HIST 3414A: The United States in the World – “America in the World or the World in America: American Culture and International Relations in the Transatlantic World”
Instructor: Professor Andrew M. Johnston and Prof. Jessica Gienow-Hecht (Free University of Berlin)
What really constitutes “American international relations“? And who, really, is an international actor? Statesmen? Diplomats? Ambassadors? The last twenty-five years have seen something of a palace revolution in the field of the history of U.S. foreign relations. Next to state-to-state relations, historians now consider informal, people-to-people relations to represent a form of “diplomacy“ as well. This lecture course/seminar retraces the history of America in the transatlantic world through a cultural lens. We will encounter, yes, a few diplomats, but also musicians, artists, slave traders, merchants, revolutionaries, pilots, and terrorists. We will take airplanes around the world to visit world exhibitions, churches, hospitals, and even people’s living rooms. Its central questions are: Who are the principal agents of U.S. American foreign cultural relations in the transatlantic world since the eighteenth century? What did they want? What role did cultural predispositions, minorities, economic interests and political strategies play in the entangled history of U.S. diplomacy and encounter? To what extent can we find central paradigms of international cultural exchange? And finally: how can we study and grasp U.S. cultural encounter within international relations and link those to political, diplomatic, economic and military analyses?