Syllabus: Modern America

fall 2020 edition @ suny brockport.

Welcome to HST 212 Modern America

Welcome to Modern America.

In this course we explore US history since the Civil War ended in 1865. Yes, you will acquire more knowledge of events and people—all those names and dates that you might think constitute history.

But, WAIT! Before you hit the snooze button, note this: we also will be studying something far more WEIRD, interesting, and important: the questions of what the heck is history, anyway? Who gets to determine it? Who gets to make it? What do we use as evidence? How do we argue about interpretations of the past?

We’ll be…

engaging with the facts (the names and dates)

AND

the larger questions of what history is in this course will help you wherever you go.

How will it do that, you ask?

By engaging wholeheartedly with the material in this course:

  • You’ll become a better thinker, writer, and speaker. 
  • You’ll be able to handle complexity of evidence and organize facts into a narrative and an argument.
  • Some of you might decide to become history majors or minors.
  • Others of you might carry what you learn in this class into other courses, activities, jobs, personal experiences, and your role as a citizen in the future.

So let’s dive in.

Required Materials To Purchase

Available from Brockport Bookstore.

  • Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty!: An American History Volume 2 Brief Sixth Edition. New York: WW Norton & Company, 2020.
  • Eric Foner, Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History Volume 2 Sixth Edition. WW Norton & Company, 2020.
  • InQuizitive digital tool. A code comes with your textbook purchase or you can purchase access separately through the WW Norton website landing page for the book. Then, be sure to log in to our course once you register your access code. The ID number is 284233 and the course title is HST 212 Modern America.
  • Additional material online.
More information
  • Only NEW printed copies of Give Me Liberty! 6e Brief Vol. 2 will include an ebook + InQuizitive access card. 
  • Unless purchased from the bookstore package (Option 1), print copies of Voices of Freedom 6e Vol. 2 do not automatically come with an ebook access card. You can purchase one separately.

Option 1: Purchase all of the required course materials from the Brockport bookstore in one combined NEW package (ISBN 978-0-393-86884-5). This will include:

  • Give Me Liberty! 6e Brief Vol. 2 Paperback book (includes ebook + InQuizitive access card)
  • Voices of Freedom 6e Vol. 2 Paperback book (includes ebook access card)

Option 2: Go All Digital. Purchase ebook access for both books (which includes InQuizitive for Give Me Liberty!) directly from WW Norton at the Digital Landing Page links below:

Option 3: Get Print Books Elsewhere (Amazon, Chegg, etc.) and Purchase InQuizitive Separately (be sure to purchase the proper sixth editions, not earlier editions)

How This Course Works

This is a hybrid online course.

It is partly asynchronous and self-directed. You will complete assignments and process readings, lectures, and other materials on your own, independently, following the deadlines listed on the course website.

It is also partly synchronous, with required discussion sessions using the Collaborate tool through Blackboard (which is very similar to Zoom). These will take place during our Wednesday scheduled meeting time, which is 11:15am-12:05pm. These are required. Sometimes we will talk as a group, sometimes we will break out into smaller discussion groups.

HST 212 Fall 2020 edition uses a number of digital tools:

  • You may have noticed that I use Canvas instead of Blackboard because I think it is slightly better designed. It’s not perfect, but more pleasant to look at and navigate and use as both an instructor and, I think, as a student (I’ll be curious to hear what you think at the end of the semester).
  • We also use online software such as VoiceThread (for lectures, documentary films, and annotation assignments), Collaborate (for synchronous discussion), MS Word (which you can download for free through Brockport On the Hub, and Google Docs (which you can create a free account to use).
  • You’ll need access to a computer and to a digital camera of some sort (a smartphone camera is fine).

If you have questions about the technical details of the course, or about the hybrid nature of the course, please feel free to contact me.

What You Will Learn

In this introductory history course, you will learn many things. They are all related to improving your knowledge of the past and how to interpret it convincingly and compellingly as you improve your analytic writing skills.

You will learn:

  • what happened when and who did it in the American past.
  • why it matters, what the stakes are of the American past.
  • how to notice and analyze change and continuity over time.
  • how to notice and analyze structures of power, how they have developed over time, and why.
  • how to handle historical complexity through close analysis, paraphrasing, and interpretive questioning.
  • how others have interpreted and debated the past (what we call historiography).
  • how to describe this historiography accurately and put different interpretations into conversation with each other.
  • how to frame your own historical questions.
  • how to develop close, accurate, compelling interpretations of historical evidence yourself.
  • how to improve your skills of developing a historical narrative.
  • how to use evidence to develop a historical thesis, an argument-driven, evidence-based historical narrative.
  • how to position your historical thesis in relation to historiographical debates, or the disagreements other historians have had about the past.
  • how to paraphrase effectively.
  • how to use source citation using Chicago Manual of Style effectively and accurately.

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, be an active citizen, and achieve career success.

Who Is Your Professor?

Dr. Michael Kramer

Assistant Professor, Department of History Department, SUNY Brockport

Office hours: Remotely, by appointment

Email: mkramer@brockport.edu

Bio: Michael J. Kramer is an assistant professor in the Department of History at SUNY Brockport. He specializes in modern US cultural and intellectual history, transnational history, and public and digital history. He is the author of The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture (Oxford University Press, 2013) and is currently writing a book about technology and tradition in the US folk music movement, This Machine Kills Fascists: What the Folk Music Revival Can Teach Us About the Digital Age. He is also at work on a digital public history project about the Berkeley Folk Music Festival and the Sixties Folk Music Revival on the US West Coast. In addition to experience as an editor, museum professional, and dance dramaturg, he has written numerous essays and articles for publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Salon, First of the Month, The National Memo, The Point, TheaterNewsday, and US Intellectual History Book Reviews. Kramer blogs at Culture Rover and Issues in Digital History. More information about his research, teaching, and public scholarship can be found at his website, michaeljkramer.net.

More about what I research and teach in modern US intellectual and cultural history.

More about the SUNY Brockport History Department.

Lecture Annotations

For each asynchronous lecture, please enter at least one annotation in VoiceThread. Your annotation can be a question, comment, hyperlink, short recorded audio comment, or short recorded video comment.

For instructions on how to create annotations in VoiceThread, see the How to Comment page.

InQuizitive

The InQuizitive digital tool helps students review comprehension of the information and interpretations in Give Me Liberty! A code comes with your textbook purchase or you can purchase access separately through the WW Norton website landing page for the book.  Then, be sure to log in to our course once you register your access code.

Writing Assignments

  • Assignment 01 Course Contract and Student Info Card
  • Assignment 02 History on the Line
  • Assignment 03 Writing History and Historiography—Primary Source Meet Secondary Source Take One
  • Assignment 04 Writing History and Historiography—Primary Source Meet Secondary Source Take Two
  • Assignment 05 Writing History and Historiography Take Three
  • Final Revise a History and Historiography Essay
  • Extra Credit Brockport Faculty Historians Essay

Writing Consultation

Writing Tutors are available through the Academic Success Center and are always helpful at any stage of writing.

The history writing tutor specialists are:

  • Jacob Tynan: M 12:30-5:30; T 10-3; Th 10-3
  • Glenn Dowdle: M 12-1; T 12-2; W 12-4; Th 12-2; F 12-1

You can request them specifically or work with one of the other tutors as needed.

Don’t hesitate to consult with someone! Be sure to show them the assignment so they grasp clearly what I am asking you to do as a writer.

Do the best you can to write citations in Chicago style of any materials you reference or quote.

Remember not to plagiarize according to Brockport’s Academic Honesty policy.

For additional information see the What Makes for Good Work? page of the course website.

Citing Your Sources Using Chicago Manual of Style

Citation: Why Do We Do It

The goal of a citation is to allow the reader to track back your evidence to an original source, primary or secondary.

But Professor Kramer, why is all the formatting so seemingly random and arcane?! Because, well, it is (or I find it that way)! But always go back to the key idea of a citation: it allows your reader to go back and inspect the evidence you are using. It’s like a trail of breadcrumbs back to what you used to develop an interpretation or argument. It allows you to distinguish between your original work and words or ideas you are borrowing from someone else.

In Modern America, the best way to think about citation is by addressing the complicated way we should cite the primary sources in Eric Foner’s Voices of Freedom documentary reader.

1. The First Time You Cite in a Footnote or Endnote

Frederick Douglass, “The Composite Nation” (1869), in Racism, Dissent, and Asian Americans from 1850 to the Present, eds. Philip S. Foner and Daniel Rosenberg, eds. (Westport, CT, 1993), reprinted in Voices of Freedom: A Documentary Reader Volume II 6th Edition, ed. Eric Foner (New York: WW Norton, 2020), 18.

2. The Subsequent Times You Cite a Source in a Footnote or Endnote (Now you can now abbreviate it)

Douglass, 18.

Or if you are quoting multiple sources by Frederick Douglass, distinguish them with the title. Douglas, “The Composite Nation,” 18.

