Syllabus Spring 2017: U.S. history survey, since 1865

History 1302


History of the United States since 1865


Professor Patrick Iber

Spring 2017 / Tuesday & Thursday 10:30-11:50AM

Physical Science 208




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:


Class participation: 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 response software. UTEP is currently piloting the campus-wide adoption of REEF Polling software, and it is available for free. You will need a phone, a tablet, or a laptop each day in class. We will use the REEF software to mix lecture with activities. Because of its structure, regular attendance and on-time arrival are essential to doing well in this class. If you miss questions because you are late, you will not get credit for them. In total, these activities will be worth 26% of your grade. In general, this is what you will need to do to get the following grades:

A – miss at most one day, do all readings and get most questions right

B – miss at most three days, get most questions right

C – miss a few days and miss some questions

If you do not attend class or do the readings, it can be easy to get a D or an F. If you miss a question on the reading, that’s a signal to you to go revisit it and check your understanding of that reading until the question’s answer makes sense. If you miss a day because of illness or some other excused reason, you can write a 500-word response to the readings for each day that you missed. You can also make up credit for a missed day by attending any event on campus related to history and sending the professor a short paragraph of 200-250 words describing your reaction to the event.


Assignments: There are four assignments, which mostly involve reading and responding to primary documents. They are each worth 6% of the grade, or 24% total. Other than the first one, which will be done in class, they will be submitted through blackboard for grading. Write a title and your name at the top of each assignment. Double space and use 12-point font. When you quote the writing of another person, you can cite by putting “(Author, Date)” in parentheses after your quotation. You do not need a separate bibliography or title page.


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 20% of the grade and 30%, respectively. Answers should be based on lectures and readings, and demonstrate mastery of the reading, writing, and analytical skills developed in class. Each exam will have a timeline, short answer questions, and a longer essay question. I will give you the longer questions in advance.


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 activities. The chapters from the American Yawp textbook should be read over your long weekend—from Thursday to Sunday, in preparation for the week to come.


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.




Short assignments: 24%

Midterm Exam: 20%

Final Exam: 30%

Class activities: 26%



Course schedule:


Week 1: Introduction


Tuesday, January 17: Introduction to the class, syllabus

Thursday, January 19: The Civil War and its Aftermath


Thursday readings:

Alexander Stephens on the Confederate constitution:


Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address,


Week 2: Reconstruction


Weekend reading:

American Yawp, Chapter 15, “Reconstruction,”


Tues., January 24: How to Read a Primary Document

Tuesday readings: Thaddeus Stevens on land confiscation,


And bring something to write with!


Thursday, January 26: Radical Reconstruction and its Failure

Thursday readings:

Charlotte Forten’s memories of teaching in South Carolina:


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



Week 3: The Closing of the Frontier


Weekend reading:

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


Tuesday, January 31: The Closing of the Frontier

Tuesday readings:

Chief Joseph on Indian Affairs,


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


Thursday, February 2:


Assignment #1 will be done in class today. Please bring a pen or a pencil.



Week 4: The Gilded Age


Weekend reading: American Yawp, Chapter 18, “Life in Industrial America,”


Tuesday, February 7: Capital and Labor in Industrial America

Tuesday readings:

Henry George, Progress and Poverty,


Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth,


Jacob Riis, “How the Other Half Lives,”


Thursday, February 9: Immigration and the Boundaries of Whiteness


Thursday readings:

In re: Ricardo Rodriguez (1897)


James D. Phelan, Why the Chinese Should be Excluded (1901),


Assignment #2: Explore your own family’s immigration or migration history. Talk to one or more older members of your family about how your ancestors came to the United States, or how they moved around it. What economic, political, or social situations pushed them to move? What kind of hopes did they have on arriving? What kind of work were they able to do when they arrived? What kind of treatment did they receive? If your family is Native American, talk about your family and tribal history. If your family lives in Juárez, you can either ask these same questions about coming to Juárez or you can talk to a relative who did come to live in the United States. If you are the first in your family to come to the U.S., you can discuss your own decision to come here to study. Write up what you learn in 400-500 words and upload it to blackboard.




