Telephone: (250) 709-9640 Office location

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U.S.A. in the Twentieth Century: 1890-1945

History 304a, Section A01

University of Victoria, Fall 2008

Mondays and Thursdays, 1:00-2:20, MacLaurin D103
Instructor: Alisa Harrison E-mail:

Telephone: (250) 709-9640 Office location: Clearihue B205

Office hours: Thursdays 2:30-4:30, or by appointment.

History 304a is an advanced class examining the history of the United States from 1890 to the end of the Second World War. It traces patterns of American power over the first half of the twentieth century, and considers both foreign policy and domestic affairs. Themes that will receive particular attention include: the definition and development of American democracy; select social and political movements; intersections of gender, race, sexuality and class in U.S. society, culture and politics; and the political and intellectual significance of anti-communism.
Students are expected to have some prior background in American history upon enrollment in this course. Please see or e-mail me if you have any concerns about your preparation for History 304.
The principle objectives of this course are:

the way it did? Why did Americans make the choices they made and take their country in

particular directions?”

  • To understand the relationship between American domestic and foreign policy.

  • To explore the development of American politics and culture.

  • To gain experience reading and contextualizing primary sources.

  • To consider some important interventions in twentieth-century American historiography.

Writing Assignments and Other Course Requirements:

  • Reading reflections: 25% DUE DATE: Sept. 25; Oct. 23; Dec. 1; and varies.

Five 2-3 pp. reading reflections, 5 marks each. You must write on all three books (Jacobson, Gilmore, Blum). The other two essays may be on assigned secondary source readings of your choice, excluding the chapters from Created Equal. Please hand in your papers at the beginning of class on the day your reading is assigned, before the relevant lecture or discussion. See handout for more information.

  • Take-home Midterm Exam: 25% DUE DATE: Nov. 13

To be distributed on Nov. 6.

  • Final exam: 40% DATE TBA

Combination of objective and subjective questions.

  • Participation: 10%

Attendance at lectures and discussions is mandatory. You will only receive credit for participation if you make regular, quality contributions to class discussions.

Books will be available for purchase at the University of Victoria bookstore. All readings that are noted with an asterisk (*) are on our website.

Required books available for purchase:

Jacqueline Jones, et al., Created Equal since 1865, vol. 2, 2nd edition (Longman, 2006).

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman and Jon Gjerde, eds., Major Problems in American History, Vol. II: Since

1865 (Houghton Mifflin, 2002).

Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of

Race (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).

Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in

North Carolina, 1896-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

John Blum, V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture During World War II (New York:

Harcourt, 2001 [1976]).

Reading tips: Leave yourself ample time to complete your reading. It is vital that you complete it in full before each class, and that you read closely, in a way that allows you time to think about the material before coming to our discussion. When you are reading, among other questions, always ask yourself: What is the author’s main point? What sources does he/she use to make this point? Is it convincing? Why or why not? What does this reading teach you? How? When and why did the author write this? You won’t be able to find conclusive answers to all of these questions, but attempting to answer them will help you develop a better understanding of the work.
Reading and Class Schedule: (instructor reserves the right to change the syllabus at any time)
I. Introduction

R, Sept. 4: Introductions; distribute and review syllabus and assignments.

II. A Reconstructed America

M, Sept. 8: Lecture: In the Wake of the Civil War

Created Equal (CE): Chapters 15, 16.
R, Sept. 11: Discussion

Major Problems in American History (MPAH): Chapter 1.
M, Sept. 15: Lecture: Politics, Culture and Change

CE: Chapter 17, 18.
R, Sept. 18: Discussion

MPAH: Chapter 2.
III. The 20th Century Begins: Modernity

M, Sept. 22: Lecture: American Society in 1900

R, Sept. 25: Discussion

Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color.

IV. Imperialism

M, Sept. 29: Lecture: New Power Emerges

R, Oct. 2: Discussion

MPAH: Chapter 4.
V. The Progressive Era

M, Oct. 6: Lecture: Searching for Order

CE: Chapter 19.
R, Oct. 9: Discussion

MPAH: Chapter 5 (documents only).

*Nancy MacLean, “The Leo Frank Case Reconsidered: Gender and Sexual Politics in

the Making of Reactionary Populism.”

  • M, Oct. 13: Thanksgiving, no class

  • R, Oct. 16: No class

M, Oct. 20: Lecture: The Results of Reform

R, Oct. 23: Discussion

Glenda Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow.

