History 151: Development of American Civilization Since 1876

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Fall 2013

Professor Laura Lovett

635 Herter Hall


Office Hours: MW 2:30-3:30 and by appointment

Teaching Assistants:

Janelle Bourgeois (jbourgeois@history.umass.edu)  713 Herter Hall

            Office Hours: Wednesday 11-1 and Thursday 12-2

Andrew Grim  (agrim@history.umass.edu)  713 Herter Hall

            Office Hours: Monday 11-1.

Lecture:          MW 1:25-2:15, 231 Herter Hall

Sections:        1) F 9:05-9:55, 31 School of  Management

                        2) F 10:10-11:00, 31 School of  Management                   

                        3) F 12:20-1:10, 31 School of  Management

                        4) F 10:10-11:00, 122 School of  Management

                        5) F 12:20-1:10, 124 School of  Management

                        6) F 1:25-2:15, 124 School of  Management

Course Description: This course will give you an opportunity to explore some of the major themes and topics in US History from 1877 to the present. Both lectures and discussions will utilize primary documents to allow you to 'survey' a range of issues that frame the time period and to begin to critically assess how historical knowledge is created. The course will ask you to read a variety of primary source materials and to synthesize and critique secondary sources.

            This class is a 4 credit course that fulfills the Social World component of the general education requirement as a Historical Studies (HS) course. 

Learning Objectives:

(1)   To develop your understanding of the major events that shaped U.S. History since 1876

(2)   To develop your understanding of the relevance of the past for the present

(3)   To develop your writing and critical thinking skills with regard to historical events and explanations

(4)   To develop your understanding of the basic methods used  by historians to study the past

(5)   To develop your ability to differentiate between primary and a secondary sources, to analyze and evaluate those sources, and to understand them in their historical context


            Michael Schaller, et al., American Horizons: U.S. History in a Global Context, Volume II: Since 1865 (Concise Edition). Oxford University Press, 2013.

            Michael Schaller, et al., Reading American Horizons: Primary Sources for U.S. History in a Global Context, Volume II: Since 1865. Oxford University Press, 2013.

            Colin Beavan, No Impact Man. (Picador, 2010).

Course Website: https://moodle.umass.edu


Midterm Exam  - 20%          (October 16th)

Participation and Discussion Section  - 25%

Field Trip - 5%                      (Due before December 4th)            

Paper - 20%                           (Assigned Topics, Due  November 18th)

Final Exam - 25%

You are expected to attend all lectures and discussion sections.  You must read all of the assigned reading. Please come to class prepared to discuss what you have read. Even if you are a History major, you should review the reading and writing guidelines for history available on the History Department's webpage at http://www.umass.edu/history/links_writing.html

            Section meetings are your opportunity to engage with the material and your peers in a smaller class setting. They are an integral part of this course. Section participation accounts for 25% of your course grade.  It is important that you are prepared and that you are willing to actively contribute to the discussion.  Section meetings may include in class writing and other graded exercises.


Academic Honesty

            Plagiarism is a serious violation of expected academic conduct.  Your work must be your own.  If you quote or paraphrase work from someone else, you must give credit and provide a reference for that source.  Links to guidelines on plagiarism, including the official policy on academic honesty, can be found on the following webpage: http://www.umass.edu/history/links_writing.html.  The penalty for plagiarism in this class is zero credit for the assignment in question.

Late Assignments

            Papers handed in late will be graded down one-third of a letter grade per day late.


            If you have a documented disability that may affect your performance in the class, please speak to the instructor as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Schedule (Subject to Change): Please read & prepare the materials assigned before the class meets.

W        9/4      Introduction

                        Reading: AH, Chapter 15; Reading AH, 15.1, 15.2, 15.3 (15.1-3.pdf)

                        See high resolution Nast image at   http://www.thomasnast.com/TheCartoons/NastCartoons.htm

Think about the context for Jourdan Anderson's letter (AH15.1) by looking at its printing. What do you see besides his letter in  Lydia Maria Child, Freedman's Book at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/38479 ?

F          9/6      Discussion Sections

Assignment: Please prepare the readings for the first meeting. I will post the first three American Horizon assignments to allow you to get the book. Come to class prepared to discuss what you've read. Glance at Lydia Maria Child's book to think about context.

