HIS 232: UNITED STATES HISTORY SINCE 1877 -- ON-LINE EDITION


North Island College Winter 2014

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office:  Village G6, CVC

Office Phone: 334-5000, Extension 4024

Home Phone:   250-336-0238 (Do not hesitate to call with course-related questions).

Web-Sites: http://www.misterdann.com/contentspostcivilwarus.htm (for all the main course resources ) and also https://portal.nic.bc.ca/ (for the Blackboard site and its Discussion Forums)

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca


Course Description

This course addresses the political, economic and social development of the American republic from the end of Reconstruction to the present day.  Major themes will include urbanization, western settlement, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War and rise to Super Power Status, and Civil Rights.


Tentative Class Schedule

Week 1 (January 6-12):  Introduction And Statue Of Liberty

Orientation For The Week

You have one significant responsibility this first week.  Browse extensively in The Statue of Liberty Discussion Topic and then add your written response to the HIS 232 Learn Blackboard Discussion Forum on that topic.  Discussion Forums will work best when commentary is kept up-to-date, but previous forums will remain open even as new ones are opened up.

The focus for the week is to orient students to the course.  HIS 232 is being offered in both on-line and face-to-face format this semester, and thus the course is designed to facilitate the sharing of curricular materials and the sharing the ideas.

The weekly Discussion Forums are meant to encourage the latter.  You should contribute to these each week.  The forums themselves are not on my teaching web-site but instead on the HIS 232 Learn Blackboard site that you should be able to access through MyNIC on the college homepage.

Before the start of each week, you should read the "Orientation For The Week" overview on the Syllabus page.  It will outline your responsibilities for the coming week, including instructions and links for the Discussion Forum/s and for any required readings.  I will occasionally include some required Listening or Viewing materials as well as On-line text-like materials.  These resources are meant as substitutes for the in-class presentations, though I will also add some slide shows and outline notes from my face-to-face lectures.  Any materials listed in the Optional Extras are just that -- interesting supplementary materials connected to the topics under consideration for that particular week.

You will be consulting this electronic Distance Syllabus on a regular basis.  The structure listed below provides a basic representation of the topics to be covered but additional materials and instructions will be added as we proceed since this is the first time I have taught an on-line edition of the course.  You may want to consult the face-to-face (ITV) syllabus to get a better sense of where we will be going this semester, but this Distance Syllabus will remain your basic guide.

Discussion Forum

Reading Assignment

Lecture Materials

Optional Extras


Week 2  (January 13-19):  The South And The West

Orientation For The Week

The thematic focus for this week is on the American South and the American West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Your specific academic responsibilities are to contribute to the Gettysburg Address and How The West Was Won Or Lost Discussion Forums on the HIS 232 Learn Blackboard site, and to catch up on last week's Statue of Liberty Discussion Forum.

The 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's short speech dedicating the Union cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield was commemorated in November 2013.  Like so many other public markings of past events, it provided Americans with an opportunity to reflect upon the legacies of the Civil War and the meaning of Lincoln's words for today.  Larry McMurtry's 1990 article is, in my opinion, an interesting reflection upon how recent historians of the American West have come to their study of that topic with different questions, assumptions and biases than interpreters of previous generations.

Erik Larson's Devil in the White City will be the main responsibility for Week 3.  Although you should not find it a challenging read, I recommend that you start the book by the end of this week if you have it in your possession.

The other priority for this week is to check in with me by e-mail with your letter of introduction and questions about the course.  We will trouble-shoot any issues, such as access to the Learn Blackboard.  I apologize that I am still scrambling to get all in place for this course.  In my own opinion, the On-line edition of the course is only now being officially launched on January 11.  You should thus not consider yourself behind if you are just getting started.  But it is important that we connect and get on the same page as to procedures and expectations this coming week.  Please e-mail me at the address listed above to introduce yourself.  Thanks.

