History 343: Twentieth Century America

                                                                               Dr. David F. Krugler
 

When this course was last taught at UWP, in the fall of 1999, the 20th century was nearly concluded, and the imminent turning of the millennium prompted innumerable attempts to stamp the 20th century with some sort of fixed meaning. There were best of/worst of lists, rankings of the century’s most important people, predictions about the future, and to top it all off, wild fears about Y2K. Now that we’re firmly in the 21st century, the hoopla has thankfully died down, giving us the opportunity to critically examine the 20th century, as it relates to the United States, without trying to identify the best film ever made or worrying about our computers reverting to the year 1900.

Throughout the semester, we’ll take both a chronological and comprehensive approach to our study of US history. We’ll begin by considering the nation on the turn of a different century, then work our way through subsequent major events and developments: Progressivism, growth of the federal government, the Great Depression, changing status of American women. Rather than treat these topics as self-contained, or relevant only to a certain time period, we’ll sometimes make our analysis century-wide. For example, we’ll discuss changes and continuities in immigration patterns throughout the 20th century; at another point, we’ll use the Cuban Missile Crisis to consider the rise of the US as a world power.

Class meetings combine lecture and discussion. On Mondays, I’ll begin class by posing a deliberately provocative question on a current issue or event, then ask for an oral response from you and your classmates. After a brief discussion, I’ll lecture on a selected topic in 20th Century US history that relates to that day’s posed question. Many Monday classes will also feature brief video or film clips, overhead presentations, and web site visits. On Wednesdays, we’ll also begin class with discussion, based on the weekly reading assignments. Usually, these discussions will run for 50 minutes, then I’ll finish the period with a brief lecture.

Book-List: The following texts are required and are available at the textbook center.
· Walter L. Hixson, Charles A. Lindbergh: Lone Eagle (1996)
· Steve F. Lawson and Charles Payne, Debating the Civil Rights Movement, 1945 – 1968 (1998)
· Mitchell Hall, The Vietnam War (2000)
· Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House (1910)
· Harvard Sitkoff, ed., Perspectives on Modern America: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century (2001)
· Thomas C. Reeves, Twentieth Century America: A Brief History (2000)

In addition, you will be consulting A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 3rd ed., by Mary Rampolla. Some reading assignments will draw upon handouts, which I’ll distribute in advance. If you miss class, it’s your responsibility to get the handout before discussion.

Assignments: Your grade will be determined by evaluation of your work on the following:

Exams: You will take a mid-term and a final. Each test will be in an essay format; study guides will be provided.

Writing: You will write two 5-6 page papers. The first paper will be an essay that traces change and/or continuity in a selected topic in 20th century US history. Different approaches to the same topic will be encouraged. For example, one student might choose to explain why poverty persisted throughout the US during the 20th century; another might analyze the changing nature of American poverty. The second paper will be an essay based on the course text Debating the Civil Rights Movement in which you will explain which “side” of the debate you find most persuasive.
 Writing due dates: For paper 1, choose your deadline from one of these three dates: Monday, October 8th; Monday, November 19th; Monday, December 3rd. Please note that December 3rd is the last possible date to turn in paper 1; papers will not be accepted after that date. All students must turn in paper 2 on October 31st.

Discussion: Your individual participation in the weekly discussion of the reading assignment is mandatory. Each week’s reading must be completed by Wednesday’s class; please plan your study time so that you meet this deadline each week.

Attendance: Failure to attend class will adversely affect your grade through poor test performance and loss of discussion points. Except in case of emergencies, makeup tests and extensions will not be given without prior approval.

Grade Components:
 1 Midterm @ 15%            Paper 1 @ 20%                                        Participation @ 25%
 1 Final @ 20%                  Paper 2 @ 20%

Lecture & Assignment Schedule:
(Assignments and due-dates subject to announced change)

Week 1: Reading: Twentieth Century America, 1-20
 W 9/5  Introduction to course; America in the 1890s.

Week 2: Reading: Twenty Years at Hull House, 1-10, 15-31, 68-122
 M 9/10  Haves and Have-Nots, circa 1900 (Paper 1 assignment distributed)
 W 9/12  Progressivism. Discussion: Jane Addams.

Week 3: Reading: Perspectives, 275-95; Twenty Years at Hull House, 136-47; start reading Charles Lindbergh
 M 9/17  Progressivism, continued; US (non)entry into World War I.
 W 9/19  World War I. Discussion: Immigration.

Week 4: Reading: Finish reading Charles Lindbergh
 M 9/24  Postwar adjustment.
 W 9/26  1920s. Discussion: Jazz age search for a hero.

Week 5: Reading: Perspectives, 101-44; Twentieth Century America, 101-17
 M 10/1 Great Depression and Hoover’s Response.
 W 10/3  New Deal. Discussion: American labor and the roller coaster economy.

Week 6: Reading: Twentieth Century America, 119-38; handout
 M 10/8 Foreign affairs in the ‘30s; US entry into WWII. (1st possible due date for Paper 1)
 W 10/10  US in World War II. Discussion: internment camps.

Week 7: Reading: none
 M 10/15  Midterm Exam
 W 10/17  The Cold War; domestic anti-communism. No discussion.

Week 8: Reading: Twentieth Century America, 155-70; handout
 M 10/22 Postwar boon and affluence.
 W 10/24 1950s culture and society. Discussion: Operation Alert 1957.

Week 9: Reading: Debating Civil Rights, 3-42, 99-136
 M 10/29 Civil Rights Movements.
 W 10/31  Paper 2 due. Kennedy’s New Frontier. Discussion: Civil Rights Movements.

Week 10: Reading: Twentieth Century America, 170-77; Perspectives, 80-99; handout
 M 11/5  Cold War renewed.
 W 11/7  The Great Society. Discussion: Cuban Missile Crisis

Week 11: Reading: Perspectives, 9-54
 M 11/12   Music as protest in the 1960s.
 W 11/14  Transformation of urban America. Discussion: Presidency in the 20th ct.

Week 12: Reading: The Vietnam War, 1-56, 88-110
 M 11/19  Vietnam. (2nd possible due date for Paper 1)
 W 11/21  The “Me” decade. Discussion: Vietnam

Week 13: Reading: none
 M 11/26  Nixon re-evaluated.
 W 11/28  Environmentalism. No discussion.

Week 14: Reading: Perspectives, 162-76; handout
 M 12/3 Reagan’s America. (Last possible due-date for Paper 1)
 W 12/5 The Gulf War. Discussion: American women in the 20th ct.

Week 15: Reading: Perspectives, 145-61
 M 12/10 Affluence, 1990s-style.
 W 12/12 Sex, politics, and an all news, all-the-time nation. Discussion: Consumerism in the 20th ct.

FINAL: Wednesday, December 19, 3-4:50 PM