Reconstruction and the South

M        9/9      Reading: American Horizons, Chapter 15; Reading AH, 15.7

W        9/11    Reading: W. E. B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/408/408-h/408-h.htm#chap00  Chapters – The Forethought, II. On the Dream of Freedom, III. Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others, IV. On the Meaning of Progress, IX. Of the Sons of Masters and Men, The Afterthought. Reading Questions: What is DuBois's version of Reconstruction? What does he mean by "The Veil"? Why does DuBois see  the problem of the twentieth century as "the color line" ?                           

F          9/13    Discussion Sections


Your reader has an excerpted document from the 40th Congress on "Freedmen's Affairs" (Document 15.6). This excerpt is provocative but rather an small piece of information. I'd like you to supplement your analysis by learning to use the Historical Newspapers Database online at UMASS to search for some other materials relevant to the topic (broadly conceived).  See the list of historical newspapers available here: http://www.library.umass.edu/ndl/alpha/H.

You will find that the Historical New York Times has the best sorting tool and will allow you to do a keyword search of contents while also allowing you to determine which date or date before or after you would like to search. I'd start here to give yourself an idea of how coverage of Freedman's Bureau, Violence, Southern Governments, Education, Jim Crow gets covered. You may have to try a few different search terms.

Then, for comparison sake, go to the Historical Newspaper Database and look through some of the African American Newspapers, though you will note that the runs of these papers are significantly more limited. Note the start date to get an idea of how much of these documents are available to you. Try the Afro-American Baltimore paper or the New York Amsterdam News or the Chicago Defender or the Pittsburgh Courier. What do they cover? When? How does it differ from the New York Times or Boston Globe?

Please post your response on Moodle.

The West

M        9/16    Reading: American Horizons, Chapter 16; Reading AH, 16

W        9/18    Reading: Charles Eastman,  From Deep Woods to Civilization,                                        Chapters 1-3, 6-7, 12                                                                 (http://archive.org/details/deepwoodsto00eastrich)

Reading Questions: The first three chapters describe the "education" for Eastman. What does he learn?  (Ch 4-5, unassigned, describe his college experience and are recommended). What is Eastman's relationship to Sioux he works for at the Pine Ridge Reservation? How does his description of the "Ghost Dance War" give us a different vantage on what your textbook calls "the Massacre at Wounded Knee?" What, especially given DuBois's perspective does Eastman make of "the Soul of White Man"? How is his characterization in dialogue with DuBois?

F          9/20    Discussion Sections

Assignment: Assignments will be posted on the class website or given out in discussion section.

The Incorporation of America

M        9/23    Reading: American Horizons, Chapters 17; Reading AH, 17

W        9/25    Reading: American Horizons, Chapters 18; Reading AH, 18

                        Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House, Introduction and                                        Chapters 7 and 13 (http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/addams/hullhouse/hullhouse.html)

 Reading Questions:  As you begin to grapple with how we got to the point that No Impact Man seemed like a reasonable assignment for the campus in 2013, what can we find in the past about the emergence of earlier concerns about environment and consumption? What role does assimilation play in the immigrant experience and how does Addams try to address this issue? Colin Beavan titles his book for an imaginary "superhero", codifying an idea of individual action. How does this differ from Addams' approach to making changes?

F          9/27    Discussion Sections

American Empire

M        9/30    Reading: American Horizons, Chapter 19; Reading AH, 19.3

W        10/2    No Impact Man (film).  Begin reading No Impact Man

 Reading Questions:   Look at the advertisement in the discussion of Pear's Soap and colonialism in Chapter 19.3 of American Horizons. Compare this ad to others you can find on the web (three places to get started: Duke: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa/?facet=Genre%3Dadvertisements&facet=Date%3D1918, History Matters: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/ads/question4.html or Roland Marchand's History of Advertising site at UC Davis: http://historyproject.ucdavis.edu/ic/ )

How do these images help us to understand how we got to Colin Beavan's vision for change? What is his vision? Is it effective?

F          10/4    Discussion Sections

The Progressive Era

M        10/7    Reading: American Horizons, Chapter 20; Reading AH, 20.

W        10/9    No Impact Man Colin Beavan speaks in our class. Come with questions. Bring your friends.

