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HSTRY 388 A: Colloquium: Introduction to History

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
* *
James Gregory
James Gregory

Syllabus Description:

 Professor James Gregory
312B Smith
Office hours: by appointment via Zoom

American Social Movements Since 1900:
from Woman Suffrage to Black Lives Matter to White Nationalism

Note: This class will be conducted entirely online.  Because 388s are discussion-based seminars, we need to meet in real time using Zoom each Monday and Wednesday at 1:30. If this will be a problem for you, please contact me at  

Social movements are a key feature of American politics. Especially since the start of the 20th century, certain social movements have been highly influential, reshaping ideas and political life, achieving major changes in law and policy, in some cases rearranging rules of race, gender, and economy. Others have been much less effective. This course explores the dynamics and the history of social movements of many kinds seeking to understand how they work and how they achieve influence. Moving chronologically, we will explore Woman Suffrage movements in the early decades of the 20th century, labor radicalism including the IWW and the Seattle General Strike of 1919, the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, unemployed movements in the 1930s, civil rights movements from the 1950s-1970s, ending with two recent social movements: the Black Lives Matter movement and organized racist movements that promote white nationalism.

Readings: We will read three books and selections from other works. You will need to obtain print copies of Linda Gordon, The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition (W.W. Norton, 2017) and Barbara Ransby, Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimaging Freedom in the 21st Century (University of California Press, 2018). Both are available at the University Bookstore or can be ordered elsewhere. We will also read 150 pages from Kathleen M. Blee, Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement (University of California Press, 2002). This is available as an eBook. The  rest of the readings are assembled in a course reader  available from EZ Copy (4336 University) which they will send by mail to you. Order by email These items are also available here as pdf documents, but I recommend ordering the course reader. 

Grades will be based on discussion during our Zoom classes, on three or four short responses to the readings, and an 8+ page research paper with oral report (with Powerpoint). The research paper and oral presentation together will count for 40% of the course grade. The short papers and discussion participation will account for the rest, but I want to see how things work in this online format before deciding how much for each.

Preliminary Schedule (subject to change)

Week 1 - Sept 30: INTRODUCTIONS

  • In-class exercises

Week 2 - Oct 5, Oct 7: LABOR RADICALISM 1905-1920

  • Read Robert Goldberg,  "Introduction,"  Grassroots Resistance: Social Movements in Twentieth Century America,  pp.1-17,
  • Robert Goldberg,  "One Big Union: The Industrial Workers of the World" in Grassroots Resistance: Social Movements in Twentieth Century America,41-64.
  • Explore the IWW History Project . Examine the maps and read at least one  of the essays.
  • Upload a 2-page response to a forthcoming question

Week 3 - Oct 12, Oct 14: KU KLUX KLAN

  • Read Linda Gordon, The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition (W.W. Norton, 2017), all chapters.
  • Upload 2-page summary and discussion of her key arguments.
  • Research paper proposal due


Week 5 - Oct 26, Oct 28: POOR PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS

  • Francis Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, Poor People’s Movements: Why they Succeed, How They Fail(1979), pp.xix-xxiv, 1-95
  • Upload a 1-2-page explanation of their theory of social movement success and failure.


  • Manning Marable, Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1990, (1991: 2nd edition), pp. 61-148, 220-230


  • Read Barbara Ransby, Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimaging Freedom in the 21st Century (University of California Press, 2018), intro-ch3.
  • Nov 11: Holiday

Week 8 - Nov 16, Nov 18: BLACK LIVES MATTER

  • Read Barbara Ransby, Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimaging Freedom in the 21st Century (University of California Press, 2018), ch4-Epilogue.
  • Upload a 1-2-page response (question TBA)


Week 10 - Nov 30 , Dec 2: Powerpoint presentations

Week 11 - Dec 7, Dec 9: Powerpoint presentations

Finals week: Papers are due Monday Dec 14 before midnight


Research projects (Papers are due Monday Dec 14 before midnight)

The research paper will focus on a social movement and should be based both on primary and secondary sources. You may choose  one of the social movements we are reading about or suggest others. I hope that many in the class will decide to work on topics related to the newly assembled archive: Black Lives and Seattle Police History. This is a massive collection of news articles, FBI files, and other documents about police violence in Seattle from the 1930s through the 1970s, and about efforts to reform the Seattle Police Department. Other topics from this archive include campaigns to establish police accountability in the 1960s and 1970s; the NAACP’s efforts to end police brutality in the 1950s, the Communist Party’s earlier campaign. See pages labeled  police brutality topics and police reform topics for details.

This new archive has been made available to this class and to a graduate course offered by Prof. Dan Berger at UW Bothell. Students who produce top quality papers may have an opportunity to publish them on the online Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project.

Note: All topics must be approved in advance by the instructor, with that decision resting largely on the availability of sources.  

Additional information

Please read and save this attachment which explains History Department policies regarding plagiarism, incomplete grades, grading appeals, access and disability accommodations, religious accommodations, sexual harassment,  standards of conduct and academic integrity. 


Catalog Description: 
Introduction to the discipline of history for new or prospective majors. Emphasizes the basic skills of reading, analysis, and communication (both verbal and written) that are central to the historian's craft. Each seminar discusses a different subject or problem.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
June 28, 2020 - 9:13pm