Syllabus - University Honors College

History 1619: U.S. History Since 1945
Professor Maurine Greenwald
Office: 3507A Posvar Hall
Office hours: Mondays 3:30-4:30 and Wednesdays 11-12 and by appointment
Phone: 648-7462; Email:
Wednesday 2:00-4:25 p.m. in 236 CL
Course Goals:
1) Build a working knowledge of seminal events and developments in the U.S. since 1945 in the
context of changing economic systems, technology, international relations, immigration, wars, and
2) Interpret different types of historical sources, such as memoirs, testimony before government
committees, foreign-policy documents, photos, speeches, court cases, political tracts;
3) Place current events into an historical perspective;
4) Write and speak about contemporary U.S. history in cogent, accurate terms.
Books available at the University of Pittsburgh bookstore:
William Chafe, The Unfinished Journey: America Since World War II
Class Organization:
In a small class we should maximize our opportunity to discuss the readings and assignments listed
on the syllabus. My lectures will take only part of our weekly meetings.
Attendance is required. If you cannot attend, please email me an explanation. If you miss more
than one weekly seminar without a valid excuse, your final grade will suffer.
The midterm and final exams will consist of three parts: 1) identifications of names, terms,
concepts, and events; 2) short-answer questions or a map quiz; 3) a take-home essay.
Course Grading:
Class discussions and blog entries=20%
Midterm (Oct. 16) and final in-class (TBA) exams=40% (20% each)
Take-home essays=40% (20% each)
To receive a discussion grade, please submit a writing reflection on CourseWeb by Friday at
midnight each week. Enter your commentary under “Blog.” This reflection will answer three
questions: 1) “What was the most important or interesting comment one of your classmates made
in class, and why?” 2) “What was the most important comment you made or question you asked
in class?” 3)”What is the question you most wish someone had asked this week in class?” Or
“what one issue raised by this week’s readings did we fail to touch on in our discussion?”
Words to the Wise for Mastering the Material and Enjoying the Course
Spend two hours for every one hour of class preparing for this course–that means
six hours a week for reading the assignments and taking notes. Writing assignments
take additional time.
Complete the week's reading by the date listed on the syllabus.
Pace your reading carefully. A reading assignment may be too long or demanding
to finish in one sitting.
Read critically for the main ideas and evidence. Excessive underlining makes
studying difficult because you will have to re-read everything you’ve highlighted to
find the main ideas and evidence. Read an entire section of the textbook before
taking notes or highlighting. Read for the important ideas from the start. It is
much easier to review reading notes than a heavily marked text.
Review your notes within twenty-four hours of class.
Check your email several times a week for communication relating to this class.
Students who do not regularly attend class may not take the midterm or final examination.
Makeup examinations are available by special arrangement for students with legitimate excuses.
"G" grades will be awarded only to students who are in good standing in the course and contact
me to explain their inability to complete the assigned work. Cheating or plagiarism on the
midterm or final examination or take-home essays will result in an "F" for the course and a report
to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Students with validated learning disabilities
may take their in-class exams at the Disability Resources and Service at 216 William Pitt Union,
but must make the arrangements ahead of time.
Communication in Person and by Email
Communicate with me. I want to get to know you; your best opportunities to communicate your
questions and concerns are during class and during my office hours.
Please use discretion in using email. Like you, I juggle multiple responsibilities. If you want to
chat, please see me in person during my office hours or by appointment. Read the syllabus
carefully to see if your question is answered there. An examination study guide will be
distributed in class approximately a week before each exam. Use the study guide to prepare
in a timely fashion.
Check your email regularly to make sure you receive course announcements throughout the
term. Make sure your email is not over quota in which case you will not receive my
Use full sentences in your email communication; address me as Professor Greenwald; sign your
full name. Clearly expressed communication will make it easier for me to help you.
Grading Scale
97.5 to 100.0
94.0 to 97.4
A90.0 to 93.9
87.5 to 89.9
84.0 to 87.4
B80.0 to 83.9
77.5 to 79.9
74.0 to 77.4
C70.0 to 73.9
67.5 to 69.9
64.0 to 67.4
D60.0 to 63.9
Weekly Schedule
Aug. 28
Course introduction
Reviewing Selected Developments in Modern U.S. History
Sept. 4
World War II: Conquering Fascism and Japanese Militarism
Interning Japanese Americans: Civil Rights during Wartime
Chafe, 1-28
Go to where you will click on “Learning Center” and read the
materials provided under the five sections under “Historical Overview” that are labeled
“Immigrants and Civil Rights,” “Prelude to Incarceration,” “Incarceration Years,” “Question of
Loyalty,” “Legacies: Redress.” Note the U.S. immigration and civil rights laws before World
War II that pertained to the Japanese. Prepare to explain how these earlier policies made the
wartime incarceration of Japanese-Americans possible.
