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The Transformation of the USA
in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Staff contact: Prof P Fearon

Aims and objectives

This survey of economic and social change in the United States since the early 19th century will enable students to develop general intellectual and personal skills. Written work, tutorial discussions and guided reading will enhance the student's ability to express arguments cogently both orally and on paper. In addition, an emphasis on analysis will give the class an opportunity to weigh up evidence, assess conflicting views and develop interpretative abilities.

Module outline

The United States is the most powerful economy in the world and this module will examine how the US achieved this position. Starting in the early 19th century we will cover early industrialisation, slavery, the growth of cities and big business, immigration, rural life, the prosperous 'twenties, the great depression and the New Deal, World War II, post-war prosperity, the turbulent 'sixties, and the economic and social problems since the early 1970s. The social costs and benefits of economic change play an important part in this course and students will be encouraged to integrate economic and social history.

Teaching methods

Two lectures a week for eight weeks. In addition there will be four fortnightly tutorials.


This course will be assessed by examination and coursework. The coursework will consist of essays (15 credit students will be required to submit one essay; 20 credit students will submit two essays).

Where this module is taken alone there will be a 2-hour, 2-question examination in January. Where it is taken together with EH217/237 there will be a joint 3-hour, 3-question examination in midsummer.

Short Bibliography

*Bryson, B. Made in America

*Tindall, G. B. & D. E. Shi America: A Narrative History

Eisener, M. A. The State on the American Political Economy

Freeman, J. et al Who Built America? Vol. 2: From the Guilded Age to the Present

Levine, B. et al Who Built America? Vol. 1: From Conquest and Colonisation through Reconstruction and the Great Uprising of 1877

Norton, M.B. et al A People and a Nation: A History of the United States. Vol. 1: to 1877; Vol. 2: since 1865

Ratner, S., J. Soltow & R. Scylla The Evolution of the American Economy

* Recommended for preliminary reading

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Last updated: 10 October 2002
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