Syllabus Fall 2016: Ideas Across Borders: Transnational Intellectual Studies in U.S. History

History 5305

Ideas across Borders: Transnational Intellectual Studies in U.S. History


Professor Patrick Iber

Fall 2016 / Tuesday 1:30-4:20 / LART 322


The “transnational turn” in U.S. historiography has made scholars aware of the interdependence of U.S. history on the history of the rest of the world. It has had a particularly significant impact on intellectual and cultural history, which is now written with an eye towards international currents and contexts. This graduate readings class will present several significant examples of works that use transnational projects—some set in the borderlands, some not—to generate new insight into the history of the United States. We will use their examples to think through how borderlands history anticipates and can take advantage of the transnational turn.




Week 1, August 23:

Thomas Bender, “Historians, the Nation, and the Plenitude of Narratives,” 1-21, in Thomas Bender, ed., Rethinking American History in a Global Age, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).


Week 2, August 30:

Ashli White, Encountering Revolution: Haiti and the Making of the Early Republic, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. ISBN 9780801894152


Week 3, September 6:

Gordon S. Wood, Americanization of Benjamin Franklin, New York: Penguin Press, 2004. ISBN 159420019X


Week 4, September 13:

Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981. ISBN 0674745728


Week 5, September 20:

Rebecca Scott, Degrees of Freedom, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005. ISBN 0674019326


Week 6, September 27:

Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998. ISBN 0674051319


Week 7, October 4:

Claudio Lomnitz, The Return of Comrade Flores Magón. Brooklyn: Zone Books, 2014. ISBN 9781935408437


Week 8, October 11:

Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 9780195176155


Week 9, October 18:

Ruben Flores, Backroads Pragmatists: Mexico’s Melting Pot and Civil Rights in the United States. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. ISBN 9780812246209


Week 10, October 25:

Mary Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. ISBN 0691016615


Week 11, November 1:

Nico Slate, Colored Cosmopolitanism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012. ISBN 9780674059672


Week 12, November 8:

Patrick Iber, Neither Peace nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015. ISBN 9780674286047


Week 13, November 15:

Angus Burgin, The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012. ISBN 9780674058132


Week 14, November 22:

Melani McAlister, Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945-2000. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. ISBN 9780520244993


Week 15, November 29: No readings, but class will meet to discuss final papers in progress. Bring an early draft, or at least a prospectus, to class for peer evaluation.


Final papers are due on December 10th. I would prefer paper copies, but email is also fine.





Annotated bibliography (20%): For all of the readings from weeks 2-14, you should prepare an entry in an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography consists of a proper citation of the work (Chicago style) followed by 2-4 paragraphs of notes. The first paragraph should summarize the main themes and arguments of the book in question. The next paragraphs should involve analysis of the parts of the book that are relevant to your interests. The goal is to generate a usable document of notes that will allow you to not return to the book (much) when it comes time to write your own paper. Therefore your annotated bibliographic entries can: summarize parts of the book that you think are especially relevant to your own work; note particularly compelling arguments or evidence or parts that you disagree with; analyze the effectiveness of the argument, its evidentiary basis, or potential sources of bias; include quotations (with page numbers) of passages that you think you might want to use or cite. For more information on annotated bibliographies, one resource is


Discussion participation (17%): Our conversations will only work if everyone is ready and engaged with the discussion. I value thoughtfulness, collaboration, and good listening over quantity of participation. Any absence should be cleared in advance with the instructor.


Discussion leading (18%): Twice in the semester you will be responsible for leading the discussion section. You should prepare a brief introduction (really just a paragraph or two—the kind of thing at the beginning of your annotated bibliography)—introducing the most important ideas from the book. Then you should prepare three questions for the class. If you want to send me your questions in advance, I can help you refine them.


Final paper (45%): You will write a final paper on a topic of your choice, related to the class theme. You should use at least two books and two academic articles that go beyond the common assigned readings, though you may certainly also use the books that we read together. The paper should be approximately 20 pages.





2 responses to “Syllabus Fall 2016: Ideas Across Borders: Transnational Intellectual Studies in U.S. History

  1. Pingback: No One *Ever* Expects Saturday Morning Links | Gerry Canavan·

  2. Pingback: Ideas across borders | Seminario Permanente de Teoría y Crítica·

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