3. Bibliography (here you include the full page range, switch to periods instead of commas, and start with last name)

Douglass, Frederick. “The Composite Nation” (1869), in Racism, Dissent, and Asian Americans from 1850 to the Present, eds. Philip S. Foner and Daniel Rosenberg, eds. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993). Reprinted in Voices of Freedom: A Documentary Reader Volume II 6th Edition, ed. Eric Foner (New York: WW Norton, 2020), 17-23.

For more, helpful guidelines, visit the Drake Library’s Chicago Manual of Style page.

What Makes for Good Work?

Lecture Annotations

A good lecture annotation develops a specific reading or raises a specific question about a theme, image, statistic, evidence, or interpretation.

InQuizitive

InQuizitive is a review tool in which you can set the difficulty level. If you spend enough time with the tool, it is possible to achieve 100% on each “quiz.” It is up to the individual student what grade satisfies you. Your instructor never uses grades to judge your character, only how you are doing in the course, so it is up to you to set your expectations for evaluation level in InQuizitive.

Writing Assignment Rubric

There is a craft to historical interpretation. The assignments will help you approach this craft and continue to improve your practice of it. Your task in each assignment is to develop effective, compelling, evidence-driven arguments informed by historical awareness and thinking. These will often work by applying your judgment and assessment to consider how things connect or contrast to each other: how do different or similar artifacts, documents, quotations, details, facts, and perspectives relate to each other? And most importantly, why? What are the implicit ideas and beliefs behind the evidence you locate and analyze?

Aspire to make your assignments communicate a convincing, compelling, and precise argument. The argument, to succeed, should display close analysis of details found in the evidence. These should be contextualized effectively: what else was happening at the time? How does the evidence relate to the broader framework of its historical moment?

Try to write, edit, and revise to achieve clarity of expression in graceful, stylish, logical, well- reasoned prose. Evaluation of assignments will be based on the following rubric:  

  1. Argument – presence of an articulated argument that makes an evidence-based claim and expresses the significance of that claim .
  2. Evidence – presence of specific evidence from primary sources to support the argument.
  3. Argumentation – presence of convincingly connection between evidence and argument, which is to say effective explanation of the evidence that links its details to the larger argument and its sub-arguments with logic and precision.
  4. Contextualization – presence of contextualization, which is to say an accurate portrayal of historical contexts in which evidence appeared.
  5. Style – presence of logical flow of reasoning and grace of prose, including:
    • (a) an effective introduction that hooks the reader with originality and states the argument of the assignment and its significance
    • (b) clear topic sentences that provide sub-arguments and their significance in relation to the overall argument.
    • (c) effective transitions between paragraphs
    • (d) a compelling conclusion that restates argument and adds a final point
    • (e) accurate phrasing and word choice
    • (f) use of active rather than passive voice sentence constructions

Grading Standards

Remember to honor the Academic Honesty Policy at Brockport, including no plagiarism. Confused about what constitutes plagiarism? Don’t hesitate to ask.

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 that include
    • a credible argument with some originality
    • argument supported by relevant, accurate and complete evidence
    • integration of argument and evidence in an insightful analysis
    • excellent organization: introduction, coherent paragraphs, smooth transitions, conclusion
    • sophisticated prose free of spelling and grammatical errors
    • correct page formatting when relevant
    • excellent formatting of footnotes or other form of required documentation

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

As my colleague Jason Mittell likes to say, we use grades to evaluate specific work in a class and to try to improve our abilities with a topic of study. They are never a judgment of you as a person. I value and respect all of you no matter what grade you receive.

Grade Breakdown

  • Assignment 01 Course Contract and Student Info Card = 2%
  • Assignment 02 History on the Line = 8%
  • Assignment 03 Writing History and Historiography—Primary Source Meet Secondary Source Take One = 10%
  • Assignment 04 Writing History and Historiography—Primary Source Meet Secondary Source Take Two = 10%
  • Assignment 05 Writing History and Historiography Take Three = 15%
  • Final Revise a History and Historiography Essay = 15%
  • InQuizitives 2×15 = 30%
  • Attendance and Participation (including annotations on VoiceThreads and thoughtful comments in synchronous discussions)  = 10%
  • Extra Credit Brockport Faculty Historians Essay = 5%

Attendance Policy

Attendance is mandatory. Students are allowed two absences for the semester, no questions asked. These include absences for any reason. Each additional absence may lower your grade at the instructor’s discretion. Please contact the instructor if you have questions. Four unexcused absences are grounds for course failure.

The Importance of Academic Honesty

Academic dishonesty, particularly in the form of plagiarized assignments (question sheets, essays), will result in failed assignments, possible course failure, official reporting, and potential expulsion from Brockport. The Brockport Academic Honesty policy applies to all work in this course. To be certain about its stipulations, rather than risk severe penalties, consult it on the College website. If you have additional questions about the Academic Honesty policy, please consult the instructor.

Disabilities and Accommodations

As the father of a child with neuroatypicality, Professor Kramer recognizes that students may require accommodations to learn effectively. In accord with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Brockport Faculty Senate legislation, students with documented disabilities may be entitled to specific accommodations. SUNY Brockport is committed to fostering an optimal learning environment by applying current principles and practices of equity, diversity, and inclusion. If you are a student with a disability and want to utilize academic accommodations, you must register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to obtain an official accommodation letter which must be submitted to faculty for accommodation implementation. If you think you have a disability, you may want to meet with SAS to learn about related resources. You can find out more about Student Accessibility Services, or by contacting SAS via sasoffice@brockport.edu, or (585) 395-5409. Students, faculty, staff, and SAS work together to create an inclusive learning environment. As always, feel free to contact the instructor with any questions.

Discrimination and Harassment Policies

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 these resources. 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 visit the College-Wide Student Policies webpage.

Additional Policies

History Department Student Learning Outcomes
  1. Articulate a thesis (a response to a historical problem).
  2. Advance in logical sequence principal arguments in defense of a historical thesis.
  3. Provide relevant evidence drawn from the evaluation of primary and/or secondary sources that supports the primary arguments in defense of a historical thesis.
  4. Evaluate the significance of a historical thesis by relating it to a broader field of historical knowledge.
  5. Express themselves clearly in writing that forwards a historical analysis.
  6. Use disciplinary standards (Chicago Style) of documentation when referencing historical sources.
  7. Students will identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments as they appear in their own and others’ work.
  8. Students will write and reflect on the writing conventions of the disciplinary area, with multiple opportunities for feedback and revision or multiple opportunities for feedback.
  9. Students will demonstrate understanding of the methods social scientists use to explore social phenomena, including observation, hypothesis development, measurement and data collection, experimentation, evaluation of evidence, and employment of interpretive analysis.
  10. Students will demonstrate knowledge of major concepts, models and issues of history.
Emergency Alert System

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. 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.

Mandatory Covid-19 Safety Measures to Protect You and Our SUNY Brockport Community

SUNY Brockport’s primary concern during this COVID-19 pandemic focuses on the safety, health, and well-being of students and the college community.

Your compliance with these mandatory safety measures will help reduce the likelihood of COVID cases and keep our campus safe so we can convene in-person classes and student activities. Failure to follow the directive of a college official will result in a referral to the Student Conduct Board and appropriate actions will be taken. Please note, you will be asked to leave the classroom if your behavior endangers yourself or others by not following safety directives set by the college and a referral to the Student Conduct Board will be made.  As per the Code of Student Conduct, Failure to Comply with the directive of a college official could result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to removal from the residence halls and/or suspension.

Student cleaning requirements: Wipe your work surface (desk or table) and seat prior to use with the disinfectant wipe effective against COVID19 provided in the classroom.  Deposit the used wipe in a classroom garbage receptacle.  If shared items are used in the classroom, disinfect them before and after use.   

Seating & Social Distancing:

  • Do not occupy seats that are marked “Do not sit.”   
  • Maintain social distance (stay 6’ apart) from others in the classroom to the extent possible. 

Face covering: Wear an appropriate face covering that covers your nose and mouth at all times. You may lift your mask briefly to take a drink.  Eating is not permitted inside the classroom. Please see the attached link for specific information regarding Social Distancing and Face Covering Policy.

Healthy Practices:

  • Do not report to class if you are feeling ill.  Leave class quietly and immediately if you are feeling unwell and notify your instructor as soon as you able to.
  • Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash your hands after touching your face. Cover coughs and sneezes.  Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  While hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is widely available throughout the campus, it is less effective than washing with soap and water.  Washing your hands often is considered the best practice. 

Any student who feels ill or has any medical needs should contact the Student Health Center at (585) 395-2414 or your personal physician to discuss your symptoms. If you think you need to see a medical professional, contact the Student Health Center to make an appointment first as there are no walk in hours at this time. Students who experience significant cough, worsening of chronic asthma symptoms, a fever that lasts more than two to three days, dizziness, and/or dehydration should be evaluated. If symptoms are severe and urgent assistance is needed, contact the Student Health Center and/or University Police on campus (585) 395-2222 or 911 if off campus.

