History 2112_Manget_Syllabus

Course Description:

History 2112 is an introductory survey of modern American history.  Since the close of the American Civil War, the United States has undergone sweeping changes.  It has transformed from a rural, agrarian society to an urban, industrial one, from a minor world player into the dominant global economic and political force, from a nation of 30 million to one of over 300 million.  In this class, we will explore how these and other cultural, political, and economic transformations shaped the United States into a modern nation.  This is a story of politicians and generals but also of sharecroppers, industrial workers, and students.  We will examine how Americans defined, redefined, and contested ideas of freedom, liberty, and equality.  We will learn how Americans of all stripes struggled against social, political, and economic forces to secure livelihoods that reflected their own ideas of freedom, liberty, and equality.  History is about far more than memorizing “facts.”  Ultimately, my goal for this course is to help you understand why things are the way they are today, so that you can begin to situate your own lives in a historical context.

This syllabus is the guide for this class.  As a student, you are responsible for everything that is in here, so read it carefully. This syllabus is subject to change.

Learning objectives:

  • To assess how the American promise of freedom, liberty, and equality has been fulfilled
  • To understand how social, economic, and political forces have contributed to shaping contemporary         society
  • To improve reading, writing, and thinking skills
  • To develop well-reasoned historical interpretations

Online Text:

  • Joseph Locke and Ben Wright, “The American Yawp.” Open-Source textbook. americanyawp.com

Required Texts:

  • Eric Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History, Vol. II. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014.
  • Scott Reynolds Nelson, Steel Driving Man: The Untold Story of an American Legend. Oxford University        Press, 2008.
  • Peter Jenkins, A Walk Across America. New York: Harper, 2001 [originally published in 1979].
  • Various articles/excerpts on eLC (uga.view.usg.edu)


Your grade in this course will be determined by the following formula out of a possible 1000 points:

  • 450 points – exam
    • 100 – Exam 1
    • 150- Exam 2
    • 200- Final Exam
  • 200- Short essays
  • 150- Book Essays
  • 100- Final Paper
  • 100- Participation and attendance


The bulk of your grade will be determined by exams. They may consist of matching, multiple choice, short answer, essay, and/or primary source analysis.  I do not give study guides or hold review sessions.  I am open to reviewing past material with anyone who comes by office hours with good questions, but the best preparation for exams is coming to class, completing the assignments, and participating in discussions.
Writing Assignments

  • Short Essays – Four times during the semester, you will be responsible for bringing to class response papers on the readings. Informal in nature, these papers will be the forum through which you will develop your analytical skills. 
    • Format: 1-2 pages, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins. You will cite your sources using either Chicago or MLA style (whichever you prefer).  Be sure to include a single-spaced header with your name, date, my name, and name of the assignment.  I will not accept late papers.
  • Book Essays – You will be turning in two book essays this semester. They will be 3-5 pages with the same format as the other writing assignments.  Formal in nature, each essay will be a response to a specific prompt that I will hand out at least one week before the assignment is due.  I will accept late papers for a deduction of one letter grade for every 24 hours. 
  • Final Paper – Your reading response papers will prepare you for one final paper worth 15% of your grade. This paper will be 5-7 pages long and will be cumulative.  You will need to draw on relevant documents and lectures throughout the semester, paying particular attention to themes we have discussed.  I will hand out a more detailed prompt. 
    • Format: same as for short essays. I will accept late papers for a deduction of one letter grade for every 24 hours.


Rather than expect you to read and remember 100 pages per week, this class requires careful and engaged reading of assigned sources.  This class does require a lot of thinking, and I will require you to organize and express your thoughts in writing.  If you come to lectures ready to learn and to discussions prepared and ready to participate, you can do well in this class.  However, that is no guarantee that you will get the grade you want.   I encourage you to come talk to me in office hours if you are struggling or you are unsure of how to improve.

