Syllabus Spring 2016: US History since 1865

colored movie theater


History 1302

History of the United States since 1865

Professor Patrick Iber

Spring 2016 / MWF 11:30-12:20 / Quinn 212


Course description and objectives:  

The purpose of this class is to teach students the techniques of historical thinking and writing through the study of the history of the United States since 1865. The course readings are primary documents in U.S. history, and the two major goals are 1) to make students more informed citizens, with a deeper understanding of the culture, politics, and society of the United States; and 2) to help students gain the skills of historical interpretation and writing, in order to make them more astute observers of the world around them. This will involve learning to think about evidence from multiple perspectives.


Course requirements:

 Workshops: In-class workshops: rather than simply listening to lectures, in this class students will be expected to be involved in constructing their own knowledge through activities and discussion. Each day, we will be engaged a variety of activities that will help you to analyze and think about the past by using primary documents. To make this possible in a large class, we are going to be using Top Hat software. The course’s only expense is a membership with Top Hat, which you can find at, for $24. Regular class meetings will combine approximately 25 minutes of lecture with Top Hat-based activities. Each course meeting will be worth 10 points. There are 33 meetings, and you can earn a maximum of 300 points, representing 30% of the total grade. When registering, please follow the instructions closely and make sure to sing up using your full name as it appears in Blackboard and your UTEP student ID number. Because of its structure, regular attendance and on-time arrival are essential to doing well in this class.

Essays: Each student will submit two essays, of 750-1000 words. You will submit them online through Blackboard by 5 p.m. on the due dates listed on the syllabus. The first paper is worth 150 points (15% of the total grade), and the second is worth 200 points (20%).

Plagiarism: A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, words, or statements of another person without attribution. The words and ideas of others must be cited. It is official UTEP policy that any suspected cases of plagiarism will be referred to the Office of Student Life for investigation.

Exams: There will be a midterm and a final exam, worth 150 points (15%) and 200 points (20%), respectively. Each will require a Blue Book purchased from the UTEP bookstore. Answers should be based on lectures and readings, and demonstrate mastery of the writing skills developed in class.

Course readings: there are no readings to purchase. Everything you need to read is linked to as a part of the syllabus. You must do the readings before class on the day they are listed, as readings will be a part of our daily workshops. The chapters from The American Yawp are optional. You should use them if you feel you are struggling to understand the material.

Accommodations: If you have a need for classroom accommodations, please contact The Center for Accommodations and Support Services (CASS) at 747-5148, or by email to, or visit their office located in UTEP Union East, Room 106.


Grades: Paper 1


Paper 1: 15%

Paper 2: 20%

Midterm Exam: 15%

Final Exam: 20%

Class workshops: 30%


Course schedule:

 Week 1: Introduction

W, Jan 20: Introduction to the class, syllabus

F, Jan 22: The weight of history



Excerpt from “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (click the “Read an Excerpt” button)


David Brooks on Ta-Nehisi Coates


Week 2: Reconstruction


General reading: American Yawp, Chapter 15, “Reconstruction,”


M, Jan 25: The Civil War and its Aftermath



Alexander Stephens on the Confederate constitution:


Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address,


W, Jan 27: Radical Reconstruction



Charlotte Forten’s memories of teaching in South Carolina:


Jourdon Anderson’s letter to his old master:
Mississippi Black Code, 1865:


F, Jan 29: The Failure of Reconstruction



Lawlessness in Texas,


Frederick Douglass speech, 1878,


Week 3: The Gilded Age


General readings:

American Yawp, Chapter 16, “Capital and Labor,”


American Yawp, Chapter 17, “Conquering the West,”


American Yawp, Chapter 18, “Life in Industrial America,”


M, Feb 1: Capital and labor in industrial America


Henry George, Progress and Poverty,


Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth,


W, Feb 3: The closing of the frontier

Chief Joseph on Indian Affairs,


Frederick Jackson Turner, “Significance of the Frontier in American History,”


F, Feb 5: Boundaries of Americanness and Whiteness



Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882


Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision and dissent (1896)


Week 4: The Progressive Era

General readings: American Yawp, Chapter 20, “The Progressive Era,”


M, Feb. 15: Social Reform


Jacob Riis, “How the Other Half Lives,”


Upton Sinclair, The Jungle [excerpt],


Jane Addams, “The Subjective Necessity for Social Reform,”


Thorstein Veblen on Conspicuous Consumption, excerpt from The Theory of the Leisure Class


W, Feb. 17: Feminism


Alice Stone Blackwell answering objections to Women’s Suffrage,


Browse the images at:


F, Feb. 19: Jim Crow


Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois debate black progress,


Ida B. Wells, “Lynch Law in America,”


Jim Crow:


Week 5: American Imperialism


General readings:

American Yawp, Chapter 19, “American Empire,”


M, Feb. 8: The Spanish-American War


William McKinley, “American Exceptionalism,”


Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,”


Arthur MacOwen, “Remember the Maine,”