Emergency evacuation considerations:

In the event of an evacuation alarm, everyone should immediately find the nearest exit, leave the building, and proceed to an assembly area with a face covering on and maintain social distance from others to the extent possible.  While it is important to maintain social distance, you should not delay exiting the building in order to do so in the event of any emergency.  In areas where separate entrances/exits have been established, it is important to note that these do not apply in the event of an emergency.  Individuals should use the nearest exit.  When re-entering the building, maintain social distance from others.  Upon re-entering the building, avoid congregating in the entranceway or lobby.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.

Quickview Calendar

Week 01 Planting A Flag in Modern America
  • Assignment 01—Course Contract and Student Info Card
  • Asynchronous Lecture 01 Planting a Flag
  • Assignment 02—History on the Line
  • Synchronous Discussion—Planting a Flag When History Is On the Line
  • How To Use InQuizitive
Week 02 Is Reconstruction Unfinished? America After the Civil War, 1865-1877
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 02—What Was Reconstruction? Is it Over or Still Going On?
  • Synchronous Discussion—”What Is Freedom?”: Reconstruction, 1865-1877
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 15, “What Is Freedom?”: Reconstruction, 1865-1877
Week 03 America’s Gilded Age, 1877-1890
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 03—The Hog Squeal of the Universe: Industrialization, Urbanization, and Commodification
  • Asynchronous Lecture 04—Where Does the Weekend Come From? Americans Respond to Industrialization
  • Synchronous Discussion—America’s Gilded Age
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 16, America’s Gilded Age, 1870-1890
  • Assignment 03—Writing History and Historiography—Primary Source Meet Secondary Source Take One
Week 04 Freedom’s Boundaries, At Home and Abroad, 1865-1900
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 05—From US Settler Colonialism to Formal Empire
  • Asynchronous Lecture 06—The Nadir: Jim Crow
  • Synchronous Discussion—Freedom’s Boundaries, At Home and Abroad, 1865-1900
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 17: Freedom’s Boundaries, at Home and Abroad, 1890-1900
Week 05 The Progressive Era, 1900-1916
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 07 Did the Progressive Era Make Progress in Modern America, or Not?
  • Synchronous Discussion—1900-1916: The Progressive Era
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 18: The Progressive Era, 1900-1916
Week 06 Safe for Democracy? The Great War and Its Aftermath, 1916-1920
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 08—The Wartime State and Its Aftermath: Making the World Safe for Democracy?
  • Synchronous Discussion—Safe for Democracy: The United States and World War I, 1916-1920
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 19: Safe for Democracy: The United States and World War I, 1916-1920
Week 07 From Business Culture to Great Depression in the “Roaring” Twenties, 1920-1932
  • Asynchronous Lecture 09—What Made the “Roaring” Twenties Roaring?
  • Asynchronous Lecture 10—From Roaring Twenties to Great Depression
  • Synchronous Discussion—From Business Culture to Great Depression in the “Roaring” Twenties, 1920-1932
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 20: From Business Culture to Great Depression in the “Roaring” Twenties, 1920-1932
  • Assignment 04—Writing History and Historiography Take Two
Week 08 The New Deal, 1932-1940
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 11—FDR’s New Deal and the Making of Modern Liberalism
  • Synchronous Discussion—1932-1940: The New Deal
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 21: The New Deal, 1932-1940
Week 09 Fighting for the Four Freedoms: World War II, 1941-1945
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 12—Was World War II the Actual New Deal?
  • Synchronous Discussion—Fighting for the Four Freedoms: World War II, 1941-1945
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 22: Fighting for the Four Freedoms: World War II, 1941-1945
Week 10 The Cold War at Abroad and at Home, 1945-1960
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 13—Cold War Containments
  • Asynchronous Lecture 14—Cold War Rebellions
  • Synchronous Discussion—The Cold War at Abroad and at Home, 1945-1960
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 23: The United States and the Cold War, 1945-1953
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 24: An Affluent Society, 1953-1960
Week 11 Abundance and Its Discontents, 1960-1969
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 15—A Second Reconstruction? The Modern African-American Civil Rights Movement
  • Asynchronous Lecture 16—The Great Society and the Quagmire of the Vietnam War
  • Synchronous Discussion—Abundance and Its Discontents, 1960-1969
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 25: The Sixties, 1960-1968
Week 12 Disco Demolitions and the Rise of the New Right, 1970-1989
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 17 Disco Demolition: The 1970s From Watergate to the Malaise Speech
  • Asynchronous Lecture 18 The Reagan Revolution: Modern Conservatism as Revolution—The Rise of the New Right
  • Synchronous Discussion—Week 12 Disco Demolitions and the Rise of the New Right, 1970-1989
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 26: The Conservative Turn, 1969-1988
Week 13 Thanksgiving – No Class
Week 14 Between Two Falls: The End of the Cold War to 9/11, 1989-2001
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 19—The 1990s: An Era of Uncertainty
  • Asynchronous Lecture 20—The End of the American Century?: 9/11 to the 2008 Great Recession
  • Synchronous Discussion—Between Two Falls: The End of the Cold War to 9/11
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 27: From Triumph to Tragedy, 1989-2004
  • Assignment 05—Writing History and Historiography Take Three
Week 15 Is America Now Postmodern?, 2001-2020
  • Required Readings
  • Asynchronous Lecture 21—From the Great Recession to Make America Great Again
  • Synchronous Discussion—Is America Still Modern?, 2001-2020
  • InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 28: A Divided Nation
Final—Revise a History and Historiography Essay
Extra Credit—Brockport Faculty Scholarship Analytic Essay

Full Calendar

Week 01 Planting A Flag in Modern America

This Week

This is a fully online hybrid course, with asynchronous lectures, self-directed readings and a digital comprehension quiz tool called InQuizitive, writing assignments, and online synchronous discussion meetings most Wednesdays. I will also be in touch with each of you for individual consultations.

OK, to start, be sure to go to the, yes you’ve got it, Start Here module. Read through the module and complete Assignment 01 Course Contract and Student Info Card.

This week we “plant a flag” in Modern America, a place of both enormous promise and ongoing, profound dilemmas and problems.

The lecture will map out a starting point and framework for thinking about Modern American history since the Civil War ended in 1865 all the way up to the present momentous year of 2020.

It will also propose (and enact) some of the approaches we’ll take in this course to the project of historical inquiry, to improving your own thinking, writing, analytic, and communication skills, and to how history is names and dates, yes, but also so much more. Historical study, if you pursue it, will help you no matter where you go, what career you pursue, and what life brings you. It is powerful and empowering. It can change your life…and the way you understand yourself and the world around you.

So let’s begin.

Asynchronous Lecture 01 Planting a Flag
Synchronous Discussion—Planting a Flag When History Is On the Line
Assignment 01 Course Contract and Student Info Card

Please create a Word document and respond to the following questions so I can begin to get to know each of you a little better.

This document also serves as a Course Contract acknowledging that you have thoroughly read the Start Here module of the website.

Paste the following template and then respond.

Name:

Year at Brockport:

Circle the pronoun you prefer— he/him, she/her, they/them — or if another referral form you wish me to use, let me know here:

Best contact info in an emergency (phone, email, text):

What do you most want to get out of the content of this course (other than an A)?

What is one historical event in American history you want to learn more about?

When is the furthest back you can trace your own family’s history? To where?

What other things should I know about you as your professor in this class (interests, concerns, special needs, worries, hopes)?

Any other questions right now for me (you can always ask me questions as they arise during the semester)?

Review the Start Here module on Canvas. What did you notice most about it? What questions do you have about it?

I have read the Start Here module of the course website and agree to honor the policies and rules for the course.

Sign here (you may draw your signature or type your name):

Welcome to HST 212 Modern America Fall 2020 Edition! I am excited to work with you this semester. Prof. Kramer

Assignment 02 History on the Line

This four-part assignment asks you to do some sketching and timeline building to consider two points:

  • what is history, exactly? How do we imagine historical cause and effect? How do we picture and construct change and continuity over time?
  • what do you use as the details to create historical narrative and interpretation? What is historical evidence?

Instructions

Part 01

1. Take out a piece of paper and draw a shape of your sense of progress in US history since 1865 on it.

2. How does this history of progress in US history look?

3. Is it a line? Does the line go up or down? Does it spiral? Is it a line at all?! If not how else do you visualize history?

4. Now place three events on the line. They can be events such as WWII or the 19th Amendment (Women get the vote–although not all women did with the passage of this amendment!) or a presidential election of note or something like the Progressive Era or the Civil Rights Movement or 9/11 or Black Lives Matter or the covid-19 pandemic.

5. Take a picture of your sketch and save it.

Part 02

6. Now take out a new piece of paper.

7. Sketch a different shape for history. In this one sketch a version of historical time that is about the opposite of progress in US history since 1865.

