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

History 124A

Fall 2015
Day & Time: 
MWF 10-11A

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

Liberalism and Social Action by Dewey, John Prometheus Books. ISBN: 978-1573927536 Required
Becoming Mexican American by Sanchez, George Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0195096484 Required
Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking by James, William BiblioBazaar. ISBN: 978-1434648532 Required
Race and Reunion by Blight, David Belknap Press (Harvard). ISBN: 978-0674008199 Required