Syllabus—Recent US History: 1970s to Now

spring 2024 @ suny brockport.

Judge Robert Rosenberg of the Broward County Canvassing Board uses a magnifying glass to examine a dimpled chad on a punch card ballot on November 24, 2000 during a vote recount in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo: Robert King/Getty Images.

HST 617—Spring 2024—Dr. Michael J. Kramer, Associate Professor, Department of History, SUNY Brockport

What are we up to?

Watergate, disco, stagflation, malaise, Reagan, the HIV-AIDS epidemic, MTV, hip-hop, punk, the Persian Gulf War, Bill Clinton, the Internet, the 2000 presidential election, 9/11, the War on Terror, the Great Recession, Barack Obama, Black Lives Matter, the election of Donald Trump, the Covid-19 pandemic, and much more—these and many other events and phenomena hover in an uncertain historical place, neither quite yet part of history, but no longer current affairs. Given this ambiguous quality, caught between past and present, how might we focus on recent times, particularly as historians? Do we need to handle the recent past differently than other moments in history? What do we learn by considering the history of the United States since the 1960s up to the present as history? How do we notice change and continuity when it is just beginning to appear in the rear-view mirror of the historical gaze? In this synchronous in-person/online graduate course, we investigate recent US history. Our readings focus on a set of monographs that help us consider the 1970s to now. By reading monographs, we get to spend more time with one author and their sense of the recent past. In class, we will also investigate additional sources such as music, films, television, visual arts, and other relevant materials. We will investigate the history of one nation—the United States of America—but also place the recent past of the US in an international framework in our discussions. Students will complete readings, attend seminar discussions, write analytic essays, and complete a final project that either compares two books from the course in greater detail, focuses on other secondary sources, or develops ideas about original primary research.

Things you are expected to do this term

  • Complete the readings.
  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Complete the assignments.
  • Improve critical thinking, communication, and writing skills.
  • Acquire a deeper knowledge of recent US history, including contexualized empirical information, key historical questions, crucial historiographic debates, and a range of methodological approaches.
  • Explore the particularities of recent history: what does it mean to study the recent past as it hovers between history and the present?
  • See additional History Department learning objectives.

Required Books

Available at Brockport Bookstore:

  • Cowie, Jefferson. Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class. New York: The New Press, 2010. ISBN: 9781595587077.
  • Martin, Bradford. The Other Eighties: A Secret History of America in the Age of Reagan. New York: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. ISBN: 9780809074594.
  • Hemmer, Nicole. Partisans: The Conservative Revolutionaries Who Remade American Politics in the 1990s. New York: Basic Books, 2023. ISBN: 9781541646889.
  • Melnick, Jeffrey. 9/11 Culture. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. ISBN: 9781405173711.
  • Lowery, Wesley. They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement. New York: Little, Brown, 2016. ISBN: 9780316312493. ISBN: 9780316312493.       
  • Lozada, Carlos. What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020. ISBN: 9781982145637

Additional readings, viewings, and other materials available on course website (Brightspace). Reminder to set your Brightspace notifications settings to receive Announcements as emails.


Our course uses the online “Learning Management System” (LMS) Brightspace. It is not a perfect platform but we can use it for syllabus, some materials, assignments, evaluations, announcements, and more. Please note that you can control the Notifications you receive from the course website on Brightspace. The instructor strongly recommends turning on notifications for announcements so that you receive updates from the instructor by email as well as on the website itself. Here are instructions for how to do so.


Week 01 Introduction: Conceptualizing Recent History

Tu 01/30


  • Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer, “Introduction,” Fault Lines: A History of the United States since 1974 (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2020)
  • Liane Tanguay, “Preface” and “Introduction,” Hijacking History: American Culture and the War on Terror (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2013), xi-43
  • Jill Lepore, Firing Line,, 7 July 2023

A Few Additional Conceptual Works:

