History 2320 —  Fall 2000 (The “Trailer”)
G. Shanafelt

The United States Since 1865


Text: Alan Brinkley, The Unfinished Nation, 3rd ed.
Robert Sledge and Donald Frazier, eds., Snapshots in Time: Readings in American History, 2nd ed.

The Course

This is the second half of McMurry’s year-long survey of U.S. history, and follows chronologically from History 2310, which is U.S. history to 1877. History 2310 is not, however, a prerequisite for History 2320. The course begins with the end of the Civil War (or, as the winners used to call it, the War of the Rebellion) and extends to somewhere around the present day. During this period, the United States went from being minor country which was a nice place to live (at least if you were white and protestant), to being a world power. The course will explore what made it such a nice place, whether it was in fact that much nicer or different than other places, and whether the things that made it nice a hundred years ago are still around having their effect today. Americans since the Puritans have seen themselves having a special place in the world; what, in fact, has made us different from Germans or Chinese or Trobriand Islanders? Have we just had more refrigerators, or better sermons in church? Or are we really not all that different after all? While you probably won’t have a definitive answer to all this by the end of the semester, you should have a more precise notion of the issues involved and how they fit together over time to frame both how we see ourselves and how others have seen us.

What You Have to Do to Pass the Course

1. Unless you’re smarter than the instructor, the most obvious thing you need to do is come to class. Even if you get the notes from other students, you'll miss the level of information that comes only from taking your own notes. Second-hand information is sort of like second-hand smoke: not all that great and potentially dangerous to your (academic) health.If you miss enough classes, your name will be turned over to the Registrar’s Office for future extracurricular contacts.

2. Similarly, you should expect to do the reading assignments — not the evening before a scheduled test, but before the start of the week in which they will be covered. The books provide the detail which will flesh out the general themes discussed in the lectures; they also provide a lot of detail which will not be covered in the lectures at all, for lack of time, and which will come back to haunt you on the tests if you haven’t read it over. If it doesn’t make any sense the first time you read it, read (study) it again. You'll find learning objectives, chapter summaries, outlines, and study questions at the on-line Learning Center for the textbook at http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/history/usa/unfinishednation/sinst.htm.

3. There will be six (6) reading quizzes in the course, based on specific chapters from Snapshots in Time. These cannot be made up, though they can be taken early if you know you’ll be gone on the day(s) they are scheduled. Since only the four highest scores will be counted, you can miss two quizzes with no lasting effect on your final grade, unless missing two gets you into thinking you can miss the other four as well.

4. There will be three (3) noncomprehensive tests in the semester, each based on the material covered after the previous test (or the start of the semester). They will include both objective and essay questions, as well as a map section. Unless you like all-essay makeup tests, you should endeavor to take the tests at the times scheduled.

5. Finally, there will be a 3-4 page typed, double-spaced paper, based on research in the library and on the Internet. You’ll be assigned a year at random between 1865 and the present and write about the most important (or interesting) thing that happened in the United States during that year. Specific guidelines will be forthcoming later in the semester. Note the due date on the assignment schedule: late papers will lose two percentage points of their grade for every day they are late.

6. Your final grade will be computed as follows: 21% for each of the three tests; 21% for the paper, and 16% for the average of the four highest quiz scores.  Grading will follow a standard scale: 90%-100% is an A, 80%-89% is a B, 70%-79% is a C, 60%-69% is a D, and 59% and below constitutes an F.  Since McMurry does not include plus or minus notations on the final grade that goes on your transcript, an 89 will be a B just like an 80 (since you can’t get a B+, the obvious solution is to aim for at least a 90).

Assignment Schedule
Aug. 29
Aug. 31
Introduction: Last Best Hope or Great Satan?
Brinkley, ch. 15
Snapshots, ch. 14
Sept. 5
Sept. 7
Wild, Wild West Brinkley, ch. 16
Snapshots, ch. 15
Sept. 12
Reading quiz 1 on Snapshots, ch. 14
Sept. 12
Sept. 14
Moguls and Huddled Masses Brinkley, chs. 17, 18
Snapshots, ch. 16
Sept. 19
Sept. 21
Gilded Age Politics: Complacency vs. Frustration Brinkley, ch. 19
Snapshots, ch. 17
Sept. 26
Reading quiz 2 on Snapshots, ch. 16
Sept. 26
Sept. 28
Imperial America Brinkley, ch. 20
Oct. 3
First Test
Oct. 5 The Progressives Brinkley, ch. 21
Snapshots, ch. 18
Oct. 10
Reading quiz 3 on Snapshots, ch. 18
Oct. 10
Oct. 12
The Cowboy and the Professor: Reformers in the White House Brinkley, ch. 22
Oct. 17
Oct. 19
The Great War and the Lost Peace Brinkley, ch. 23
Snapshots, ch. 19
Oct. 26
Paper due
Oct. 24
Oct. 26
From Versailles to St. Valentine’s Day: The 1920s Brinkley, ch. 24
Snapshots, ch. 20
Oct. 31
Nov. 2
Another Roosevelt: The 1930s Brinkley, chs. 25, 26
Snapshots, ch. 21
Nov. 7
Second Test
Nov. 9 Another World War Brinkley, chs. 27, 28
Snapshots, chs. 22, 23
Nov. 14
Reading quiz 4 on Snapshots, ch.22
Nov. 14
Nov. 16
Post-War: The Perils of Affluence Brinkley, chs. 29, 30
Snapshots, ch. 24
Nov. 21
Reading quiz 5 on Snapshots, ch. 24
Nov. 21 Hippies and Hard Hats: The 1960s Brinkley, ch. 31
Snapshots, ch. 25
[Thanksgiving Vacation]
Nov. 28
Nov. 30
Morning After: The 1970s Brinkley, chs. 32, 33
Snapshots, ch. 26
Dec. 5
Reading quiz 6 on Snapshots, ch. 26
Dec. 5
Dec. 7
Contemporary America Brinkley, ch.34
Dec. 14 Third Test