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download the fall syllabus (word file)


download the fall syllabus (word file)

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									                      AS/History 3640
The United States: Emergence of a Modern Society, 1865-1950

Jason Reid
2122 Vari Hall
Office hours: Friday, 11:30-12:30
Course Website:

Course Summary

This course will look at how the forces of modernization—the rise of capitalism,
industrialization, democratization, and the emergence of the mass media, to
name only a few—transformed American culture between the end of the Civil
War and the beginning of the Cold War. Although attention will be paid to
political, economic, and social changes, this class should rightly be considered a
cultural history course. We will be examining a diverse number of topics from a
cultural perspective, including childhood and adolescence; American
architecture, art, and fiction; the rise of organized sport, radio, and film; the
emergence of jazz and other forms of African-American culture; as well as those
individuals and groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, who resisted modernity and
the changes it wrought. A loose narrative will be maintained throughout, but by
and large this course will be structured thematically rather than chronologically.


You will not be required to purchase a course reader or any textbooks. All of the
readings can be found either at the reserve desk in the library or online. In select
instances I will provide you with handouts in class. Because there is no
prerequisite for this course, some weeks I will urge you to read portions of Paul
Boyer et al. The Enduring Vision, the course textbook for HIST 2600. This can be
found at the library or the bookstore.

Grade Breakdown

The grade breakdown for HIST 3640 is as follows:

     Participation / In-Class Assignments - 20%
     First Term Essay - 15%
     Second Term Essay - 25%
     Midterm Exam - 15%
     Final Exam - 25%
Participation and In-Class Assignments

Over the course of the year you will be expected to attend four tutorials (two per
term). Attendance will be taken and your participation will be duly noted. In the
remaining classes you will be given a small assignment to complete, based on
the assigned readings. These assignments will be graded and returned to you
the following week.


You will write two essays in this course. The first one, due in class at the end of
the first term, will be a critique of a scholarly article. The main purpose of this
paper is to gage your writing skills and your abilities to criticize scholarly work.
The second paper, due in class at the end of the second term, will be roughly 10-
12 pages long and will allow you to explore an aspect of American culture in
depth. In the last week of January you will be expected to hand in a brief
summary of your topic, along with a short bibliography. The final paper must
consist of a mix of primary and secondary sources.

Academic Honesty

York Senate Policy on Academic Honesty forbids the following activities:
cheating during examinations, failing to use quotation marks and citations when
using the work of others, submitting work written by someone else or submitted
in another course, and aiding or abetting academic misconduct. Should anyone
be caught violating this policy, punishment will be severe. This may or may not
include: failing the course, suspension from the University, and withholding or
rescinding a York degree. For further information see:

I will be using to check essays.


You will write two exams in this course—a midterm exam in December, and a
final exam in April. The midterm will be a take-home exam in which you will be
expected to answer two to three essay questions. It will be due sometime before
the regular exam period ends (I will announce this in class). The final will not be a
take-home exam, but it will in all likelihood retain the same structure as the
               Lecture Schedule – Fall Term
September 10th : Defining A Modern Society

      No Readings

September 17th: No Class ( Rosh Hashanah )

September 24th: Socio-Economic Trends of the Postwar Years

      In-Class Assignment:
      Calhoun, Charles W. The Gilded Age, Intro, ch.1-2. (on reserve)
      Suggested Reading:
      Boyer et al, The Enduring Vision, ch. 18-22.

October 1st: The Cult of Childhood

      First 25 – Seminar
      Last 25 – Reading Summary
      : Gary Cross, Kids’ Stuff, ch.3 (on reserve)

October 8th: The Culture of the Gilded Age

      In-Class Assignment
      Henry Demarest Lloyd, “The Lords of Industry”
      Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class, ch. 7

October 15th: Resisting Modernity– Scientists, Angry Farmers, and the KKK

      Last 25 – Seminar
      First 25 – Reading Summary
      : Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race, ch. 4.
      : Henry M. Littlefield, "The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism," American
      Quarterly 16 (1964): 47-58
      Suggested Reading
      : Boyer et al, The Enduring Vision, p. 309-30, 417-9, 421-6, 445-6.
October 22nd: Pragmatism – The American Philosophy

     In-Class Assignment
     : William James, ―What Pragmatism Means?‖

October 29th: The Emergence of American Architecture

     FILM - ‗New York: A Documentary‘, episode 5, “Cosmopolis” (Ric Burns)

November 5th: Urban / Suburban Environments

     First 25 – Seminar
     Last 25 – Reading Summary
     : W.E. Johnson, ‗The Day the Ghost Walks‘
     : Mary Waddell, ‗The Outcast‘
     : ‗Your Daughter or the Saloon Keeper‘s—Which‘, ‗The Full Father and the
     Empty Stocking‘, and ‗Daddy‘s In There‘

November 12th: The Muckrakers

     In-Class Assignment
     : Upton Sinclair, ‗The Jungle‘, ch. 14

November 19th: The Rise of Advertising and a New Economy

     Last 25 – Seminar
     First 25 – Reading Summary
     : Roland Marchand, “Apostles of Modernity” in ‗Advertising the American
     Dream‘, 1-24 (on reserve).
     : Bruce Barton, ‗The Man Nobody Knows‘ (excerpts)
November 26th: The Visual Arts

      In-Class Assignment
      : Robert Hughes, American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America,
      321-335 (Jacob Riis, Robert Henri, etc), 348-362 (Alfred Stieglitz, the
      Armory Show), 422-430 (Edward Hopper).

December 3rd: The Rise of Organized Sport

      FILM - ‗Baseball, 1st Inning‘ (Ken Burns)


END OF TERM ONE: Midterm exam (tba)

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