The course deals with issues relating to the history and politics of the US with special reference to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These two documents are central in the American political and social experience. Nowadays, with the radicalization of politics and presidential elections they become all the more relevant. Students will learn how the American system of government works and what are the prerogatives and duties of the president and of Congress. At the end of the semester, students will achieve a deep understanding of the most relevant aspects of American history and society with a special attention on foreign policy and the role of the US at the world level.
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Week I
Introduction and description of the course. The Revolutionary era and the independence. Focus on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights with discussions in class and readings from the original texts. The US political system and its evolution over time.

Week II
The American Civil War and its effect on American society and culture. Focus on 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. The end of the XIX century, industrialization, populism and the “Gilded Age”. American imperialism and the progressive era. The first World War and the US international role.
Week III
The post war period and the roaring twenties. The Great Depression, Roosevelt’s presidency and the New Deal. The Second World War. The origins of the Cold War and the new dimension in foreign politics
Week IV:
The booming economy and the affluent society. The rise of the American middle-class. Social and cultural revolutions in the 1950s and 1960s. Civil Rights movement and the New Frontier, the Great Society and the war in Vietnam. Counterculture and feminisms.

Week V:
The 1970s, Nixon and the “crisis of confidence”. Reagan and the conservative turn in American politics. The rise of a New Right. The end of the Cold War.

Week VI:
The US from the end of the Cold War to 9/11. Clinton and Bush Jr., 9/11 and its effect on politics and culture.

Core Documentation

Eric Foner, Storia della libertà americana, Donzelli, 2009

Fabrizio Tonello, La costituzione degli stati uniti, Mondadori, 2010

Another additional book of your choice from the following:

a cura di Daniele Fiorentino, Il pluralismo culturale. Un dibattito americano (1915-1916), Viella, 2021

Tiziano Bonazzi, Abraham Lincoln. Un dramma americano, il Mulino, 2016

a cura di Raffaella Baritono e Elisabetta Vezzosi, Oltre il secolo americano? Gli Stati Uniti prima e dopo l'11 settembre Carocci, Roma, 2011

Arnaldo Testi Trionfo e declino dei partiti politici negli Stati Uniti, 1860-1930, Otto, 2000

Type of delivery of the course

The course will be held in a mixed format, both in classroom and online through the Teams platform. Students who want to attend in presence will have to book their place in classroom according to the procedures provided by the University. The course is structured in frontal lessons, in which power point and audio/visual material will be used. Some historical documents will be read and commented in class.

Type of evaluation

The final exam will consist of an oral test on the topics covered in class and on the texts assigned to the students. The test will be in Italian.