W, Feb. 10: Occupations under the New Imperialism



William James, “The Philippine Question,”


Mark Twain, “The War Prayer,”


The Platt Amendment,


F, Feb. 12: From Dollar Diplomacy to Wilsonian Idealism


President Taft, “Dollar Diplomacy,”


Woodrow Wilson on the “New Freedom,”


Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler on foreign intervention,


Week 6:

M, Feb. 22: Paper workshop

W, Feb. 24: El Paso and the Mexican Revolution [no readings]

F, Feb. 26: 1st Paper Due


Week 7: World War I & the 1920s

General readings:
American Yawp, Chapter 21, “World War I & Its Aftermath”

American Yawp, Chapter 22, “The Twenties,”


M, Feb 29: World War I

Primary documents:

Woodrow Wilson requests war,

Alan Seeger on WWI,

Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points,


W, Mar 2: Consumption and Social Change in the 1920s

Primary documents:

“She Learned to Drive a Car” from Your Car: A Magazine of Romance, Fact, and Fiction:

and continued

  1. Philip Randolph, “The Negro and Economic Radicalism,” starting at


F, Mar. 4: The Great Depression


Caroline Henderson, “Letters from the Dust Bowl,”


SPRING BREAK, March 7-11


Week 8: The Great Depression


General reading: American Yawp, Chapter 23, “The Great Depression,”


M, Mar 14: The New Deal


FDR’s inaugural speech:


FDR Unveiling Second Half of the New Deal


W, Mar. 16: Culture and labor

Charlie Chaplain’s “Modern Times,” [Watch the first 18 minutes]


F, Mar. 18: Midterm exam


Week 9: World War II

General reading:

American Yawp, Chapter 24, “World War II,”


M, Mar. 21: Fighting World War II


Cord Meyer, “Waves of Darkness,” The Atlantic Monthly, January 1946, pp. 74-80


Harry Truman’s diary entries about the atomic bomb:


W, Mar. 23: Social changes in WWII

Watch: Manpower, a 1943 propaganda film about the U.S. labor market



Letters from interned Japanese (read all 12 letters in “Life in Camp” section and the 1 letter in “Returning Home”)


F, Mar. 25: César Chávez day: no classes


Week 10: Cold War America


General readings:

American Yawp, Chapter 25, “The Cold War”


American Yawp, Chapter 26, “The Affluent Society,”


M, Mar. 28: Origins of the Cold War

NSC 68 [excerpts],


Nixon and Khrushchev’s Kitchen Debate


W, March 30: Affluence and Exclusion

Readings: Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,”


F, Apr. 1: In-class paper workshop


Week 11: The 1960s


General Readings:

American Yawp, Chapter 27, “The Sixties,”


M, Apr. 4: From Kennedy to Johnson


Kennedy’s Inaugural Address


LBJ on Affirmative Action


W, Apr. 6: The Civil Rights Movements



Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,”


César Chávez, “The Organizer’s Tale,”


The Port Huron Statement [excerpts],


F, Apr. 8: 2nd essay due


Week 12: The 1970s


General reading:

American Yawp, Chapter 28, “The Unraveling,”


M, Apr. 11: The Vietnam War and its Repercussions



“Winter Soldier Investigation” [Watch from 1:01:30 – 1:27:30]


W, Apr. 13: The Nixon Presidency and its End


Read and listen:

Jordan Moran, “The First Domino: Nixon and the Pentagon Papers,”


“Cancer on the Presidency,”


F, Apr. 15: Carter and the post-Nixon presidency


Jimmy Carter, “Human Rights and Foreign Policy,”


Jimmy Carter, “Crisis of Confidence,”


Week 13: 1980s and 1990s


General reading:

American Yawp, Chapter 29, “The Triumph of the Right,”


M, Apr. 18: Ending the Cold War


Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech,


George H.W. Bush’s joint press conference with Mikhail Gorbachev,



W, Apr. 20: The Unending Culture Wars


Phyllis Schlafly, “What’s wrong with ‘equal rights’ for women?” (1972),



Pat Buchanan “Culture Wars” speech



F, Apr. 22: Neoliberalism and Globalization in the Post-Cold War Era



Bill Clinton’s announcement on welfare legislation


Peter Edelman, “The Worst Thing Clinton Has Done,”


Matt Taibbi, “Flathead,”


Week 14: The Bush Era


General readings:


American Yawp, Chapter 30, “The Recent Past,”


M, Apr. 25: September 11 and its Consequences



“9/11 around the world,”


Watch: George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” remarks during 2002 SOTU



Seymour Hirsh, “The General’s Report,”


W, Apr. 27: Politics from Bush to Obama



Obama’s 2004 DNC speech


Interviews at Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally



Elbert Ventura, “The Tea Party Paradox,”


F, Apr 29: The New Gilded Age



“Revolution number 99: an oral history of Occupy Wall Street,”


An oral history of #BlackLivesMatter


Week 15: The present moment

M, May 2: The Past in the Present

W, May 4: Review

F, May 6: Dead day




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