HSTRY 388 A: Colloquium: Introduction to History

Winter 2024
Th 12:30pm - 3:20pm / DEN 256
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Starting Thursday, January 11, we will meet in person in 256 Denny.   

Susan Glenn, Professor of History

glenns@uw.edu (she, her)

Required books to purchase.  These are listed in the order in which we will read them. All books have been ordered through the University Bookstore.

  • George Roeder, Jr., The Censored War (1993). Print only. Please purchase.
  • Mine Okubo, Citizen 13660 (1946). Print only. Please purchase.
  • Chester Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945). Print only. Please purchase.  
  • John Hersey, Hiroshima (1946). Print only, please purchase the Vintage edition, which contains an afterword by the author.
  • ****Other required material (articles, book chapters,  and films) are pdf's or links in the Weekly Canvas Modules.***** 

****Prior to the First Class Meeting, please read the following three articles and post your responses on the Discussion Board for Week 1. The articles are in the Canvas Module for Week 1 The posts are due by 10 am on Thursday, Jan.4.  

  • Editors of Life, “Three Dead Americans” (1943). 
  • Ernie Pyle, “A Last Word.” (1944)
  •  Lucille Milner, “Jim Crow in the Army” (1944)



 In the United States the lore and legacy that constitute the national memory of World War II is so familiar to many people that it remains an important touchstone into our own time. In this course we will explore the making of the legacy of World War II from locations often neglected in our collective memory of that time, including the initial indifference of many Americans to the rise of European fascism and the persecution of Jews and the impact of ethnic and racial animosities on the battlefields and on the American home front.  We will read or view a wide range of primary works as well as turning our attention to the contemporary recycling of the meaning of that period in our nation's past.  Readings include accounts by journalists, novelists, filmmakers, and works by historians. Through them we hope to gain a better understanding of the myriad ways in which the war and its effects have been recorded, remembered, and re-imagined.

Students will learn how to work with primary sources, develop competence in the close reading of texts, learn to analyze questions from multiple perspectives, and become attuned to “silences” in the sources by paying attention to what is and is not directly stated in a text. In written work and oral contributions, students will develop their skills in building and substantiating their own arguments.

Close reading: 

This course emphasizes close reading of the sources. Close reading requires that you notice and discuss important details in the texts—including key concepts, words, and phrases that stand out as significant and/or surprising. Pay attention to repetition of words and phrases. Pay attention to internal tensions, inconsistencies. and contradictions in the text. Pay attention to absences and silences—what is left unsaid. Pay attention to tone. 

Interpretation. Once you have done a close reading of the documents, the next step is to interpret the historical significance of what stands out. It is not enough to identify what is said. An interpretation requires that you tell the reader why it matters to our understanding of a historical question. 

Students should approach the reading with the following questions in mind and be prepared to address them in class discussions and in written work. When was the document or book written? Who is writing? What do we know (or can we infer from context) about them? To whom are they trying to appeal and why? What does the author assume about the beliefs and attitudes of the audience? Is the author “preaching to the choir” or trying to convince skeptics, or both?  What are the author’s main arguments? What is directly stated? What is implied? Are there significant silences?  On what grounds does the author base those arguments? What is the “tone” of the piece—impassioned, angry, measured, philosophical, sarcastic, light-hearted, somber, skeptical, or what?

Required reading and films: With the exception of the print books for purchase listed below, all of the required readings and films are in the Weekly Canvas Modules.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: This is a reading, discussion, and writing course. The reading schedule is demanding and students who enroll in this course are expected to have all required assignments completed prior to Thursday's class meeting. Students must show up on time for class, and be fully prepared to discuss, analyze, and critique the assigned material.  Repeated lateness to class meetings and repeated unexcused absences will significantly lower your course grade and may result in a failing grade for the course.  

CLASS PARTICIPATION.  (30% of course grade): The consistency and quality of your contributions to class discussion each week are heavily weighted in the calculation of your course grade. Just because another student has already made a point that you agree with does not mean that there is nothing left to say about the matter. You can always add to that point, call attention to a related passage in the reading, mention contradictory perspectives within a text, or raise a related question. Have reading materials with you for class meetings. Be prepared each week to identify and discuss significant passages in each of the required readings. 

DISCUSSION BOARDS: Students will also be required to post responses to weekly Canvas Discussion Boards. Questions will be posted in Canvas “Discussions.”  Consider these a warm-up for the seminar discussions.  

