Social Science Education


US History Since 1865

Instructor:            Professor Foster
Office:                 320 Stalker Hall
Phone:                237-8432

This course surveys the history of the United States from the end of the Civil War until the present day.  We will explore political, social, cultural, and economic developments.  During these years, the United States changed from being a predominantly rural/agricultural country to a major industrial power and urban nation and then again, to a post-industrial nation. Throughout this time period, Americans have struggled to provide voice, power, and affirmation to the diverse groups living in the country, moving from a nation where white men held most of the power to one in which power is more diffused.  These years also saw the United States transformed from a middle power with great ambition to one of the most powerful nations ever to have existed in the world.  These three themes shape our study of US history since 1865.

The course meets in Stalker Hall 304 from 2-2:50 p.m., M/W/F.  I take attendance each day, and attendance is mandatory.  Although attendance is not directly factored into your grade, excessive absences will negatively affect your grade.  Even minimal absences can negatively affect your grade if you do not make up work missed.  Please talk to me about absences for which you have a good explanation (i.e., illness, family crisis, participation in away sports events, etc.).

    Books assigned:  The course uses a textbook and three additional books.  Writing assignments will be based on the books assigned for the course.  The books are available for sale in the bookstore.  Please be sure to get the correct edition of the textbook.

        Mary Beth Norton,, A People and a Nation, 6th brief   
        edition, vol. 2
        Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward
Michael Adams, The Best War Ever
Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can't Wait

    Course components and grading:  Your grade is based on the following elements: midterm exam, writing assignments, co-curricular activities, and final exam.  Explanations for each component follow the course schedule in this syllabus.  The breakdown is as follows:

        Midterm examination            15%
        Co-curricular activities          20%
        Reading questions                40%
        Final exam                              30%

    Professor information:  My office hours are Mondays and Fridays, 10-10:50 a.m. and Wednesdays 3-4 p.m., but on M/W/F you can often find me in my office except during my teaching hours, and should feel free to drop by.   I rarely come to campus on T/Th, but am often available by e-mail for questions and concerns.  Please also schedule an appointment if you would like.

Week 1:  August 27/29
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapter 16

Week 2:  September 1 (no class Monday, Labor Day)/3/5
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapters 17-18
                      Looking Backward, author's preface, chapters 1-11
    Assignment:  Reading Question 1 due Friday September 5 in

Week 3:  September 8/10/12
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapters 19-20
                      Looking Backward, chapters 12-22
    Assignment:  Reading Question 2 due Wednesday September 10
    in class

Week 4:  September 15/17/19
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapter 21
                      Looking Backward, chapter 23-end
    Assignment:  Reading Question 3 due Wednesday September 17
    in class

Week 5:  September 22/24/26
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapters 22-23

Week 6:  September 29/October 1/3
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapters 24-25
    Assignment:  1st co-curricular assignment due no later than
    Friday October 3
(Note:  If you are choosing option 4, whether alone or in
         conjunction with another category, you need to give me in
         writing, a brief description of your project by Oct. 3.)

Week 7:  October 6/8/10 (no class Friday, Fall Break)
Assignment:  Midterm Examination Wednesday October 8
    in class

Week 8:  October 13/15/17
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapter 26
                      Best War Ever, chapters 1-2
    Assignment:  Reading Question 4 due Wednesday October 15 in

Week 9:  October 20/22/24
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapter 27
                      Best War Ever, chapters 3-4
    Assignment:  Reading Question 5 due Wednesday October 22 in

Week 10:  October 28/29/31
Reading:  Best War Ever, chapters 5-7
    Assignment:  Reading Question 6 due Wednesday October 29 in

Week 11:  November 3/5/7
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapters 28-29
                     Why Can't We Wait, introduction and chapters 1-2
    Assignment:  Reading Question 7 due Wednesday November 5 in

Week 12:  November 10/12/14
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapter 30
                      Why Can't We Wait, chapters 3-5
    Assignment:  Reading Question 8 due Wednesday November 12
    in class
        2nd co-curricular assignment due no later than November
        Category 4 co-curriculars also due no later than
        November 14.

Week 13:  November 17/19/21
Reading:  Why Can't We Wait, chapters 6-8
    Assignment:  Reading Question 9 due Wednesday November 19
    in class

Week 14:  November 24/26/28 (No class Wednesday or Friday- HAPPY THANKSGIVING)
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapter 31

Week 15:  December 1/3/5
Reading:  A People and a Nation, chapters 32-33
            NOTE:  Friday December 3 is last day to turn in co-
            curricular assignments

Week 16: December 8/10/12 (Study Week-classes meet)

Reading Questions:
    In the weeks indicated in your syllabus, please submit a reading question about the (non-textbook) reading for that week by Wednesday of the week in which the reading is assigned.  These questions should demonstrate that you have read and intellectually engaged  the material in the reading.  They can be requests for further information, for explanation of points you still find confusing after some thought, or they can be your ideas about what the author has left out, alternative explanations, or topics you thought were neglected.  Your reading question should not be a summary of the material presented in that week's reading, nor even (although this is better) a restatement of the argument/ point made by the author.  What you write can CONTAIN some summary or re-statement, but only by adding your own ideas about the reading can you earn full credit.  If you are having troubles coming up with your own thoughts, consider the following questions (although a direct answer to these questions is also not a particularly impressive reading question, and these topics are certainly not exhaustive):  (1) Why did Prof. Foster assign this book?  (2) How does what I am reading in this book relate to what the text or lectures have said about the same topic?  (3) How does the particular point of view of this author shape what he (all our authors happen to be men) is writing?  (4) What else might I want to know about this content, or about the conditions under which this book was written?
    Although it is possible that a one-line, one-sentence question would be brilliant enough to receive full credit, it is more likely that you will earn full credit for a paragraph-length (3-5 sentences) questions, and it is permissible to write up to approximately one page.  I prefer that you type your questions, but I require legible handwriting at a minimum.  Because this type of assignment is a bit unusual, I have assigned 9 reading questions throughout the semester, but will only count the grades for 8 of them.  This generosity on my part is not tacit permission for you to skip one question:  if you fail to turn in 9 questions, I will record a zero as one of your 8 grades.

