HIST 3354                                                                                                          Spring 2004

Contemporary U.S. History


Dr. Robert Wettemann
Office Hours: M-Th 9:30-11:30
207 Old Main
Phone:  793-3864


This course will familiarize students with the social, political, economic, cultural and military developments that have taken place in the United States since 1945, in efforts to determine how the events of the past influence life today.  Students will use the skills of the historian to trace and interpret the evolution of events in this country since the end of World War II.


Schaller, Schulzinger and Anderson, Present Tense:  The United States Since 1945, 3rd Edition (Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004)


A total of 1000 points will be offered throughout the course of the semester.  Final grades will be awarded based upon the scale outlined in the McMurry University 2001-2003 catalog, and will correspond with the following point totals:


930-1000 points 






















less than 599

Grades in the course will be based upon the following three elements:

Reading Quizzes:  At the beginning of class each week, you will take a short, multiple choice quiz over the reading assignment for the week.  These quizzes will be worth 15 points each, and will collectively count toward 210 points of your final point total. 

Film Essays:  At the conclusion of each class, you will be given a question to consider.  At the beginning of class the following week (prior to the administration of the reading quiz), you will turn in a no less than three and no more than five page essay that addresses the question.  “A” essays will demonstrate an understanding of the film and the text, and will incorporate these into a thoughtful, well written, grammatically-correct, and proof-read essay that offers a thesis and supports it through the eloquent use of the written word.  Each of the 14 essays that you will write will be worth 50 points, amounting to 700 points over the course of the semester.

Class Participation:  All students are encouraged to participate in the class discussions that will follow each film.  A record will kept with regards to who offers sound and well thought out critiques and commentaries on the films, particularly as they relate to the readings.  At the end of the semester, a total of 90 points will be awarded, with the most points going to those who contribute most towards a productive class discussion.


Papers:  All papers are due at the beginning of class.  Late papers will not be accepted.  If you know you will be absent from class in advance, those papers are due to the professor prior to the beginning of class.  Should you be absent from class, you are responsible for viewing the assigned film on your own, as well as completing the essay prior to the subsequent class period.

Missed Quizzes:  Make-up quizzes will not be given, though provisions will be made for those students who miss quizzes due to illness or university event.  Any student who is absent on a given class day and misses a quiz must present a note from a physician or other university-approved excuse.  If a student has an approved excuse for the quiz he or she missed, that number of points will be deducted from the student's total possible points and the grade scale will be adjusted accordingly.  Absences from class also result in forfeiture of any class participation points that may be awarded during the missed class.

PLAGIARISM:  Even if someone gives you permission to submit their work as your own, or if you present another's work as your own text without quotation marks, and proper citation, that is plagiarism.  If you have not done so already, consult the "Plagiarism" section of the McMurry History Department Style Manual.  Plagiarism will be neither tolerated nor accepted, and will result in automatic failure of the course.

ELECTRONIC DEVICES: Other than tape recorders and calculators, the use of electronic devices (cellular phones, personal pagers, flash photography, etc.) is prohibited in the classroom without prior permission of the instructor.


Week 1 – Course Introduction.  Read “New Deal and World War:  Into the Modern Era,” for the subsequent class.

Week 2 – Read “From Atomic War to Cold War:  Victory and Containment at Home and Abroad”

Week 3 – Read “America at Home, 1953-1960”

Week 4 – Read “Generals and Presidents:  U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1950s”

Week 5 – Read “The New Frontier at Home and Abroad, 1960-1963”

Week 6 – Read “The Dream of a Great Society”

Week 7 – Read “The Vietnam Nightmare”

Week 8 – Read “The Politics and Culture of Protest”

Week 9 – Read “Illusion of Peace:  America and the World During the Nixon Years”

Week 10 – Read “The Use and Abuse of Power:  Domestic Affairs and the Watergate Scandal, 1969-1974”

Week 11 – Read “The Challenges of Change, 1974-1980”

Week 12 – Read “Right Turn:  Conservatism Ascendant, 1980-1993”

Week 13 – Read “From the New Cold War to the New World Order”

Week 14 – Read On the Edge, 1993 to the Present”

Week 15 – Making Sense of It All