History | The United States in an Age of Terror: 1989 to the Present
A379 | 24812 | McGerr
Above section open to undergraduates only
This lecture class explores the most recent history of the United
States. Beginning with the late 1980s, the course focuses
especially on the ways in which terrorism and other aspects of
globalization have defined American life. Topics include: the
Persian Gulf War and the “New World Order”; the impact of
immigration; deindustrialization, outsourcing, and the spread of
multinationals; the rise of Al Qaeda and 9/11; and the U.S. response
to terrorism, including the “Bush Doctrine” and the Afghan and Iraq
wars. We will also study: the conservative political
revolution; “culture wars” over sexuality, abortion, and religion;
changing patterns of class, race relations, and family life; and the
economic and cultural impact of the information revolution.
The class emphasizes the development of critical analytical skills
through the close examination of different kinds of historical
evidence, the writing of papers and exams, and participation in
discussion. Particularly because there is hardly any written
history about this period of American life yet, we will do what
professional historians have to do—analyze a broad range of primary
sources including speeches, congressional debates, government
documents, court rulings, newspaper and magazine articles,
advertisements, memoirs, films, and television programs.
Assignments, which average 65 pages a week, include a variety of on-
line materials, two books (Richard A. Clarke, "Against All Enemies:
Inside America’s War on Terror" and Anthony Swofford, "Jarhead: A
Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles"), and two
films ("Bulworth" and "Wag the Dog").
Each student will write several brief papers (1 to 3 pages), two in-
class tests, and a final exam. The grading formula is:
participation in discussion section, 25%; all the short papers, 20%;
two in-class tests, 15% each; and final exam, 25%.