8. What is the new shape? Why did you choose this new shape? What does it symbolize?

9. Place three new events on your new shape of historical time.

10. Take a picture of your sketch and save it.

Part 03

11. Now take out a final new piece of paper.

12. Sketch a different shape for history. In this one sketch a version of historical time that is neither a picture of progress, nor the opposite of progress in US history since 1865.

13. What is the new shape? Why did you choose this new shape? What does it symbolize?

14. Place three new events on your new shape of historical time.

15. Take a picture of your sketch and save it.

Part 04

16. Email your three pictures from your phone camera to your computer and paste them into a Word document (you can obtain a free copy of Word from Brockport On the Hub). Size the images to fit on the standard margin page of Word.

17. Below the three images in your Word document, time to write and reflect! Write a one-two paragraph reflection in which you develop a clear and cogent response to the following prompts: What was different about your progress, opposite of progress, and neither progress nor opposite of progress timelines? Did the three timelines suggest different understandings of cause and effect? Did they suggest different ways of thinking about change and continuity over time? If history isn’t always about progress, what is it about? How did the particular events that you chose relate to the shapes of your three timelines? Try to develop an argument or a thesis about what you noticed in sketching these three timelines. Compare specific aspects of the timelines to generate your argument about historical time in your written reflection.

18. Optional paragraph: any other thoughts about history and US history since 1865 in particular? About this assignment? About what you are wondering about with this course?

19. Remember to put your name on your Word document assignment.

20. Upload your Word assignment to Canvas, with three timeline sketch photos and your written response.

How To Use InQuizitive

Week 02 Is Reconstruction Unfinished? America After the Civil War, 1865-1877

This Week

This week we dial back to the end of the Civil War, a time when the Union (the Northern states) defeated the Southern states that had seceded from the United States in an attempt to form a new nation, the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy. The abandonment of the Southern states from the USA was in response to growing challenges to the legality of slavery in the US. The Civil War was followed by an era known as Reconstruction. The pressing question of the day was: how would the US be put back together again after a bloody, violent civil war? It’s a question we might consider still at play in the US. Did the country ever get fully “reconstructed” after the end of the Civil War? On what terms?

The stakes were high during Reconstruction, which lasted from 1865 (really beginning to take shape even during the war itself) to 1877 (when a new era of “Redemption” and “Jim Crow” took hold, an era in which former Southern white elites returned to full control of their states and imposed a repressive, terrorizing regime of racialized segregation against African Americans and others in the South). We will explore this history in detail. What happened during Reconstruction? Why do these events from 150 years ago still matter today?

To help us both start to think about Reconstruction and the larger themes of our class, we are also going to look more closely at a speech delivered by Rochester’s own Frederick Douglass during the late 1860s, at a time when it seemed like Reconstruction might move in more democratic, reformist directions. It’s called the “Composite Nation” speech and you might read it to learn both about the time in which Douglass delivered it and as a way of thinking about the stakes of Modern America more broadly, right up to our own present time. Is the US what Douglass describes as a “Composite Nation”? What does he mean by that term? Why is he talking so much about Asian immigrants to America and not about African Americans and slavery (he himself, famously, escaped from slavery in Maryland before the Civil War to become a political leader and thinker until he died in 1895)? Here are a few more questions to keep in mind as you read Douglass’s speech:

  • Whom is Douglass arguing with, disagreeing with, in this speech? Why? How does he distinguish his views from theirs?
  • What does he mean by “composite”? What other keywords, or important words, do you notice in his choice of language?
  • What are the underlying assumptions guiding his ideas and statements?
  • What do you not understand? What does not quite make sense to you yet in the speech? Often what you don’t understand is a great place to start!
Week 02 Required Reading
Asynchronous Lecture 02 What Was Reconstruction? Is it Over or Still Going On?
Synchronous Discussion—”What Is Freedom?”: Reconstruction, 1865-1877
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 15, “What Is Freedom?”: Reconstruction, 1865-1877

Week 03 America’s Gilded Age, 1877-1890

This Week

Last week we examined the watershed period known as Reconstruction. This was an era in which many Americans rethought the nature of freedom and multiracial democracy, and did so in far more inclusive terms than ever before. They started to expand the concept of citizenship. The federal government took on new powers in the states, a legacy building on the development a national Army during the Civil War that continued after the war formally ended. And the vote was extended, at least on paper, to all men. African Americans who had been enslaved in the South pushed toward new lives. Many sought land to cultivate, built new religious institutions and churches, started businesses, moved away from plantations that were filled with terrible memories, pursued literacy and education, and tried to reunite their families. They turned to the federal government to help them, particularly through the Freedmen’s Bureau, formally known as the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. Meanwhile, new immigrants in the American West, coming from Asia to work on railroad construction primarily, also pushed for inclusion in America’s emergent multiracial democracy, as Frederick Douglass discussed in his “Composite Nation” speech.

Even as Reconstruction contained moments of radical democratic expansion, it also saw troubling developments too. As we’ll see in the coming weeks, Native Americans faced increasing hardships in this era as people of all backgrounds pushed onto their lands. Despite a wave of activism, women were not included in the efforts to expand suffrage in the Constitution and continued to be second class citizens. And just because the Union won the Civil War and defeated the Confederacy did not mean that the South happily rejoined the United States on the more dramatic terms of inclusive multiracial democracy that the Radical Republicans in Congress pushed for in response to President Andrew Johnson’s lax efforts to bring the Union back together. Soon emerged things such as the Black Codes, the plantation sharecropping system, the Ku Klux Klan, and other techniques to reassert race-based power and domination through legal and economic means, if not just outright vigilante violence and acts of terrorism.

So Reconstruction saw dramatic transformations in American governance, new Amendments to the Constitution, former slaves on the move, and new immigrants arriving in pursuit of what we now call the American Dream; but it also saw continued inequalities, problems, and shortcomings that would remain painfully present in the United States for decades to come, right up to our own times.

What’s next, then, for Modern America? In week 03 we turn from the South to the rapidly changing cities of the United States. We do so through a stop in Chicago, the “shock city of the late 19th century” as it was sometimes called. You might also notice as we turn to the city how connected its growth was to the frontier, the hinterlands, the rural parts of America. City and countryside were connected through the processes of industrialization as raw materials from remote locations were transformed into industrial and consumer products in urban factories.

New classes began to emerge in industrializing, urbanizing America. We sometimes call these classes, broadly speaking, labor and capital. Class as well as race and gender and region, became an increasingly important category of identity, structured by the changing economic landscape of the US after the Civil War. Labor consisted of that growing mass of Americans who received wages for their hard work in the factories of industrial America. Capital owned the factories and means of production. They were the ones who paid the wages, but also kept much more of their profits for themselves. A simpler set of terms might be the workers and the bosses—these began to emerge as two classes of Americans in deep conflict with each other. Between them existed other economic classes: rural laborers, an emerging class of financiers and bankers, a nascent middle class of clerks and what would eventually be called white-collar workers, and plenty of small-time business owners and small property owners, all trying to make their way through the growing consolidation of industry by Capital and the struggles of Labor to earn their fair share of the wealth being produced through industrialization.

So alongside race, ethnicity, gender, region, add class to your list of terms you can use to study the past: how people fit into the economic system of urbanizing, industrializing capitalism during the decades after Reconstruction, and how their economic location shaped their social identities, their senses of themselves, their perspectives on what it meant to be modern, to be American.

Week 03 Required Reading
  • Foner, Give Me Liberty!, Chapter 16, “‘America’s Gilded Age, 1870-1890,” 447-505
  • Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom, Chapter 16, 28-52, pay particular attention to Carnegie (104), Second Declaration of Independence (106), George (107), and Saum Song Bo (109, especially in relation to Douglass, “The Composite Nation”)
Asynchronous Lecture 03 The Hog Squeal of the Universe: Industrialization, Urbanization, and Commodification
Asynchronous Lecture 04 Where Does the Weekend Come From? Americans Respond to Industrialization
Synchronous Discussion—America’s Gilded Age
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 16, America’s Gilded Age, 1870-1890
Assignment
Assignment 03 Writing History and Historiography—Primary Source Meet Secondary Source Take One

Your first major writing assignment in the course asks you to develop a close reading of language in one primary source from Voices of Freedom in relation to one paragraph from the secondary source of Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty!

Use material from Weeks 01-03.

Primary sources are documents and artifacts from the past that historians use for evidence. They give us a window into a time gone by if we pay close attention to their specific language and show a reader logically and convincingly how that language relates to a larger historical interpretation. Secondary sources are the already-existing interpretations of other historians. The documents in Voices of Freedom might be thought of as primary sources; the writing of Eric Foner in his book Give Me Liberty! can be thought of as a secondary source. (Although note that one day in the future a history student such as you could read Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty! as historical evidence of what a historian was thinking in 2020. All secondary sources will one day be primary sources!)

Follow these instructions for your assignment.

