The United States from the Late 19th Century to the Eve of World War II

History 124A

Fall 2014
Day & Time: 
MWF 2-3P
  • This course satisfies the American Cultures Requirement.
  • There is no period in American history quite like the first half of the 20th century, when the country as a whole transformed so rapidly and so dynamically. Within just a few decades, the United States became a modern industrialized nation, emerging as a new economic empire. It became a beacon for immigrants from all over the globe and, relatedly, home to some of the most cosmopolitan and densely populated cities in the world. This period in American history marked the rise of mass entertainment, mass religion, mass migrations, and mass politics. It ushered in new conceptions of gender and sexuality, race, class, and citizenship. It brought dramatic transformations in work and leisure, significant shifts in the relationship between the American government and its people, great economic boom times, and historic depressions. And during this era, the nation fought in its first world war and stood on the threshold of its second. Throughout this course, we will explore the fabric of this –– the “modern era” of American history –– by sorting through many of its most important economic, political, cultural, and social changes along with the various ways in which people and institutions responded to them. Assignments will include two 5 - 7 page papers, a midterm, and a comprehensive final exam.     

    Course Books

    Hard Times: Oral History of the Great Depression by Terkel, Studs The New Press. ISBN: 978-1565846562 Required
    1919 by Dos Passos, John Mariner Books. ISBN: 978-0618056828 Required
    Talking Back to Civilization: Indian Voices from the Progressive Era by Hoxie, Frederick Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN: 978-0312103859 Required
    How the Other Half Lives by Riis, Jacob Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN: 978-0312574017 Required
    The Souls of Black Folk by DuBois, W.E.B. Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN: 978-0312091149 Required
    Becoming America - Select Chapters by Henkin, David and Rebecca McLennan McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 9781259414961 Optional