Week 5: The Progressive Era


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


Tuesday, February 14: Social Reform and Feminism

Tuesday readings:

Eugene Debs, “How I Became a Socialist,”


Upton Sinclair, The Jungle [excerpt],


Alice Stone Blackwell answering objections to Women’s Suffrage,


Thursday, February 16: Jim Crow and Juan Crow

Thursday readings:

Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision, Justice Harlan’s dissent


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


Ida B. Wells, “Lynch Law in America,”



Week 6: American Power Abroad


Weekend readings:

American Yawp, Chapter 19, “American Empire,”


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


Tuesday, February 21: American Imperialism


Tuesday reading:

William McKinley, “American Expansionism,”


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


Mark Twain, “The War Prayer,”



Thursday, February 23: World War I

Thursday readings:

Woodrow Wilson requests war,


Alan Seeger on WWI,


Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points,


Week 7: The Roaring 1920s


Weekend reading:

American Yawp, Chapter 22, “The Twenties,”


Tuesday, February 28: Consumption and Social Change in the 1920s

Tuesday readings:

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

and continued


Paul Taylor interviews with Mexican workers and their employers from the 1920s [a PDF will be uploaded to blackboard].


Thursday, March 2: The Crash and the beginning of the Great Depression

Thursday readings:

Caroline Henderson, “Letters from the Dust Bowl,”


Part of class will be devoted to a midterm review session.



Week 8: The Great Depression


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


Tuesday, March 7: The New Deal in Politics and Culture

Monday readings:

FDR’s inaugural speech:


Michael Kazin, “This Land is Our Land,”


Thursday, March 9: Midterm Exam in class



March 13-17: SPRING BREAK


Week 9: World War II


Weekend reading:

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


Tuesday, March 21:

Tuesday readings:

Harry Truman’s diary entries about the atomic bomb:


“When Time Stood Still: A Hiroshima Survivor’s Story,”


Thursday, March 23:

Thursday material:

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”)



Week 10: Cold War America


Weekend readings:

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


Optional: American Yawp, Chapter 25, “The Cold War,”


Tuesday, March 28: Origins of the Cold War

Tuesday readings:

The Truman Doctrine (1947)


Nixon and Khrushchev’s Kitchen Debate


Thursday, March 30: Affluence and Exclusion in the 1950s

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


Assignment #3 due Monday, April 3rd, at midnight. Read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s article and analyze it. What is its argument? How does it use historical analysis to support the argument? What present-day concerns of the author does it represent? Why or why don’t you find it convincing? Upload a short essay to blackboard of approximately 650-1000 words.



Week 11: The 1960s


Weekend Readings:

American Yawp, Chapter 27, “The Sixties,”


Tuesday, April 4: The Civil Rights Movements


Tuesday reading:

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


César Chávez, “The Organizer’s Tale,”


The Port Huron Statement [excerpts],


Thursday, April 6: From Kennedy to Johnson

Thursday reading:

Kennedy’s Inaugural Address


LBJ on Affirmative Action



Week 12: The 1970s


Weekend reading:

American Yawp, Chapter 28, “The Unraveling,”


Tuesday, April 11: The Vietnam War and its Repercussions


Tuesday reading:

George M. Garcia, Vietnam Veteran Interview,



“Hearts and Minds,” an anti-war documentary from 1974, 1 hour 38 min. to 1:48


Thursday, April 13: The Nixon Presidency and its End


Thursday reading:

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


Jimmy Carter, “Crisis of Confidence” speech (1979),


Week 13: 1980s and 1990s


Weekend reading:

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


Tuesday, April 18: The Culture Wars and the Rise of the Right


Tuesday reading:

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


Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural address (1981),


Thursday, April 20: The End of the Cold War and the Unipolar Moment


Thursday reading:

Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech (1983),


Bill Clinton on free trade, (1993-2000),


Assignment #4 due Monday, April 24th, at midnight. Compare and contrast two primary sources about politics from the last three weeks. You can choose to compare either LBJ’s speech on affirmative action with Reagan’s inaugural address or can choose to compare Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” with Phyllis Schlafly’s “What’s wrong with equal rights for women?” How do these people differ in their views of the proper role of government? What forms of injustice do they care most about, and what is less important? How does each understand the meaning of the word “freedom”? You do not have to state your agreement or disagreement with one document or the other: the point is to describe ideas and understand points of view, even if you don’t share them. Write 700-1000 words and upload it to blackboard.



Week 14: The Bush Era


Weekend readings:

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


Tuesday, April 25: September 11 and its Consequences

Tuesday readings:

“9/11 around the world,”


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


Mohamedou Ould Slahi, “Guantánamo Diary,”


Thursday, April 27: Politics from Bush to Obama

Thursday readings:

Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope (2006), [excerpt],9171,1546298,00.html


Watch: Interviews at Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, the far-right response after Obama’s election


Week 15: The present


Tuesday, May 2: Our New Gilded Age


Tuesday readings:

Revolution Number 99: An Oral History of Occupy Wall Street


Gary Younge, “How Trump Took Middle America,”


Thursday, May 4: Review session


Final exam: Thursday, May 11th, 10:00AM-12:45PM

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