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

Postgraduate Course: Conservatism in the United States, c.1930-c.1990 (PGHC11190)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course offers an investigation of a central topic in twentieth-century U.S. political history: the development of conservatism from the New Deal 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 In 1994, Alan Brinkley observed that historians 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. Over the past decade, 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. This course encourages students to explore the historiography of modern American conservatism and to engage with key debates within this literature. The course investigates 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 grass-roots support for conservative ideas. Among the themes under consideration are the nature of conservatism in the American South and the emergence of the Republican party there. 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 explores methodologies and approaches taken by scholars - including not only historians but also those working within other disciplines, notably that of political science - to their investigations of the subject. It also explores 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
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One essay of between 4000-5000 words.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning the history of modern U.S. conservatism
  2. Analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning modern U.S. conservatism, relevant primary source materials, and conceptual discussions about political history
  3. Develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate 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 Not entered
KeywordsConservatism United States
Course organiserDr Nick Batho
Course secretaryMr George Bottrell-Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)50 8349
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