PAPERS:  Students will write three formal analytical papers. The first two papers (6-7 pages in length) each count for 20%, The final paper (9-10 pages) counts for  30% of the course grade. The papers will focus on themes, questions, and debates that emerge from assigned readings. Instructions for the papers will be posted on the Assignments section of Canvas and will be discussed in class. It is not possible to pass this class without turning in all of the written work.  All papers must be uploaded as Word documents (NOT pdfs) to Canvas Assignments. Please do NOT use AI at any stage of the writing process. 

Due Dates for Papers:

First Essay: February 4

Second Essay: February 25

Final Essay: March 14.

Late papers: Except in cases of emergency, late papers will be penalized. If you are having trouble keeping up with the assignments, notify me immediately so we can figure out a way forward.    

****Warning. Do NOT use  ChatGPT, GPT4, Bing Chat, "Write with AI" in Google Docs or any other AI tool to write your papers or discussion posts. Use of AI to compose written work is strictly prohibited in this class




WEEK 1  (Jan. 4),  MAKING SENSE OF WAR: Close reading exercise.

 Read prior to the First Class Meeting  The articles are in the Canvas Module for Week 1 The Discussion Board posts on this material are due by 10 am on Thursday, Jan.4.  

  • Editors of Life, “Three Dead Americans” (1943). 
  • Ernie Pyle, “A Last Word.” (1944)
  •  Lucille Milner, “Jim Crow in the Army” (1944)
  • Also recommended: look at Maps and Timelines (The War in Europe and Asia-Pacific War)


WEEK 2 (Jan 11): "AMERICA FIRST!" 

 Read for Thursday (pdfs Canvas Module).

  • Bradley Hart,  Introduction,  Hitler's American Friends: The Third Reich's Supporters in the United States  (New York, 2018).
  • "FDR Creating War Incidents, Lindbergh Says," Chicago Daily Tribune, Sept. 11, 1941 (Lindbergh Controversy pdf)
  • "Lindbergh's Nazi Pattern," New Republic, Sept 22, 1941 (Lindbergh Controversy pdf).
  • "The Forbidden Theme," Christian Century, Sept. 24, 1941 (Lindbergh Controversy pdf).
  • Dorothy Thompson, "Mr. Lindbergh and the Facts," Daily Boston Globe, Sept. 17, 1941.
  • "America First Says Race is Not Issue," New York Times, Sept. 25, 1941.
  • Recommended film: The Mortal Storm (1940). Directed by Frank Borzage


WEEK 3 (Jan. 18): "ENEMIES"

Read for Thursday (pdfs Canvas Module)

  • Gerald F. Linderman, “Fighting the Germans.”
  •  Gerald F. Linderman, “Fighting the Japanese.”
  • John Dower, “Race, Language, and War in Two Cultures” 
  • Robert Sherrod, “Gone to Earth” and “The Nature of the Enemy.” (1944). 
  •  Ernie Pyle, "The Illogical Japs." (1945.)
  •  Ernie Pyle, "German Supermen Up Close." ( 1943)
  •   Ed Cunningham, “Battle of the Bulge.” (1944-45).
  •  Also recommended: John Dower, “War Hates and War Crimes.” 



Read and Watch for Thursday:

George Roeder Jr., The Censored War [print].  We will be referring to specific pages and images during our discussion. Please have the book with you.

Film: Bataan (1943).  Link in Canvas Module.



Read and Watch for Thursday:

Mine Okubo, Citizen 13360 (1946) [print]. We will be referring to specific pages and images, please have the book with you when we discuss it.

Ansel Adams, Born Free and Equal (1944). Canvas Module

Film: WRA, A Challenge to Democracy (1944). Link in Canvas Module.


WEEK 6 (Feb.8) : WAR ZONES I

Read for Thursday (pdf's Canvas Module)

  • Katharine Archibald, Wartime Shipyard(1947), pp. 1-109.
  • Roi Ottley, “Negroes are Saying” (1943).
  • Thurgood Marshall, “The Gestapo in Detroit” (1943). 


 WEEK 7 (Feb 15): WAR ZONES II

Read for Thursday:

Chester Himes, If He Hollers, Let Him Go (1945), entire book. [print]. We will be referring to specific passages in the book, please have it with you.