  1. Use Microsoft Word. Be sure to save often as you work on the assignment so you do not lose your work.
  2. Your assignment should use 12-point font, double-spaced, and standard width.
  3. Select one primary source that has most interested you from our reading thus far in Voices of Freedom.
  4. Select one paragraph from Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty! that you think has something to say about the content and theme of the primary source document.
  5. In a cogent, well-argued, four-paragraph essay, explain what specific language in the primary source has to do with specific language in the secondary source (Give Me Liberty!).
  6. Recommendation: start with your close reading of the primary source, then relate it to what you take to be Foner’s argument about the topic in Give Me Liberty! How does your close reading relate to his contentions about the topic, time period, or themes you noticed in the primary source? Do your and his readings line up? Are they opposed? Is there some more subtle difference? Try to explain the relationship of your interpretation to his with precision and clarity.
  7. Be sure to include citations when you refer to a source (primary or secondary). Use Chicago Manual of Style. Sources from Eric Foner’s Voices of Freedom should be cited with both the original source as he cites it, and then “reprinted in Voices of Freedom, ed. Eric Foner….” For more on citation, see Citing Your Sources Using Chicago Manual of Style.
  8. Your essay should have:
    • A sharp, revealing, and enticing title.
    • In the opening paragraph, a thesis, or argument that fully and convincingly explains the connection (it can be a similarity or a distinction between the primary source and Give Me Liberty! as the secondary source; it can be a way in which the primary source offers a new “wrinkle” to the argument put forward by Foner; it can be a way in which the primary source contradicts Foner; it can be a particular theme or point that Foner makes which the primary source affirms and provides proof).
    • A second and third paragraph that break down your thesis into two specific examples from the primary source that relate to your main argument. Think about these as using specific words or quotes to explain the argument of your thesis in detail, using evidence (quotes) from the primary and secondary sources (your document and Give Me Liberty!). Each paragraph should have a topic sentence.
    • A closing paragraph which reiterates your thesis in fresh language and ends with a strong punch about your main point.
    • Stylish and clear prose that communicates your ideas effectively.
    • The following is banned from your essay (points will be deducted):
      • No use of the phrase “Founding Fathers” (BANNED!)
      • No use of the phrase “Throughout history” (BANNED!)
      • Avoid the passive voice (BANNED! “The passive voice was avoided”…that’s passive voice, see the difference?); be sure to assign agency to someone or something (He used the passive voice, not the passive voice was used)
      • No use of the word “societal” (BANNED!)…use the word “society” instead
  9. Get some writing consultation! Consult with a writing tutor, especially one who specializes in historical writing, at any stage of the writing process. Leave yourself time to revise.
  10. Submit your Word document on Canvas.

Week 04 Freedom’s Boundaries, At Home and Abroad, 1865-1900

This Week

In Week 04, we explore the continued expansion of the United States to the West of continental North America as well as overseas. What do we make of the expansionary forces at the heart of US culture during the nineteenth century? How did a former set of colonies (of England) now become a colonial power?!

It’s to this globalizing American power that we turn next, taking a hard look at American expansion into the continental west of North America, where Native Americans still lived on lands they considered their own independent nations, and then we look even beyond the continental US with the Spanish-American War of 1898. Suddenly, by the turn of the twentieth century, the United States, itself having been a former set of colonies, was an imperial, colonial power. We’ll take notice of this shift. Was it a key factor in making modern America “modern”?

We also might pay attention to a kind of internal imperialism: the full reassertion of a legal and state-enforced system of racial segregation, terror, violence, and inequality in the South of the United States, that replaced the former system of slavery with what came to be known as “Jim Crow.” Here was a parallel force to global colonization even within the US, in which one group dominated another, ruled over it, and denied that group full civic, political, economic, or social equality.

Week 04 Required Reading
Asynchronous Lecture 05 From US Settler Colonialism to Formal Empire
Asynchronous Lecture 06 The Nadir: Jim Crow
Synchronous Discussion—Freedom’s Boundaries, At Home and Abroad, 1865-1900
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 17: Freedom’s Boundaries, at Home and Abroad, 1890-1900

Week 05 The Progressive Era, 1900-1916

This Week

Welcome to the twentieth century. This week we turn to the rise of a complicated movement known as Progressivism. It sounds like it was simply about progress, but this word meant different things to different people. All were concerned with an effort to make society match the new world—a modern American world—of industrialization and urbanization. They disagreed, however, about what that modernity should look like, and some believed that important aspects of being American, at least to them, were being lost.

What kinds of norms would work for this new world? What would make for what the progressive philosopher John Dewey called, in his words, “effective freedom” in this new context of factories, cities, corporations, and class differences, and of massive new waves of immigration and new roles for women? What should presidents do? What kind of laws should regulate the economy? What should the role of government–state power–be? How should Americans relate to each other?

Progressivism was complicated. When did it even begin? It didn’t instantly start on January 1, 1900, but rather had been developing in the United States for decades, gathering steam in the fight to abolish slavery and the changes to society brought on by the Civil War. Ideas about progress and goals for achieving it through social reform, whether radical, moderate, or conservative, or some amalgam of the three, had already been around for centuries before that, but only after the Civil War, and particularly as the twentieth century began, did people in America begin to identify as Progressives.

Yet even then they had very different ideas about what constituted progress. Some were quite radical. They imagined expanding government regulation and coordination in order to expand liberty for all, rather than for just elites. Whereas the previous dominant notion (and it remained prominent during and after the Progressive Era) was to constrain state power, Progressives began to notice that the new industrial, urban, commodified system of corporate capitalism, with its trusts and monopolies and concentrations of power, might maintain ideals about individual liberty, but in practice (Pragmatically) did not deliver them. Most people wound up with “merely the liberty to compete for employment at starvation wages,” as Henry George had put it in his 1879 book Progress and Poverty. So unions, socialists, and other activists such as Senator Robert LaFollette in Wisconsin, or local politicians in the new state of Oregon, that tried to put government back in the hands of the people instead of leaving it to back room deals between politicians and business interests. And eventually there were dramatic national transformations such as the 16th Amendment to the Constitution itself, which created a more “progressive” graduated income tax. Women’s suffrage became more prominent as an issue as well. Despite opposition from the Supreme Court, antitrust laws and some protection for the labor movement emerged in this period too. These changes pointed to a radical kind of Progressivism, in which government in a democratic republic took on a new role to socialize liberty and freedom for all individuals rather than insist that government was only there to protect the individual liberties of the rich and powerful. 

Even here, with radical Progressivism, there was often an urge to “get back” to some lost ideal of American democracy and freedom—a conservative impulse to save something in danger of being lost by embracing new ideas about government regulation and intervention in economic life within an industrial system. For other progressives, this conservative impulse was even stronger. They wanted to limit the power of the massive waves of new immigrants to the United States from South and Eastern Europe, Mexico, and elsewhere with more restrictive policies. Or, in the South of the US, they wanted to maintain Jim Crow segregation in service of what they thought was progress, restricting black male suffrage in the name of supposed progress.

Most of all there was a spirit of reform, sometimes radical, sometimes conservative, sometimes both radical and conservative in surprising and unexpected, troubling but also intriguing, combinations. Progressivism was complicated as Americans struggled over what it meant to make progress and to expand (or maintain or recover) freedom in a modern, industrial, and urbanizing country.

Week 05 Required Reading
Asynchronous Lecture 07 Did the Progressive Era Make Progress in Modern America, or Not?
Synchronous Discussion—1900-1916: The Progressive Era
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 18: The Progressive Era, 1900-1916

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

This Week

This week, it’s war! As in World War I. We’ll take a look at how the US became involved in what was known as the Great War. It took place mostly in Europe, but it saw the US enter the world stage not only as a global economic power, but now also, under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, also a political power. With his new ideas, inspired often by the Progressives, of unified national governmental power, and his concepts of what became known as liberal internationalism, Wilson tried to, as he put it, “make the world safe for democracy.” The question is: did the US involvement in World War I do so? Did the US make the world safe for democracy? The US certainly provided the key support for winning the actual war, but with many unintended, undemocratic consequences both at home and abroad. We’ll turn to this story of war, ideas of safety, concepts of democracy, and, ironically, antidemocratic repercussions that World War I unleashed too.

Week 06 Required Reading
  • Foner, Give Me Liberty!, Chapter 19: Safe for Democracy: The United States and World War I, 1916-1920, 572-605
  • Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom, Chapter 19, 104-133, pay particular attention to Bourne (106, in relation to Douglass, “The Composite Nation)
Asynchronous Lecture 08 The Wartime State and Its Aftermath: Making the World Safe for Democracy?
Synchronous Discussion—Safe for Democracy: The United States and World War I, 1916-1920
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 19: Safe for Democracy: The United States and World War I, 1916-1920

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

This Week

In many respects, the 1920s were when the modernity of modern America came roaring into the picture. That’s why some call it the Roaring Twenties, a decade of noisy industrial and urban sounds becoming the norm. This was the decade when American society shifted toward being fully industrialized and urbanized. After 1920, more Americans lived in cities than in the countryside. There, it was a decade of a booming bubble economy and the arrival of a fully developed consumer society.

