Historiography

Empire and War at the Turn of the Twentieth Century – Imperial Motivations This assignment asks you to write a 4-5-page historiography on U.S. motivations for entering the War of 1898. A historiographical essay focuses on the interpretations of historians, rather than on the story of the past itself. Most textbooks agree that the United States became an empire in the 1890s: that, for the first time, the U.S. formally annexed territories beyond the North American continent and claimed jurisdiction to govern those lands and peoples on a basis different from that of the individual states that constituted the nation. Historians have debated ever since how this watershed moment came about and what it meant. Did it represent a surprising, unprecedented direction for the U.S., or was it instead a logical, even predictable progression of longstanding trends in American history? What were the short-term impacts and long-term legacy for the peoples in the newly acquired territories and within the United States? The four historians below offer different answers to these questions. Compare their interpretations. How does each scholar explain the U.S. decision to enter the War of 1898, and America’s imperial motivations in the 1890s more generally? Can we synthesize all four arguments into one coherent interpretation? Your essay should provide a summary of each author’s argument and identify the main points on which they agree and disagree. What might account for the differences between them? Assess the types of historical evidence the historians used and the logic of the historians’ arguments. Whose interpretation (or blend of arguments) do you find most persuasive? Why? Selected readings excerpted from: Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (Knopf, 1965). Walter LaFeber, “That ‘Splendid Little War’ in Historical Perspective,” Texas Quarterly 11, no. 4 (Winter 1968) Kristin L. Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars (Yale University Press, 1998). Louis Perez Jr., “Between Meanings and Memories of 1898,” Orbis 42, no. 4 (Autumn 1998). Formatting and Submission: Essays should be 4-5 double-spaced pages. They should be typed in 12-pt font with 1-inch margins. You will submit your essay to your GA’s course page by 11:59pm on Sunday, February 21. You should avoid quoting at length in your essay, but rather, paraphrase the historians’ arguments in your own words. When quoting or paraphrasing an idea that is not your own, please provide footnote citations formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style (we will go over this format HIST 1221 Spring 2021 in discussion section before the essay is due). Please see the link below (and the links you’ll find on the library’s page) for more detailed instructions about Chicago Style formatting, as well as specific examples of citations listed by source type. You are not required to provide a separate bibliography at the end of your essay.

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