HISTORY 476/576 II
THE UNITED STATES IN THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY: THE DEPRESSION AND WORLD WAR II
Tuesday/Thursday, 9:30 - 10:50 in 360 Condon
Professor Ellen Herman
office: 239 PLC
phone number: 346-3118
e-mail address: email@example.com
office hours: Tuesday, 2:00 - 3:30; Thursday, 2:00 - 3:30
This course will survey the dramatic historical landscape of the period between 1929 and 1945, first shaped by the crisis of the Great Depression and then by wartime mobilization and the dawn of the atomic age. In addition to the intrinsic interest of this period--in which both American movies and militarism came into their own--it served to consolidate the national welfare state and international superpower status that characterized U.S. history throughout the Cold War era.
We will consider how these big events looked from different vantage points: sharecroppers and industrial workers, government bureaucrats and radical activists, men and women, members of various ethnic and racial groups. Our expectation is that doing so offers not only a more complete and human story about the past, but original ways of thinking about which actors and social forces matter historically. Special emphasis will be placed on the emergence of institutions oriented toward mass consumption and on the role of economic and military crisis in revealing and reshaping race and gender relations. Topics to be covered include: the New Deal from the top down and from the bottom up; the Scottsboro case; racial, ethnic, and gender conflict during the homefront mobilization; the significance of wartime morale; the emergence of the U.S. as a nuclear superpower. Lectures and discussions will periodically reflect on the meaning of this period for postwar and contemporary society.
Format: This course will combine lectures and discussions with occasional films. Students are expected to come to class with the required assignment for the day already done and ready to talk! Active participation is the most important part of the course.
Writing Requirements: There will be two short Internet exercises, two 5-page essays and a take-home final exam. The first essay will be a book review of Making a New Deal: summarizing the book's major argument and assessing its chief strengths and weaknesses. The other essay will compare Stories of Scottsboro and Snow Falling on Cedars. The final take-home exam will consist of essay and short-answer questions that integrate major themes from the course as a whole.
Lateness Policy: No late assignments will be accepted and no makeup exams will be given. Students who miss deadlines will be given an F for that assignment.
Academic Honesty: If this course is to be a worthwhile educational experience, your work must be original. Plagiarism and other forms of cheating are extremely serious infractions and will not be permitted. Students who are uncertain about exactly how to cite published, electronic, or other sources should feel free to consult with the instructor. There will be a brief essay-writing tutorial during class time before the first essay is due.
Accommodations: If you have a documented disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please arrange to see me soon and request that Disability Services send a letter verifying your disability.
attendance and participation: 25%
two five-page papers and Internet assignments: 50%
final exam: 25%
Books and Required Reading:
The texts listed below are all required. You can purchase them at the University Bookstore. You can also find them on reserve at Knight Library.
Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (Cambridge University Press, 1990)..
James Goodman, Stories of Scottsboro (Random House, 1995).
David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars (Random House, 1998).
John Dower, War Without Mercy (Pantheon, 1986).
course packet [noted below as CP]
Week 1: The Uses of History
Tuesday, September 28: Introduction
Thursday, September 30: The Past in the Present
Race, Gender, and the Making of the Welfare State
Warfare and National Identity:
Consumption as a Cultural Force:
Week 2: Hard Times
Tuesday, October 5: Experiencing the Depression: Rural Workers
1. Go to the web site: Every Picture Tells A Story: Documentary Photography and the Great Depression:
2. Read the text and do the short exercise.
3. Now, go to the web site, American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940:
4. Search by keyword for the following document: "Mountain Sharecroppers." (The one you want is 15,780 bytes.)
5. After reading this short document, write a single, concise paragraph comparing this prose description with the documentary photographs you have just seen. Reflect on the distinctive characteristics of these sources. Do you think they tell us similar or different stories about the hard times endured by rural Americans? Do you think the writers and photographers who did this work were trying to accomplish similar or different goals?
These paragraphs will be collected in class.
Thursday, October 7: Experiencing the Depression: Urban Workers
Week 3: The New Deal State
Tuesday, October 12: Moral Capitalism?: State Formation From the Bottom Up
Thursday, October 14: The Regulatory State as an Elite Accomplishment
Week 4: Community Transformed in a World of Mass Culture
Tuesday, October 19: Class, Ethnicity, and the New Culture of Consumption
In-class essay writing tutorial and discussion of outlines for essay #1
Thursday, October 21: Commercial Culture as Common Ground
Week 5: A New Deal on Race and Gender?
Tuesday, October 26: What Was Left Out of the Welfare State?
Thursday, October 28: The Scottsboro Case
Week 6: Scottsboro
Tuesday, November 2: Race and Radicalism
Thursday, November 4: Narrative as History and Literature
Week 7: The Home Front
Tuesday November 9: Mobilization
Thursday, November 11: The Wartime Experience of Japanese-Americans
Under the Camp Harmony Exhibit, go to Bainbridge Island. Read the text and look at the photographs. Write a single, concise paragraph comparing what you find there to the description of the evacuation on San Piedro in Snow Falling on Cedars.
These paragraphs will be collected in class.
Week 8: The Good War?
Tuesday, November 16: Racial Geopolitics
Thursday, November 18: A Democratic People at War: Propaganda and Morale
Week 9: Liberal Consensus: Rhetoric and Reality
Tuesday, November 23: The New Deal at War's End
Thursday, November 25: THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY
Week 10: 1945 in Retrospect: Globalism in Memory and Culture
Tuesday November 30: The Dawn of the Cold War and the Birth of the National Security State
Thursday December 2: Hiroshima, Nuclear Power, and Nuclear Culture