  • Gary Gerstle, The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022)
  • Malcolm Harris, Shit Is Fucked Up And Bullshit: History Since the End of History (New York: Melville House, 2020)
  • Gary Gerstle, Nelson Lichtenstein, and Alice O’Connor, eds., Beyond the New Deal Order: U.S. Politics from the Great Depression to the Great Recession (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019)
  • Margaret O’Mara, The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America (New York: Penguin Press, 2019)
  • Jennifer Mittelstadt, The Rise of the Military Welfare State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015)
  • Seumas Milne, The Revenge of History: The Battle for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Verso, 2013)
  • Robert O. Self, All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)
  • Daniel T. Rodgers, Age of Fracture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011)
  • Gregory L. Schneider, The Conservative Century: From Reaction to Revolution (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009)
  • James Livingston, The World Turned Inside Out: American Thought and Culture at the End of the 20th Century (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009)

Week 02 The Seventies

Tu 02/06

  • Assignment: Due by start of class —Assignment 01: Student Info, Syllabus Review


  • Jefferson Cowie, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class (New York: The New Press, 2010), 1-210

Week 03 The Seventies

Tu 02/13

  • Assignment: Due by start of class—Assignment 02: Making a Metaphor for Recent History: Your Line on Fault Lines, Throughlines, Hijacks, Last Days, or Other Ways of Conceptualizing the US Past Since 1970. Your task is to develop your own “working metaphor” for recent US history. What would you choose as a concept for describing the broad tendencies of the last 50 years? Why does this metaphor seem operational and compelling? Develop a 300-500 word essay in Brightspace about this, well-written and cogent. Try to draw upon some evidence from our readings so far, but you might also use other ideas from outside class if you wish to do so. Be bold. We are just starting to set out concepts and theories and interpretations, and they will change as we investigate our time period more thoroughly in coming weeks. Please cite your evidence if you use quotations or paraphrases from others using Chicago Manual of Style.


  • Jefferson Cowie, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class (New York: The New Press, 2010), 211-374
  • Paul Sabin, “Crisis and Continuity in U.S. Oil Politics, 1965–1980,” Journal of American History 99, 1 (June 2012): 177–186

A Few Additional 1970s Works:

  • Judy Kutulas, After Aquarius Dawned: How the Revolutions of the Sixties Became the Popular Culture of the Seventies (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017)
  • Jim Downs, Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation (New York: Basic Books, 2016)
  • Timothy Stewart-Winter, Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016)
  • Michael S. Foley, Front Porch Politics : The Forgotten Heyday of American Activism in the 1970s and 1980s (New York: Hill and Wang, 2013)
  • Christian Caryl, Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century (New York: Basic Books, 2013)
  • Thomas Borstelmann, The 1970s: A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012)
  • Darby English, 1971: A Year in the Life of Color (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016)
  • Judith Stein, Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010)
  • Alice Echols, Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010)
  • Dan Berger, The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2010)
  • Gerard J. De Groot, The Seventies Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic Look at a Violent Decade (New York: Macmillan, 2010)
  • Kevin Mattson, “What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?”: Jimmy Carter, America’s ‘Malaise,’ and the Speech That Should Have Changed the Country (New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2009)
  • Beth L. Bailey, American’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009)
  • Philip Jenkins, Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • Andreas Killen, 1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America (New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2007)
  • Beth Bailey and Dave Farber, eds., America in the Seventies (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004)
  • Max Elbaum, Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che (New York: Verso, 2002)
  • Bruce J. Schulman, The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics (New York: The Free Press, 2001)
  • Shelton Waldrep, The Seventies: The Age of Glitter in Popular Culture (New York: Routledge, 2000)
  • Stephen Paul Miller, The Seventies Now: Culture as Surveillance (Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books, 1999)
  • Peter N. Carroll, It Seemed Like Nothing Happened: The Tragedy and Promise of America in 1970s (New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1982)

Week 04 The Eighties

Tu 02/20


  • Bradford Martin, The Other Eighties: A Secret History of America in the Age of Reagan (New York: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), ix-118

