Syllabus: Modern America— Freedom Dreams in a Multiracial Democracy

Fall 2019 @ College at Brockport, SUNY

Course Description

Modern America: Freedom Dreams in a Multiracial Democracy provides an in-depth exploration of the dramatic history of America since the Civil War. Through interactive, multimedia lectures, readings, discussion, and development of historical thinking and writing skills, students analyze the struggles of diverse communities over wealth, rights, and authority in the United States. How did the historical experiences of a wide range of Americans shape systems of power, patterns of resistance, and socio-political identities during a period that saw the nation’s emergence as a global power? The course develops skills in critical reading, historical analysis, communication, project management, and especially writing effectively.

Expectations, Assignments, and Grades

Students are expected to engage critically and creatively with their required course readings and assignments and discuss them during class. Constructive participation and thoughtful and respectful dialogue are heavily emphasized and measured into the final grade.

Grades breakdown

  • Class attendance and participation (start the conversation, add or respond respectfully to a comment by another student or the instructor, listen attentively) — 20%
  • InQuizitives (14) — 30%
  • Writing Assignments (6) (voluntary revise and resubmits averaged with initial grade) — 40%
  • Final Essay — 10%

Learning Goals

The Power of History @ Brockport

By exploring how our world came to be, the study of history fosters the critical knowledge, breadth of perspective, intellectual growth, and communication and problem-solving skills that will help you lead a purposeful life, exercise responsible citizenship, and achieve career success.

Course Learning Goals Include:

  • Develop knowledge of the American past, including factual knowledge but also a sense of existing historical interpretations and debates.
  • Improve skills of articulating a thesis or argument based on evidence and in response to a historical problem or question.
  • Advance in logical sequence principal arguments in defense of a historical thesis.
  • Provide relevant evidence drawn from the evaluation of primary and/or secondary sources that supports the primary arguments in defense of a historical thesis.
  • Evaluate the significance of a historical thesis by relating it to a broader field of historical knowledge such as historiographical debates or rethinking of popular assumptions about the past.
  • Express yourself clearly in writing that forwards a historical analysis.
  • Use disciplinary standards (Chicago Manual of Style) of documentation when referencing historical sources.

Attendance, Accommodations, Academic Integrity, Discrimination, Emergencies, and Other Policies

Attendance

Attendance is mandatory—though students are allowed two “free” absences for the semester.  Special consideration will be given to absences due to serious illness, religious commitment, or family crisis (BE SURE to contact me as soon as you know you will miss a class—preferably before that class—and if possible provide written documentation from a doctor, etc.). Each additional absence (and/or several excused absences) may lower your grade. Four unexcused absences are grounds for course failure.

Accommodations

If possible, please let me know right away if you have special needs associated with a disability so that we can make necessary arrangements to enable your success in this course.

Academic Integrity

Academic dishonesty, particularly in the form of plagiarized assignments (question sheets, essays), will result in failed assignments, possible course failure, and official reporting.  

Computer laptops and other devices will be allowed in class so long as they are being used for the class, not for other activities. Professor Kramer reserves the right to ask you to turn off and put away your device if it is distracting others.

Discrimination

Sex and gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, are prohibited in educational programs and activities, including classes. Title IX legislation and College policy require the College to provide sex and gender equity in all areas of campus life. If you or someone you know has experienced sex or gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, or stalking, we encourage you to seek assistance and to report the incident through resources at https://www.brockport.edu/about/title_ix/index.html. Confidential assistance is available on campus at Hazen Center for Integrated Care and RESTORE. Faculty are NOT confidential under Title IX and will need to share information with the Title IX & College Compliance Officer. For these and other policies governing campus life, please see https://www.brockport.edu/support/policies/student.php.

Emergencies

In case of emergency, the Emergency Alert System at The College at Brockport will be activated.  Students are encouraged to maintain updated contact information using the link on the College’s Emergency Information website, https://www.brockport.edu/support/emergency.  Included on the website is detailed information about the College’s emergency operations plan, classroom emergency preparedness, evacuation procedures, emergency numbers, and safety videos.  In addition, students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Emergency Procedures posted in classrooms, halls, and buildings and all college facilities.

