The University of Arizona

Hist 498, Section 1, Spring 2019


Undergraduate Research Seminar
on Recent US Foreign Relations

Hist. 498, Section 001
Offered by the Department of History, University of Arizona
Spring Semester, 2019
Syllabus URL:

Wednesday, 6:30-9:00pm
Physics and Atmospheric Sciences (PAS), Rm. 316


David N. Gibbs, Professor of History
Office: Chavez 338
Office hours: Monday and Wednesday, 8:30-10:00am
Tel: 621-5416


** Class Announcements **
Students should check the announcements page regularly.


The purpose of this course is to introduce students to methods of historical research for recent and contemporary US foreign relations, with a special focus on the post-1898 period. The class will emphasize the following specifics: basic features of historical methodology, especially with regard to finding and interpreting primary source materials; how to use source materials to construct logical arguments; how to use theoretical perspectives (from both history and social science) to improve the quality of arguments; and the mechanics of designing a college-level research paper.


The main assignment will be a research paper of 15-20 double-spaced pages. It is important that you select a topic and begin at least preliminary work on their papers as early in the semester as possible. You will be expected to turn in a take-home midterm exam; a draft version of the research paper and a final version of the paper, all at intervals throughout the semester as indicated below. Students are expected to meet with me several times during the semester to discuss their progress in conceptualizing and writing the paper.

Note that student papers must meet the specified length requirements, or they will not be accepted.


In general, students will receive significant feedback on their draft papers from the instructor and, hopefully, from other students, which will aid them in writing the final version. All draft papers will be uploaded to the Class Announcements page, above, so they will be available to the class. Students will read each other's papers (downloaded from the Announcements page). During the last sessions, the class will discuss the whole set of papers, and we will collectively provide constructive comments to each other on how to improve the draft versions.


Students must properly attribute any information or material borrowed from other sources. When turning in papers, please attach copies of the first page of all research materials that were used in preparing the papers. Students should also keep a copy of the paper on their computers. The reason for these requirements is to dissuade plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. If I have any doubts about a student paper, I may ask the student to produce computer disks and/or additional research materials. For further information on the issue of plagiarism, see the UA History Department's Policy on Academic Dishonesty.




There will be no in-class exams for this class. Final grades will be based on the following three assignments, weighted by percentages as noted:

Take-home midterm, 5-8 pages -- 30 percent (handed out February 27; due March 13);
Draft research paper, 15-20 pages -- 30 percent (due April 3);
Final research paper -- 40 percent (due May 9).


The take-home midterm exam will involve a short paper, in which students will be asked to answer specific questions on the class readings, as well as class discussions of those readings. After the midterm, we will focus on the research papers. Scheduled assignments must be turned in on time, on the dates specified. Late assignments will be penalized. All students will be expected to use standard syntax and spelling, as well as correct Chicago-style citation technique. I will provide extensive information on how students can obtain declassified government documents and other obtain primary source information on US foreign policy, from reliable sources. I will also provide instruction on Chicago-style citation.


Please note: Students may not use material obtained through simple Google searches, and may not include such material in their research papers. Also to be minimally acceptable, the papers must meet the required length and must contain at least 20 sources. Students who hand in papers that do not meet these minimum requirements will have them returned for revision, with a penalty.


Class Attendance


This is a class in which consistent attendance is vital. Since we will meet only once per week, for two and a half hours, in-class discussions will comprise approximately half of each class. All students are expected to have done the assigned readings for each week, and to be able to discuss the readings in class. Note that readings are to be completed by the specified class date, as listed in the syllabus. Students will lose three points from their final grade for each class that they miss (unless they have a legitimate excuse for missing class, such as illness). If students miss a total of three classes, they will then lose six points from their final grade for each additional class that they miss, beyond the first three.


Note that the following circumstances constitute legitimate reasons to miss a class or class assignment without penalty: illness, death in family, religious holiday, or mandatory military service. Students who present such reasons must be prepared to present documentation, such as a note from a doctor, clergy, or commanding officer. Students are expected to arrive in class on time. Please do not come late on a regular basis, as this is disruptive.


Writing Assistance


The UA Writing Center runs regular workshops for students. Students may also consult the following classic: William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, fourth edition (New York: Allyn & Bacon, 2000). It is short, inexpensive, and available in the UA bookstore. For those on a tight budget, an earlier version of this book is available online (click here for full text). 