VI. World War I

M, Oct. 27: Lecture: Isolationism and Internationalism

CE: Chapter 20.
R, Oct. 30: Discussion

MPAH: Chapter 6.
VII. A New America in the 1920s

M, Nov. 3: Lecture: Culture Roars

CE: Chapter 21.
R, Nov. 6: Discussion

*Erika Lee, “Enforcing the Borders: Chinese Exclusion along the U.S. Borders

with Canada and Mexico, 1882-1924.”

MPAH: Chapter 7 (all except Larson).

Take-home Midterm Exam to be distributed.

  • Reading break, no classes Nov. 10-12.

VIII. The Great Depression and the New Deal

R, Nov. 13: Lecture: Boom and Bust

CE: Chapter 22.

  • Take-home Midterm due.

M, Nov. 17: Lecture: The Rise of the Welfare State

R, Nov. 20: Discussion

MPAH: Chapter 8.
IX. World War II

M, Nov. 24: Lecture: War Abroad

CE: Chapter 23.
R, Nov. 27: Lecture: War at Home

MPAH: Chapter 9.

Watch Coming out Under Fire: On reserve in the library.

M, Dec. 1: Discussion

John Blum, V Was For Victory.

Dec. 6-20: examination period

Note: First term examinations begin on December 6th and end on December 20th. Instructors do not control the exam schedule. The University calendar states: “Students should wait until the final examination timetable is posted before making travel or work plans.”
Course Policies

Submitting Written Work

Unless otherwise specified, written work should be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced on one side of each page, and placed on a page with 1” margins on all four sides. All pages after the first must be numbered. All papers must be stapled in the top left hand corner. Please do not submit work in any kind of folder or cover, or held together by clips of any sort. Do not submit work by e-mail. Citations must conform to the Chicago Style Manual (a.k.a. Turabian).

My late policy for papers is both strict and easy going: if you ask for an extension at least 5 days before a paper is due, you will get it, no questions asked. If you do not request an extension and you choose to hand work in late, you will lose a full letter grade (i.e. A becomes B and so on) per day. Emergencies and requests for extensions with less than 5 days to go will be judged on a case-by-case basis.
Absences and Incomplete Work

I expect that students will attend class regularly, and will complete all reading and written assignments in full, on time and to the best of their abilities. However, I realize that on occasion this may not be possible: as the former Beatle John Lennon says, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. In the event that you cannot come to class or cannot complete an assignment, please inform me as soon as possible (e-mail is fine). You will be penalized for unexplained absences and late work; however, if you take the responsibility for informing me about your absence and explaining why your work is incomplete or late I will generally make allowances and there will either be no penalty (i.e. in the case of emergency or illness) or the penalty will be greatly lessened. If

lateness and/or absence become habitual, I will set up a conference at which the two of us will discuss the most appropriate consequences.

Adequate participation in this course means regular attendance at lectures and discussion groups; willing engagement with the readings both on your own and with your colleagues; and willingness to

share your ideas verbally in discussions. Sharing ideas means speaking thoughtfully, as well as listening carefully and responding respectfully and critically to me and, more importantly, other students.

NOTE: Oral participation is a requirement of this course.

You will be penalized harshly if you submit plagiarized work. The University’s official policy on plagiarism is attached to this syllabus. If you are still in any doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, please see me or consult the following useful document:

  • From the University of British Columbia:

Classroom Conduct

It is absolutely crucial that every student feels able to express him or herself freely in this class. It’s a cliché, but to my mind there truly are no stupid questions; chances are, if you are wondering about something, others are (or have been), too. I encourage you to challenge me, each other and yourselves as we explore topics that are provocative and often difficult. All of us will work toward a better understanding of what critical thought is and how to engage in critical debates with other people. Note that there is a major difference between disagreeing with another person’s opinion or perspective and denigrating that person or his or her input: we all need to be vigilant about understanding and respecting this difference. There is no place for any demeaning, disrespectful or hateful speech in this class. If you ever believe that you have been mistreated by another student or by me, I encourage you to report this to me privately so that we can confront and learn from such experiences.

Office Hours

In addition to scheduled office hours each week, students are welcome to make additional appointments or to consult with me via e-mail. I encourage you not to wait until the day before a due date or an exam to rush in for a last-minute meeting; the earlier you seek assistance, the more helpful I can be, the more you will learn, and the more successful you will be in this course. I’ll also remind you that you need not be having trouble with the material to schedule a meeting. I am happy to see any students who wish to discuss the course content, whether this is due to problems understanding it or to a particular interest the student wishes to explore in more depth than regular class time allows.

Enjoy the semester! 

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