Yet it was also a decade in which American foreign policy turned back toward isolationism rather than embrace Wilsonian liberal internationalism. Nonetheless, the US made no hesitation to intervene in other countries when US business interests were at risk. This was particularly the case in Latin America. The roar of the American military could be heard in Nicaragua, Cuba, and elsewhere in the 1920s even if the US chose not to join the very League of Nations its own president had imagined and introduced after World War I.

So, this was a decade in which new roars of modernity echoed loudly through American and global life. But those were not the only roars of the Roaring Twenties. You might also think of it as a decade of roaring protests against the new state of things in Modern America. While flappers embraced new liberated forms of femininity and speakeasies flourished during Prohibition through the illegal liquor business, many Americans also recoiled at the new world they had created. There were not only new radical roars, then, but also conservative roars to be heard in the modern mix: roars against modern ideas of science, roars against the decline of small farming and agriculture, roars of a resurgent Ku Klux Klan against the new more integrated immigrant communities of city life in America; and roars of figures such as the preacher Billy Sunday, who railed against what he perceived to be the decadence of the modern city life that many Americans experienced directly, or more likely heard about secondhand through the new culture industries of radio, recordings, film, newspapers and magazines, and advertising.

And then there were figures such as Louis Armstrong, an African American orphan from New Orleans who went on to become a leading figure of jazz, the music that gave the 1920s the moniker of the Jazz Age. Like literary figures and bohemians in movements such as the Harlem Renaissance, Armstrong began to forge new artistic ways of navigating the grids and systems of modern America, and syncopating the older traditions of the country. He made sounds of freedom that cut across its industrial and urban life of the 1920s, syncopating modernity in search of freedom dreams.

We’ll be exploring all the various roars of this roaring decade.

Week 07 Required Reading
  • Foner, Give Me Liberty!, Chapter 20, 1920-1932: From Business Culture to Great Depression in the “Roaring” Twenties, 606-636
  • Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom, Chapter 20, 134-159, pay particular attention to Congress Debates Immigtation (138) and Hill and Kelley Debate the ERA (1922)
Asynchronous Lecture 09 What Made the “Roaring” Twenties Roaring?
Asynchronous Lecture 10 From Roaring Twenties to Great Depression
Synchronous Discussion—From Business Culture to Great Depression in the “Roaring” Twenties, 1920-1932
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 20: From Business Culture to Great Depression in the “Roaring” Twenties, 1920-1932
Assignment 04 Writing History and Historiography Take Two

Your second major writing assignment in the course asks you to develop a close reading of language in one primary source from Voices of Freedom in relation to one paragraph from the secondary source of Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty! 

Use materials from Weeks 04-07.

Primary sources are documents and artifacts from the past that historians use for evidence. They give us a window into a time gone by if we pay close attention to their specific language and show a reader logically and convincingly how that language relates to a larger historical interpretation. Secondary sources are the already-existing interpretations of other historians. The documents in Voices of Freedom might be thought of as primary sources; the writing of Eric Foner in his book Give Me Liberty! can be thought of as a secondary source. (Although note that one day in the future a history student such as you could read Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty! as historical evidence of what a historian was thinking in 2020. All secondary sources will one day be primary sources!)

Follow these instructions for your assignment.

  1. Use Microsoft Word. Be sure to save often as you work on the assignment so you do not lose your work.
  2. Your assignment should use 12-point font, double-spaced, and standard width.
  3. Select one primary source that has most interested you from our reading thus far in Voices of Freedom.
  4. Select one paragraph from Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty! that you think has something to say about the content and theme of the primary source document.
  5. In a cogent, well-argued, four-paragraph essay, explain what specific language in the primary source has to do with specific language in the secondary source (Give Me Liberty!).
  6. Recommendation: start with your close reading of the primary source, then relate it to what you take to be Foner’s argument about the topic in Give Me Liberty! How does your close reading relate to his contentions about the topic, time period, or themes you noticed in the primary source? Do your and his readings line up? Are they opposed? Is there some more subtle difference? Try to explain the relationship of your interpretation to his with precision and clarity.
  7. Be sure to include citations when you refer to a source (primary or secondary). Use Chicago Manual of Style. Sources from Eric Foner’s Voices of Freedom should be cited with both the original source as he cites it, and then “reprinted in Voices of Freedom, ed. Eric Foner….” For more on citation, see Citing Your Sources Using Chicago Manual of Style.
  8. Your essay should have:
    • A sharp, revealing, and enticing title.
    • In the opening paragraph, a thesis, or argument that fully and convincingly explains the connection (it can be a similarity or a distinction between the primary source and Give Me Liberty! as the secondary source; it can be a way in which the primary source offers a new “wrinkle” to the argument put forward by Foner; it can be a way in which the primary source contradicts Foner; it can be a particular theme or point that Foner makes which the primary source affirms and provides proof).
    • A second and third paragraph that break down your thesis into two specific examples from the primary source that relate to your main argument. Think about these as using specific words or quotes to explain the argument of your thesis in detail, using evidence (quotes) from the primary and secondary sources (your document and Give Me Liberty!). Each paragraph should have a topic sentence.
    • A closing paragraph which reiterates your thesis in fresh language and ends with a strong punch about your main point.
    • Stylish and clear prose that communicates your ideas effectively.
    • The following is banned from your essay (points will be deducted):
      • No use of the phrase “Founding Fathers” (BANNED!)
      • No use of the phrase “Throughout history” (BANNED!)
      • Avoid the passive voice (BANNED! “The passive voice was avoided”…that’s passive voice, see the difference?); be sure to assign agency to someone or something (He used the passive voice, not the passive voice was used)
      • No use of the word “societal” (BANNED!)…use the word “society” instead
  9. Get some writing consultation! Consult with a writing tutor, especially one who specializes in historical writing, at any stage of the writing process. Leave yourself time to revise.
  10. Submit your Word document on Canvas.

Week 08 The New Deal, 1932-1940

This Week

Give a listen to the start of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s very first Fireside Chat, broadcast across the United States on radio on the evening of March 12, 1933. Roosevelt went on the air to explain, in plain language, why he was calling a national bank holiday—quite literally closing all banks across the United States—so that Americans did not lose all the funds they had deposited in these banks during the financial panic of the early years of the Great Depression.

Elected over Republican Herbert Hoover in the landslide victory of 1932, FDR began to experiment with a more active role for the national government in solving the ongoing crisis of the Great Depression. With Democratic control gained over the Senate for the first time, control of the House, and now a Democrat in the White House, FDR pushed through a slew of new policies and programs, created many new agencies, and attempted many new tactics to address the problems of the Great Depression.

Some worked and some did not. Some helped business and others helped labor. Lots of the policies and programs had been proposed during the Progressive era as ideas, and now found themselves enacted as law.

Many Americans came to love FDR’s persona. They took advantage of what we might call the alphabet soup proposals (for all the acronyms, CCC, NRA, NLRA, WPA, and many more) that constituted Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was the umbrella term for his initiatives. Alas, many of FDR’s efforts only benefited some Americans, because to keep Southern white politicians in his new, winning Democratic coalition of the 1930s, he often had to exclude African Americans, rural farm workers, and women from some of his bold, new policies.

To FDR’s left, an emboldened radical “Popular Front,” as it was known, of communists, socialists, liberals, labor activists, intellectuals, artists, and Americans curious about enhancing what many called “industrial freedom” pushed FDR and his administration toward their way of thinking. On FDR’s right, business conservatives attacked him for expanding the government and for often being more friendly toward labor than their interests. FDR would eventually have big battles with a still conservative Supreme Court over his New Deal policies.

And despite all his efforts, the Depression lagged on throughout the 1930s. The US did not fully recover until it ramped up for a wartime economy as World War II erupted in Europe during the end of the 1930s and with Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

This week, we’ll take a look at Roosevelt’s programs and consider how his actions, alongside the new agitations of unions, the new kinds of messages and images portrayed in America’s popular culture, and the reactions to all of this by more conservative Americans transformed notions of freedom and multiracial democracy during the 1930s. In particular, we will pay attention to how ideas about the role of government changed as Americans of all sorts confronted a crisis of American capitalism never before experienced until that point in history.

Week 08 Required Reading
  • Foner, Give Me Liberty!, Chapter 21: The New Deal, 1932-1940, 637-669
  • Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom, Chapter 21, 160-186, pay particular attention to FDR (145), Hoover (146), Hill on Indian New Deal (148)
  • Optional Brockport Faculty Reading:
    • Anne S. Macpherson, “Birth of the U.S. Colonial Minimum Wage: The Struggle over the Fair Labor Standards Act in Puerto Rico, 1938– 1941,” Journal of American History 104, 3 (December 2017), 656-680
Asynchronous Lecture 11 FDR’s New Deal and the Making of Modern Liberalism
Synchronous Discussion—1932-1940: The New Deal
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 21: The New Deal, 1932-1940

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

This Week

We turn to World War II this week. It’s a kind of pivot point in the twentieth century. Indeed it is difficult to imagine just how transformative World War II was.

