Syllabus 2013

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MODERN AMERICA: U.S. HISTORY FROM 1877
Asbury University—Spring 2013
Instructor: David R. Swartz
Morrison 205—MWF 11 a.m.
Contact
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: Ext. 2118 (office); 858-2741 (home)
Office location: Morrison 313
Office hours: Mondays 8-9 a.m. and 12-1 p.m.; Tuesdays 2-4 p.m.; Wednesdays 8-9 a.m.;
Fridays 8-9 a.m.; or by appointment
Course Description
This course examines the political, economic, social, cultural, and religious development of
the United States since Reconstruction. This course will cover topics including the New
South and West, the industrial revolution, imperialism, progressivism, the Great Depression,
1950s consumerism, and the civil rights movement.
Course Themes
Each of these figures, movements, and events will be considered with four themes in mind:
1) The nature of American identity. Who can claim to be an American, and what do
they do with that label once they hold it?
2) The promise and peril of American commitment to and faith in progress. How
have new technologies and intellectual currents shaped American optimism and
decision-making?
3) The changing character of responsibility and power. How has the nation
understood its exercise of power upon its citizens and the world? What about
power wielded not only by presidents and congresses, but also by social
movements, religious leaders, and groups without political standing?
4) The nature of American exceptionalism. Is the United States exceptional
culturally, constitutionally, economically, religiously?
Learning Outcomes
At the end of this course, students should be able to:
 Narrate social, political, cultural, and religious developments in the history of the
Western tradition

Analyze primary texts—written, visual, and aural—in their historical context

Appreciate the diversity of values, beliefs, and sensibilities embodied in the human
experience

Think historically by recognizing the contingencies and rich complexities of the past
Course Texts
James W. Davidson and Mark H. Lytle, After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection, Vol.
2 (McGraw-Hill, 5th edition)
Jacob A. Riis, How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York
Miné Okubo, Citizen 13660
Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Selected primary source readings
Evaluation
 Grading criteria: A (93-100); A- (90-92); B+ (88-89); B (83-87); B- (80-82); C+
(78-79); C (73-77); C- (70-72); D (60-69)

Plagiarism and cheating: Plagiarism, which is the use of another person’s words or
ideas without proper documentation, will not be tolerated. Plagiarized assignments
will receive no credit.
1. Two exams (50%)
o Purchase blue books from the bookstore.
2. Project (25%)
o Give a ten-minute presentation that defends an argument with evidence from
either an image or person and its historical context. Bring two written copies
of your presentation (outline, notes, and documentation) to class (one for me;
one for you). Late assignments will be reduced one letter grade each class
period late.
3. Attendance and participation (25%)
o Participation and in-class exercises: Participation is important in the success
of this class and in student learning. Evaluation will be based on thoughtful
questions, insightful comments, and verbal participation in small group
discussions.
o Attendance: Each absence after three unexcused absences will reduce the
class participation component by one-half of a letter grade.
o Quiz
Schedule
Week One: The Bottom Rail and the Telling of American History
January 7
January 9
January 11: “The View from the Bottom Rail,” After the Fact
Week Two: Railroaded: National Expansion in the South and West
January 14: Turner, “Frontier in American History” (1893)
January 16: “Wyoming Gunfight: An Attack on Chinatown,” (1885)
January 18: Cobb, “An Unreconstructed Southerner” (1868)
Week Three: Machinery Hall and the Rise of Industrialization
January 21: MLK Day—no classes
January 23: “Engineer Taylor Fashions the Ideal Worker” (1910); “The World Before
Him” (1880)
January 25: Quiz; Twain, “Gimme a Break!” (1879)
Week Four: New York City and the Rise of the Metropolis
January 28: Riis, How the Other Half Lives (1890)
January 30
February 1: “The Mirror with a Memory,” After the Fact
Week Five: Teddy Roosevelt and Progressivism
February 4: Selections from Josiah Strong, Our Country (1885)
February 6: Sanger, “The Case for Birth Control” (1924)
February 8: Selections from The Jungle (1906); “USDA Government Inspected,” After
the Fact
Week Six: Birth of a Nation and the Limits of Progressivism
February 11
February 13: Eliot, “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1920)
February 15: Primary source exercise from “The Crisis”
Week Seven: The Beast of Berlin and World War I
February 18: Midterm exam
February 20: Selections from Creel, How We Sold America (1920)
February 22: “Sacco and Vanzetti” After the Fact
Week Eight: Major League Baseball and the Rise of Mass Culture
February 25: Wolfe, “The Benevolent Brotherhood of Baseball Bugs” (1923)
February 27: Newspaper assignment; browse
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/sgphtml/sashtml/sashome.html
March 1: Williams, “The Crowd at the Baseball Game” (1921); Selections from The
Great Gatsby (1925)
Week Nine:
March 4: Presentations
March 6: Presentations
March 8: Presentations
SPRING BREAK
Week Ten: Migrant Mother and the Great Depression
March 18
March 20: Meridel Le Sueur, “Women on the Breadlines” (1932)
March 22: “Dust Bowl Odyssey,” After the Fact; browse
http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/fsahtml/fahome.html
and http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/afctshtml/tshome.html
Week Eleven: Citizen 13660 and the Limits of World War II
March 25
March 27: Miné Okubo, Citizen 13660 (1946)
March 29: Easter Break
Week Twelve: Wonder Bread and the American Dream in the 1950s
April 1: Easter Break
April 3: William H. Whyte, Jr., excerpts from The Organization Man (1956); “The
Organization Kid,” Atlantic Monthly (2001)
April 5: “From Rosie to Lucy,” After the Fact
Week Thirteen
April 8: Presentations
April 10: Presentations
April 12: Presentations
Week Fourteen: Albany, Birmingham, and the Triumph of Civil Rights
April 15: King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963)
April 17: Wallace, “The Civil Rights Movement: Fraud, Sham, and Hoax” (1964)
April 19
Week Fifteen: The Big Mac and the Dilemmas of Modernity
April 22: “The Body in Question,” After the Fact
April 24: Fast Food Nation (2001)
April 26
Final Examination: 8 a.m., Thursday, May 2, 2013
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