigations of the subject. It will also explore the nature of the primary material available to historians in studying different aspects of the subject.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate in coursework a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning the history of modern U.S. conservatism
  2. Demonstrate in coursework an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning modern U.S. conservatism, relevant primary source materials, and conceptual discussions about political history
  3. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by way of coursework, by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate in coursework originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
Patrick Allitt, The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities throughout American History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009)

Donald T. Critchlow, The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007)

David Farber, The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism: A Short History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010)

Godfrey Hodgson, The World Turned Right Side Up: A History of the Conservative Ascendancy in America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996)

Allan J. Lichtman, White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement (New York: Atlantic Monthly, 2008)

Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001)

Robert Mason, The Republican Party and American Politics from Hoover to Reagan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001)

Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (New York: Norton, 2009)

Catherine E. Rymph, Republican Women: Feminism and Conservatism from Suffrage to the Rise of the New Right (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006)

Jonathan M. Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern American Conservatism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)

Bruce J. Schulman and Julian E. Zelizer, eds., Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The study of the past gives students a unique understanding of the past that will enable them to succeed in a broad range of careers. The transferable skills gained from this course include:
- understanding of complex issues and how to draw valid conclusions from the past
- ability to analyse the origins and development of current political questions
- a command of bibliographical and library- and/or IT-based online and offline research skills
- a range of skills in reading and textual analysis
- ability to question and problematize evidence; considering the relationship between evidence and interpretation
- understanding ethical dimensions of research and their relevance for human relationships today
- ability to marshal arguments lucidly, coherently and concisely, both orally and in writing
- ability to deliver a paper or a presentation in front of peer audiences
- ability to design and execute pieces of written work and to present them suitably, as evidenced by the final assessment essay of 3,000 words
KeywordsModern American Conservatism
Course organiserProf Robert Mason
Tel: (0131 6)50 3770
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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