Week 05 The Eighties

Tu 02/27

  • Assignment: Due by start of class—Assignment 03: Short Annotation-to-Analytic Essay Project—The 70s. Select one paragraph from Jefferson Cowie’s Stayin’ Alive and take a photo or make a scan of it as an image file (jpg, png, etc.). Using a PDF or image reader such as Adobe Acrobat or Apple Preview, or by printing out the image and using a pen or pencil, annotate the paragraph. You may write, draw, circle, use arrows, or whatever suits your fancy. Create some marginalia directly on the paragraph. Use your annotations to think about why the paragraph matters. What makes its prose most significant to the argument of the book and the implications of that argument for how we might understand the 1970s and recent US history as a whole? You might try to locate the key paragraph at the start of the book when the author writes something like “this book will argue that” or the equivalent phrase. Or you might find a paragraph about a particular subtopic that matters to you and that you see as mattering to the broader story of the 1970s and recent US history. After annotating the image of the paragraph, upload your annotated image to Brightspace assignment and write a 500-word explanation, in clear, cogent, compelling prose, as to what you observed and concluded about the paragraph. Try to develop a strong topic sentence (argument) to open your paragraph. Use quotations/paraphrasing from the paragraph to support your claim. Then explain how the evidence connects to and supports your topic sentence’s contention. Cite evidence/paraphrases using Chicago Manual of Style.


  • Bradford Martin, The Other Eighties: A Secret History of America in the Age of Reagan (New York: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 119-194
  • Andrew Hartman, “Introduction,” A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), 1-7
  • Angela Thompsell, “‘A Credible Undertaking’: Apathy and Anti-Apartheid Activism at SUNY Brockport,” Safundi 23, 1–2 (April 3, 2022): 90–101

A Few Additional 1980s Works:

  • Sarah Schulman, Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2021)
  • Sandra L. Albrecht, The Assault on Labor: The 1986 TWA Strike and the Decline of Workers’ Rights in America (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016)
  • Doug Rossinow, The Reagan Era: A History of the 1980s (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015)
  • Tamar W. Carroll, Mobilizing New York: AIDS, Antipoverty, and Feminist Activism (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015)
  • Lily Geismer, Don’t Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014)
  • Michael S. Foley, Front Porch Politics : The Forgotten Heyday of American Activism in the 1970s and 1980s (New York: Hill and Wang, 2013)
  • David Sirota, Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now–Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything (New York: Ballantine Books, 2011)
  • Deborah Bejosa Gould, Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight against AIDS (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009)
  • Sean Wilentz, The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008 (New York: Harper Collins, 2008)
  • Philip Jenkins, Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • John Ehrman, The Eighties: America in the Age of Reagan (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005)
  • Gil Troy, Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005)
  • Michael Rogin, Ronald Reagan The Movie: And Other Episodes in Political Demonology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988)

Week 06 The Nineties

Tu 03/05


  • Nicole Hemmer, Partisans: The Conservative Revolutionaries Who Remade American Politics in the 1990s (New York: Basic Books, 2023), Prologue-186

Week 07 The Nineties

Tu 03/12


  • Nicole Hemmer, Partisans: The Conservative Revolutionaries Who Remade American Politics in the 1990s (New York: Basic Books, 2023), 187-302
  • Kelly Lytle Hernández, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Heather Ann Thompson, “Introduction: Constructing the Carceral State,” Journal of American History 102, 1 (June 2015): 18–24
  • Alex Lichtenstein, “Flocatex and the Fiscal Limits of Mass Incarceration: Toward a New Political Economy of the Postwar Carceral State,” Journal of American History 102, 1 (2015): 113–25

A Few Additional 1990s Works:

  • John Ganz, When the Clock Broke: Con Men, Conspiracists, and How America Cracked Up in the Early 1990s (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2024)
  • Katherine Rye Jewell, Live from the Underground: A History of College Radio (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2023)
  • Robin James, The Future of Rock and Roll: 97X WOXY and the Fight for True Independence (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2023)
  • Nelson Lichtenstein and Judith Stein, A Fabulous Failure: The Clinton Presidency and the Transformation of American Capitalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2023)
  • Jeffrey Toobin, Homegrown: Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2023)
  • James Brooke-Smith, Accelerate!: A History of the 1990s (Cheltenham, UK: The History Press, 2023)
  • Lily Geismer, Left Behind: The Democrats’ Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality (New York: PublicAffairs, 2022)
  • Chuck Klosterman, The Nineties: A Book (New York: Penguin Press, 2022)
  • Penny M. Von Eschen, Paradoxes of Nostalgia: Cold War Triumphalism and Global Disorder since 1989 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2022)
  • Lisa Levenstein, They Didn’t See Us Coming: The Hidden History of Feminism in the Nineties (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2020)
  • Julian E. Zelizer, Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party (New York: Penguin Press, 2020)
  • Kathleen Belew, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018)
  • Sebastian Berg, Intellectual Radicalism after 1989: Crisis and Re-Orientation in the British and the American Left (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016)
  • Nancy Abelmann and John Lie, Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots (Cambridge: MA, Harvard University Press, 2009)
  • Philip E. Wegner, Life between Two Deaths, 1989-2001: U.S. Culture in the Long Nineties (Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books, 2009)


