Hum 211: Perspectives on Society Spring semester

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HUM 211: Perspectives on Society
Spring semester

Professor: Terry L. Shoptaugh

Office: Library 409

Phone: 236-2379 (office)



Scope of the course

This course will examine the 1945-2000 era within the intellectual concept of “humanism.” There are many definitions and explanations of the meaning of humanism, but for the purposes of this course it is summarized as “a progressive philosophy of life that affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity” (as taken from the American Humanist Association).

Required readings:
David R Farber, The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960s (1994). This book is in paperback and ebook formats.
Tom Engelhardt, The End of Victory Culture: Cold war America and the Disillusioning of a Generation (rev edition, 1995). This book is in paperback and ebook formats.
All other readings, some sound files and some images will be available on the class web site (

Students are expected to complete all reading assignments, participate in class discussions, and turn in all written assignments on schedule. These are 3 essay writing assignments (1600 words minimum for each paper, for a total of 4800 words).

Each paper will be graded on content and on the writing-intensive outcomes. Your grade for each paper will be influenced by the organization and development of your paper, the evidence you present in support of your remarks, the clarity of your arguments and the effectiveness of your writing.

Taken together, the papers will meet the requirements of the course. The focus for each paper will concern how the baby boom and subsequent “youth culture” of the 1960s-70s influenced American values and how American society has reacted to this. To this end, as you write your papers ask youself:

  • What cultural and intellectual changes did the baby boom have on American cultural values?

  • How did the American market react to the creation of a new economic “cohort” that consisted of the millions of young men and women with money to spend?

  • What issues developed in the 1950-60s to create a “generation gap” that affected Americans’ views toward society, politics and religion?

  • How have divisions in society that developed in the 60s influence our current society?

Writing Intensive Outcomes from this process: In writing the 3 required papers that will examine the above questions:

  • You will use a coherent writing process including invention, organization, drafting, revising, and editing to form an effective final written product. A good paper will be cohesively organized, making effective use of paragraphs and transitions, or other appropriate genre conventions, to carry your argument.

  • You will read, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and integrate appropriately and ethically both information and ideas from diverse sources or points of view in your writing. A good paper will have a clearly stated thesis, be effectively supported by evidence from the readings and other research, and maintain a tone that is professional and informative.

  • You will create logical, engaging, effective written products appropriate for specific audiences and purposes. A good paper will provide sufficient evidence to support the over-all thesis, and answer the questions.

  • You will use correct grammar, spelling, and mechanics in writing in each of the essays. An essay that makes an effective argument but fails to use correct grammar and spelling will receive a lower grade.

How your papers will be graded (proceeding from poor to excellent):
Very Poor (Grade of "F"): The paper does not meet the required standards – It is too short (at least 1600 words); the evidence in support of your points is poor (or there is no supporting evidence); the paper is very poorly written, is incoherent, and/or irrelevant. There are numerous incomplete sentences, word choice is very poor, and/or incorrect words are used.
Poor (Grade of "D"): The paper has only a marginal grasp of the material. It summarizes the most obvious aspects of the material, but provides almost no supporting evidence or examples. It shows little or no organization and contains major errors on grammar and sentence structure.
Average (Grade of "C"): The paper demonstrates basic understanding of the subject, but has some deficiencies. Its organization is acceptable, but it shows nothing more than a basic reiteration of the readings and material. It probably has grammatical errors. It likely also shows signs of being written in haste, with mistakes and sloppiness which should have been corrected with more effort.
Good (Grade of "B"): The organization is clear and coherent, although minor weaknesses may be present. It provides good, solid evidence in support of the main points. Any errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar are minor.
Excellent (Grade of "A"): The paper is very well organized, is clear in its arguments and main points, is grammatically correct, and progresses logically, with all the remarks relevant to the topic. The evidence given in support was carefully selected and aptly expressed. There is some original thought in the conclusion. Errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar are minimal.
Concerning Plagiarism:

Plagiarism is using somebody else's writing or ideas and expressing those ideas as your own. There is nothing wrong in drawing upon other writings, but if you pass these off as your own, it is plagiarism. Always use quotation marks if the idea or words in a written statement comes from an outside source. Always acknowledge that source with a footnote or body note. Any time you consult and draw on ideas from any source, you must cite your source, even if one of the sources is one of the assigned texts.

Any papers that show evidence of plagiarism will receive a failing grade.
Disability Access Statement

Students with disabilities who believe they may need an accommodation in this class must contact Greg Toutges, Coordinator of Disability Services at 299-5859, CMU 222, as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.

Late or Missing Work

I will not accept late essays for full credit unless you have made arrangements with me before the scheduled time. Only extenuating circumstances (and ones that you can document) will merit extensions for late work. For all other late written assignments or exams I deduct one grade for each day it is late. You must turn in all assignments in order to pass the course.


Letter grades are given to each essay and the final grade is the average of the 3 grades.

Class schedule

Week of


Readings, etc.

Assignments, exams, etc



Begin Farber book




Complete Farber book

Group paper draft due Feb 7




Begin Engelhardt book

Complete paper 1 due Feb 28



Break – no class, March 17-21


Complete Engelhardt book


2nd paper due on Mar 28


Reading for 3rd paper (your choice)




Wrap up

Last paper due May 9

December 2013

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