History | American History II
H106 | 5477 | E. Petenbrink


Above class open to undergraduates and EDUC MA's only

Often thought of as a “melting pot,” the definition of an American
citizen and the self-image of the nation state have actually been
dynamic, contested, and fluid concepts through the history of the
United States.  Examining the period from the Civil War to the
present, this course will examine how these key ideas in the
political, intellectual, social, and cultural life of our country
have shifted over time.  Students will read about and discuss key
concepts in the history of the United States, but also consider how
these events remain relevant to current political, social, and
economic forces in contemporary America.  For example, how have
debates over immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
century influenced current debates about homeland security and
illegal immigration?  How have shifting ideas about race and notions
of inclusiveness changed the goals and tactics of African American
politics, from the end of slavery to the civil rights and black
power movements of the 1960s to the recent election of Barack
Obama?  And, perhaps most significantly, what has citizenship and
nationalism meant in an increasingly interconnected and
transnational world?  These kinds of questions will guide us through
this survey of America’s past and provide students with new contexts
for understanding their own world.

Students will be asked to think critically about not only major
events during this time period in the United States, but also about
the ever-changing concepts of citizenship, nationalism, the role of
government, and the ideals of American democracy.  In addition to
lectures and classroom discussions, students will be asked to
examine a wide range of primary and secondary literature:  chapters
from an assigned textbook, independent articles written by
historians, contemporary images and texts, political speeches, etc.
Through this process, students will enhance their ability to think
analytically, form arguments, and present their ideas in writing.
Students will be evaluated on their progress through three written
examinations, in-class exercises, and active participation in
classroom discussion.