BA Politics and Modern History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1960s

Unit code HIST31551
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This module examines the course and conduct of American foreign policy during the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and the consequences of their management of foreign affairs. The course will focus on the series of East-West crises that marked Kennedy’s brief term in office, most notably in Berlin and Cuba, as well as considering the ways in which the United States projected its values, power and influence with mixed results in settings as diverse as Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Pre/co-requisites

HIST31551 is restricted to History programmes, History and American Studies programmes and European Studies programmes (please check your programme regulations for further details).

This module is only available to students on History-owned programmes; Euro Studies programmes; and History joint honours programmes owned by other subject areas. Available to students on an Erasmus programme subject to VSO approval.

Aims

Students will be encouraged to engage with the historiographical debates surrounding both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and to understand how these relate to key intellectual concerns in studying U.S. foreign policy and American history more widely. Utilising an extensive range of primary documents students will establish their own assessment of the period, as well as considering how recent developments in the way diplomatic history is studied – such as a new focus on gender, religion, race, and ideology – affect how the topic is understood. Through a range of seminar activities and assessments students will develop both knowledge of the material and key historical skills.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to;

Syllabus

Indicative Seminar Topics

 Subjects to be covered in seminars include:

- The Kennedy and Johnson historiography

- Domestic politics and foreign affairs

- Soviet Relations

- Regional policies in Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

- Crises in Berlin, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic

Teaching and learning methods

 - 1 x 3-hour Lecture/Seminar per week + Film Screenings/Course Unit Office Hours equivalent to 1-hour per week

- Lecture slides, key readings, reading lists, and links to important websites and digital archives will be regularly posted on Blackboard

- Coursework will be submitted and returned via Turnitin

Knowledge and understanding

Students will be encouraged to engage with the historiographical debates surrounding both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and to understand how these relate to key intellectual concerns in studying U.S. foreign policy and American history more widely. Utilising an extensive range of primary documents students will establish their own assessment of the period, as well as considering how recent developments in the way diplomatic history is studied – such as a new focus on gender, religion, race, and ideology – affect how the topic is understood. Through a range of seminar activities and assessments students will develop both knowledge of the material and key historical skills.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  1. Engage with historiographical debates at an advanced level
  2. Quickly assess and interpret a range of primary and archival materials
  3. Relate primary material to historiographical debates to build sophisticated arguments
  4. Present and defend differing intellectual positions during fluid debates

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  1. Produce sophisticated literature reviews
  2. Produce essays that incorporate original research
  3. Prepare for and participate in wide-ranging seminar discussions and debates
  4. Utilise a variety of online databases for primary source research
  5. Analyse and interpret a range of primary materials

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  1. Carry out independent research projects
  2. Interpret a range of different sources
  3. Communicate sophisticated arguments through improved written and oral communication skills
  4. Work efficiently as part of a group through teamwork skills developed via discussion and seminar activities

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analysing texts and other primary sources both critically and empathetically. The analytical ability to consider complex problems to which there is no single solution. 4. Analysing texts and other primary sources both critically and empathetically.
Project management
Identifying, gathering, sorting, organising and deploying evidence, data and information.
Oral communication
Marshalling of argument in written and oral forms
Problem solving
The analytical ability to consider complex problems to which there is no single solution
Research
Identifying, gathering, sorting, organising and deploying evidence, data and information.
Written communication
Marshalling of argument in written and oral forms
Other
In providing insight into American politics, presidential leadership, and foreign affairs, it would also be of particular use to students with an interest in careers in politics, journalism, civil service, or similar fields.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 40%
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%

Feedback methods

Oral feedback on group discussions and presentations - formative

Written feedback on coursework submissions via turnitin, and on exam papers in hard copy - summative

Additional one-to-one feedback (during office hour or by making an appointment) - formative

Recommended reading

- H.W. Brands, The Wages of Globalism: Lyndon Johnson and the Limits of American Power (1995)

- Lawrence Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam (2000)

- Geoffrey Hodgson, JFK and LBJ: The Last Two Great Presidents (2015)

- Diane B. Kunz (ed), The Diplomacy of the Crucial Decade: American Foreign Relations During the 1960s (1994)

- Mitchell Lerner (ed) A Companion to Lyndon B. Johnson (2012)

- Stephen Rabe, John F. Kennedy: World Leader (2010)

- Mark J. White (ed), Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited (1998)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Thomas Tunstall Allcock Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Assessment Methods

Article/Literature Review, summative, 1500 words, 20%

Research Essay, summative, 2500 words, 40%

Exam, summative, 2 hours, 40%

 

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