Jessica Wang works on nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history and has pursued a wide range of interests related to the history of science and medicine, U.S. political and intellectual history, political theory, urban and social history, and the history of U.S. foreign relations. Her recently completed book manuscript, "Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers: Rabies, Medicine, and Society in an American Metropolis, 1840-1920," uses the social history of a dread disease to explore urban social geography, the place of domesticated animals in the nineteenth-century city, the centrality of pathological anatomy to the American medical imagination, the institutional contexts of medicine, disease, and public health, and the ties between the public-private relationship, urban governance, and American state-building. This research also rests on Wang's longer-term engagement with questions about the social and political contexts of knowledge, ideas, and public authority, which she has also addressed through studies of cold war American science, science and democratic political theory, social science and New Deal political economy, internationalism and U.S. foreign relations, and social knowledge, state power, and American globalism. She will continue to develop these themes in two new book projects: one on tropical agriculture and American empire, 1898-1930, and a second, broader study of inter-imperial collusion and American empire in the early twentieth century. Wang's publications include American Science in an Age of Anxiety (1999), as well as articles in the Journal of American History, Isis, Osiris, the Journal of Policy History, Historical studies in the natural sciences, History and Technology, the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and other forums.
This course provides a brief introduction to the history of the United States from the colonial era to the present. We will concentrate in particular on two related issues: 1) national identity—namely, the ever- contested notions about the fundamental nature of the United States as a nation and of what it means to be an American; and 2) the idea of liberty and demands for freedom, inclusion, and full citizenship by different sectors of American society. These themes will help to focus our inquiries as we examine the political, economic, and social history of the United States over the past four centuries. HIST 237 will introduce students to the methods of historical practice, including primary-source analysis, historical writing, library and research skills, and public history.
How did American intellectuals, writers, and policymakers understand the state of global affairs in the interwar period, and what did it mean to contemplate a world order that was coming apart at the seams in the 1930s? Contrary to the misperception of the interwar years as a time of American isolationism, the U.S. policy establishment undertook extensive efforts to stabilize international relations in the 1920s, even as the United States declined to join the League of Nations. Nonetheless, none of the diverse and creative economic, diplomatic, and cultural initiatives of the post-World War I decade managed to head off the catastrophic descent into global economic depression and a new world war.
This seminar will explore American perspectives on the unraveling of world order between 1919 and 1939 and what they tell us about the political imagination and possibilities of the time period. In today’s era of resurgent nationalisms and resistance to liberal (or neoliberal) order in a multipolar world, the interwar years offer a critical opportunity for sober reflection on the state of the international system and what it means to live in troubled times.
Over a span of less than two hundred years, the United States transformed itself from a barely liberated former British colony to a global superpower. How and why did the American rise to power happen, and what kind of nation did the United States become as a result? We will consider these questions by examining American conceptions of power and purpose, along with the changing status of the United States within the international system, from the early national period to World War II. Topics include the intertwined relationships between U.S. foreign relations, warfare, and American identity, the role of expansionism in the making of the U.S. nation, imperialism and American power amid the competing empires on the North American continent, the centrality of race to both the “empire of settlement” and America’s overseas empire in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the place of nationalism and internationalism in U.S. foreign policy, and the broader economic and cultural dimensions of U.S. international history.
Denzil Ford, “The Sea, the Ship, and I: Stories, Things, and Objects from Oceanography during the Cold War” (UBC, 2015).
Henry Trim, “Experts at Work: The Canadian State, Environmentalism, and Renewable Energy in an Era of Limits, 1968-1983” (UBC, 2014).
Melvin Lebe, “Diminished Hopes: The United States and the United Nations during the Truman Years” (UCLA, 2012).
James Burnham Sedgwick, "The Trial Within: Negotiating Justice at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, 1946-1948" (UBC, 2012).
Victor J. Rodriguez, "The Practical Man: John Dewey, the Idea of America, and the Making of the Modern Mexican, 1923-1934" (UCLA, 2009).
Megan K. Barnhart, “‘To Secure the Benefits of Science to the General Welfare’: The Scientists’ Movement and the American Public during the Cold War, 1945-1960” (UCLA, 2007).
Peter S. Alagona, “Transforming Conservation: Endangered Species, Biodiversity, and the Political Economy of Science in California” (UCLA, 2006).
Laura J. Gifford, “The Center Cannot Hold: The 1960 Presidential Election and the Rise of Modern Conservatism” (UCLA, 2006).
Amanda K. McVety, “Truman’s Point Four Program and the Creation of America’s Modern Diplomatic Vision” (UCLA, 2006).
Jessica B. Elkind, “The First Casualties: American Nation Building Programs in South Vietnam, 1955-1965” (UCLA, 2005).
Dexter Fergie, “Re-Imagining America: The Princeton Military Studies Group and the Cultivation of the National Security Imagination, 1933-1947” (UBC, 2016).
Glynnis Kirchmeier, “‘We know them all as men who shall receive the protection of the law’: Chinese Participants in the Courts of Port Townsend, Washington Territory” (UBC, 2013).
Elizabeth Knowland, “Learning Internationalism: NASA’s Switch from National Security to International Cooperation on the Space Station” (UBC, 2013).
Philip Dunlop, “Sideshow Revisited: Cambodia and the Failure of American Diplomacy, 1973” (UBC, 2010).