Grading Standards

  • A-level work is outstanding and reflects a student’s:
    • regular attendance, timely preparation, and on-time submission of assignments
    • thorough understanding of required course material
    • insightful, constructive, respectful and regular participation in class discussion
    • clear, compelling, and well-written assignments
    • credible arguments integrated with relevant evidence in own compelling analysis
    • excellent formatting of assignments and citations
    • academic integrity and honesty
  • B-level work is good, but with minor problems in one or more areas
  • C-level work is acceptable, but with minor problems in several areas or major problems in at least one area
  • D-level work is poor, with major problems in more than one area
  • E-level work is unacceptable, failing to meet basic course requirements and/or standards of academic integrity/honesty

*Thanks to colleagues Jamie Spiller and Bruce Leslie for rubrics and other policy language.

Required Materials

Available at Brockport bookstore, online retailers, and on reserve at the library (be sure to purchase or use the proper editions).

  • Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty!: An American History Volume 2 Brief Fifth Edition. New York: WW Norton & Company, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0393614169.
  • Eric Foner, Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History Volume 2 Fifth Edition. WW Norton & Company, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-0393614503.
  • Additional readings on Blackboard.

Schedule

WEEK 01 – Planting a Flag: Getting Started

Monday 08/26

Planting a Flag: What is Modern? What is America? What is History?

In Class:

  • Welcome
  • Info cards
  • Thinking about the modern and the American, freedom dreams, and the development of and challenges to multiracial democracy by tracing the story of Joe Rosenthal’s famous “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” photograph and its afterlives, plus a song from Johnny Cash

Wednesday 08/28

Freedom Dreams in the “Composite Nation”

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?” weekly audio “podcast” for the course
  • Frederick Douglass, “Composite Nation” (1869), on Blackboard or inVoices of Freedom, Ch. 15, No. 100

In Class: 

  • Syllabus and expectations review
  • Discussing “Composite Nation,” see discussion questions on Blackboard

Friday 08/30

Digital History Fridays: Developing a Historical Question

Online Assignment on Blackboard:

  • Developing and refining a historical question about “Composite Nation,” see instructions on Blackboard for this and all future assignments

WEEK 02 – 1865-1877: Is Reconstruction Unfinished? America After the Civil War

Monday 09/02

No Class – Happy Labor Day (Extra credit: What’s the history of Labor Day?)

Wednesday 09/04

What Was Reconstruction? Is it Over or Still Going On?

Required reading:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 15 “What Is Freedom?”: Reconstruction, 1865-1877
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 15

In Class:

  • The phases of Reconstruction and their implications for freedom and multiracial democracy
  • Discussion of (1) “Petition of Committee on Behalf of the Freedmen to Andrew Johnson”; (2) Stanton, “Home Life”

Friday 09/06

Digital Friday: InQuizitive, Revise and Resubmit

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 15
  • Optional: Revise and resubmit Developing a Historical Question

WEEK 03 – America’s Gilded Age, 1877-1890

Monday 09/09

The Hog Squeal of the Universe: Industrialization, Urbanization, and Commodification

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 16 America’s Gilded Age, 1870-1890
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 16

In Class:

  • Examine industrialization as transformation in system and structure through a visit to Chicago’s Meatpacking stockyards

Wednesday 09/11

Where Does the Weekend Come From? Americans Respond to Industrialization

Required:

  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 17, No. 109 The Populist Platform(1892)

In Class:

  • Examine industrialization as lived experience through an examination of class, or if real wages increased over time, why did many workers experience industrialization as tragedy and trauma?

