History 3480: The United States since 1945



                                                Dr. David Krugler        Fall 2009



This course provides the student with a detailed historical examination of the United States from the end of World War II to the present time. The course is structured around, though not limited to, the following subjects: the United States as a world power and its overseas commitments; the stratification of American society along racial, gender, and class lines; the sustained efforts of millions of citizens to secure equality; the partisanship of American politics and the growing power of the Presidency; popular culture and the media; and economic strengths and weaknesses.


Because this is an advanced undergraduate course, it is expected that each student has taken and completed at least one course in modern US history. Please know that the lectures, readings, and assignments require you to draw on this base knowledge.  


The course combines lecture with discussion. Each student is expected to participate in regular discussions of the reading assignments from the following texts, all of which are available at the textbook rental center:


·      Walter LaFeber et al., The American Century: A History of the United States since 1941, 5th ed.

·      Steven F. Lawson and Charles Payne, Debating the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1968

·      Mitchell Hall, The Vietnam War

·      Nancy A. Walker, ed., Women’s Magazines 1940-1960: Gender Roles and the Popular Press

·      Lee Edwards, The Essential Ronald Reagan: A Profile in Courage, Justice, and Wisdom

·      Mary Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 3rd ed.


Some reading assignments include handouts, which will be distributed in advance, or web-based articles. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to get the handout.


Assignments: Your grade will be determined by evaluation of your work on the following:


 Exams: You will take two hourly tests and a comprehensive final exam. The first hourly test will be on your reading from the text Debating the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1968; the second will focus on lecture and discussion content. Study guides will be distributed before the test dates, which are listed below.

Writing: You will write a 10 page research paper on a topic of your choice related to US history since 1945. An explanation of the assignment will be distributed well in advance of the due dates. Please note that four separate due dates apply to the research paper: thesis and bibliography, progress report, rough draft and peer review, and final draft (see schedule below). Therefore, you should consider this important assignment to be an on-going project. Also note the following: each student must participate in the in-class editing session and late papers will not be accepted.


Discussion: During seven different classes (dates listed below), we will hold an in-depth discussion of shared reading about significant historical problems. Your individual participation in these discussions and completion of discussion activities are mandatory and are worth 25% of your total grade. Discussion guides will be distributed in advance of each discussion, and you must complete the reading by class time. IMPORTANT: Some reading assignments are lengthy, so be sure to set aside sufficient time to complete the reading by the due date. The assignment schedule indicates when you should begin reading for each discussion. In order to ensure that all students are completing the reading assignment, I may occasionally give quizzes before we begin discussion. Discussion activities include the following: class analysis of themes and problems contained in the reading; quizzes; group work; peer review of research papers; and brief, in-class writing assignments. 


Attendance: All students must attend class for the full period; roll will be taken at random throughout the semester. Students who are frequently absent will have their grade lowered. If you cannot attend class, please let me know ahead of time. Eligible students who require academic test or lecture accommodations should speak with me. Accommodations will also be made for religious holidays.


Grade Components:

            1st hourly test @ 15%                2nd hourly test @ 15%                  Participation @ 25%

            Final exam @ 15%                  Research paper@ 30%              


Lecture & Assignment Schedule:

Reading assignments are subject to announced changes, which will supersede the reading listed here. 


Week 1: Begin reading Walker, Women’s Magazines, 1-19, 34-56, 82-95, 161-66, 215-20.

            W 9/2 Introduction to course; the US and World War II.


Week 2: Finish reading Walker, Women’s Magazines, 1-19, 34-56, 82-95, 161-66, 215-20.

            M 9/7   No class—Labor Day

            W 9/9  From war to peace. Discussion #1: Women, the war, and work.


Week 3: Begin reading Lawson and Payne, Debating the Civil Rights Movement, 3-42, 99-136

            M 9/14  Origins of the Cold War.

            W 9/16  Domestic anti-communism; America goes to war in Korea.

Week 4: Finish reading Lawson and Payne, Debating the Civil Rights Movement, 3-42, 99-136

            M 9/21   Eisenhower and the Republican ascendancy.

            W 9/23  Test 1 and Disc. #2 (both on the federal government’s part in the civil rights movements)


Week 5: Begin reading LaFeber, 362-69; handout

            M 9/28  “The Other America”: poverty amidst plenty during the 1950s.

            W 9/30  Kennedy, the New Frontier, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Week 6: Finish reading LaFeber, 362-69; handout

            M 10/5  The Great Society attempted.

            W 10/7  Conservatism during the 1960s. Discussion #3: Rock’n’roll and the emerging youth market.


Week 7: Begin reading Hall, The Vietnam War, 1-56, 88-103

            M 10/12  Second exam.

            W 10/14  Women’s rights activism; the New Left.


Week 8: Paper thesis and bibliography due. Finish reading Hall, Vietnam War, 1-56, 88-103

            M 10/19  The US and Vietnam.

            W 10/21  1968: year of reckoning. Discussion #4: Going to war in southeast Asia


Week 9: Begin reading handout

            M 10/26   Economic and environmental crises.

            W 10/28  The Nixon Presidency and Watergate.


Week 10: Finish reading handout

            M 11/2   Detente and the changing Cold War.

            W 11/4  The Carter Presidency. Discussion #5: The sexual revolution.


Week 11: Begin reading Edwards, The Essential Ronald Reagan; handout

            M 11/9     Progress report on research paper due. The Iran Hostage Crisis.

            W 11/11  The Reagan Revolution begins.


Week 12: Finish reading Edwards, The Essential Ronald Reagan; handout

            M 11/16  The US and Latin America during the 1980s.

            W 11/18  Lect.: Social and cultural patterns during the 1980s. Discussion #6: The Reagan Presidency evaluated.


Week 13: No reading

            M 11/23  Papers due and in-class peer review.

           W 11/25  End of the Cold War.


Week 14: No reading.

            M 11/30 The Gulf War, 1990-91.

            W 12/2   Revised papers due. Lecture: Clinton vs. the Contract with America.


Week 15: Read handout

            M 12/7  The 2000 election.

            W 12/9  9/11 and the War on Terror. Discussion #7: America in the 21st century: lessons from the last half-century.


FINAL: 3-5 pm, Monday, December 14, 2009 Note: Graduating seniors must take the exam.