Discussion Forum

Reading Assignment

On-Line Text

Lecture Materials


Week 3  (January 20-26):  The Turn Of The Century

Orientation For The Week

We will look in this week at the United States both home and abroad at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.  Both the Devil in the White City and the 1896 Presidential Campaign Discussion Topic offer snapshot views of American society in the 1890s.  The Chicago World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893 is a significant historical event in its own right and the 1896 national election is often highlighted as one of the most important in American history.  But I include them in the curriculum as interesting case studies that can open up analysis of various tensions that came to the surface at the time of enormous social change.

Paul Kramer's article on the Filipino insurgency of the early twentieth-century offers a window onto American foreign policy at this time and may also provide interesting comparisons with more recent events.

Try to contribute to at least a couple of discussion forums this week and, at a minimum, to push well into the reading of Larson's book (the Discussion Forum on Devil in the White City will remain open beyond this week).  As always. please do not hesitate to contact me with questions and comments.

Discussion Forum

Reading Assignment

On-Line Text

Lecture Materials

Optional Extras


Week 4  (January 27-February 2):  The Great War And The Roaring Twenties

Orientation For The Week

We use President Woodrow Wilson's call "to make the world safe for democracy" as an invitation to explore the theme of democracy just before, during and after World War I.  One challenge is to place American participation in the Great War in a broad comparative context.  How did U.S. involvement in that war differ from that of other nations and where should that war be placed within the overall framework of twentieth-century American and global history?  Another is to situate the war within an ongoing conversation about American social reform.  In what ways did World War I serve as a catalyst for further democratic change in the United States and in what ways did it serve as a brake against such reform?

Your specific responsibilities include reading about women and reform movements at the turn of the century, with an emphasis upon the push for the vote, and browsing review materials associated with Bill Bryson's recent book on the 1920s.  The former of these responsibilities is the more substantial of the two.  I included the 1927 Discussion Topic because I thought it might provide a snapshot look at some of the themes and tensions that characterized the "Jazz Age."

Discussion Forum

Reading Assignment

Listening And Viewing

Lecture Materials


Week 5  (February 3-February 9):  Great Depression And New Deal

Orientation For The Week

The theme for this week is on American society during the 1930s.  It was during the economic meltdown of the Great Depression that the role of the federal government was fundamentally re-defined.  Many historians suggest that the entire 1932-1980 era can be seen as framed by a loose New Deal political consensus.

The FSA Photography Project Discussion Topic asks you to use the materials created by one New Deal agency as a way to explore the social history of the 1930s.  As outlined in the instructions on the Discussion Topic page, your most basic task here is to research the biography and photographs of one government-employed photographer.

I have included links in the Listening And Viewing section below to a wonderful seven-hour PBS series on the 1930s.  Please watch at least one episode from the series (you do not need to start with Episode 1).  This series does a fine job at combining political history with a look in at the everyday life of Americans during this troubled and tumultuous decade.

Discussion Forum

Reading Assignment

Listening And Viewing [Watch at least one episode from the superb "Great Depression" series]

On-Line Text

Lecture Materials


Week 6  (February 10-February 16):  Monument Assignment

***Monuments Assignment Due

Orientation For The Week

The focus for this week should be completing the Monuments Assignment.  You should both submit your finished template and comment upon the most noteworthy aspects of your project in the Discussion Forum.

Discussion Forum

Optional Extras


***Reading Break: February 17-23 


 

Week 7  (February 24-March 2):  The "Good War" -- WW II

Listening And Viewing


Week 8  (March 3-March 9):  Cold War

Discussion Forum

Reading Assignment

Lecture Materials


Week 9  (March 10-March 16):  Civil Rights Movement

Orientation For The Week

After a brief overview of both the Cold War and American society in the 1950s, we began the study of the Civil Rights Movement with a look in at two bus-associated protests as our beginning case studies.

Your specific responsibilities include reading about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Freedom Rides, and watching at least one episode of the wonderful Eyes on the Prize series.

