Benjamin Coates

Assistant Professor Benjamin Coates
B-111 Tribble Hall


Ben Coates grew up in California and attended Stanford University before moving to the East Coast. After earning his PhD in History from Columbia University he spent a year as a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, MA. His research and teaching focus on the history of the United States in the World. His forthcoming book explores the role of international lawyers in the emergence of the United States as a world power in the early twentieth century. He has also written on topics from Pan Americanism to the foreign policy of the Truman administration, and is interested in questions of empire, ideology, and international history.


B.A. Stanford University 2002
M.A. Columbia University 2004
Ph.D. Columbia University 2010

Academic Appointments
Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University, 2012-Present
Adjunct Professor, Columbia University, Spring, Summer 2011
Adjunct Professor, Babson College, Spring 2011

Click here for CV

Legalist Empire: The United States, Civilization, and International Law in the Early Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016.

“Securing Hegemony Through Law: Venezuela, the U.S. Asphalt Trust, and the Uses of International Law, 1904-1909,” The Journal of American History 102:2 (2015): 380-405.

“The Pan American Lobbyist: William Eleroy Curtis and U.S. Empire, 1884-99,” Diplomatic History 38:1 (2014): 22-48.

“Strategists and Rhetoricians: Truman’s Foreign Policy Advisers,” in The Blackwell Companion to Harry S. Truman, ed. Daniel S. Margolies. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, 159-187.

“‘Upon the Neutral Rests the Trusteeship of International Law’: Legal Advisers and American Unneutrality,” in Caught in the Middle: Neutrals, Neutrality, and the First World War, ed. Johan den Hertog and Samuël Kruizinga. Amsterdam: Aksant / Amsterdam University Press, 2011, 35-51.

HST 108 – The Americas and the World
This course explores the history of the Western hemisphere in global perspective since 1500. This includes the story of U.S. domination and Latin American resistance, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. We will also focus even more on how global forces have shaped the development of North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean. How have political, economic, and cultural developments enhanced or inhibited the ability of individuals and groups to shape their own lives? Topics covered include the “first globalization” of goods, germs, and peoples; slavery, resistance, and emancipation; colonialism and independence; the industrial, market, and transportation revolutions; international migration; and war (revolutionary, civil, “Cold” and otherwise). We will also think about how the very terms that people use to describe the region (e.g., the “New World,” the “Americas,” “Latin” or “Hispanic” America, etc.) reflect and make possible particular national goals and political projects. (CD)

HST 256 – The U.S. and the World, 1763-1914. 
The first half of a two-semester survey on U.S. foreign relations. Major topics explore the economic, political, cultural, and social currents linking the U.S. to Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia between 1763 and 1914. Particular attention is given to the influence of the world system—ranging from empire, war, and migration to industrial competition and economic interdependence—on U.S. diplomacy, commerce, and domestic politics and culture.

HST 257 – The U.S. and the World, 1914-2003. 
The second half of a two-semester survey of U.S. foreign relations. Major topics explore the economic, political, cultural and social currents linking the U.S. to Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia between 1914 and 2003. Particular attention is given to the influence of the international system—ranging from hot and cold wars, to decolonization, economic interdependence and transnational businesses and institutions—on U.S. diplomacy, commerce, and domestic politics and culture.

HST 331 – The United States as Empire, 1877-1919.
Explores the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the United States joined in the global scramble for empire.  Course examines the domestic and international causes of American imperial expansion; the modes of rule that the U.S. exercised in its formal and informal possessions; and the political and intellectual debates at home and abroad about America’s expansion as a world power.

HST 332 – The United States and the Global Cold War.
Considers United States efforts to secure its perceived interests through “nation building” and economic development in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and much of Asia during the Cold War and after. Emphasizes the ideological and cultural dimensions of American intervention.

HST 384 – Global Outlaws in History since 1500.
This course examines the motivations, ideologies, goals, and behavior of those who have been deemed “outlaws” to international society since 1500, including pirates, terrorists, smugglers, and war criminals.  It also analyzes the role of power in creating the global regimes that define and target such activities.

HST 390 – The United States and Empire.
This research seminar uses the concept of empire to explore the history of the United States since 1776. Readings will explore themes including: the design and conduct of American foreign policy; how the movement of people, ideas, and goods across borders reflected and created networks of power; how people at home and abroad reacted to the spread of American influence; and how historians have examined the concept of “American empire” in thematic, empirical, and comparative terms. Students will complete the course by producing a research paper on a topic of their choice related to some aspect of the history of US relations with the world.