B.A. in History, Virginia Tech
19th century American South; Texas History; Military History; Historical Memory
HIS S315L • The United States Since 1865
83630 • Summer 2016
Meets MTWTHF 100pm-230pm MEZ B0.306
This course is a survey of United States history from the end of the American Civil War until the present. The period from 1865 to 2016 has been one of tremendous economic, demographic, and political change. At the same time, many of the issues and questions that confronted Americans in 1865 are still with us in some form. What is the role of the federal government? What kind of economic system should the United States have? What does “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” mean in the context of the lived American experience?
To explore these themes, we will read from both secondary and primary sources, and discuss the issues that these sources raise. This fast-paced course is writing intensive, and will require a small amount of daily writing, as well as written assessments over the course of the semester. The class also has a discussion-based component, and requires attendance and active participation from students.
The goals of this course are twofold: first, I want you to learn to think historically. You will learn how to read primary and secondary sources like a historian, and how to contextualize, compare, and draw connection between historical events and trends. These cognitive skills are critical in the twenty-first century knowledge economy! Second, I want every student to leave this course able to articulate the basic themes, issues, and chronology of American history over the past 150 years. This course focuses on concepts and themes rather than on names and dates, but I do expect you to gain an understanding of important people, places, events, and chronology as well.
Course grades will be composed of the following:
1) One one-hour mid-term exam worth 30 percent of the course grade, consisting of an ID section, 3-5 short answer questions, and an essay question.
2) A final exam covering the last half of the course, with the same format as the mid-term exam, worth 30 percent of the course grade.
3) Five weekly in-class responses, each worth 5 percent of the course grade, for a total of 25 percent of the course grade. These responses are based on the week’s readings and lecture, and are written with the aid of your notes.
4) Attendance, worth 5 percent of your course grade; attendance will be taken beginning 15 minutes prior to each class. Each student is allowed two (2) excused absences; these are freebees and do not have to be coordinated with me ahead of time. Additional unavoidable absences must be coordinated with me. Each unexcused absence will result in the deduction of 1 percent of the course grade, up to the maximum of 5 percent.
5) Participation, worth 10 percent of your course grade; 5 percent is awarded for short daily reading responses and 5 percent is awarded for participation in classroom discussion. Failure to complete a daily response will deduct .5 points, up to the maximum of 5 percentage points allotted for this requirement.
Required Text: none
All readings are available online through Canvas or other free sources.
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