History 244 H (Fall 2012) – Syllabus

HISTORY 244 H301 – Modern United States History

Lehman College – Fall 2012

Monday & Wednesdays – 12:00pm to 1:45pm

Room TBA

Professor: Roy R. Rogers





Office Hours– Room 292 on Mondays, 10:30am – 11:00am & 1:45pm – 2:15pm


What are the origins of the Great Recession? What are the origins of our so-called “culture wars”? What is the relationship between American democracy and American religiosity? Is the United States in a state of terminal decline? Is there such thing as an “American Empire”? These are common but complex questions that shape our political dialogue. In this course we will seek to probe these and other such critical questions of American political, social, and economic life through a historical examination of the recent American past – from the American Civil War to the present.


Learning Goals

By the end of this course every student should:

  • Have a basic understanding of the modern historical narratives of American history between 1865 and 2012.
  • Begin to think and write critically about historical writing and scholarly work.


All of the following texts are REQUIRED:

  1. Eric Rauchway. Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America (New York, Hill and Wang, 2004) ISBN: 0809016389 $15.00
  2. Ira Katznelson. When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America (New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 2006) ISBN: 0393328511 $19.99
  3. Judith Stein. Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2011) ISBN: 9780393330656 $25.00


The following text is RECOMMENDED for students looking for additional aid in studying:

Alan Brinkley. The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People, Sixth Edition, Volume 2 (McGraw-Hill, 2009), ISBN: 0077286367 $69.00


Assignments & Grading

Your final grade will be calculated from the following breakdown:

  • 20% – Book Review 1
  • 20% – Book Review 2
  • 25% – Mid-term Exam
  • 25% – Final Exam
  • 10% – Class Participation


In Class Requirements
For each class meeting students will expected to have read any and all assigned material (such as primary source readings, which will be distributed in class or made available on the website) and be prepared to discuss them.


Additionally, on three specific class meetings (see schedule, below), we will be discussing one of the other assigned books (either Rauchway , Katznelson, or Stein). On those ‘discussion days’ students are expected to have fully read the assigned book and be prepared for discussion. These “discussion days” will count towards a significant percentage of your class participation grade.


Book Reviews
Students are required to complete a book review of two of the three assigned books – Eric Rauchway’s Murdering McKinley, Judith Stein’s Pivotal Decade, or Ira Katznelson’s When Affirmative Action Was White.


Each review should be no more than 2 – 3 pages, double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman or similar font with standard page margins.  The book review is due at the beginning of the class meeting in which we are discussing the respective book.


Students will be expected to address the following in their papers:

  • What is the book about?
  • What is the author’s argument (thesis)?
  • What sources does the author use?
  • How does the author’s argument (thesis) address the themes we have discussed in class?
  • What is your opinion of the book? Did you like it? Did you hate it?


A specific guide to writing these book reviews will be distributed in class, and available on the course website, about two weeks before the first book review is due.


Attendance is required for every class meeting. Attendance will be taken during each class meeting to ensure this. If a student needs to miss class, the instructor must be notified in advance (in case of emergencies, before the following class meeting). To encourage attendance, students who miss no more than three (or fewer) classes will receive an additional five points on their final grade.



There will be midterm and a final examination. The midterm will cover material from the first half of the semester. The final will cover material from the second half of the semester. One week before each examination, a brief study guide will be handed out in class and made available on the course website.


Extra Credit
Extra credit will be provided for the mid-term and the final examination. The extra credit will allow for one additional point on the exam.


Occasionally (and at the instructor’s discretion) other assignments for extra credit will be made available. This will usually consist of attendance at, and brief reports on, lectures and other cultural events relating to American history.



Course Policies

In order to ensure that this class is a successful space for learning and critical dialogue, the following polices are in affect.

  • Plagiarism and academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Any assignment (even in part) found to be plagiarized will be marked as a failure (zero points). A second instance of plagiarism will result in automatic failure of the course. Please see your Student Handbook for a clear definition of the plagiarism and academic dishonesty.
  • All work must be turned in to the instructor via hardcopy by the beginning of the class period on the date in which it is due (see schedule, below). Assignments will NOT be accepted via e-mail, except in cases of emergency – in which students cannot make it class. Any late work will lose 5 points for every calendar day in which it is late.
  • Cell phone usage and texting is forbidden in the classroom. If a student must use their cell phone because of an emergency situation, please let the instructor know before the beginning of class.
  • Laptop use is welcome, though only for class purposes or pursuits. Sadly, Facebooking is not a class pursuit.
  • Sexist, racist, or homophobic comments will not be tolerated in the classroom.
  • If you are registered with the Office of Student Disability, please have them contact the instructor so that arrangements can be made to accommodate your needs.
  • Students with family, work, legal, or financial issues that may affect their attendance or class performance should come speak to the instructor as soon as possible, to see if arrangements can be made.
  • If students are uncomfortable discussing problems that may affect their class performance with Professor Rogers or feel that their efforts are not being realized in their grades, please see the folks at the Counseling Center found in The Old Gym Building Room 114.
  • Drinking beverages is welcome in class, but please no eating.
  • Students are welcome, and should, to come to the posted office hours to discuss any class-related questions and concerns. Students are also welcome to come to the posted office hours to discuss other history related questions or the latest episode of Parks & Rec, or how excited they are for Grand Theft Auto 5. Things like that.



Class Schedule

AUGUST 27: Introduction
AUGUST 29: The World That Was


SEPTEMBER 05: The Joys of Reconstruction

SEPTEMBER 10: The Agonies of Reconstruction
SEPTEMBER 12: Capital & Labor in a Glided Age


SEPTEMBER 19: Jim Crow America

SEPTEMBER 24: A Fierce Discontent: Progressive America

OCTOBER 1: A New Era? –  The False Dawn of the Twenties
OCTOBER 3: The Ordeal of the American People – The Great Depression

OCTOBER 10: Discussion Day – Rauchway, Murdering McKinley (BOOK REVIEW DUE)

OCTOBER 15: Relief & Recovery? – The New Deal

OCTOBER 17: A New Deal for the World? World War II & the Post-War Order

OCTOBER 22: Cold War America: Fair Deals, Red Scares, & the New Normal

OCTOBER 29: The American High Tide: Building a Great Society
OCTOBER 31: A Great Society? – Race and “Law & Order”

NOVEMBER 5: Discussion Day – Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White (BOOK REVIEW DUE)

NOVEMBER 12: A Great Society? – The Agony of Vietnam

NOVEMEER 15: A Great Society? – The Liberationists

NOVEMBER 19: A Great Society? – Labor and the Birth of Post-Industrial America

NOVEMBER 21: Cooling Down – Détente and its Discontents

NOVEMBER 26: The Lost Decade – Seventies America
NOVEMBER 28: The Reagan Revolution

DECEMBER 3: Discussion Day – Stein, The Pivotal Decade (BOOK REVIEW DUE)
DECEMBER 5: Running Hot & Cold – Ending the Cold War

DECEMBER 11: The Neo-Liberal Moment

DECEMBER 13: Post-91 America

Final Examination – December 17th 1:00pm to 3:00pm


Author: Roy Rogers

I am currently a PhD candidate in American History at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY). My undergraduate education was at Shepherd University (Political Science & History) and I received an MA in History from George Mason University. As a historian, my research interests include early American history, the early American republic (1780 to 1830), political history, religious history, and gender history. I live in Brooklyn with my girlfriend and our cat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s