Sept. 11
The Cold War: Rebuilding Enemy Nations and Making Enemies of An Ally
Cold War to Hot War: Korea
Chafe, 29-73; 238-245
Henry Wallace, “Achieving an Atmosphere of Mutual Trust and Confidence,”
Truman Doctrine: President Truman’s Address before a Joint Session of Congress,
Mar. 12, 1947
George Kennan, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” (1947)
NSC-68, the U.S. National Security Council document that set the stage for
Truman’s decision to go to war against North Korea, is available at Read sections IV and IX.
Telegram from N. Novikov, Soviet Ambassador to the U.S., to the Soviet
Leadership (1946) This
document is also available on CourseWeb.
What was Henry Wallace’s alternative to cold war containment? How do these documents define
freedom and oppression? How does foreign aid become a key component of U.S. foreign
policy? What did Kennan identify as the likely sources of future conflict between Washington and
the Kremlin? Which aspects of the Soviet system did Kennan believe would cause the Soviet
Union to implode? What did Kennan recommend the U.S. government do? What were the key
components of U.S. policy as described in NSC-68, and what were the Council’s assumptions
about the U.S. and Soviet economic and political systems? How did the Soviets view U.S. foreign
policy and the likelihood of the US and USSR to conflict in their goals and actions? Why did the
U.S. go to war against North Korea? How did the Korean conflict represent a decisive moment in
American foreign policy history?
Sept. 18
Korean War
Cold War at Home
Chafe, 74-104; 238-245
“We Must Keep the Labor Unions Clean”: “Friendly” HUAC Witnesses Ronald
Reagan and Walt Disney Blame Hollywood Labor Conflicts on Communist
“You Are the Un-Americans, and You Ought to be Ashamed of Yourselves”: Paul
Robeson Appears Before HUAC
“They Want to Muzzle Public Opinion”: John Howard Lawson’s Warning to the
American Public (1947)
“I Have Sung in Hobo Jungles, and I Have Sung for the Rockefellers” Pete Seeger
Refuses to “Sing” for HUAC
Peter Abblebome, “Giving Back Stature Stolen in Red Scare,” The New York imes,
September 3, 2009, A20 on Courseweb
“Seeger v. Board of Ed Ends in Apology,” The New York Times, Feb. 12, 2009, C2
on Courseweb.
How was anticommunism defended and opposed at the HUAC hearings? How effective were
the Truman administration’s anticommunist policies and Joe McCarthy’s social practices on
curbing Americans’ right to dissent and associate with people of their own choosing? Why did
the first amendment position taken by John Howard Lawson fail to protect the Hollywood Ten?
When and why did Robeson and Seeger receive public vindication for their political actions?
How was the Korean War a prelude to the U.S. War in Southeast Asia?
Sept. 25
Economic Prosperity and Consumerism
Suburbia and the Inner City: Class, Race, and Housing
Levittown: Case Studies of Suburbia in Pennsylvania and New York
Chafe, 106-139;
Ron Leir, “Kushner tells of the fight to integrate Levittown,” The Jewish State: The Newspaper for
Central New Jersey’s Jewish Communities, April 2, 2010 contains a history of Levittown, PA from the perspective of white
residents. Read through the contents and note what this history emphasizes and omits. How
would you characterize this history of Levittown?
“Levittown: Documents of an Ideal American Suburb” assembled by Peter Bacon Hales at offers an excellent overview of the Levittown
community in New York. Please read carefully Hales’ section on race. Note how the federal
policy on loans and redlining communities contributed to racial segregation in the suburbs.
Note the house and community designs, the financing arrangements available for potential
buyers, specifications in the contract agreements, community facilities and types of gatherings,
and the racial strictures and racial controversies. How did Levittown promote the nuclear
family and racial homogeneity as ideals? Why would working-class and middle-class whites be
attracted to the Levitt brothers’ communities? Consider how the Levitt communities contributed
to the U.S. physical, social, and political landscapes.