Week 09 The Aughts

Tu 03/26

  • Assignment: Due by start of class—Assignment 04: How Did That Happen? Tracking Change in the 80s and 90s. You may write directly in the Brightspace textbox or upload an MS Word Document. Please do not upload another type of word processing file such as Pages or a PDF as Brightspace unfortunately has difficulty parsing those file types. The goals of this assignment are to: (1) show your understanding of 1980s and 1990s history as explored in Bradford Martin’s The Other Eighties and Nicole Hemmer’s Partisans; (2) explore the question of historical change; and (3) work on the mechanics of your analytic essay writing. Your task: develop an outline and then a 1000-word essay based on the outline that focuses on the question of change during the 1980s and 90s using key arguments and evidence from Bradford Martin’s The Other Eighties and Nicole Hemmer’s Partisans. What changed during these two decades of recent US history. More crucially why did it change? How can you, as a historical interpreter, offer a reason or reasons for the change? You need not show breadth of coverage in your essay, but rather precision of analysis. In other words, you do not need to write about everything in the books, but instead try to identify and explain the one most important change and the particular, specific evidence that led you to emphasize that particular change. We will try to be a bit formulaic in the essays to work on good structure. Outline. Your outline should consist of five to six sections: (1) Opening paragraph introduction (a) Research question. What is the question you want to ask to frame your essay? (b) Thesis statement. In response to your question and your evidence, what is your overarching argument. Make it precise. Make it explanatory. Think about using words such as “because” or “since” or “whereas” or “by contrast” in your thesis statement to force yourself to develop a causal argument, a comparison, or at least a correlation concerning change in the 1980s and 90s. (2) Body paragraph #1 (a) Topic sentence. Your paragraph should start with a topic sentence that explores a subpoint of the thesis statement. You can organize your thesis and paragraphs by book or by theme. I tend to think working by theme is more effective, but not always. You be the judge. Does it work better to convey your point by focusing on Martin, then Hemmer? Or perhaps to focus on a theme that compares something from Martin and Hemmer (how each handles Reagan in paragraph 1; how each handles Congressional politics in paragraph 2; how each handles movement activism in paragraph 3 for instance) (b) Evidence. Then, quotations, paraphrases, and evidence supporting the topic sentence subtopic claim (c) Argumentation. Tell your reader precisely how the evidence relates to your topic sentence (d) Transition sentence to next paragraph. (3) Body paragraph #2 (a) Topic sentence (b) Evidence (c) Argumentation (d) Transition. Your essay, at approximately 1000 words, will likely have up to 4 body paragraphs. (4) Concluding paragraph. (a) Restate your overarching thesis in fresh language (b) Try to coax out one final important point to end strongly. Your assignment in Brightspace should include the outline followed by the essay based on the outline. If you find you are struggling, outline, write an essay draft, and then include a reverse outline (outline what your essay produced), then from the reverse outline, make a new, revised, clarified outline, and include a revised essay. You can include all these iterations in your submitted materials. If you have difficulty with development your research question or thesis, see my Lesson Plan—Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Thesis assignment and include that work as well in your submitted materials. Finally, (1) Cite evidence, paraphrases, or other references using Chicago Manual of Style (2) Give your essay a nice, catchy title. (3) Include a Bibliography using Chicago Manual of Style (likely only listing Martin and Hemmer, but just to practice).


