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UNI – Fall 2013
American Civilization: America in a Global Context
Social Science 900:023, Section 4, Tues/Thurs 2:00-3:15
Office: Seerley 336 – Telephone: 273-5909
Office Hours: Tues 11:30-12:30; 3:15-4:30; Thurs. 11:30-12:30, and by appt.
This is a lecture and discussion course in American society from the pre-Columbian era to the present. This course will not attempt to provide comprehensive coverage of American history – to do this in one semester would mean there would be no time to analyze and discuss American society. This course will focus on one very broad theme: America in a global context. Within the framework of this theme we will explore how the politics, social movements, and technological developments of the United States were embedded in a broader stream of cultural values, popular prejudices, ideologies and semi-official mythologies. During this period, the United States underwent several national shifts: from a colony to a republic, from subsistence oriented economy to a market oriented society, from a rural nation to an urbanized one, from a pre-modern sense of human insignificance to a modern concept of humanism and individualism. In this class, we will try to puzzle out what these and several other transformations mean, for our society, the world, and ourselves.
American Civilization and the Liberal Arts Core:
This course fulfills Category 5 of UNI’s Liberal Arts Core. Part of the purpose of this category is that “Students should … understand and identify relationships between the past, present, and future to further their understanding of their world and the roles that they play in their own society and in the world. Such understandings will enhance their ability to think critically, realize the importance of historical consciousness, make informed choices, examine and evaluate their values, assume the responsibilities of citizenship, and promote change in their community, country and world. …Students should gain experience in research, that is, the use of original sources, surveys, and other social science methodologies and be encouraged to develop and utilize skills in inquiry, critical analysis, and logical thinking.” For these reasons this class will focus on developing and honing critical thinking and analytical skills that will enable you to be historians yourselves, and thus make you better able to understand the United States in a global context, in the past, present and future.
1. Attendance: After four absences students risk failing the course. If you need to miss a class, make arrangements to borrow all notes, hand-outs, and lecture outlines from one of your colleagues in the class. Even if you tell me you are going to miss a class, you are still responsible for the material presented or discussed during the missed period.
2. Graded work: Grades for the course will be based on 3 take home exams, 6 quizzes and class participation.
Exams – 25% each
Quizzes – 15% (averaged total of top 5 quizzes)
Class Participation – 10%
The content of the take home exams will be discussed during the semester. You will receive an assignment sheet for each exam. Take home exams are due in class on the listed due date. Late exams will be marked down. Class participation is demonstrated by a willingness to keep up with readings, an ability to understand and take part in class discussions and an ability to integrate class discussions into your own work.
Quizzes will be based on the reading due for that day and will not be announced. I will drop the lowest quiz score – there will be no make ups.
Course Website: go to http://www.uni.edu/cutter/Class%20Website/default.htm Then click on “American Civilization”
The course syllabus and selected class handouts will be available on this website.
Plagiarism is defined by UNI policy as the “process of stealing or passing off as one’s own the ideas or words of another, or presenting as one’s own an idea or product which is derived from an existing source.” All students are expected to be familiar with UNI’s plagiarism policy, which is located in the UNI Catalog of Courses, 2012-2014 under Academic Ethics Policies. As the policy states, “The plea of ignorance … is not a compelling defense against allegations of plagiarism. A college student, by the fact that s(he) holds that status, is expected to understand the distinction between proper scholarly use of others’ work and plagiarism.” [http://catalog.uni.edu/generalinformation/academicregulations/] Any student found committing plagiarism in this class is subject to disciplinary action.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA provides protection from discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities. Please address any special needs or special accommodations with me at the beginning of the semester or as soon as you become aware of your needs. Those seeking accommodations based on disabilities should obtain a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form from Student Disability Services (SDS) (phone 319-273-2676). SDS is located on the top floor of the Student Health Center, Room 103.
Almost all the readings for this course will be on a course CD which will be available for purchase in the History Dept office (319 Seerley) for $1. A few additional readings will be available through the course website.