Why are the 1950s considered to be the fulfillment of the American Dream, and why did the U.S.
middle class grow and prosper as never before? To what extent was this middle class America
reality, to what extent appearance? What were the economic underpinnings of American
economic expansion from 1940-1973? How did the Second World War and federal policies
after the war contribute to U.S. economic prosperity? Why was pent-up consumer demand a
critical factor in U.S. economic health, and why has consumer spending been a critical economic
component ever since? What do we mean by productivity, and why was it rising in these years?
What was the G.I. Bill, and why was it an effective piece of social welfare legislation?
Oct. 2
The Civil Rights Revolution: Its Origins, Ideas, and Strategies
The Phases of the Civil Rights Movement
Chafe, 140-236
Make a chart delineating the organizations, tactics, and geographic location of the movement
based on Chafe’s account. Pay attention to the different actions of the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S.
presidents, state governors, sheriffs and state and local police, civil rights organizations, and
white-power groups. Did civil rights legislation result from the top down actions of the three
branches of the U.S. government or from the grass-roots activism of civil rights participants and
the hostile reactions of white supremacists? In what way did Soviet criticism of U.S. apartheid
contribute to U.S. presidential initiatives to pass civil rights laws?
The following films take two hours to view; each is one hour except for the Freedom Riders which
is two hours. Watch the following documentary films. Awakenings, 1954-1956 (DVD-11212 or
V-549) on the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, which strengthened Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr.’s devotion to non-violence as a strategy for social change; February One (DVD-2673)
examines the first lunch counter sit-in initiated by four black college students that formed the
model for non-violent actions across the South.
Oct. 9
The Civil Rights Movement, Part II
Chafe, 290-372
We aim to understand the relationship between the civil rights movement and other social
movements for equality before the law and society and the social mobilizations aimed at impeding
and undoing civil rights in the name of white power, states’ rights, and small government.
Watch Freedom Riders (DVD-12328) on the historic 1961 Greyhound bus trip through the South
organized by CORE; Mississippi: Is This America? 1962-1964 (DVD-11214 or V-558) examines
SNCC’s Freedom Summer, as it was called, when black and white college students attempted to
register African Americans to vote at a time when blacks in the South were essentially
Oct. 16
Oct. 23
The Origins of the U.S. War in Southeast Asia
The Phases of the Vietnam War and Its Legacies
Chafe, 237-289; 365-411
CourseWeb documents under Vietnam
Watch four hours of “Vietnam: A Television History”: American Mandarin, 1954-1963 DVD13965; LBJ Goes to War, 1964-1965 (DVD-13966); Tet Offensive and Vietnamizing the War,
1969-1973 (DVD-13967)
Oct. 30
U.S. Internal Conflict and the Proliferation of the New Right
Chafe, review 412-473
How does William Chafe explain and date the rise of the new right in the US?
Nov. 6
Deindustrialization and the Global Marketplace
Thomas J. Sugrue, “Automobile in American Life and Society: From Motor City to
Motor Metropolis: How the Automobile Industry Reshaped Urban America”
Watch Main Street: Findlay, Ohio examines a once-prosperous manufacturing town that has seen
better days. (25 minutes)
Watch the PBS film Is Wal-Mart Good for America? on-line at
pages/frontline/shows/walmart/ (60 minutes) If you watch this documentary on-line in one of the
campus computer labs, please bring a set of earphones so you will not disturb other students. The
on-line version is formatted in segments of so many minutes. To watch the entire 60 minutes, you
will have to click on each segment after the one before it ends. You can also view this film in
Media Services at Hillman Library, DVD-2084.
Watch The I-Phone Economy (5 minutes)
Watch video on Chinese workers and Chinese Factory Cities (3 minutes)
Made in Bangledesh on the May 2013 garment-factory disaster (3 minutes)
Nov. 13
Nov. 20
Demographic Revolution in Women’s Lives
Gender Issues in U.S. Politics Since 1964
Russell Shorto, “Contra-Contraception,” New York Times Magazine, May 7, 2006,
48-55, 68, 83 on CourseWeb
Margaret Talbot, “Red Sex, Blue Sex,” The New Yorker, 84, no. 35 (Nov. 3, 2008)
on CourseWeb
Immigration and the Remaking of the US Population
The Politics of Immigration Laws
Nov. 27-Dec. 1 Thanksgiving
Dec. 4
Finance Capitalism and Growing Inequality
Chafe, 455-488
Inside Job (DVD-12222) on the 2008 financial crisis