Discussion Forum

Reading Assignment

Listening And Viewing [Watch at least one episode from the "Eyes On The Prize" series]

Lecture Materials


Week 10  (March 17-March 23) Civil Rights Movement (II)

Orientation For The Week

The theme for this week is the Civil Rights Movement.  We will use writings by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. as one main entry point into our topic.  Although it would be a mistake to hold up these two activists as opposites, exploring the parallel and contrasts between the working-class Northern Black Muslim ex-convict Malcolm X and the upper-middle-class university-educated Christian minister and theologian King can be a revealing exercise.

Your specific responsibilities are to read both Malcolm X's autobiography and the Letter From A Birmingham Jail.  Although there is no longer writing assignment associated with the course's second book, I recommend that you offer a thoughtful Discussion Forum entry that begins to capture your response to the Malcolm X's life story.  You may want to complement this with a commentary on King's famous 1963 letter.

If you have time, you may want to at least sample several minutes of the PBS Freedom Rides documentary that I have listed in the Optional Extras section.

Discussion Forum

Reading Assignment

Lecture Materials

Optional Extras


Week 11  (March 24-March 30):  The "Bad War" -- Vietnam


Week 12  (March 31-April 6):  The Seventies And Vietnam War/Iraq War Comparison

***Vietnam/Iraq War Comparison Grid Due

Orientation For The Week

The focus these final two weeks should be upon completing the Vietnam/Iraq War Comparison Grid; adding to earlier Discussion Forums: and in preparing for the Final Exam.  It is fine to hand in the Comparison Grid next week if you need a little more time.  The Final Exam Study Guide is now posted on the Assignment page.  You are expected to engage in some independent research in familiarizing yourself with 15 of the historical terms listed.  I will also add a Study Grid to the Assignments page that includes a selection of possible internet resources for each historical term.  If you have time, push forward with reading H.W. Brands's American Dreams: The United States Since 1945.  Brands offers an introduction to post-World War II American History.

Discussion Forum

Lecture Materials


Week 13  (April 7-April 13):  Today's America In Historical Perspective

Orientation For The Week

.

Discussion Forum

Reading Assignment

Listening And Viewing

On-Line Text

  • Final Exam Study Grid


Final Exam Date To Be Determined


Texts

Erik Larson, Devil In The White City  (New York: Vintage, 2004).

Malcolm X, Autobiography Of Malcolm X  (New York: Ballantine, 1987).

H. W. Brands, American Dreams: The United States Since 1945 (New York: Penguin, 2011).


Evaluation

Assignment

Percentage

 

 

Letter of Introduction

1%

Monuments Assignment

25%

Vietnam War/Iraq War Comparison Grid

20%

Class Participation

34%

Final Exam

20%

 

 

Totals

100%

                                                         


a)  Letter of Introduction (1%)

Who are you? Where are you from? What are your interests? Why are you taking this course? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions as we start the course? Write two or three informal paragraphs for the second class of the semester to introduce yourself to me.


b)  Monuments Assignment (25%)

This first-half assignment will ask you to research assorted the history of various American monuments.


c) Vietnam War/Iraq War Comparison Grid (23%)

This second-half assignment will involve comparative analysis of American involvement in these two long wars.


d)  Class Participation (34%)

The class participation grade is a substantial one and, in the case of distance students, will be determined on the basis of contributions to the Discussion Forums.  These will be located on the HIS 232 Blackboard Learn site.  These discussions will bring together students from both the distance and face-to-face formats in informal but regular written dialogue.  You should make very frequent submissions here (perhaps twice a week or more).  Add your commentary to the scheduled Discussion Forums but do not hesitate to also begin your own threads on any U.S. History-related topic.


e)  Final Exam (20%)

The Final exam will consist of a series of short mini-essays upon different significant historical terms from post-Civil War US History.


A Note On Plagiarism

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty  about what is permitted here.


Welcome To The Course

 

 

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