Read and Watch for Thursday: (all in the Canvas Module)

Freda Kirchwey, “While the Jews Die” (1943). 

Fred Eastman, “A Reply to Screamers” (1944). 

  1. H. Lawrence, “Nazi Mass Killing Laid Bare” (1944). 

Richard Lauterbach, “Murder, Inc.” (1944). 

Edward R. Murrow, “Broadcast from Buchenwald” (1945).

Martha Gellhorn, “Dachau” (1945). 

Martha Gellhorn, “We Were Never Nazis” (1945). 

Film: U.S. Army, Nazi Concentration Camps (1945).


Week 9 (Feb. 29): WAR ZONES III

Read:  (pdf's Canvas module)

William O’Neill, “The Destruction of Japan.” 

Paul Boyer, By the Bomb's Early Light, chapter 1

Paul Boyer, By the Bomb’s Early Light, chapters 16- 17. 



Read: John Hersey, Hiroshima (1946),  chapters 1-5. [Print] Have your book with you.

  (If your edition of the book does not contain the “Aftermath” (chapter 5) you can find the aftermath chapter as a pdf in the Canvas Module.).  

Recommended Film: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).



Grading Rubric for History Papers: 

 An “A” range paper 

  • Presents a solid thesis and a clear and well-organized structure that never leaves the reader to figure out the direction of the argument; and
  • demonstrates an appropriate use of primary and secondary evidence that is integrated into the argument and properly cited and contextualized.

A high-A paper demonstrates these characteristics, as well as some unique intelligence or creativity indicating the author put extraordinary thought into preparing the argument. It uses strong topic sentences and clear transitions between paragraphs. Each paragraph follows logically from the previous one. It is specific about who, what, where, when, and why.

“B” range papers contain a strong and carefully considered thesis, but is somewhat weaker on overall organization and  

  • the clarity of its argument
  • the use of evidence; or
  • contains enough writing errors to distract the reader from the course of the argument.

The difference between a low “B” paper and a high “B” paper can often be attributed to the amount and type of evidence used, and the level to which it is contextualized and integrated into the argument. 

“C” range papers address the assignment and may contain a thesis and some evidence. Such a paper often summarizes material without analyzing it or forming an argument about it. The degree to which a paper argues a claim and mentions relevant evidence can determine where in the C-range it will be graded. 

“D” papers discuss some of the material for the assignment, but they fail to answer the question.

 Grading Rubric for History Class Discussion:

  • “A” range students are both highly engaged and very insightful in class discussion. They complete all reading in advance of the class meeting and come to class fully prepared to discuss key questions in the syllabus and to raise others. They actively participate in every class discussion. They offer important insights into the readings and films, refer to specific passages or scenes to back up their assertions, ask thoughtful and insightful questions, respond in respectful ways to points made by other students, demonstrate an excellent grasp of the issues, make connections between readings from week to week, and generally help elevate the level of discussion.  They always show up for class on time, bring reading materials with them so they can refer to specific passages and follow along when the instructor or another student refers to a passage, and stay for the duration of every class.  
  • “B” range students complete all the reading in advance of the seminar and come to class prepared to discuss them. They raise their hands and respond when called upon by the instructor. They frequently make significant points, share ideas, and respond to points made by other students, ask insightful questions and make good observations, demonstrate a good grasp of the issues, and sometimes attempt to make connections between the readings/films for different weeks in the quarter, but the level and quality of their participation is uneven.  The difference between a B+ grade and a B- has to do with the level, quality, and consistency of student involvement in class discussion. 
  • “C” range students complete some of the reading in advance of the seminar, or complete all reading for some of the meetings, but little of it for others. In general, their lack of preparation does not allow them to actively participate or to back up their assertions when they do. They occasionally raise their hands, but they rarely make an effort to fully engage with the material or with other students, rarely ask questions, and if they do, they tend to wander from the issues at hand or make irrelevant points when called upon to participate.  Their comments, when offered, show a lack of understanding of the material. They typically forget to bring the reading material, arrive late and/or leave early and have unexplained absences.  
  • “D” range students rarely make an effort to do the reading, rarely, if ever participate, show up late and leave early, never bring the reading material, seem generally disengaged, and have many absences. “D” students also behave in a disrespectful manner toward other students. 






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 Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
June 11, 2024 - 11:46 pm