Module HGH-2118:
The United States, 1877-1945

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Alexander Sedlmaier

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To acquaint students with the main events in United States history in the period 1877-1945
  2. To introduce students to rival interpretations of the period and equip them to judge between them
  3. To encourage them to synthesize their understanding of the period as a whole
  4. To encourage them to take a specialized interest in particular aspects of the period

Course content

This module is designed to provide a general but comprehensive introduction to the major themes and events of United States History from 1877-1945. Topics covered include: Progressivism; the 'Incorporation' of the U.S. and the rise of big business; immigration and migration; the 'birth' of U.S. foreign policy; the First World War; the U.S. in the 1920s; the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression; Pearl Harbour and the Second World War.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Threshold students (D range) will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partially-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with historical controversies.

good

Good students (B range) will show a solid level of achievement in all of the following criteria: scope of reading; content (the depth of knowledge displayed); the focus and clarity of argument; analysis (the ability to judge between interpretations and back arguments with evidence); presentation; and the ability to use references and bibliography appropriately [see Study Skills Handbook and Style Sheet]. Answers will be expected to show detail of knowledge about the topic discussed and to engage with current historiographical controversies where relevant.

excellent

Excellent students (A range) will show this solid achievement (see previous section) across the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis.

Learning outcomes

  1. Illustrate a detailed knowledge of specific aspects of the period

  2. Demonstrate a wide-ranging knowledge of the overall development of the United States in the period 1877–1945

  3. Judge between alternative historical interpretations of the period, including cur-rent historiographical positions

  4. Synthesise historical arguments about long-term developments in the United States, 1877–1945, and present detailed historical arguments about specific as-pects of the period

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY 3000 word essay

Essay questions will test knowledge and understanding of the overall development of the period. Answers will be graded by considering scope of reading; content (the depth of knowledge displayed); the focus and clarity of argument; analysis (the ability to judge between interpretations and back arguments with evidence); presentation; and the ability to use references and bibliography appropriately. Answers will be expected to show detail of knowledge about the topic discussed and to engage with current historiographical controversies where relevant.

60
EXAM Two-hour two-question exam

Questions in the examination will test knowledge and understanding of specific aspects of the period. Answers will be graded by considering content (the range of knowledge displayed); the directness and clarity of the argument; analysis (the ability to judge between interpretations and back arguments with evidence); and presentation. Answers will be expected to draw examples and evidence from across the period, but to analyse the evidence they use with care; and to engage with current historiographical controversies.

40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Seminar

Awareness of competing historical interpretations will be fostered through directed reading, through lectures, and through seminar discussions. The ability to judge between interpretations will be promoted by directed reading on historiography, analysis of the interpretations introduced in lectures, and discussion and testing of judgements in seminars. Feedback on coursework will also further student skills in this area.

5
Lecture

Knowledge of the overall development of the period will be gained through directed reading, through lectures, and through seminars (which will discuss both specific developments and their longer-term consequences).

20
Private study

Knowledge of specific aspects of the period will be gained through directed reading (the bibliography is divided into closely defined sections), through lectures which deal with specific aspects, and through seminar discussions.

175

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
  • appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
  • engaging with relevant aspects of current agendas such as global perspectives, public engagement, employability, enterprise, and creativity

Resources

Resource implications for students

none, other than perhaps the purchase of a few books

Reading list

Kristofer Allerfeldt, Crime and the rise of modern America: a history from 1865–1941 (2011) John M. Blum, The Progressive Presidents: Roosevelt, Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson (1980) Paul S. Boyer et al., The enduring vision: a history of the American people (several ed.) Alan Brinkley, The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the United States (3rd ed. 2000) [esp. chs 17–28] Alexander DeConde et al. (eds), Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, 3 vols (2nd ed. 2002) Carl N. Degler, Out of Our Past: the Forces that Shaped Modern America (3rd ed. 1984) Leon Fink (ed.), Major Problems in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era: Documents and Essays (1993) Eric Foner, Give me Liberty! An American History, vol 2: From 1865 (several edn.) Eric Foner (ed.), The New American History (rev. and exp. ed. 1997) [esp. chs 5 & 6 by McCormick and Brinkley] Colin Gordon (ed.), Major Problems in American History, 1920–1945: Documents and Essays (1999) Andreas Hess, American Social and Political Thought: a Concise Introduction (2000) Maldwyn A. Jones, The Limits of Liberty: American History 1607–1980 (1983) Gordon Martel (ed.), American Foreign Relations Reconsidered, 1890–1993 (1994) George D. Moss, America since 1900 (7th ed. 2012) Edward Pessen, ‘Mobility, Social and Economic’, in E. Foner et al. (eds), The 4 of 4 26 Oct 2016 Reader’s Companion to American History (1991) Edward Pessen, Three Centuries of Social Mobility in America (1974) Michael Schaller et al., Coming of Age: America in the Twentieth Century (1998) Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: from 1492 to the present (2nd ed. 1996)

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: