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HSTAA 345 A: US Political and Economic History, 1920 - present

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
Location: 
SAV 264
SLN: 
15062
Instructor:
Margaret O'Mara headshot
Margaret O'Mara

Syllabus Description:

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MW 1:30-3:20; Savery Hall 264
Prof. Margaret O’Mara - Office: 204B Smith - Office hours: Mon 3:30-5:00 

How has the past century of American history shaped the political and economic landscape of today?  What is the broader context and historical backstory of contemporary political and social movements, business practices, and global flows of people, capital, and ideas?  How can we use historical knowledge and the tools of historical analysis to better understand and address present-day challenges?  With these questions in mind, this course explores key moments and people in the history of the United States from the end of World War I to the present. 

Course organization is both chronological and thematic, performing deep, evidence-based study of particular events and people in recent U.S. history to explore the evolving role of government, grassroots activism and fights for individual and group rights, partisan political change, technology as a product and shaper of society, changing patterns of production and consumption, migration and immigration, financial systems and global markets, and America’s changing role in the world. 

The course is designed to build upon prior U.S. history knowledge gained in high school and lower-division college surveys, going deeper and including comprehensive coverage of very recent history.

LEARNING GOALS:

A refined understanding of how governments, markets, and individuals and groups have functioned as agents of historical change;

Understanding the causes and contingencies behind America’s transition from an agrarian nation to an industrial and post-industrial superpower;

Sharpened critical thinking and writing about history, including ability to distinguish different types of sources (primary, secondary) and analyze their context and meaning; and

An ability to apply this historical awareness to understanding present-day political, economic, and social structures.

This course fulfills an I&S requirement and carries an optional W designation.

REQUIRED READINGS

Readings (75-150 pages per week) include books, primary sources, and scholarly articles available in PDF on Canvas.  Required books are available for purchase at the University Bookstore, on 4-hour reserve at Odegaard Undergraduate Library, or electronically were indicated below. I encourage you to purchase physical copies if possible; all are available in paperback, and you may purchase used copies or earlier editions if you prefer.

  • Linda Gordon, The Second Coming of the KKK
  • Eric Rauchway, The Great Depression and New Deal: A Very Short Introduction (also an e-book at Library)
  • Ellen Schrecker, The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents (also available as e-text rental via Amazon)
  • Bruce J. Schulman, Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism: A Brief Biography with Documents (also available as e-text rental via Amazon)
  • Leslie Berlin, Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age

FORMAT

The class consists of two 110-minute sessions per week.  Lecture periods will be split between lecture time and reading, writing, discussion, and group work.  Ungraded writing assignments will make a frequent appearance, and completion of these in-class assignments will count toward your participation grade. I expect everyone to take notes during lecture, either on laptop or paper.  If you use a laptop, always bring a pad of paper (spiral notebook or legal pad, for easy tearing out of pages) and pen/pencil for written activities, which you will turn in at the end of class.  They are ungraded but required, and their completion is a component of your participation grade.

ASSIGNMENTS

Weekly 400-600 word discussion posts on reading assignments, to be posted on Canvas no later than 11:59PM every Thursday.  I will pose questions related to the reading as prompts for this reflection; you do not need to answer all of them, but may choose one as a starting point for your post.  This is more than merely a reading summary, but should be a substantive, thought-provoking comment that considers and cites specific examples from the reading to make your point.  You may also use your post to home in on other issues in the reading that you find particularly interesting and provocative. (3.5% per week, for 35% total)

Participation, consisting of in-class writing, discussion, group work, peer workshopping and content analysis, and “homework” Canvas postings. (ongoing; 10% of grade)

Midterm essay exam: written exam of original essays on lecture/reading content from the first half of the quarter, responding to prompts posted by instructor, taken online on Canvas over a 36-hour period, to be submitted no later than 11:59 PM on Friday, May 3. (25% of grade)

Final essay exam: written exam of original essays discussing lecture/reading content for the full quarter but with particular emphasis on the second half, responding to prompts posted by instructor. Word document or similarly editable format only; no PDFs, please. Taken online on Canvas over a 36 hour period, to be submitted no later than 4:20PM on Monday, June 10, the end of the designated final exam period. (30% of grade)

FOR THOSE OPTING FOR A "W" CREDIT: Primary source analysis paper: paper of 8-10 pages (12-point font, double spaced, 1" margins) analyzing two primary source documents chosen from a list provided by the instructor. Draft of paper due for feedback by 11:59PM Friday, May 17; revised paper is due by 11:59 PM Friday, May 31. Please email both draft and final directly to the TA. (20% of grade; other assignments down-weighted accordingly)

