History 446: America Between the Wars
Class meets Tues-Thurs 4.15-5.30 in 124 WALKER
Philip Jenkins Office: 407 Weaver Building
Please note: I check my e-mail regularly (obsessively?) and this is an excellent way to get in touch with me if you have a quick question or if you want to make an appointment for a more substantial discussion.
This course discusses the history of the United States between 1918 and 1945, an era of quite revolutionary social, cultural and political transformation. Among other things, this period is known for the boom years of the so-called roaring twenties, followed by the catastrophe of the Crash and Great Depression, and the restoration efforts of the New Deal. The lead-up to the second world war also raised fundamental issues about the nature of the American nation, and the country's global role.
There are three components to this course:
a. Two essay exams.
Both will be in take-home format, and will draw on both classroom materials and outside readings.
b. Research paper.
You will also be expected to write a major research paper on some topic arising from the class. The paper should be at least fifteen pages in length, fully referenced, with the topic to be agreed with the instructor. Please note: I have to approve the specific topic in advance. Don't go ahead until you get written approval from me on this one (ie if you suggest a general topic and I suggest it is on the right lines but you need to think about the exact approach, that does not give the go-ahead). I will of course offer assistance with bibliographies and advice about library materials. Also, be aware that the Gordon book has just an excellent set of bibliographies on every conceivable topic: please use them.
One option which you may consider if you choose is the following: take any one novel from the list appended at the end of this syllabus: all were published by American writers between 1918 and 1945, and your paper will then discuss the book as a historical source on the period under discussion. You may well have come across some or all of these books in previous classes, and possibly written on them, but I stress that this is not a simple book report. It is a historical rather than a literary analysis (though you might need to touch on literary approaches). You might comment, for example, on how the book reflects the mood of the society at the particular time it was written; what it reveals about attitudes towards race, class or gender; and/or what it suggests about the political attitudes of the time. Basically, I want to know what a historian studying this period might learn from this book. Incidentally, none of these books is on reserve, since they should all be easy to get in cheap editions from any good bookstore. If you cannot get hold of a library copy, please be sure to order a copy of your own in lots of time. Any good bookstore (eg Svoboda's) should be able to get a copy within a week or two at most. These are also exactly the sort of items that will be available second-hand at Websters on Allen Street.
Whatever your choice of topic, you should submit a preliminary draft, which I will then discuss with you on an individual basis during office hours. This draft should be a complete version of everything you propose to be in the final paper, properly written and argued (ie not just a sketch or in point form). This draft will then be revised to create a final version due for presentation in the final examination period. Needless to say, grading will take account of issues such as grammar and punctuation.
Grading for the course will therefore be based on these components:
a. Two essay examinations, each 25% of the total grade = 50%
b. research paper. = 50%
Regular class attendance and participation are of course expected as a necessary element of the final grade.
Deadlines matter, and I intend to enforce them strictly. If you miss a deadline without getting an extension in advance, you get a non-negotiable grade of F on that particular exam, paper or project. Do not get in touch with me after the fact to explain why you missed an exam, unless you produce a proper medical note. Excuses must always be supported by documentation. Valid reasons include medical problems and the like.
All are required, and all are in paperback.
1. Colin Gordon, ed., Major Problems in American History 1920-1945 (Houghton Mifflin, 1999). ISBN: 0-395-87074-7
2. Philip Jenkins, Hoods and Shirts (University of North Carolina 1997). ISBN: 0807823163
3. Robert S. McElvaine, The Great Depression (Times Books 1994). ISBN: 0812923278
4. Studs Terkel, Hard Times (New York: Pantheon, 1986). ISBN: 0394746910
SYLLABUS OF CLASSES
1. Jan 11
World War I and afterwards.
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 1-24
2. Jan 13
Reds and the Red Scare.
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 25-54
3. Jan 18
FILM - The American Experience 2: The Great War, 1918
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 150-180
4. Jan 20
Immigrants and their enemies.
READ Jenkins, HOODS AND SHIRTS, chapters one through four
5. Jan 25
Gender and family.
6. Jan 27
7. Feb 1
FILM - The American Experience 2: Demon Rum
8. Feb 3
FILM - Dust Bowl
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp.210-239
I NEED TO KNOW THE TOPICS OF YOUR TERM PAPERS TODAY
9. Feb 8
FILM - The American Experience 3: Lindbergh
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 89-115
10. Feb 10
FILM - The Great Depression: 1 -- A Job at Ford's
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 56-87
11. Feb 15
Crash and Depression.
FILM - The American Experience 3: The Crash of 1929
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp.182-209
12. Feb 17
Coping with catastrophe.
FILM - The Great Depression: 2 -- The Road to Rock Bottom
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 273-301
13. Feb 22
14. Feb 24
The New Deal
FILM - The Great Depression: 3 -- New Deal, New York
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 303-336
15. Feb 29
FILM - The American Experience 5: Sit Down and Fight -- Walter Reuther and the Rise of the Autoworkers' Union
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 338-368
16. March 2
Crime and morality
FILM - The American Experience 4: G-Men -- The Rise of J. Edgar Hoover #61455
READ: McElvaine, GREAT DEPRESSION
17. March 14
The sex crime panic
FILM - The Great Depression: 6 -- To Be Somebody
18. March 16
The courts; Race and civil rights
FILM - The American Experience 5: Goin' Back to T-Town
19. March 21
DISCUSSION of Terkel, HARD TIMES
20. March 23
The South and West.
FILM - The American Experience 6: The Hurricane of '38
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp.241-271
21. March 28
FILM - The Great Depression: 4 -- We Have a Plan
22. March 30
Culture of the 1930s
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 118-149
23. April 4
The new radicalism
FILM - The American Experience 1: The Radio Priest
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 370-396
DRAFT OF TERM PAPERS DUE
24. April 6
The radical Right 1930-42
FILM - The Great Depression: 5 -- Mean Things Happening
READ Jenkins, HOODS AND SHIRTS chapters five through eight
25. April 11
Isolation and intervention.
FILM - The Great Depression: 7 -- Arsenal of Democracy
26. April 13
27. April 18
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 398-426
28. April 20
The war's impact at home.
READ: Gordon, Major Problems, pp. 428-450
29. April 25
Towards the Cold War.
READ Jenkins, HOODS AND SHIRTS, chapters nine and ten
30. April 27
FINAL DRAFT OF TERM PAPER DUE IN FINALS PERIOD
List of novels you might choose for the historical reading paper, IF that is the option you choose.
Lewis Browne, See What I Mean? (1943)
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy (1926)
Dashiell Hammett, The Dain Curse (1929)
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (1930)
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926)
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1941)
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922)
Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith (1925)
Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry (1927)
Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here (1935)
John O'Hara, Appointment in Samarra (1934)
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
John Steinbeck, Cannery Row (1945)
Richard Wright, Native Son (1940)