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COURSE NAME: "The American Experience II: From the Closing of the Frontier to the Present "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021

INSTRUCTOR: Andrea Lanzone
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 11:30 AM 12:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Recommended: HS 280

This course will examine the transformation of the United States from a peripheral country to a world power. The course will analyze the causes of that transformation, focusing on industrialization, the First World War, the Great Depression, changes in American social thought and literature, the Second World War, the Cold War, Vietnam, and the search for a new world order. Special attention will be devoted to democracy and freedom, the role of race, the impact of immigration, as well as the post-war student and protest movements.

Satisfies "Modern History" core course requirement for History majors.

This course is designed to give students a broad overview o of the History of the United States. We will learn about the closing of the American Frontier, the impact of immigration, the Wilsonian progressivism at home and abroad; we will also analyze the First World War, the American life in the roaring Twenties, the harshness of the Great Depression, the Roosevelt New Deal and the horror of World War II. The second part of the course will be dedicated to the 1950s and 1960s (with the new society dreamed by Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights and Vietnam issues, the Feminist movement, the New Left and the Black Panthers leading the way). The analysis of the unsolved socio-political issues of the 1970s and 1980s will lead us towards the end of the course. Students’ active participation in discussions is absolutely necessary to making the course work well. The very high percentage of the final grade will be based on class participation. Lectures will be followed by questions and discussion. Students should come to lectures prepared. All assigned readings should be completed before each class meeting.

The American Experience II provides the student with a deep and critical understanding of United States of America in terms of historical events, social systems, economic processes and ideologies. One of the aims of the course is to enhance student's skills in critical thinking and reading. To this end, students shall investigate one key event in the recent history of the United States of America. Group discussions will be a central part of the course structure. In successfully completing this course, students will further develop their abilities to:

1)      Formulate a research question about a historical topic

2)     Assemble and evaluate primary and secondary sources

3)     Analyze events, actions, and ideas of historical significance.

4)     Formulate precise and effective historical arguments.

5)     Consider the influences and intersections of such factors as: economics, politics, ideology, race, ethnicity, class, gender and religion.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
People's History of the United StatesHoward ZinnPerennial978-0-06-083865-2  Chapter 12: The Empire and the People Chapter 13: The Socialist Challenge Chapter 17: "Or does it explode?" Chapter 18, The Impossible Victory, Vietnam
A Nation of ImmigrantsJohn F. KennedyPerennial978-0-06-144754-9 Chapter 4: Waves of Immigration Chapter 5: The Immigrant Contribution Chapter 6: Immigration policy Chapter 7: Where e Stand
America DividedMaurice Isserman, Michael KazinOxford0-19-516047-9 Chapter1: Gathering of the Forces Chapter 2: Black Ordeal , Black Freedom Chapter 4: Why did the United States fight in Vietnam? Chapter 12: 1968 Conclusions: Winners, Losers and Consequences
The free and the unfree : a new history of the United StatesPeter N. Carroll and David W. Noble. Harmondsworth ; New York : Penguin,0141001585 9780141001586 Chapter 15, War, economic prosperity and consensus, pg.345-355 Chapter 16, New Visions, New Ethics, pg.369-381

Attendance and ParticipationStudents’ active participation in our discussions is absolutely necessary to making the course work well. The high percentage of students final grade that will be based on their attendance and participation.30%
PapersStudents will write two seven page papers on a topic which interests them and is relevant to the course. The papers will be graded based upon students’ capacity to develop a strong research question and critically analyze the materials used in class. 30%
Final ExamA combination of short and long answer questions that will determine students’ capacity to recognize, understand and critically debate the concepts learned in the course. 30%
Midterm ExamA choice of two essay tests that will demonstrate students’ ability to identify, understand and critically discuss the concepts learned in the course. 10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the cou
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

More than two absences will have a negative effect on the grade, the more absences, the negative-er the effect.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week 1 -The Closing of the American Frontier
Schlesinger, Chapter 1, "A new Race?"

Week 2 -The impact of Immigration
JFK, Chapter 4, Waves of Immigrants
JFK, Chapter 5, The immigrant Contribution

Week 3 -The Republican Roosevelt
Schlesinger, Chapter 2, History the weapon

Week 3 -The Wilsonian Progressivism Home and Abroad
Carroll, Chapter 13, The end of Isolation

Week 4 -The First World War
Zinn, Chapter 13, the Socialist Challenge

Week 4 -The Roaring Twenties
Chapter 14 Prosperity and Depression

Week 5 -The Great Depression
Steinbeck, The Harvest Gypsies, Introduction 

Week 5 -The New Deal

Week 6 -World War II
Carroll, Chapter 15, War, economic prosperity and consensus, pg.345-355

Week 7 -The 1940s 


Week 8 -The 1950s
Carroll, Chapter 16, New Visions, New Ethics, pg.369-381

Week 9 - Introduction to the 1960s

Week 9- Martin Luther King
MLK, I have a Dream speech
Zinn, Chapter 17, Or Does it Explode?

Week 10 -Kennedy, Civil Rights and Vietnam
Zinn, Chapter 18, The Impossible Victory, Vietnam.

Week 11 -Feminism, New Left and BPP
Isserman, Chapter 12, 1968

Week 12 -The Seventies

Week 13 - The Eighties

Week 14 - The Nineties and the New Millennium
Schlesinger, Chapters 4 and 5

FINAL exam