Theories and Practices of U.S. Empire, 1776 to Present


This historically-based, cross-disciplinary course investigates theories and practices of American empire in the long era of US nationhood, 1776-to present. We will pay special attention to definitional questions--in what sense can the United States be considered an "empire"? To what extent has it been so considered, and why (or why not)? In what ways has the empire-building project in the U.S. been "imperial" or/and "colonial"? "Formal" or/and "informal"? How have fundamental imperial contradictions--the search for unity as opposed to the need to manage the politics of difference--been experienced? What have been the dynamics of imperial violence and anticolonial resistance in US history? How have the practices of anticolonial resistance and anticolonial violence shaped the course of US empire? And what are the politics of collective memory and/or amnesia that have followed in the wake of these experiences? Such questions will be explored with both a comparative awareness and with attention to the fields of literature, law, political theory and art history where problems of representing and historicizing US empire have been addressed. The course takes the form of an intensive seminar, requiring commitment to weekly readings, informed discussion, and critical writing; it will include a final essay that can either be a research paper based on the analysis/interpretation of primary sources, or a historiographical essay.
Course Attributes:

Section 01

Theories and Practices of U.S. Empire, 1776 to Present
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