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Reform, Revolt and Reaction in the US (AM211)

Banner, Reform, Revolt and Reaction

Module Tutor

Name: Roger Fagge
Office: Humanities 334
Office Hours: Monday 9-10 am, Thurs 12-1 pm


The module is taught through weekly one-hour lectures and weekly one-hour seminars for groups of up to fourteen students. There are also individual tutorials to discuss feedback on students' essays.

  • Lecture: Monday, 12-1pm L4
  • Seminar Groups: Thursday 1-2 (H005) 2-3 (H305)

Please see the Module Timetable for details of the topics for each lecture and seminar.

Aims and Objectives

This module is an option available to second-year undergraduate students and some final-year CAS students. Option modules are designed to complement core modules, and broaden knowledge by providing the opportunity for study in greater depth of particular regions, periods or themes.


This module contributes to the Department’s offerings on the history of the Americas, building in particular on issues explored in the first-year module ‘AM102 North America: Themes and Problems’, and complementing the exploration of social and political development offered in other options on C19th and C20th US, Latin American and European history.


This module examines the turbulent history of the United States from the New Deal through to Watergate. Drawing on the rich recent historiography on this subject, it explores how different movements, some rooted in local activism, others based on established political groupings, responded to a rapidly changing social, economic and cultural landscape. In particular, it shows how liberal reformers, radicals, and conservatives all seized the initiative at different times, but due in large part to a shared tendency to substitute rhetoric for clear analysis, all eventually failed, leaving the US by the mid 1970s, in a state of ‘imagined’ and, in some senses real, crisis. Key themes include the New Deal and the Great Depression; the impact of the Second World war on racial and gender relations; post-war anticommunism and the contradictions of the ‘Affluent Society’; the liberal agendas of the civil rights movement and the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; the military, social and political consequences of Vietnam; the radical vision of the New Left and counterculture; the re-emergence of a grass-roots political right; the ‘rebirth’ of feminism; 1968 and the ‘end’ of the 1960s; and Nixon, Watergate and the 1970s.


Formative Assessment (Non-Assessed Work)

Non-assessed work is due on the following dates:

  • Non-assessed essay: In your assigned seminar in week 7, term 1
  • Non-assessed essay: Monday week 7, term 2
  • Mock Exam question (s) (optional): term 3

Your non-assessed essay (2,000 words) may use one of the Non-Assessed Essay Questions. You may write your own question for 4,500 word essay, and can discuss this with a tutor. These questions must be submitted to the module convenor no later than week 4, term 2.

Summative Assessment (Assessed work)

Students will be assessed by:

  • 2-hour, two question exam paper (50%). The exam will take place during summer term on a date that will be scheduled closer to the time.
  • 4500 word essay (50%) .

For detailed information about assessed work including deadline dates and submission instructions please refer to the Department Assessment & Submission webpages.

Visiting exchange students are assessed entirely by essays, the number and length of which is determined by the number of terms each student will attend the module. Please refer to the department Assessment & Submission webpages for information regarding assessment requirement, submission instructions and deadlines.

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • The further development of study, writing and communication skills.
  • The opportunity, through writing a 4,500 word essay, to develop the following skills: supervised, independent research on a subject chosen by the student; the ability to organise and prioritise research materials; the ability to write a sustained, coherent essay providing a reasoned answer to an agreed question.
  • The development of critical analytical skills through the analysis of often competing interpretations of the social, cultural and political development of C20th US.
  • The development of an awareness of the different sub-disciplines within this subject area, with particular regard to race, class and gender. 

For more information regarding assessment and submission please see here.