Leffler, Melvyn P.

Seminar in United States History

US and the End of the Cold War
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

In this course we will examine several key questions:  What was the Cold War?  When, how, and why did it end?  Who, if anyone, was responsible for its conclusion?  How should we assess the roles of Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and George H. W. Bush?   Did Reagan’s military buildup win the Cold War?  Did SDI win the Cold War?   Why did Gorbachev make so many concessions?   Alternatively, was the end of the Cold War the result of exogenous developments like globalization, technological change, the communications revolution, the dynamics of free market forces, the human rights revolution, etc.?  

In our weekly meetings, much emphasis will be placed on discussion and on the vetting of one another's seminar papers.

We will look at some of the essays, articles, chapters, and books of leading scholars on the Cold War.  We will also read parts of the memoirs of key policymakers, such as Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and George H. W. Bush.   We will examine key primary source documents that appear on a variety of websites, including those of the National Security Archive, the Woodrow Wilson International Center, and Ronald Reagan files. 

The focus of the course will be on the preparation of a major research paper based on primary sources.  Students will be expected to examine official government documents that now appear on a variety of websites, including the ones mentioned above.  Students will also be asked to examine  congressional hearings, memoirs, and contemporary newspapers.  Students will need to integrate these findings with insights gleaned from the writings of journalists and scholars.  Early in the semester students will submit a research proposal, a working bibliography, and an outline.  Later in the semester students will discuss drafts of their paper with the entire seminar.  They will then have a chance to revise their drafts and submit a final essay of about 25-30 pages, plus notes and bibliography.  Papers will be graded on the basis of content, research, style, organization, analysis, and clarity.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

History of U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1914

HIUS
3456
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

This course will examine the role of the United States in the international arena from World War I to the present.  In my lectures, I will examine the motivations, objectives, strategies, and tactics of U.S. policymakers.  The course will focus on America's embroilment in two world wars; its Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union; its responses to revolutionary movements abroad; its intervention in Vietnam; its role as hegemon in the international economic system; and its struggle against terrorism and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.  It will conclude with an effort to put Donald Trump's "America First" foreign policy in historical perspective. 

There will be two or three take-home writing assignments of 4-6 pages, plus a final take-home assignment of two questions asking students to write two essays of 4-5 pages each.  I may ask for weekly reflections on the readings or give occasional quizzes.

Readings will average about 150-225 pages a week.  There will be a textbook, a book of primary source documents, some additional weekly primary documents on UVA collab, and four or five short monographs (dealing with Woodrow Wilson and World War I, FDR and the coming of World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and contemporary challenges in Iraq and/or Syria).

This will not fulfill the second writing requirement.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
60
Course Type: 
Discussion Sections: 
3

Seminar in United States History

US and the End of the Cold War
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

In this course we will examine several key questions:  What was the Cold War?  When, how, and why did it end?  Who, if anyone, was responsible for its conclusion?  How should we assess the roles of Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and George H. W. Bush?   Did Reagan’s military buildup win the Cold War?  Did SDI win the Cold War?   Why did Gorbachev make so many concessions?   Alternatively, was the end of the Cold War the result of exogenous developments like globalization, technological change, the communications revolution, the dynamics of free market forces, the human rights revolution, etc.?  

In our weekly meetings, much emphasis will be placed on discussion and on the vetting of one another's seminar papers.

We will look at some of the essays, articles, chapters, and books of leading scholars on the Cold War.  We will also read parts of the memoirs of key policymakers, such as Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and George H. W. Bush.   We will examine key primary source documents that appear on a variety of websites, including those of the National Security Archive, the Woodrow Wilson International Center, and Ronald Reagan files. 