  • Jeffrey Melnick, 9/11 Culture (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), vi-75

Week 10 The Aughts

Tu 04/02


  • Jeffrey Melnick, 9/11 Culture (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 76-180
  • Suzy Hansen, “Twenty Years of Outsourced War,” New York Review of Books, 19 October 2023
  • Return to Liane Tanguay, “Preface” and “Introduction,” Hijacking History: American Culture and the War on Terror (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2013), xi-43

A Few Additional 2000s Works:

  • Andrew Rice, The Year That Broke America: An Immigration Crisis, a Terrorist Conspiracy, the Summer of Survivor, a Ridiculous Fake Billionaire, a Fight for Florida, and the 537 Votes That Changed Everything (New York: Harper, 2022)
  • Andy Horowitz, Katrina: A History, 1915-2015 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2022)
  • Nadia Abu El-Haj, Combat Trauma: Imaginaries of War and Citizenship in Post-9/11 America (New York: Verso, 2022)
  • Malcolm Harris, Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2017)
  • Lawrence Wright, The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State (New York: Knopf, 2016)
  • Beth Bailey and Richard H. Immerman, eds., Understanding the U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (New York: NYU Press, 2015)
  • Paul Petrovic, ed., Representing 9/11: Trauma, Ideology, and Nationalism in Literature, Film, and Television (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015)
  • Julian E. Zelizer, ed., The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010)
  • Shalini Shankar, Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class, and Success in Silicon Valley (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008)
  • Susan Faludi, The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007)
  • Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006)
  • Rosen, Gary, ed. The Right War?: The Conservative Debate on Iraq (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005)
  • Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin Press, 2004)
  • Check out Katie Uva, “Teaching the Recent Past: America in the 2000s,” Teach@CUNY Project, 30 June 2022 for reflections and a great set of primary sources

Week 11 The Early Teens

Tu 04/09


  • Wesley Lowery, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement (New York: Little, Brown, 2016), 1-128
  • Adam Tooze, “Introduction: The First Crisis of a Global Age,” Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (New York: Viking, 2018), 1-22

Week 12 The Early Teens

Tu 04/16

  • Assignment: Due by start of class—Assignment 05—Final Project Proposal: Outlining, Hypothesizing, Planning. Develop a project proposal for your final essay in the course in Brightspace. The final essay should aim to be a 2-3,000 word comparison of two books, an exploration of additional secondary sources from the time period (in consultation with the instructor), or an essay of original primary research into a topic from the time period (in consultation with the instructor). The proposal should include: (1) a key question or set of questions for the project; (2) a list of materials that will be examined; (3) an hypothesis (2-4 sentences about what you think the essay will argue in response to the key questions); (4) an annotated bibliography of the materials examined using Chicago Manual of Style (list the source and under it a 1-3 sentence description of the source; (5) a workplan (a calendar of how will you bring the project to fruition by the end of the semester; (6) any questions or concerns or worries you have about the proposed final project; (7) Using Google Slides (we will review how to use it in class) or, if you prefer, Powerpoint or Keynote imported into Google Slides, begin to develop a digital slideshow that summarizes your project proposal. The slideshow draft should include at least five slides and make use of at least three slideshow features (appearing/vanishing text, images, audio, annotative arrows, or another feature).


A Few Additional Early 2010s Works:

  • Christopher J. Lebron, The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea, Updated Edition (2017; new edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2023)
  • Claude A. Clegg III, The Black President: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021)
  • Julian Zelizer, ed., The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018)
  • Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton, eds., Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (New York: Verso, 2016)
  • Theda Skocpol, Obama and America’s Political Future (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012)
  • Daniel Kreiss, Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • James T. Kloppenberg, Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010)
  • Check out Katie Uva, “Teaching the Recent Past: America in the 2000s,” Teach@CUNY Project, 30 June 2022 for reflections and a great set of primary sources

Week 13 The Late Teens

Tu 04/23


  • Carlos Lozada, What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020), 1-145

Week 14 The Late Teens

Tu 04/30


  • Carlos Lozada, What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020), 146-252

A Few Additional Late 2010s Works:

  • Joshua Green, The Rebels: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the Struggle for a New American Politics (New York: Penguin Press, 2024)
  • Hunter Walker and Luppe B. Luppen. The Truce: Progressives, Centrists, and the Future of the Democratic Party (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2024)
  • Tim Alberta, The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism (New York: Harper, 2023)
  • Ruth Milkman, Deepak Bhargava, and Penny Lewis, eds., Immigration Matters: Movements, Visions, and Strategies for a Progressive Future (New York: New Press, 2021)
  • Anne Applebaum, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism (New York: Doubleday, 2020)
  • Tim Alberta, American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump (New York: Harper, 2019)
  • Check out Katie Uva, “Teaching the Recent Past: America in the 2000s,” Teach@CUNY Project, 30 June 2022 for reflections and a great set of primary sources