First of all, it was a total war as never before seen. Somewhere between 60 and 80 million people died, including between 30 and 40 million civilians. The end of the war saw the United States explode atomic bombs on Japan, weapons with the potential to destroy all humanity in an instance if enough were built and used. It was a horrible war, but one that also changed America’s fortunes around the world.

Secondly, at war’s end, the United States was the preeminent geopolitical power, replacing Great Britain. Only the Soviet Union, an ally in World War II, would become the main foe opposing the US around the world.

Thirdly, on the home front, World War II changed domestic America as well. The wartime economy ended the Great Depression once and for all and made the federal government a presence and power in American lives as never before.

So this week we’ll explore this story of America during World War II, in the 1940s, and we’ll take stock of what America’s freedom dreams and multiracial democracy looked like at the middle of the twentieth century—a century that Time magazine publisher Henry Luce would famously call the “American century” and politician Henry Wallace called the “Century of the Common Man.” Were those one and the same thing, or not?

Week 09 Required Reading
  • Foner, Give Me Liberty!, Chapter 22: Fighting for the Four Freedoms: World War II, 1941-1945, 670-704
  • Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom, Chapter 22, 187-207, pay particular attention to FDR on the Four Freedoms (150), Luce, American Century (152), Wallace, Century of the Common Man (153), WWII and Mexican Americans (155), and Jackson, Dissent in Korematsu (157)
Asynchronous Lecture 12 Was World War II the Actual New Deal?

Synchronous Discussion—Fighting for the Four Freedoms: World War II, 1941-1945

InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 22: Fighting for the Four Freedoms: World War II, 1941-1945

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

This Week

This week, we turn to an intriguing period in American history. Many at the time thought that coming out of the momentous victory over the Axis powers of Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, and Italy, the Allies would usher in a new era of permanent peace to replace the horrors of World War II, but very quickly World War II turned into what became known as a Cold War between previous partners, the United States and the Soviet Union.

Around the world, a new and potent anticommunism took root as the US sought to promote liberal democracy, but most of all line up as many regimes as they could against the Soviets. Sometimes, the US fought on the side of democracy, but sometimes the country chose antidemocratic allies or undemocratic ones who America backed merely because these regimes were anticommunist and opposed the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, while the US and the Soviet Union, which became the second nation after America to develop nuclear weaponry, managed not to annihilate one another and the rest of humanity, the Cold War got pretty hot, particularly in the bloody Korean War, which saw US-led UN forces fight against North Korean and then Chinese troops directly in what ended up a stalemate that divided the Korean peninsula almost precisely where it had been split between a communist North and anti-communist South prior to the military conflict. Over 30,000 Americans died in the Korean War, which is technically still going on today, as no treaty was ever reached.

Despite the continuation of war under the shadow of potential nuclear apocalypse, the period after World War II was also an era of unprecedented affluence within the United States itself, and that affluence was spread fairly broadly across the American polity. The New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats largely stayed in place, even as a more modern Republican Party took power in the Oval Office and Congress and a more business friendly mood took hold in the nation. Wages increased and productivity boomed. The suburbs became a new center of automobile-driven culture. And the mass consumer culture we’ve been watching develop in industrial, urban American cemented itself into place through new technologies such as television.

At the time, many imagined a permanent new America of abundance: 50s America would be the new normal. In retrospect, the economy from World War II to the 1970s and the political order of the post-New Deal, post-World War II era, is now thought of as what some historians call “the Great Exception,” a period of time when the rapprochement between labor and owners, the commitment to liberal democracy and the maintenance of a social safety net, and a balance between government regulation, progressive taxation, and support for capitalist enterprise produced an unprecedented time of American power.

Yet even during this era, undercurrents of dissatisfaction and protest shot through America, from the growing Civil Rights movement for African American equality and the end of Jim Crow segregation to artistic movements such as the Beat writers to critics of the lurking fascism in America’s seemingly benign mass culture to new kinds of rebellions in that culture itself, symbolized by figures such as the Southern singer Elvis Presley, who announced the new genre of rock and roll in American life and music.

We’ll take a look at this era of the “Great Exception,” a time of both Cold War fears and consumer culture dreams in flux and competition.

Week 10 Required Reading
  • Foner, Give Me Liberty!, Chapter 23: The United States and the Cold War, 1945-1953, 705-733
  • Foner, Give Me Liberty!, Chapter 24: Chapter 24: An Affluent Society, 1953-1960, 734-765
  • Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom, Chapter 23, 208-239, pay particular attention to The Truman Doctrine (159) and Lippmann, A Critique of Containment (161)
  • Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom, Chapter 24, 240-263, pay particular attention to Mills (171)
  • Optional Brockport Faculty Reading:
    • Bruce Leslie (and John Halsey), “A College Upon a Hill: Exceptionalism & American Higher Education,” in Marks of Distinction: American Exceptionalism Revisited, ed. Dale Carter (Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press, 2001), 197-228
Asynchronous Lecture 13 Cold War Containments
Asynchronous Lecture 14 Cold War Rebellions
Synchronous Discussion—The Cold War at Abroad and at Home, 1945-1960
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 23: The United States and the Cold War, 1945-1953
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 24: An Affluent Society, 1953-1960

Week 11 Abundance and Its Discontents, 1960-1969

This Week

That was, of course, Dr. Martin Luther King speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, at the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom. He was introduced by A. Philip Randolph, leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, one of the first major, African American labor unions.

This week we turn to the crucial decade of the 1960s, when in many respects (and that’s a word we’ll come back to) a second “Reconstruction” took place in American society to try to realize Frederick Douglass’s dream of a “Composite Nation” almost some 100 years later.

The 1960s was a tumultuous decade full of seeming triumphs and many struggles. It was a violent decade both on the home front and overseas with the war in Vietnam. We’ll take a look at the rise of the modern African American civil rights movement, the story of the Vietnam War, and the emergence of the baby boomers into a more organized, rebellious youth culture, at first in small numbers of elite students who imagined themselves as a New Left, and then in a much broader, more diffuse counterculture of new styles of dress, ways of living, and efforts to achieve a true freedom in modern America.

Finally, we’ll turn to one song as a way to think about what some call the “rights revolution” of the 1960s, the effort by both everyday people and the government, especially the Supreme Court, to expand Americans’ rights dramatically so that they could receive more “Respect” as citizens.

Week 11 Required Reading
Asynchronous Lecture 15 A Second Reconstruction? The Modern African-American Civil Rights Movement
Asynchronous Lecture 16 The Great Society and the Quagmire of the Vietnam War
Synchronous Discussion—Abundance and Its Discontents, 1960-1969
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 25: The Sixties, 1960-1968

Week 12 Disco Demolitions and the Rise of the New Right, 1970-1989

This Week

This week, we linger in the 1960s as they gave way to the 1970s and 80s. Notice how out of the struggles between liberals and radicals over the Cold War politics and culture of containment there gave rise the surprising emergence of neither radicalism nor liberalism, somewhat surprisingly, but rather to a renewed conservative movement.

Yet, even with the election of Richard Nixon, a Republican, in 1968, the main aspects of liberal consensus politics remained: social security, Medicare, Medicaid. The regulatory role of the state even increased somewhat under Nixon: the Environmental Protection Agency was established, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts passed Congress, Title IX preventing gender bias in college athletics became policy, and more occurred in this direction of maintaining liberal government regulation.

Nixon even proposed a guaranteed income for all Americans, although it did not get passed by the legislative branch. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts along with the 1968 Housing Rights Act remained law, even as there was tremendous white backlash against court-mandated busing of students, both black and white, to attempt to integrate American public schools.

So, a New Right appeared in the 1970s, but the Cold War liberal consensus did not vanish.

And in culture, many Americans embraced the more permissive stylings of the youth counterculture. Dress grew more informal, women asserted themselves in new ways, sexuality and hedonistic experimentation spread from hip enclaves to the masses in the suburbs.

Meanwhile, the War in Vietnam dragged on, all the way to 1975.

As the New Right emerged in the 1970s, or even maybe helping it to emerge, was a new kind of economic crisis that hit the US. “Stagflation,” the combination of stagnating growth and monetary inflation at the same time, defied the accepting logic of Keynesian economics, in which they were supposed to remain in opposition to each other: you either had stagnating growth and recession or you would get an overheated economy and inflation, but not the two at the same time.

Along with the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation from the presidency in 1974, the economic crisis continued to undermine the trust Americans had in their government. On the heels of the government’s failure to be honest with Americans about the war in Vietnam, Watergate and the economic crisis of the 1970s led to what President Jimmy Carter, an outsider Democratic candidate elected in 1976, would label an American “malaise” that set in during the 1970s as a kind of “crisis of confidence,” as Carter put it.

