The U.S. in the Era of World War

Dr. Bob Wettemann
Office:  Old Main 207
Office Hours:  MW 9-12:00; T 9-12:00, or by appointment
Phone:  793-3864 or 677-6640 (emergencies only)

     Course Objectives
     Required Readings
     Graded Exercises
     Class Policies
     Lecture/Discussion Topics and Important Dates


This course will familiarize students with the social, political, economic, cultural and military developments that have taken place in the United States and the World between 1898 and 1945.  While names and dates are important, this course will not be centered upon rote memorization.  Rather, students will use the skills of the historian to trace and interpret the evolution of the United States from a second-rate nation to a global power.

The following are available in the McMurry Bookstore:
Cooper, The Warrior and the Priest
Biles, A New Deal for the American People
Adams, TheBest War Ever

Individuals taking this course for world history credit will read the following:
Tuchman, Guns of August (substitute for Cooper)
Kindleberger, The World in Depression, 1929-1939 (substitute for Biles)
Overy, Why the Allies Won (substitute for Adams)
NOTE:  These texts are not available in the bookstore, but are available from the ALC or from most online companies (Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc.)

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A total of 600 points will be offered throughout the course of the semester.  Final grades will be awarded based upon the scale outlined in the McMurry University catalog, and will correspond with the following point totals:


558-600 points






















less than 360 points

Examinations:  There will be three exams.  All will be take-home format.  They will be due on the dates noted in the class calendar.  Answers will be submitted as typed, double-spaced essays with appropriate citations from the assigned readings, and reputable outside sources.  On-line encyclopedias (e.g. Wikipedia) are NOT acceptable as reputable sources.  The final exam will include a comprehensive component.  The first two exams will be worth 100 points each. The final exam will be worth 200 points. Exam questions will be distributed two weeks prior to the due date.

U.S. War Film Index:  Collectively, the class will work to compile a WWII Film Database.  This assignment will be in two parts.  Each student will first compile a personal index of War Films, providing the director, producer, year made, and a brief synopsis of the film.  Students will be required to assemble a list of films made between 1940 and the present, including no fewer than four films per decade.  Extra credit will be given for the uniqueness of films selected.  This list will be due on 5 February, and will be worth 50 points.  Upon assembly of the master list, the class will democratically select two films:  one from the pre 1965 period and one from the post 1965 period.  Each student will then write a no less than five and no more than ten page essay comparing and contrasting the films and their cinematography, composition, historical accuracy, and any perceived message it offers to the viewer.  This essay will be worth 100 points, and will be due on 30 May. NOTE:  Students enrolled in the course for world history credit will assemble a list of foreign films emphasizing WWII.  The essay component will be based upon a comparison and contrast of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 version) and either Stalingrad (1993) or Das Boot (1981).

Class Participation: Students are expected to attend all classes and be prepared to participate in class discussions and activities.  50 points will be awarded for superior participation and attendance, though the professor reserves the right to deduct points for lackluster performance and excessive absences.

Extra Credit:  Students are encouraged to locate examples of field expedient devices or non-regulation solutions to practical problems developed by American soldiers immediately prior to, or during the Second World War, and explain how they changed the nature of the conflict.  For example, after landing in Normandy, the Allied advance was slowed by the strong defensive positions offered by the interlocking hedgerows in the fields of Northern France.  To solve this problem, Sgt. Curtis Culin developed the "rhino tank" in the summer of 1944 by welding portions of German beach obstacles on the front of an M-4 Sherman tank.  This innovation allowed U.S. tanks to smash through hedgerows, allowing the Allies to gain a tactical advantage in the bocage country and breakout from the Normandy beachhead.  For extra credit to be awarded, three elements must be provided by the student:  1)  a description of the nature of the problem, 2)  a description of the nature of the solution, and 3)  a proper citation of the source of information.  Each student is eligible to submit one such device for consideration, with each example becoming void after it has been submitted (i.e., no duplications).  For example the rhino tank has already been presented as an example of a field expedient solution or device, thus it may not be submitted for extra credit consideration.  A valid submission will be worth 10 points, and will be added to the student's overall point total.  All extra credit must be turned in prior to the last day of class.

Field Trip:  A field tip exploring a number of WWII-related sites in Texas is currently being planned for 11-15 April.  The cost will be $100 plus food.  Additional details will be forthcoming. 

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MISSED OR LATE ASSIGNMENTS:  Assignments turned in after class on the specified due date will be penalized the equivalent of one letter grade per calendar day.  Thus, if an assignment worth 50 points due on Friday is turned in on the following Monday, there would be a 15 point deduction.  Late assignments due to illness will be considered on a case-by-case basis (and require official documentation).  

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.

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.  Special dispensation will be given to those with pregnant spouses that may need to be contacted in case of an emergency.  Otherwise, all cell phones that ring in class will be answered by the instructor.

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Week 1:  Inclement Weather (Class Canceled).
Week 2:  Course Introduction (abbreviated class). Begin reading Cooper, The Warrior and the Priest
Week 3:  The United States since 1877, Imperialism and the Modern World.
Week 4:  The Progressive Era; Film List Due 5 February. 
Week 5:  The Progressive Presidents. Be prepared to discuss Cooper, The Warrior and the Priest.
Week 6:  The Great War at Home and Abroad.  
Week 7:  The Successes and Failures of Wilsonian Idealism.   
Exam I due at the beginning of class, Monday, 5 March.
Week 8:  The Roaring 20s:  Begin reading Biles, A New Deal for the American People.
Week 9:  The Politics of Normalcy:  Harding and Coolidge.
Week 10:  Hoover and the Great Crash.
Week 11:  "Happy Days are Here Again!":  FDR and the New Deal.  Be prepared to discuss Biles, A New Deal for the American People.
Exam II due to Dr.Wettemann by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 4 April.   
Week 12:  PRETTY SWELL MONDAY: CLASS MEETS!  Bracing for the Storm:  Origins of the Second World War.
Begin reading Adams, The Best War Ever.  
Week 13:  The U.S. in World War Two. 
Week 14: The U.S. in World War Two.
Week 15:  Origins of the Cold War.  Be prepared to discuss Adams, The Best War Ever; Film Comparison essay due 30 April 
 FINAL EXAM:  Due in Dr. Wettemannís office by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9

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