HIST 479
Recent U.S. History: The 1970s and 1980s Fall 2016
Division II Writing Skills
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The 1970s and 1980s are decades that mark the beginning of many of the phenomenon shaping the United States today: the rise of economic inequality; the origins of globalization; the first awareness of an “energy crisis;” the birth of social movements like feminism, gay rights, and black power; the deepening of urban poverty and the expansion of the criminal justice system; the ascendance of stock market and financial deregulation; the transition to a service economy; the growth of new forms of art and music like hip-hop and punk; the rise of evangelical Christianity as a political force; the emergence of a conservative movement; the end of Soviet Communism. This course will look at the political, economic, cultural and intellectual history of the 1970s and 1980s in the United States, with a special eye to the question of how and why conservative politics and a neoliberal economic order developed alongside liberal social and cultural values. We will consider the connection between the right and the left over this period, asking how we should think about the rise of the gay rights movement, the legacy of the civil rights movement, and the evolution of feminism in the broader context of American political and economic history. The course will also address some of the transnational aspects of recent American history, both the ways that ideas from other parts of the world have shaped American politics and society and the impact that the United States has had on the rest of the world. We will make use mostly of primary documents-political speeches, manifestos, music and lyrics, film, journalism and fiction-but we will also consider the ways that scholars have tried to conceptualize such recent history. While we will look at political leaders, intellectuals and the evolution of national politics, we will also consider the role of social movements, popular culture and the actions and ideas of people with no special access to power in shaping the history of the period. Throughout, we will ask: what are the connections between this history and the present? What lessons can we draw to think about our contemporary political and economic situation? Students will develop their own research questions and will produce a 20-page paper based on original research.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1592
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: 20-page research paper
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: senior History majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada

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