Friday 09/13 

Digital Friday: InQuizitive, Historical Building Blocks—Annotating, Quoting, Paraphrasing, Contextualizing, Interpreting 

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 16
  • Historical Building Blocks—Annotating, Quoting, Paraphrasing, Contextualizing, Interpreting

WEEK 04 – Freedom’s Boundaries, At Home and Abroad, 1890-1900

Monday 09/16 

From Settler Colonialism to Formal Empire

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 17: Freedom’s Boundaries, At Home and Abroad, 1890-1900
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 17

In Class:

  • From the conquest of the “West” (continental North America) to the Spanish-American War

Wednesday 09/18

The Nadir: Jim Crow

In Class:

  • Discussion of Booker T. Washington,Address at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition (1895), WEB Dubois, A Critique of Booker T. Washington (1903), and Ida B. Wells, Crusade for Justice (ca. 1892), all in Voices of Freedom, Ch. 17

Friday 09/20

Digital Friday: InQuizitive, Revise and Resubmit

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 17
  • Optional: Revise and resubmit Historical Building Blocks—Annotating, Quoting, Paraphrasing, Contextualizing, Interpreting

WEEK 05 – The Progressive Era, 1900-1916

Monday 09/23

Making Progress in Modern America, or Not?

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 18: The Progressive Era 1900-1916
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 18

In Class:

  • Progressivism’s many sides, from radical to reactionary to moderate

Wednesday 09/25

Labor, Women and Progressivism

In Class:

  • Discussion of Ch. 18, No. 117, Gilman, Women and Economics (1898); No. 118, Ryan, A Living Wage (1912); Flynn, The Industrial Workers of the World and the Free Speech Fights (1909); and Sanger, “Free Motherhood” (1920)

Friday 09/27

Digital Friday: InQuizitive

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 18

Week 06 – Safe for Democracy? The Great War and Its Aftermath, 1916-1920

Monday 09/30

The Wartime State

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 19: Safe for Democracy: the United States and World War I, 1916-1920
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 19

In Class:

            The transformative rise of the wartime state

Wednesday 10/02

Who Is an American? Postwar Struggles and Truamas

In Class:

  • Thinking about 1919’s Red Scare

Friday 10/04

Digital Friday: InQuizitive, The Signpost—Iterating a Compelling Topic Sentence

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 19
  • The Signpost: Iterating a Compelling Topic Sentence

WEEK 07 – From Business Culture to Great Depression in the “Roaring” Twenties, 1920-1932

Monday 10/07

What Made the “Roaring” Twenties Roaring?

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 20: From Business Culture to Great Depression in the “Roaring” Twenties, 1920-1932
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 20

In Class:

  • Who roared in the “Roaring Twenties” and about what? Bohemians, conservatives, freedom, multiracial democracy and the shifting meanings of modern and American

Wednesday 10/09

From Roaring Twenties to Great Depression

In Class:

  • The Great Crash and its significance (or not?)

Friday 10/11

Digital Friday: InQuizitive and Revise and Resubmit

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 20
  • Optional: Revise and resubmit The Signpost: Iterating a Compelling Topic Sentence

WEEK 08 – The New Deal, 1932-1940

Monday 10/14

The Making of “Modern” Liberalism

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 21: The New Deal, 1932-1940
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 21

In Class:

  • What is “modern” about modern liberalism? FDR’s New Deal and the remaking of “classical” liberalism

Wednesday 10/16

A New Conception of America? The New Deal in 1930s America

In Class:

  • How far did the New Deal go? Policy, economic, and cultural views

Friday 10/18

Digital Friday: InQuizitive, Historical Building Blocks—Annotating, Quoting, Paraphrasing, Contextualizing, Interpreting Part 2

Online Assignments Due on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 21
  • Historical Building Blocks—Annotating, Quoting, Paraphrasing, Contextualizing, Interpreting Part 2

WEEK 09 – Fighting for the Four Freedoms: World War II, 1941-1945

Monday 10/21

Was World War II the Actual New Deal?

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 22: Fighting for the Four Freedoms: World War II, 1941-1945
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 22

In Class:

            Was World War II the actual New Deal?