Co-Curricular Assignments:
    These assignments are designed to enable you to take your learning about history out into the world a little bit.  There are three levels of possible ways to fulfill this requirement.  You may combine from the categories as suits your interests and needs.  You can earn up to 20% of your grade through these assignments, and may continue submitting (subject to restrictions below) work in this category until you have earned the full 20 points.

Category 1:  Watching documentaries on historical dramas and writing about them
5 points maximum for each.  Maximum of two (2) allowed.
Select a historical documentary or drama in consultation with me.  Then answer the questions I have provided on the worksheet.  You can get the worksheet from me in class.  Do not watch a documentary or movie without getting my permission first; you will not want to have wasted your time.

Category 2:  Visiting history exhibits, museums, or talks
10 points maximum for each.
Visit a history exhibit or history museum of any type, then answer questions I have provided on the worksheet, available from me in class.  I will announce talks given on campus and in Terre Haute which meet the requirements of this category.  Please assist me by informing me of anything you think might also be worthwhile.

In Terre Haute, you can go to:

-C.A.N.D.L.E.S   Holocaust Museum, at 1532 S. Third Street, open Wed., Thursday and Saturday 12-2 p.m.  Donation of $2.00 per person.

-Swope Art Museum, on 7th Street between Ohio and Wabash.  It is open Tues-Fri. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sat/Sun noon-5 p.m.  Admission is free.

-On campus, consult with the Art Department about where to find historically important works of art held by ISU (especially works produced under auspices of WPA).

-On campus, visit the Rare Books and Special Collections Division in the Library and investigate part of the holdings which are of interest to you.

You can also to to museums, historical societies, etc. elsewhere in Indiana, or if you visit somewhere else during the course of the semester.  Please just check with me before you go to make sure it will count.

Category 3:  History on the web
10 points maximum for each.
Find a website about a historical topic related to the subject of this class (i.e., you can go to a WWII website, but it has to be about the US experience in WWII) and answer the questions on the worksheet, available from me in class.  I advise you to come check with me about the reliability of your website if you have any worries.  Please come to my office and we'll look at it  together before you complete the worksheet.

Category 4:  Being a historian
20 points maximum.
Conduct an oral history with someone in your family, home town, or who you know here at ISU about an event or historical moment with which they were involved.  It could be a major event (i.e. fought in Vietnam War or participated in Civil Rights marches) or an event of more local importance (i.e., played an important role in key  local institutions like church, civic organizations, etc.).  Answer the questions on the worksheet provided by me and write a summary (approximately 2 pages) of your findings.
    Or, if you are interested in a local topic to long ago to have any survivors to interview, investigate in local libraries/historical societies, etc.  For example, you may want to know circumstances surrounding the founding of a church in your town, or the start of Little League baseball in your town or something similar.  Again, answer the questions on worksheet provided by me and write a summary (approximately 2 pages) of your findings.

    Both the midterm and final examinations will include identifications and essays.  The identifications will come from a list of those written on the blackboard before each lecture, and you will be expected to tell me about the term-what, when, who, where and (importantly) why it is historically significant.
    The essays will draw on important themes discussed in class and readings.  You always have a choice among essay questions.

     You will receive number grades on your written work.  For your information, these numbers translate to letters as follows:  93-100 = A; 90-92 = A; 88-89 = B+; 83-87 = B; 80-82 = B-; 78-79 = C+; 73-77 = C; 70-72 = C-; 68-69 = D+; 63-66 = D; 60-62 = D-; below 60 is failing, or E.
     The student handbook provides a general description of the level of work which corresponds to particular grades.  My own criteria follow:

    The "A" represents enthusiastic engagement with the material presented in class and in readings.  Work at this level not only reflects mastery of the material presented, but also significant "added value" by you.  To add value, you should consider how the material presented fits together as a whole, how it relates to material you have learned or are learning in other courses, the persuasiveness of the arguments made in lecture and readings, and how the material helps us to better understand the questions which both you and I bring to the study of this subject.

    The "B" represents engagement with the material presented in class and in readings.  Work at this level also reflects mastery of the material represented, as well as "added value."  Read the description of added value in the criteria for an "A."  Receiving this grade suggests that you have begun, but only begun, to provide meaningful assessment and integration of course materials.

    The "C" represents mastery of the material presented in class and in readings, but little "added value" by you.  Work at this level reflects that you have read, listened, and understood the material, but that you have not yet begun to provide your own assessment, evaluation, or integration of that material as related to the larger issues of the course or the topic more generally.  Conversely, this grade can also reflect that you have begun to add value, but have seriously misunderstood some part of the material presented in class or readings.

    The "D" represents minimal mastery of the material presented in class and in readings, and little or "no value" by you.  Work this level fails to demonstrate that you have read, listened, or understood the bulk of the material presented, although it does demonstrate that you have understood some portion of that material.  If, after having attended lecture and completed the reading, you receive this grade on any piece of work, please see me to discuss how you can improve your study habits and skills.

    The "E" represents minimal or no mastery of the material presented in class and in readings, generally no "added value" by you.   Anytime you receive this grade, you should come see me so we can discuss what is necessary to improve your performance.


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