For online assistance on how to construct Chicago-style citations, click here. For information on how to cite and use on-line research materials, click here.


Students with Disabilities


I will be happy to arrange the assignments in any reasonable way that is consistent with the student's needs, in cooperation with the UA Disability Resource Center. It is the student's responsibility to find out what the Center requires, to fill out the forms, and to undertake the necessary "foot work" for special arrangements. The student is responsible to make sure that all deadlines are met.




The following text can all be purchased at the University Book Store, located in the Student Center:

Christopher Layne, The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy from 1940 to the Present (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007).


Several articles listed below are available through one of several electronic databases. Other materials, as indicated below, are available through D2L electronic reserve. The readings from the electronic reserve and from the databases can be obtained free of charge at any computer on campus.


I may make some small changes in the reading list -- with advance notice -- during the course of the semester.

This class contains offensive material.
If this is a problem for you, then you should select a different class.


January 9
Introduction to the class

No assigned reading.

January 16
The Problem of Political Bias in Historical Research


Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 281-319. Available through D2L.


Note: Students must finalize a research topic and meet with me to discuss it during this week.


January 23
Historical Methodology

Bruce Cumings, "Preface," in I. F. Stone, The Hidden History of the Korean War (Boston: Little, Brown, 1988), pp. xi-xx. Available through D2L.


Sigmund Freud, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), chapters I, II, and IX. Click here for full text.




U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba," March 13, 1962 (recently declassified). Click here for full text.


David N. Gibbs, Guide to Using Declassified Documents and Archival Materials on US Foreign Policy, electronic guide. Click here for full text.


January 30
America as an Empire?

Layne, The Peace of Illusions, chaps. 2, 3, 4.


February 6
Humanitarian Intervention

David N. Gibbs, "The Military-Industrial Complex in a Globalized Context," in Ronald W. Cox, ed., Corporate Power and Globalization in US Foreign Policy (London: Routledge, 2012). For full text, click here.


Layne, The Peace of Illusions, chap. 5.


James Petras and Steve Vieux, "Bosnia and the Revival of US Hegemony," New Left Review, no. 218, 1996. For full text, click here.


February 13
Democracy Promotion and US Foreign Policy

William I. Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), chap. 5. Available through D2L.


Layne, The Peace of Illusions, chap. 6.


February 20
The Military Industrial Complex

Dwight D. Eisenhower, "Farewell Address," January 17, 1961. For full text, click here. Note especially section IV.


Arindrajit Dube, Ethan Kaplan, and Suresh Naidu, "Coups, Corporations, and Classified Information," Quarterly Journal of Economics 126, no. 3, 2011. For full text, click here (click on "PDF").


General David M. Shoup, "The New American Militarism," Harper's, September/October, 1969. Available through Periodicals Archive Online.



February 27
US Policy during the Post-Cold War Period

Layne, Peace of Illusions, chap. 7


John J. Mearsheimer, "Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West's Fault: The Liberal Delusions that Provoked Putin," Foreign Affair, September/October, 2014. For full text, click here.




Chalmers Johnson, "The Economic Disaster that is Military Keynesianism: Why the US has really Gone Broke," Le Monde Diplomatique, February 2008. For full text, click here.


Take-home midterm exam questions are handed out today.


March 6, no class; Spring Break


March 13
Techniques of Writing


George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," in George Orwell: A Collection of Essays (Garden City, NY: Doubleday-Anchor Books, 1954). For full text, click here.


Take home midterms are due today. Papers can be handed in during class, or placed in my mailbox, in Cesar Chavez Bldg, Room 423.


March 20

Miderm papers returned and discussed in class.

Note: During the next several weeks, students are required to meet with me individually, to discuss their papers. More than one meeting is strongly encouraged.


March 27

No class.


April 3

No class.


April 10

No class.

First drafts of research papers are due by 5:00pm. Please place them in my mailbox in Social Sciences 217. Also send me an electronic copy as an email attachment in either MSWord or PDF so that I can upload it to the class web page. Please send to my email address, Students can download their own copies of the papers from the Class Announcements page.


April 17

Students critique each other's papers.


April 24

Students critique each other's papers.

May 1

Students critique each other's papers.

Final papers due: May 9, 5:00pm



REQUIRED BOILERPLATE (sorry, but I am required to include this; don't bother to read)

Expected outcomes from the course:

Write clear, well-organized prose.

Analyze primary sources in light of their historical context, audience, and author’s intent.

Recognize and evaluate competing historical interpretations.