Week 15

Tu 05/07 Where Are We Recently? Where Are We Now?: Conclusions/Reflections

  • Assignment: Due by start of class—Assignment 06—Op-Ed Essay: A Key Aspect of the 2000s So Far. Develop an opinion piece for a newspaper about a historical topic from the 2000s. Your opinion piece should argue in under 1,000 words for a particular historical interpretation of the US since 2000 in relation to a contemporary public concern or issue. How can the recent past help us better understand the present, and perhaps figure out a way forward from current difficulties and dilemmas (or at least to comprehend more clearly what the issues are that we face)? Use evidence from our course materials or outside sources. Make an argument. Use the essay outline formula from the How Did That Happen? assignment if you find it helpful. You do not need to use Chicago Manual of Style citation, but you should identify sources in the flow of your prose. See the Opinion section of the New York Times (accessible via Drake Memorial Library) for examples of op-ed essays. Try to write cogently, clearly, precisely, and compellingly. Make an evidence-supported argument that draws upon the recent past to help us understand the significance of an issue in the present more effectively and profoundly.


  • Final Project. Options: (1) compare two books from course to develop an argument about the recent past; (2) analyze additional secondary sources focused on a particular topic of student interest (in consultation with the professor), perhaps focusing on a particular event or moment in depth; (3) an essay based on primary source research (in consultation with the professor). All assignments must include (1) a 2-3,000 word essay, cogently and precisely argued with a thesis statement, clear structure of topics sentences, evidence, argumentation, and transition sentences, a “grab the reader” introduction and a conclusion that takes the argument to its full level of implications and significance; (2) a digital slideshow summary of the essay that contains at least five-ten slides and makes use of at least three slideshow features (appearing/vanishing text, images, audio, annotative arrows, or another feature).


  • Assignment 01—Student Info, Syllabus Review 5%
  • Assignment 02—Making a Metaphor for Recent History: Your Line on Fault Lines, Throughlines, Hijacks, Last Days, or Other Ways of Conceptualizing the US Past Since 1970 10%
  • Assignment 03—Short Annotation-to-Analytic Essay Project—The 70s 10%
  • Assignment 04—How Did That Happen? Tracking Change in the 80s and 90s 10%
  • Assignment 05—Final Project Proposal: Outlining, Hypothesizing, Planning 10%
  • Assignment 06—Op-Ed Essay: A Key Aspect of the 2000s So Far 15%
  • Final Project and Slideshow 25%
  • Participation (speaking, listening, responding to others respectfully and engagingly) 15%


This course uses a simple evaluation process to help you improve your understanding of history. Note that evaluations are never a judgment of you as a person; rather, they are meant to help you assess how you are processing material in the course and keep improving your skills of public history knowledge and understanding.

There are four evaluations given for assignments—(1) Yes!; (2) Getting Closer; (3) Needs Some Work; (4) Needs Serious Attention—plus comments, when relevant, based on the rubric below. The policy in SUNY Brockport Department of History Masters-level coursework is that a grade below a B- is considered unacceptable for graduate work.

It is important to turn assignments in on time, as some are “scaffolded,” which is to say many build on previous assignments. Late assignments will lose one full grade every two days they are late.

Remember to honor the Academic Honesty Policy at SUNY Brockport, including no plagiarism. In this course there is no need to use sources outside of the required ones for the class. The instructor recommends not using algorithmic software such as ChatGPT for your assignments, but rather working on your own writing skills. If you do use algorithmic software, you must cite it as you would any other secondary source that is not your own. For more information see SUNY Brockport’s Academic Honesty Policy.

Overall course rubric (for Masters-level courses)

Yes! = A-level work. These show evidence of:

  • clear, compelling 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
  • accurate formatting of footnotes and bibliography with required citation and documentation
  • on-time submission of assignments
  • for class meetings, regular attendance and timely preparation
  • overall, insightful, constructive, respectful and regular participation in class discussions
  • overall, a thorough understanding of required course material

Getting Closer = B-plus-level work, It is good, but with minor problems in one or more areas that need improvement.

Needs Some Work = B-level work is acceptable, but with major problems in several areas or a major problem in one area. The policy in SUNY Brockport Department of History Masters-level coursework is that a grade below a B- is considered unacceptable for graduate work.