Lectures and Discussions:

We will be using an online, open-source textbook, but you will get all the information that will be on the test from the lectures and discussions.  Therefore, you need to be in class in order to do well on the exams.  On days designated for discussion, we will be addressing the themes laid out in lecture, as well as the assigned readings.  In these discussions, we will digest the material we cover each week in lectures, grapple with the issues raised in the readings, and introduce you to the art of historical interpretation.  You are responsible for completing the assigned readings before you come to class on discussion days and bringing NOTES on the readings.  Your engaged and respectful participation is required.


Your attendance is necessary to do well in this class. If you miss more than 6 absences for any reason, you will be automatically dropped from the class.

Classroom behavior:

Laptops will be allowed in class only on lecture days.  If you choose to bring your computer, I expect you to use it to take notes only.  If your computer is causing disruptions in the classroom, I reserve the right to tell you to put it away.  During discussions, they must remain closed.  Furthermore, be respectful with your cell phones.  I won’t ban cell phones, but please don’t spend class time staring at your phone.  Excessive talking, texting, eating, or anything else that, in my judgment, disrupts the learning environment, will not be tolerated.

 Course Outline

Date Class Reading Assignment
Aug-17 Course Introductions
Aug-19 Reconstructing the Nation, 1865-1877 American Yawp, Ch. 15


DISCUSSION – To what extent did Reconstruction accomplish its goals? 94: “Petition of Black Residents of Nashville.” 95: “Petition of Committee on Behalf of the Freedmen to Andrew Johnson.” 96: The Mississippi Black Code. Bring book and notes to class
Aug-24 American Business in the Gilded Age, 1865-1890 AY, Ch. 15: Reconstruction
Aug-26 Labor Unrest in an Industrial Age, 1877-1914 AY, Ch. 16: Capital and Labor
Aug-28 DISCUSSION – Did the Industrial Revolution undermine American democracy? What do these authors say? Reader: 101: Andrew Carnegie, “The Gospel of Wealth.” 102: William Graham Sumner on Social Darwinism. 105: Henry George, Progress and Poverty. Response Paper Due – HAND IN IN CLASS
Aug-31 The Great West and New South, 1865-1896 AY, Ch. 17: “Conquering the West”; Nelson, Steel Drivin Man
Sept-2 Populism and the Agrarian Revolt, 1867-1896 AY, Ch. 16: Capital and Labor; Nelson, Steel Drivin Man  
Sept-4 DISCUSSION – What can John Henry, the man and the myth, teach us about the New South? Industrialization in general? Scott Reynolds Nelson, Steel Drivin’ Man BOOK ASSIGNMENT: Steel Driving Man. The Legend of John Henry as a Primary Source
Sept-9 Origins of American Imperialism, 1890-1914 AY, Ch. 19: American Empire
Sept-11 Immigration and Urban Society, 1880-1914 AY, Ch. 18: Life in Industrial America
Sept-14 DISCUSSION – How did ideas about race shape the way Americans conceived of citizenship? Reader: 111: Josiah Strong, Our Country. 112: Emilio Aguinaldo on American Imperialism in the Philippines. 113: Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden.” 124: Randolph Bourne, “Trans-National America.”
Sept-16 EXAM 1 EXAM 1 – Bring blue book
Sept-18 Progressivism, 1900-1917 AY, Ch. 20: The Progressive Era
Sept-21 The Great War at home and abroad, 1914-1919 AY, Ch. 21: World War I & its Aftermath
Sept-23 DISCUSSION – How did World War I redraw the boundaries of American citizenship? Reader: 117: The Industrial Workers of the World and the Free Speech Fights. 118: Margaret Sanger on “Free Motherhood.” 124: Carrie Chapman Catt, Address to Congress on Women’s Suffrage. 125: Eugene V. Debs, Speech to the Jury. Bring notes and book to class
Sept-25 The Red Scare and Return to Normalcy AY, Ch. 22: The New Era
Sept-28 The “Roaring” Twenties? AY, Ch. 22: The New Era
Sept-30 DISCUSSION – What was the status of freedom in the 1920s?  Reader: 130: Andre Siegfried on the ‘New Society.” 131: The Fight for Civil Liberties. 132: Bartolomeo Vanzetti’s Last Statement in Court. 135: Alain Locke, The New Negro. 136: Elsie Hill and Florence Kelley Debate the Equal Rights Amendment. Response Paper due
Oct-2 1920s and 1930s
Oct-5 A “New Deal” for America, 1933-1936 AY, Ch. 23: The Great Depression
Oct-7 The End of Reform, 1936-1941 AY, Ch. 23: The Great Depression