**You will need to print out the reading and bring it to class on the date each reading is due, so that you can use it during class discussion.
Part I – Early America – Individuals and Communities in Cultural Contact and Conflict
August 27: Introductions and Context
Reading due: “Algonquians and Iroquoians: Farmers of the Woodlands,” and “Of the Natural Inhabitants of Virginia,” in The Way We Lived, Volume 1, Chapter 1, 3-15; and “Conquest and Colliding Empires” in, Major Problems in American History, Volume 1, Chapter 1: documents 4-6 (pp. 7-15).
Reading due: Colonial New England and the Middle Colonies in British America,” in Major Problems in American History, Vol. 1, Chapter 3, 70-85.
Reading due: “Colonial New England and the Middle Colonies in British America,” in Major Problems in American History, Vol. 1, Chapter 3, 85-100.
Reading due: “Husbands and Wives, Parents and Children in Puritan Society,” in The Way We Lived, Vol. 1, Chapter 3, 40--57. [CD] and “Rules for Praying Indians” [Handout on class website].
Reading due: “Conflicting Cultural Values in Early America,” in The Way We Lived, Vol. 1, Chapter 2, 21-37.
Reading due: excerpts from Laws of Virginia 17th and early 18th Century.
Reading due: Breen and Innes “Anthony Johnson” in Retracing the Past, pp. 28-34; and Winthrop Jordan, “Englishmen and Africans” in American Experiences, pp. 52-64.
Sept. 24: African Cultures, The Slave Trade and Meanings of Race
Video: selection from Wonders of Africa with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and discussion
Sept. 26: The European Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of the American Revolution
Reading due: Alfred Young, “George Robert Twelves Hewes,” in The Way We Lived, Vol. 1, Chapter 7, 120-130.
Oct. 1: The Rights of Englishmen
Oct. 8: Legacies of the Revolution: the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the unruly masses
Reading due: Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Constitution, and Bill of Rights [links to documents on class website] Discussion of Documents
Oct 15: From Local to Global: the Market Revolution and the New Economy (cont.)
Reading due: “The Onset of Industry,” in The Way We Lived, Vol. 1 Chapter 8, 142-155.
Oct. 24: The Civil War
Reading due: Civil War Documents,” in The Civil War and Reconstruction: A
A. The Rise of Corporations and Consumers
Oct. 29: Railroads, Indian Removal and the Rise of Big Business
*** 2nd Take Home Exam Due***
Nov. 5: The Bargain Between Capital and Labor and the Rise of Consumer Culture
Reading: “Crossing a Cultural Divide: The Twenties,” Major Problems in American History, Vol. 2, Chapter 7, 195-213.
Nov. 7: Consumer Culture: Popular Culture, Flappers and New Identities
Nov. 12: Consumer Culture II: Popular Culture, Flappers and New Identities
Reading due: finish “Crossing a Cultural Divide: The Twenties,” Major Problems, Vol. 2, Chapter 7, 181-195.
B. The U.S., The Cold War and Global Corporate Capitalism, 1945-present
Nov. 21: Cold War and Cold War Foreign Policy
Movie: Red Nightmare (1962) Reading: the Mixon-Khruschev "Kitchen Debate" [class handout]
**Thanksgiving Break – no class Nov. 26 or 28**
Dec. 5: Civil Rights and Democratic Access – North and South
Reading: “Making the Great Society: Civil Rights,” Major Problems, Vol. 2, Chapter 12, 345-357 and 358-364
Dec. 10: Citizenship and Corporate Capitalism
Reading: Thomas Frank, “Why Johnny Can’t Dissent” Commodify your Dissent: Salvos from the Baffler, eds Thomas Frank and Matt Weiland, WW Norton & Company, New York and London (1997)
Dec 12: catch up and review day
Take Home Final Examination. Due Wednesday Dec. 18 at 2:00, in my office, 336 Seerley.