Needs Serious Attention = C-plus-and-below work. It shows major problems in multiple areas, including missing or late assignments, missed class meetings, and other shortcomings.

E-level work is unacceptable. It fails to meet basic course requirements and/or standards of academic integrity/honesty.

Assignments rubric

Successful assignments demonstrate:

  1. Argument – presence of an articulated, precise, compelling argument in response to assignment prompt; makes an evidence-based claim and expresses the significance of that claim; places argument in framework of existing interpretations and shows distinctive, nuanced perspective of argument
  2. Evidence – presence of specific evidence from primary sources to support the argument
  3. Argumentation – presence of convincing, compelling connections between evidence and argument; effective explanation of the evidence that links specific details to 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 and argument is being made
  5. Citation – wields Chicago Manual of Style citation standards effectively to document use of primary and secondary sources
  6. Style – presence of logical flow of reasoning and grace of prose, including:
    1. an effective introduction that hooks the reader with originality and states the argument of the assignment and its significance
    2. clear topic sentences that provide sub-arguments and their significance in relation to the overall argument
    3. effective transitions between paragraphs
    4. a compelling conclusion that restates argument and adds a final point
    5. accurate phrasing and word choice
    6. use of active rather than passive voice sentence constructions

Citation: Using Chicago Manual of Style

  1. Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide.
  2. CMOS Shop Talk Blog with lots more info, practice, and more.
  3. For additional, helpful guidelines, visit the Drake Library’s Chicago Manual of Style page.
  4. You can always go right to the source: the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style is available for reference at the Drake Memorial Library Reserve Desk.

Writing consultation

Writing Tutoring is available through the Academic Success Center. It will help at any stage of writing. Be sure to show your tutor the assignment prompt and syllabus guidelines to help them help you.

Research consultation

The librarians at Drake Memorial Library are an incredible resource. You can consult with them remotely or in person. To schedule a meeting, go to the front desk at Drake Library or visit the library website’s Consultation page.

Attendance policy

You will certainly do better with evaluation in the course, learn more, and get more out of the class the more you attend meetings, participate in discussions, complete readings, and finish assignments. That said, lives get complicated. Therefore, you may miss up to three class meetings with or without a justified reason. If you are ill, please stay home and take precautions if you have any covid or flu symptoms. Masks are perfectly welcome in class if you are still recovering from illness or feel sick. You do not need to notify the instructor of your absences. After three absences, subsequent absences will result in reduction of final grade at the discretion of the instructor. Generally, each absence beyond three leads to the loss of one grade level in the final course evaluation.

Online synchronous technology policy

Students in the online synchronous version of the course should log in to Zoom through a laptop or desktop computer with direct Ethernet or robust broadband wireless and, ideally, headphones with microphone. Please be in a calm, quiet location (desk or table in a room, not in your car or out in the world). Keep your camera on during class and mute your microphone when not speaking. In the case of unforeseen technology breakdown (sounds, video, etc.), students may be asked to makeup work during office hours or through an additional written assignment. Individual cases will be negotiated with the professor. Please consult with the professor about any questions concerning use of technology in the course.

Disabilities and accommodations

In accordance 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 the email address or phone number (585) 395-5409. Students, faculty, staff, and SAS work together to create an inclusive learning environment. 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 (including gender identity or non-conformity), discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or pregnancy, 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. Another resource is RESTORE. Note that by law faculty are mandatory reporters and cannot maintain confidentiality under Title IX; they will need to share information with the Title IX & College Compliance Officer.

Statement of equity and open communication

We recognize that each class we teach is composed of diverse populations and are aware of and attentive to inequities of experience based on social identities including but not limited to race, class, assigned gender, gender identity, sexuality, geographical background, language background, religion, disability, age, and nationality. This classroom operates on a model of equity and partnership, in which we expect and appreciate diverse perspectives and ideas and encourage spirited but respectful debate and dialogue. If anyone is experiencing exclusion, intentional or unintentional aggression, silencing, or any other form of oppression, please communicate with me and we will work with each other and with SUNY Brockport resources to address these serious problems.

Disruptive student behaviors

Please see SUNY Brockport’s procedures for dealing with students who are disruptive in class.

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.

Additional Brockport policies

Visit the SUNY Brockport Academic Affairs page for additional information.

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