The focus of the course will be on the preparation of a major research paper based on primary sources.  Students will be expected to examine official government documents that now appear on a variety of websites, including the ones mentioned above.  Students will also be asked to examine  congressional hearings, memoirs, and contemporary newspapers.  Students will need to integrate these findings with insights gleaned from the writings of journalists and scholars.  Early in the semester students will submit a research proposal, a working bibliography, and an outline.  Later in the semester students will discuss drafts of their paper with the entire seminar.  They will then have a chance to revise their drafts and submit a final essay of about 25-30 pages, plus notes and bibliography.  Papers will be graded on the basis of content, research, style, organization, analysis, and clarity.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

History of U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1914

HIUS
3456
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

This course will examine the role of the United States in the international arena from World War I to the present.  In my lectures, I will examine the motivations, objectives, and tactics of U.S. policymakers.  The course will focus on America's embroilment in two world wars; its Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union; its responses to revolutionary movements abroad; its intervention in Vietnam; its role as hegemon in the international economic system; and its struggle against terrorism and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

There will be two or three take-home writing assignments of 4-6 pages, plus a final take-home assignment of two questions asking students to write two essays of 4-5 pages each.  I may ask for weekly reflections on the readings or give occasional quizzes.

Readings will average about 150-225 pages a week.  There will be a textbook, a book of primary source documents, some additional weekly primary documents on UVA collab, and four or five short monographs (dealing with Woodrow Wilson and World War I, FDR and the coming of World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and contemporary challenges in Iraq and/or Syria).

This will not fulfill the second writing requirement.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
60
Course Type: 
Discussion Sections: 
3

Topics in United States History

"Grand Strategy, foreign policy, and Presidential Decision-Making, 1945-Present"
HIUS
4591
Undergraduate
Spring
2016

This seminar will explore the role of strategic thinking in the conceptualization and implementation of U.S. foreign policy during and after the Cold War.  We will look at four cases: origins of the Cold War; end of the Cold War; post-Cold War; and post-9/11.  To what extent did strategic thinking shape U.S. policy? Or was policy the result of domestic politics, organizational imperatives and bureaucratic infighting; individual predilections; or spontaneous reactions to external threats? If strategic thinking was important, what inspired it and how was it designed? 

This is NOT a lecture course.  In our weekly meetings, much emphasis will be placed on discussion of the primary sources and scholarly writings.    
 
We will spend about three weeks on each of the cases.  In each instance, we will read some primary policy documents, speeches, and memoranda; some excerpts from memoirs of key participants; and some important biographies, monographs, and articles.  Weekly reading will probably average around 200 pages.  I will probably assign documents like Kennan's "Long Telegram," and Kennan's Policy Planning Documents; NSC 68; excepts from memoirs by Harry Truman and/or Dean Acheson, Ronald Reagan, George Shultz, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and Douglas Feith; some CIA analyses of Soviet intentions, capabilities, and economic performance; essays by officials like Paul Wolfowitz, Eric Edelman, and Philip Zelikow; the Defense Policy Guidance of 1992 and the National Security Strategy Statement of 2002.  Among other scholarly books, we will read parts of John Gaddis's, Strategies of Containment and Hal Brands, What Good is Grand Strategy? 
 
Students will be asked to write two papers (7-10 pages) on two of the cases.  At the end of the course, they will be asked to design their own current national security strategy paper.

Course Instructor: 

History of U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1914

HIUS
3456
Undergraduate
Spring
2016

This course will examine the role of the United States in the international arena from World War I to the present.  In my lectures, I will examine the motivations, objectives, and tactics of U.S. policymakers.  The course will focus on America's embroilment in two world wars; its Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union; its responses to revolutionary movements abroad; its intervention in Vietnam; its role as hegemon in the international economic system; and its struggle against terrorism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There will be two lectures each week and a discussion section. There will be two or three take-home writing assignments of 5-10 pages.  I may ask for weekly reflections on the readings or give quizzes. Readings will average about 150-225 pages a week.  There will be a textbook, weekly primary documents on UVA collab, and five or six monographs. This will not fulfill the second writing requirement.

Course Instructor: 
Subscribe to Leffler, Melvyn P.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904

  

Contact:
(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
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