Instructor: Professor Norman Hillmer

Against the foreground of the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the seminar considers the interwoven histories of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, and examines the evolution of the concept of North America as a partnership between those three states. North America seems obvious – we all live there, after all – but it is curiously unknown and undefined. Canadians are apt to think of the continent almost entirely with reference to the United States and the classic dilemmas thrown up by American cultural, economic, and military power. Americans are more likely to think not of Canada, but of Mexico and the porous United States-Mexico border. And Mexicans have a long history of suspicion of the United States and only a short history of imagining Canada as part of a North American community. Does North America even exist? And if it does, will it survive Trumpworld? Is globalism losing its battle against populist nationalism?

By the end of the course, students will have a knowledge of 1) the major impulses (for example, resistance and adaptation to the United States) and main events (territorial expansion, the world wars and Cold War, migration, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and 9/11) that shaped the various relationships between Canada, the United States, and Mexico; 2) an appreciation of the many debates, scholarly and otherwise, about these relationships; 3) an ability to describe and analyze the origins, meanings, and context of Canadian and Mexican “anti-Americanism”; 4) an understanding of the reasons for, and effects of, continental integration in the late 20th/ early 21st centuries, especially in the form of economic and security partnerships; 5) an awareness of the global environment in which North America exists and with which it co-exists; and 6) development of debate skills and training in the writing and editing of a critical textual analysis to a professional standard.

Course evaluation includes seminar participation, reading responses, online blogging, and a written assignment.

The instructor welcomes responses and suggestions about themes and subjects that might be included in the syllabus. Email him at