Some called the 1970s a lost decade, but in fact, much happened in the US during that time to set the stage for the coming decades with the rise of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980 and the changes ahead in American life as it headed toward the end of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.

Week 12 Required Reading
Asynchronous Lecture 17 Disco Demolition: The 1970s From Watergate to the Malaise Speech
Asynchronous Lecture 18 The Reagan Revolution: Modern Conservatism as Revolution—The Rise of the New Right
Synchronous Discussion—Week 12 Disco Demolitions and the Rise of the New Right, 1970-1989
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 26: The Conservative Turn, 1969-1988

Week 13 Thanksgiving – No Class

Week 14 Between Two Falls: The End of the Cold War to 9/11, 1989-2001

This Week

This week we look to the momentous events of 1989 and surrounding years, when the Cold War came to an end as the Soviet Union disintegrated and its ring of Iron Curtain nations gave up on the system of communism. Even China, which continues to be run by a communist party, saw democratic protests erupt at the bloody Tiananmen Square revolt of 1989 and enacted reforms in its wake.

With the election of “New” Democratic president Bill Clinton in 1992, what kind of modern America and world would emerge from the end of the Cold War? With the controversial presidential election of 2000, a virtual tie that took a Supreme Court ruling to resolve and saw the election of Republican George W. Bush, and then with the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 and wars and crises that followed during the 2000s, was it even still a modernizing America, or something else appearing? What was to be the fate of multiracial democracy, of the “composite nation,” as Frederick Douglass called it in the late 1860s, as the country entered a new century?

Week 14 Required Reading
  • Foner, Give Me Liberty!, Chapter 27: From Triumph to Tragedy, 1989-2004, 840-879
  • Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom, Chapter 27, 323-340, pay particular attention to Clinton on NAFTA (192), Oro and Los Tigres del Norte (195)
  • Optional Brockport Faculty Reading:
    • James Spiller, “Nostalgia for the Right Stuff: Astronauts and Public Anxiety about a Changing Nation,” in Michael Neufeld ed., Spacefarers: Images of Astronauts and Cosmonauts in the Heroic Era of Spaceflight (Smithsonian Scholarly Press, 2013), 57-76
Asynchronous Lecture 19 The 1990s: An Era of Uncertainty
Asynchronous Lecture 20 The End of the American Century?: 9/11 to the 2008 Great Recession
Synchronous Discussion—Between Two Falls: The End of the Cold War to 9/11
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 27: From Triumph to Tragedy, 1989-2004
Assignment
Assignment 05 Writing History and Historiography Take Three

Your third major writing assignment in the course asks you to develop a close reading of language in one primary source from Voices of Freedom in relation to one paragraph from the secondary source of Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty! 

Use materials from Weeks 08-14.

Primary sources are documents and artifacts from the past that historians use for evidence. They give us a window into a time gone by if we pay close attention to their specific language and show a reader logically and convincingly how that language relates to a larger historical interpretation. Secondary sources are the already-existing interpretations of other historians. The documents in Voices of Freedom might be thought of as primary sources; the writing of Eric Foner in his book Give Me Liberty! can be thought of as a secondary source. (Although note that one day in the future a history student such as you could read Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty! as historical evidence of what a historian was thinking in 2020. All secondary sources will one day be primary sources!)

Follow these instructions for your assignment.

  1. Use Microsoft Word. Be sure to save often as you work on the assignment so you do not lose your work.
  2. Your assignment should use 12-point font, double-spaced, and standard width.
  3. Select one primary source that has most interested you from our reading thus far in Voices of Freedom.
  4. Select one paragraph from Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty! that you think has something to say about the content and theme of the primary source document.
  5. In a cogent, well-argued, four-paragraph essay, explain what specific language in the primary source has to do with specific language in the secondary source (Give Me Liberty!).
  6. Recommendation: start with your close reading of the primary source, then relate it to what you take to be Foner’s argument about the topic in Give Me Liberty! How does your close reading relate to his contentions about the topic, time period, or themes you noticed in the primary source? Do your and his readings line up? Are they opposed? Is there some more subtle difference? Try to explain the relationship of your interpretation to his with precision and clarity.
  7. Be sure to include citations when you refer to a source (primary or secondary). Use Chicago Manual of Style. Sources from Eric Foner’s Voices of Freedom should be cited with both the original source as he cites it, and then “reprinted in Voices of Freedom, ed. Eric Foner….” For more on citation, see Citing Your Sources Using Chicago Manual of Style.
  8. Your essay should have:
    • A sharp, revealing, and enticing title.
    • In the opening paragraph, a thesis, or argument that fully and convincingly explains the connection (it can be a similarity or a distinction between the primary source and Give Me Liberty! as the secondary source; it can be a way in which the primary source offers a new “wrinkle” to the argument put forward by Foner; it can be a way in which the primary source contradicts Foner; it can be a particular theme or point that Foner makes which the primary source affirms and provides proof).
    • A second and third paragraph that break down your thesis into two specific examples from the primary source that relate to your main argument. Think about these as using specific words or quotes to explain the argument of your thesis in detail, using evidence (quotes) from the primary and secondary sources (your document and Give Me Liberty!). Each paragraph should have a topic sentence.
    • A closing paragraph which reiterates your thesis in fresh language and ends with a strong punch about your main point.
    • Stylish and clear prose that communicates your ideas effectively.
    • The following is banned from your essay (points will be deducted):
      • No use of the phrase “Founding Fathers” (BANNED!)
      • No use of the phrase “Throughout history” (BANNED!)
      • Avoid the passive voice (BANNED! “The passive voice was avoided”…that’s passive voice, see the difference?); be sure to assign agency to someone or something (He used the passive voice, not the passive voice was used)
      • No use of the word “societal” (BANNED!)…use the word “society” instead
  9. Get some writing consultation! Consult with a writing tutor, especially one who specializes in historical writing, at any stage of the writing process. Leave yourself time to revise.
  10. Submit your Word document on Canvas.

Week 15 Is America Now Postmodern?, 2001-2020

This Week

We will be investigating recent history since 2001 this week. In many ways, the last twenty years of US history have been times of crisis, politically, economically, and culturally, both at home and overseas. It has been an era of terrorist attacks, the longest war in US history, contested elections, the expansion of rights for gay Americans but growing cultural and legal restrictions over issues affecting women such as abortion, great hopes for a so-called postracial democracy symbolized most of all by the election of the first African American to the president of the United States in 2008 with the victory of the Democratic candidate Barack Obama, but this has been coupled with traumas of racially motivated police brutality as well, in incidents such as Ferguson, and then a presidential election in 2016 filled with misogyny, foreign intervention, and racism. There has been a sense of a more multicultural America emerging, but also an intensification of oppressive conditions for people of culture as well as American immigrants and undocumented workers. An uptick in violent hate crimes, the impeachment of a president, and other crises have continued since 2016. And perhaps most, of all it has been an era of unprecedented economic inequality and a growing political partisanship that seems to threaten to split America asunder.

Do Americans still dream of a “Composite Nation,” just as Frederick Douglass did during the radical phase of Reconstruction in the late 1860s? Will this dreams of multiracial democracy, equal rights, and justice be realized or not? The answers to those questions cannot yet be fully historicized, but we might nonetheless ponder how history matters in the now and to the contemporary moment.

Week 15 Required Reading
Asynchronous Lecture 21 From the Great Recession to Make America Great Again
Synchronous Discussion—Is America Still Modern?, 2001-2020
InQuizitive—Foner, Chapter 28: A Divided Nation

Final

Final Revise a History and Historiography Essay

Revise and resubmit one of your History and Historiography essays, following the guidelines from those assignments.

Get some writing consultation! Consult with a writing tutor, especially one who specializes in historical writing, at any stage of the writing process. Leave yourself time to revise.

Extra Credit Brockport Faculty Historians Essay

Develop a compelling interpretive essay analyzing three of the Brockport historian optional readings. When you bring the three readings together to compare their similarities and differences (of argument, evidence, perspective), what theme emerges about the history of modern America since the Civil War? 

Your essay should be 3-6 pages long, double-spaced, standard margins, and 12-point font. It should present a compelling and clear thesis statement, provide effective quotation, paraphrasing, contextualization, and interpretation, and it should contain accurate citations (through either parenthetical references or footnotes). The essay should also begin with a strong introduction and end with a convincing conclusion.

The essay should be thematically driven, in a similar manner to the final essay, relating the three readings through comparison, noticing similarities and differences, and articulating reasons why or how the similarities and differences suggest a larger theme about the American past since the Civil War. What do we learn about “modern” America, its freedom dreams (and nightmares), its quest for a multiracial, inclusive democracy when we compare the scholarship of these three Brockport historians?

Get some writing consultation! Consult with a writing tutor, especially one who specializes in historical writing, at any stage of the writing process. Leave yourself time to revise.

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