US Social History from the Civil War to the Present

History 131B

Summer 2018
Second 6 Week Session
110 Barrows
Day & Time: 
MonTuWed, 2–4:30 p.m. | July 2–August 10
Class Number: 
  • This course satisfies the American Cultures Requirement.
  • Perhaps the most memorable line in the Declaration of Independence (1776) is the one that assures Americans of their unalienable rights to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The nation’s founders guaranteed the first two in the Bill of Rights, but the third remains a nebulous concept that requires some contemplation and interpretation. What exactly has it meant to pursue happiness and how has that pursuit shaped the course of United States history since 1865?

    This course considers these questions by interrogating the experiences, ideas, values, desires, and actions of various racial, ethnic, gender, age, class, and ability groups. In examining how Americans have defined, pursued, defended, and fought for happiness, we will necessarily also explore the limits, constraints, and challenges to that aim. Some of the topics covered in the course include: civil rights, feminism, labor, migration, consumerism, relationships, and popular culture.