Milov, Sarah

New Course in United States History

US in the 1970s: Disillusion and Disco

What happened in the 1970's?  It's easy to think of the 1970's as an era in which Americans made bad aesthetic choices:  disco, polyester, and mood rings.  But a tremendous amount of social, political and cultural upheaval shaped an era that bridged the counterculture and the Reagan Revolution.  This seminar examines the political, cultural, economic and intellectual history of the 1970s.  Some people have thought of the 1970s as a decade in which America lost its edge:  inflation, deindustrialization and the oil crisis reflected profound changes in the American and global economy.  We will examine the cause of these changes, as well as the social and cultural configurations that followed in their wake.  We will look at important phenomena that continue to shape the world we live in today:  the feminization of the workforce, a rising environmental consciousness, the rise of the gay rights movement, Vietnam, the "urban crisis" and disputes over busing that pierced the illusion of racial harmony.  Through secondary sources, as well as articles, music, fiction, TV and movies from the era we will try to make sense of what has been called the "the ME decade."  We will ask ourselves two interrelated questions:  how much do the politics of the 1970s still reverberate and shape our own politics and culture?  To what extent do the concerns of Americans in the 1970s still ring true to us today?  

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History of Capitalism in Modern America


This course will investigate the history of capitalism in the United States from the nineteenth century to the present day. We will examine the political, social, legal, environmental, cultural and moral dimensions of economic life in America. We will pay special attention to how questions about work, finance, markets and material goods have served as starting points for broader considerations of “the good life.” We will also pay special attention to the role of crises like wars and depressions in shaping the American economy. Readings will include a mixture of primary and secondary sources and will total approximately 200 pages per week. Enrollment is limited to third and fourth year undergraduates. Assignments include weekly journals on assigned readings, several short essays and a research paper. 

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Introductory Seminar in United States History

"Disasters in America from Cholera to Katrina"

This seminar explores how Americans have experienced and understood some modern disasters in order to answer an essential question: to what extent should medical, social, economic or environmental disasters be considered natural? To answer this question, discussions will focus on the proximal and deep causes of disastrous events. Readings consist of first-hand and popular accounts of disaster, as well as scholarly writings. Topics include cholera, the San Francisco earthquake, the sinking of the Titanic, financial panics and depressions, the atomic bomb, toxic and industrial accidents, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Students will produce a research project on a historical disaster of their choosing.  Readings average 100-150 pages per week. The course fulfills the second writing requirement.

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US Since 1945: People, Politics, Power


This course examines the history of the US since 1945 with a particular focus on political, social and economic changes. Topics covered include Civil Rights Movements; Cold War domestic politics; interest groups on the right and left; youth culture, counterculture and the sexual revolution; consumer culture; role of corporations in shaping American life; immigration; and the global influence of the American economy. Classes will include a mixture of lecture and discussion. Requirements include response papers, a mid-term and a final examination. Readings average 100 pages per week. 

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Tutorial in Transnational US History


This seminar rethinks United States history (18th century-present) by moving beyond the geographical boundaries of the nation. Thematic readings focus on way in which transnational and comparative scholarship is reshaping American historiography. Our goal is to better understand how assumptions and certainties of “America” have been called into question by transnational history. This course is intended to help prepare students for general examinations in the field of Transnational US History, or as a supplement to a major field in 19th or 20th century US.

Key readings (additional texts will be assigned depending on student interests):


  • Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).
  • Rethinking American History in a Global Age, ed. Thomas Bender. (Berkeley: UC Press, 2002).
  • Kate Brown, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (New York: Oxford UP, 2013).
  • Strangers within the Realm: Cultural Margins of the First British Empire, ed. Bernard Bailyn and Philip D. Morgan (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1991).
  • Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (New York: Cambridge, 1993).
  • Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy
  • (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2000).
  • Jessice Gienow-Hecht, Sound Diplomacy: Music and Emotions in Transatlantic Relations (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2009).
  • Eliga Gould, Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).
  • Victoria de Grazia, Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance through 20th-Century Europe (Cambridge,: Harvard UP, 2005).
  • Pekka Hämäläinen,  The Comanche Empire (New Haven: Yale UP, 2008).
  • Kristin L. Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars (New Haven: Yale UP, 1998).
  • Matthew Frye Jacobson, Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish Immigrants in the United States (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995).
  • Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2013).
  • Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origin of Welfare States, Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, eds. (New York: Routledge, 1993).
  • Paul A. Kramer, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the
  • Philippines (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2005).
  • Melani McAlister, Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945-2000 ( Berkeley: UC Press, 2001).
  • John R. McNeill, Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010).
  • Mary Nolan, Visions of Modernity: American Business and the Modernization of Germany (New York: Oxford UP, 1994).
  • Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998).
  • Rebecca J. Scott, Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery (Cambridge: Harvard UP, MA 2005).
  • John Soluri, Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005).
Course Instructor: 

Tutorial in the History of Capitalism in the United States


This is graduate-level introduction to the history and historiography of capitalism in America. It is intended as preparation for general examinations in American economic history, history of capitalism, or related fields. We will investigate the development of business, markets, consumption, labor, and welfare from the 18th century to the present. We will pay special attention to how historians have framed the central debates in American economic life. In doing so, we will consider how the “new history of capitalism” differs from earlier historiographical inquiries into business, labor, and economic life.

Core Readings (additional texts will be assigned depending on student interest):


  • Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History (New York: Knopf, 2014).
  • Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumer's Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (New York: Knopf, 2003).
  • Jefferson Cowie, Capital Moves: RCA’s SeventyYear Quest for Cheap Labor (1999; New York: New Press, 2001).
  • William Cronon Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (Norton, 1991)
  • Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Cambridge: Harvard University Press/Belknap Press, 1977).
  • S. Max Edelson, Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006).
  • Caroline Frank, Objectifying China, Imagining America: Chinese Commodities in Early America (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2012).
  • Louis Hyman: Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011).
  • Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Inside the Antebellum Slave Market (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001).
  • Jonathan Levy, Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).
  • David Montgomery, The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925 (NewYork: Cambridge University Press 1988).
  • Bethany Moreton, To Serve God and WalMart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009).
  • Julia Ott, When Wall Street Met Main Street: The Quest for an Investors’ Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011).
  • Kim Phillips‐Fein, Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade against the New Deal (New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2009).
  • William G. Roy, Socializing Capital: The Rise of the Large Industrial Corporation in America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).
  • Emily S. Rosenberg, Financial Missionaries to the World: The Politics and Culture of Dollar Diplomacy, 19001930 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003).
  • Daniel T. Rodgers, Age of Fracture (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011).
  • Amy Dru Stanley, From Bondage to Contract: Wage Labor, Marriage, and the Market in the Age of Slave Emancipation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). 
Course Instructor: 
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Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


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