DISCUSSION – Why did the New Deal represent such a threat to conservatives like Herbert Hoover? Do you think his fears were justified? Reader: 137: Letter to Secretary of Labor Perkins. 138: John Steinbeck, The Harvest Gypsies. 140: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Speech to the Democratic Convention.  141: Herbert Hoover on the New Deal and Liberty. Bring notes and book
Oct-12 World War II abroad, 1941-1945 AY, Ch. 24: World War II
Oct-14 World War II at home, 1941-1945 AY, Ch. 24: World War II
Oct-16 DISCUSSION – How did Americans envision the postwar world? Reader: 145: FDR on the Four Freedoms. 147: Henry Luce, The American Century. 148: Henry A. Wallace on ‘The Century of the Common Man.’ 151: African Americans and the Four Freedoms.  Response Paper due


Origins of the Cold War, 1944-1953 AY, Ch. 25: The Cold War
Oct-21 Spies Among Us? The Second Red Scare, 1945-1953. AY, Ch. 25: The Cold War
Oct-23 DISCUSSION – Did Communism Threaten America’s Internal Security after World War II?” “Issue 12,” in Madaras and SoRelle, Taking Sides: Clashing Views in U.S. History (eLC) Bring notes and a book
Oct-26 The Atomic Age: Cold War Culture in the United States, 1945-1965 AY, Ch. 26: The Affluent Society
Oct-28 EXAM 2 EXAM 2
Nov-2 Age of Affluence? 1945-1963 AY, Ch. 26: The Affluent Society
Nov-4 The Civil Rights Movement, 1955-1965 AY, Ch. 27: The Sixties
Nov-6 DISCUSSION – On what did the so-called ‘liberal consensus’ depend for stability? Reader: 162: Richard M. Nixon, “What Freedom Means to Us.” 163: Clark Kerr, Industrialism and Industrial Man. 166: C. Wright Mills on ‘Cheerful Robots.’  168: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Response Paper Due
Nov-9 Highwater Mark of Postwar Liberalism: JFK and LBJ AY, Ch. 27: The Sixties
Nov-11 Vietnam and the Cold War, 1954-1975. AY, Ch. 27: The Sixties
Nov-13 DISCUSSION – How did Vietnam work to erode the liberal consensus? Reader: 172: Lyndon B. Johnson, Commencement Address at Howard University. 170: The Sharon Statement. 173: The Port Huron Statement. 174: Paul Potter on the Antiwar Movement.  Bring notes and a book
Nov-16 The Pivotal Year, 1968, and the fracturing of the consensus AY, Ch. 28: the Unraveling
Nov-18 The Pivotal Decade: the 1970s and Triumph of Conservatism AY, Ch. 28: The Unraveling
Nov-20 DISCUSSION – What can Jenkins’ story tell us about the 1970s? Peter Jenkins, A Walk Across America. Book Essay Due.
Nov-30 Reagan and the Triumph of Conservatism, 1980-1988 AY, Ch. 29: The Rise of the Right
Dec-2 Globalization and its Discontents, 1990-2015 AY, Ch. 30: The Recent Past
Dec-4 DISCUSSION – Have Americans gained or lost freedom since the Civil War? None FINAL PAPER DUE.
Dec-7 The War on Terror and the Future of American Democracy AY, Ch. 30: The Recent Past
Dec-11, 12pm-3pm FINAL EXAM