Wednesday 10/23

Freedom Dreams in Multiracial Democracy: Taking Stock of America at Midcentury

In Class:

            Discussion, materials TBA

Friday 10/25

Digital Friday: InQuizitive, Revise and Resubmit

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 22
  • Optional: Revise and resubmit Historical Building Blocks—Annotating, Quoting, Paraphrasing, Contextualizing, Interpreting Part 2

WEEK 10 – The Cold War at Abroad and at Home, 1945-1960

Monday 10/28

Cold War Abroad

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 23: The United States and the Cold War, 1945-1953
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 23

In Class:

  • How did American empire change after World War II?

Wednesday 10/30

Cold War at Home

Required:

  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 24: The United States and the Cold War, 1945-1953
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 24

In Class:

            The domestic effects of foreign policy

Friday 11/01

Digital Friday: InQuizitive

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 23
  • InQuizitive for Ch. 24

WEEK 11 – Discontents and Its Abundance: The 1960s, 1960-1970

Monday 11/04

A Second Reconstruction? Civil Rights, Vietnam, and the New Left

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 25: The Sixties, 1960-1968
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 25

In Class:

  • A second Reconstruction? What made the 60s “the Sixties”?

Wednesday 11/06

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find Out What It Means to…the Sixties

In Class:

  • How one song helps us think about the social movement of the 1960s

Friday 11/08

Digital Friday: InQuizitive

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 25

WEEK 12 – Confusion and the Rise of Modern Conservatism: The 1970s and 80s, 1970-1989

Monday 11/11

Disco Demolition: From Watergate to the Malaise Speech

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 26, The Triumph of Conservatism, 1969-1988
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 26

In Class:

  • Did Modern American become “Postmodern” America in the 1970s? Political, economic, and political views

Wednesday 11/13

The Rise of Modern Conservatism

In Class:

  • Freedom dreams and multiracial democracy in modern conservatism?

Friday 11/15

Digital Friday: InQuizitive, Hooks, Batons, Big Kahunas, and Slam Dunks: Developing an Introduction, Transitions, and a Conclusion

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 26
  • Hooks, Batons, Big Kahunas,and Slam Dunks: Developing an Introduction, Transitions, Thesis Statement, and Conclusion

WEEK 13 – Between Two Falls: From the Fall of the Berlin Wall to 9/11, 1989-2001

Monday 11/18

Globalization and Its Discontents

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 27, From Triumph to Tragedy, 1989-2001
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 27

In Class:

  • After the Cold War, for whom was globalization?

Wednesday 11/20

Freedom Dreams at the End of the Twentieth Century

In Class:

  • Discussion, materials TBA

Friday 11/22

Digital Friday: InQuizitive, Revise and Resubmit

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 27
  • Optional: Revise and resubmit Hooks, Batons, Big Kahunas,and Slam Dunks—Developing an Introduction, Transitions, Thesis Statement, and Conclusion

WEEK 14 – Thanksgiving, No Class

WEEK 15 – Beyond Modern America? 2001-Present

Monday 12/02

The 2000 Election, 9/11, and the War on Terror 

Required:

  • Listen to or read Dr. Kramer’s “What Are We Up To This Week?”
  • Give Me Liberty!, Ch. 28, A New Century and New Crises, 2001-Present
  • Voices of Freedom, Ch. 28

In Class:

  • Whose freedom and on what terms since 2000?

Wednesday 12/04

From the Great Recession to Struggles Over Trying to Making America Great

Required:

In Class:

  • The 2008 recession, the rise of Obama, and struggles over making America “great again”

Friday 12/06

Digital Friday: InQuizitive

Online Assignments on Blackboard:

  • InQuizitive for Ch. 28

Bringing It All Together: Final Essay

Wednesday 12/11 midnight

Final Essay Due

  • Bring together your historical writing efforts all semester into one final, revised, well-polished essay of evidence-based historical interpretation.

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