SCHEDULE

WEEK 1 – APRIL 1 & 3 – The “Roaring” 1920s

Fordism; laissez faire politics; presidential scandal; history and memory; the KKK and the United Daughters of the Confederacy

READING:

Gordon, The Second Coming of the KKK, pp. 1-138
Karen Cox, “Why Confederate Monuments Must Fall
Bill McGraw, “100 Years Later, Dearborn Confronts the Hate of Hometown Hero Henry Ford
Anna Clark, “Magazine Censored, Editor Dropped for Covering Henry Ford’s Anti-Semitic Newspaper

WEEK 2 – APRIL 8 & 10 – What the New Deal did 

The Great Depression; Hoover vs Roosevelt; dissident politics; the New Deal and its legacy

READING:

Gordon, The Second Coming of the KKK, 163-180
            Rauchway, The Great Depression and New Deal,
1-22, 72-125
           
Ira Katznelson, “Limiting Liberalism: The Southern Veto in Congress” (Canvas PDF)

WEEK 3 – APRIL 15 & 17 – The war years at home 

Manhattan Project and the first computers; the domestic economic and political transformations of World War II; civil rights and the election of 1948

            READING:

            James Sparrow, “Freedom to Want” (Canvas PDF)
            Jennifer S. Light, “When Computers Were Women” (Canvas PDF)
            Margot Canady, “Building a Straight State” (Canvas PDF)

WEEK 4 – APRIL 22 & 24 – Internationalism meets anti-Communism

America in the postwar world; McCarthyism; Korea and other dominoes

READING:

Shrecker, The Age of McCarthyism, 1-106, 134-154
Paul Kramer, “Is the World Our Campus?” (Canvas PDF)

WEEK 5 – APRIL 29 & MAY 1 – October 1957 

From Little Rock to Sputnik to Fairchild Semiconductor

READING (yes, discussion posting is still required this week):

William Hitchcock, “The Color Line” and “Ike’s Missile Crisis,” Chapters 14 & 15 of The Age of Eisenhower (Canvas PDF)

MIDTERM GOES ONLINE THURSDAY MAY 2 AT 1PM; DUE FRIDAY MAY 3 AT 11:59PM

WEEK 6 – MAY 6 & 8 – The revolution will be televised

The Great Society; new mass media; origins of the modern conservative movement

            READING:

Schulman, LBJ and American Liberalism, 1-103, 169-177

WEEK 7 – MAY 13 & 15 – Crises of confidence

The incomplete civil rights revolution; Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam

MAY 15 WILL BE AN ONLINE LECTURE—NO IN-PERSON CLASS SESSION

            READING:

            Schulman, LBJ and American Liberalism, 104-166, 198-212, 228-232
           
Leah Wright Rigueur, “Running With Hares and Hunting with Hounds” (Canvas PDF)

W-CREDIT PAPERS MUST BE EMAILED TO TA IN DRAFT BY FRIDAY MAY 17

WEEK 8 – MAY 20 & 22 – The pivotal decade of the 1970s

Watergate; stagflation and globalization; the Reagan Revolution

READING:

Berlin, Troublemakers, xi-74, 256-332

WEEK 9 – MAY 29 – The “Roaring” 1990s

The end of the Cold War; Clinton and the New Democrats; dot-com boom

READING:
Elaine Kamarck and Bill Galston, “The Politics of Evasion” (Canvas PDF)           
Esther Dyson et al., “Cyberspace and the American Dream” (Canvas PDF)
Peter DeJonge, “Riding the Wild, Perilous Waters of Amazon.com” (Canvas PDF)

W-CREDIT PAPERS MUST BE EMAILED TO TA IN FINAL FORM BY FRIDAY MAY 31

WEEK 10 – JUNE 3 & 5 – The New World Order 

The history of the present: media; populism; financial systems; globalization

            READING:

Margaret O’Mara, The Code, 359-404 (Canvas PDF)
Mark Singer, “Trump Solo” (Canvas PDF)
Nicholas Beran, “4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump
Evan Osnos, “Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?

EXAM WEEK – JUNE 10

FINAL GOES ONLINE EARLY MORNING SUNDAY JUNE 9; DUE MONDAY JUNE 10 AT 4:20PM

CLASS POLICIES, GRADING STANDARDS, AND MORE IN THE FULL SYLLABUS HERE:

HSTAA 345 Syllabus Spring 2019.pdf

Catalog Description: 
Places modern America in historical perspective, using primary and secondary historical sources to examine key people and events who made this history from the 1920s to the present. Themes include: changing role of government; electoral and partisan change; populism and grassroots activism; markets and corporations; labor force trends; and the social and political impact of technology. Cannot be taken for credit if credit received for HSTAA 235.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Credits: 
5.0
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
February 7, 2019 - 2:00am
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