Reading Questions: The Progressive Era documents rely on or invoke, to some degree, the issue of consumption. How? What does the quantification of change, marked by statistical documentation of "progress" suggest about the history of carbon use?  Colin Beavan's No Impact Man has been criticised as an "eco-stunt."  Find a passage in his book where he describes how our current consumption trends are a product of innovation.  Can we see this stunt as a way of understanding what has changed in our practices of consumption?

F          10/12  Discussion Sections: Midterm Discussion.

The Great War

M        10/14  No Class

T          10/15  Reading: American Horizons, Chapter 21; Reading AH, 21

Reading Questions:  World War I marks the beginning of the birth of the profession of advertising and pinnacle of Progressive Reform. How do you move a people to support a war? What evidence do the documents in this section suggest the global impact of the "War to end all wars"?

W        10/16  MIDTERM

F          10/18  Discussion Sections

The 1920s

M        10/21  Reading: American Horizons, Chapter 22; Reading AH, 22

W        10/23  Reading:  Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday, excerpts http://americainclass.org/sources/becomingmodern/theage/text2/allenonlyyesterday.pdf

Reading Questions: What do you make of Frederick Lewis Allen's "informal history"? Written in 1931, what events seem important in retrospect and what seems best forgotten? What does 'Modernity' mean? What is new in the 1920s? Watch "The Waltz" and  "The Kiss", two three-minute YouTube clips from Flesh and the Devil,  a film about a potentially adulterous affair between Greta Garbo and John Gilbert,  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr2ehyOz2Ms) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBnLqRPnLLM  What do we learn from this film about sexualty and convention? How is "sex" sold in the

How do the documents in  American Horizons identify reactionary rejections of modernity?

F          10/25  Discussion Sections

The Great Depression and the New Deal

M        10/28  Reading: American Horizons, Chapter 23; Reading AH, 23

W        10/30  Reading: Migrant Workers (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/fsahtml/fachap03.html)

Links to WPA mural collections: http://www.wpamurals.com

Reading Questions: Examine a few of the murals created as part of the New Deal WPA program. What do these murals convey about the New Deal's message to the people about how their economy works and who, exactly, makes it work? What two murals would you select as the clearest expression of the government's message?

F          11/1    Discussion Sections

WWII and the Home Front

M        11/4    Reading: American Horizons, Chapters 24; Reading AH, 24

W        11/6    Reading: The Best Years of Our Lives (clips), A. Philip Randolph, "The Call to Negro America to March on Washington" (1941) http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/archive/resources/documents/ch30_02.htm

Reading Questions: How does the film The Best Years of Our Lives depict the consequences of the Second World War?  Does it adequately address racial experiences? Use the documents by the Western Defense Command, Eleanor Roosevelt and A. Philip Randolph to consider race in this time period. What scenes would you add to address diversity in the wake of WWII?

F          11/8    Discussion Sections

Suburbia and Civil Rights

M        11/11  No Class; watch Four Little Girls (film)

W        11/13  Reading: American Horizons, Chapters 25 & 26; Reading AH, 25 & 26

Martin Luther King, Jr.,  "I have a dream ," (1963).


Reading Questions:  When many Americans think about what is "normative" in the American lifestyle, such as the nuclear family, home ownership, automobile, and consumer society.  How do the readings help us understand how this normativity is constructed and who is excluded? "I have a dream" is one of the few phrases that most Americans know by Martin Luther King, Jr. When did you first learn about the "I have a dream" speech? What was your impression of it? Why isn't the Birmingham bombing part of our national memory in the same way?

F          11/15  Discussion Sections

Movements in the 1960s and 1970's

M        11/18 Reading: American Horizons, Chapter 27; Reading AH, 27

W        11/20  Reading:  Bullard, R. D. 1990. Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality (Boulder, CO: Westview), Chapter 2. (http://www.ciesin.columbia.edu/docs/010-278/010-278chpt2.html)

            Fierce Green Fire (film)

Reading Questions: TBA

F          11/22  Discussion Sections

Vietnam and the 1970s

M        11/25  Reading: American Horizons, Chapters 28; Reading AH, 28

W        11/27 

F          11/28  Thanksgiving Break – No Class

After the Cold War

M        12/2    Reading:  American Horizons, Chapters 29; Reading AH, 29

W        12/4    Reading:  American Horizons, Chapters 30; Reading AH, 30

Reading Questions: TBA

F          12/6    Discussion