This course surveys the history of the United States since the 1940s. It will acquaint students with the key developments that defined the postwar order, focusing especially on the history of inequality, politics and public policy, social movements, and intellectual life. As students make their way through the course, they will learn to think historically in the broadest sense–situating texts within their social context, engaging with diverse and unfamiliar perspectives, and gaining an appreciation for the complexity of human experience. In the process, students will tackle historical questions with contemporary relevance. What forces have made American society more or less equal, and how should equality be measured in the first place? How have race, class, and gender affected opportunities and outcomes for different Americans over time? To what extent have everyday people shaped the broader history of American capitalism, democracy, and social thought? To what extent have these broader developments shaped the lives of everyday people? Are we now living in an age of fracture or an age of liberation? The course will cover such topics as Cold War culture; the mass consumer economy; racial inequality, both Southern and Northern; the changing role of women at home and in the workplace; the global dimensions of the 1960s; the origins of the New Right; and the roots of modern polarization in conflicts over such issues as–busing, abortion, and privatization.
The Class: Format: lecture
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and participation; six informal response papers (300-400 words); two unit papers (4-6 pages); final paper (10 pages max)
Prerequisites: none, open to all students
Enrollment Preferences: History majors or students with a demonstrated interest in U.S. History
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada