History 561


Readings in Modern U.S. History


Instructor: Zuoyue Wang                                               Office: Building 94, Room 335

Winter Quarter 2007                                                    Office Hours: MW 11-12 & apptmnt   

Class Time: M 6:00-9:50pm                                         Phone: 909-869-3872

Classroom: Building 9, Room 281                                 Email: zywang@csupomona.edu

Course website: www.csupomona.edu/~zywang/HST561.htm


This course focuses on selected major historiographical debates on US history since 1865, especially new and exciting historical works in the last three decades.  Major topics include: Progressivism; Social and Cultural Changes in the 1920s; New Deal; the Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb; the Origins of the Cold War; the Vietnam War; Civil Rights; Feminism; Science, Technology, and Environmentalism.  Along the way we will also examine the evolution and current state of the American historical profession and issues and debates facing it.  We will work on writing skills and oral communication skills as well.


Note: Students enrolled in the class should try to finish the Novick and Hoffman/Gjerde sections for the first week (on Progressivism) before coming to our first class meeting on Monday 1/8/2007.


Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession.

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman and Jon Gjerde (eds.), Major Problems in American History, v. 2.

Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers.

There are additional readings listed below for each week.




  1. Novick: Before the start of each week, everyone should read the assigned readings from Novick and write, on the attached work sheet, one paragraph on what’s most interesting/striking to you and one question for clarification/discussion in class.
  2. Hoffman and Gjerde: Before the start of each week, everyone picks up one primary source essay in the book, write down one paragraph summarizing the document and one question on the work sheet and give a 2 minute presentation on it in class discussion.  During the quarter, everyone will also need to pick several scholarly essays from the book, write a page of synopsis for each of them, and give presentations on the main arguments of the essay.
  3. Book review and presentations: Everyone will pick three books from the list of additional readings in the Schedule of Sessions, write a two-page book review of each based on your reading of the book and at least two published scholarly reviews, and give a 5-minute presentation in class.  You should do one book every three weeks.
  4. Paper: Everyone is required to write a 10 page paper—either historiographical or research in nature—on a topic to be agreed by the instructor.  A draft is due during class meeting in the 9th week for presentation during the 10th week and the final version is due by 4pm on Monday, March 12, in my office or in the department of history office.


Grading: Approximately 50% for attendance, participation in discussion, weekly notes and book reviews, and presentations; 50% historiographical or research paper.


Classroom Ground Rules (for the benefit of all of us):

1.      Unauthorized absences, especially when it’s your turn for presentation, will considerably lower your grade.  Email or call me if there is an emergency. 

2.      Late works will be penalized by 1/3 letter grade per day, e.g. B+ to B if one day late.

3.      Please turn off pagers or cell phones during class period.

4.      Plagiarism: See Cal Poly Pomona Catalog regarding university policy against plagiarism (presenting writing and ideas of others as one's own).


See Links to Other Useful Resources on My Website: http://www.csupomona.edu/~zywang/ 


Schedule of Sessions (Subject to Change) and Reading List (book call numbers are for Cal Poly Library but please confirm online because of recent changes in the library):


Week 2 (Jan. 8) Introduction and Debate over Progressivism


Novick, “Introduction” (pp. 1-17), on Ranke (pp. 26-31), on consensus (pp. 61-63), on historians’ racism (pp. 74-80), on “Progressive Historians” (pp. 92-108).

Hoffman and Gjerde, chapter 5.

Robert H. Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877-1920.  1967. 5th floor; E661 .W58

Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism: A Re-Interpretation of American History, 1900-1916.  1963.  4th floor; HC106 .K77

Samuel Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920.  1959.  4th floor; HC103.7 .H3  

Warren I. Cohen and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, “America in Asian Eyes,” American Historical Review 111, no. 4 (October 2006): 1092-1119.


Week 3 (Jan. 15) Holiday; No Class, But Complete the Reading Assignments for Discussion Next Week


Social and Cultural Changes in the 1920s

Novick, on the impact of WWI and scientific and cultural changes on historians (pp. 117-167).

Hoffman and Gjerde, chapter 7.

Lynn Dumenil, The Modern Temper: American Culture and Society in the 1920s.  1995. 5th floor; E169 .D912 1995

Edward J. Larson, Summer for The Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion. 1997.  4th floor; KF224.S3 L37 1997  

Mae M. Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America.  2004.  4th floor,  KF4800 .N485 2004


Week 4 (Jan. 22)  Debate over New Deal and Liberalism


Novick, on Carl Becker’s and Charles Beard’s relativist argument against objectivism (pp. 250-278).

Hoffman and Gjerde, chapter 8

William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1963.  5th floor; E806 .L475

Theodore J. Lowi, The End of Liberalism, 1969.  4th floor  HM276 .L57 

Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939, 1992. 4th floor, HD8085.C53 C64 1991 


Week 5 (Jan. 29) Debate over the Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War


Novick, on universalist defense of Western objectivism during WWII (pp. 281-319), and on Cold War conservative consensus (pp. 320-360).

Hoffman and Gjerde, chapter 10.

Kai Bird and Lawrence Lifschultz, Hiroshima’s Shadow, 1998.

Paul Boyer, By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age, 1985.  5th floor, E169.12 .B684 1985 

Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound, 1999. 4th floor, HQ535 .M387 1999 

Walter LaFeber, America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-1990, 1990, 5th floor; E183.8.R9 L26 1980b (library will order later edition)

John Lewis Gaddis, We Know Now: Rethinking Cold War History, 1997, 5th floor; D843 .G23 1997  


Week 6 (Feb. 5) The Debate over the Vietnam War and the Rise of Revisionism


Novick, on the rise of radicalism in the 1960s (pp. 415-468).

Hoffman and Gjerde, chapter 14.

Kai Bird, The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy, Brothers in Arms: A Biography, 1998, 5th floor, E840.6 .B57 1998 

Fredrik Logevall, Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam. 1999.  5th floor ; DS558 .L6 1999

Interchange: Legacies of the Vietnam War,” Journal of American History 94, no. 2 (September 2006): 452-490.  

Barton Bernstein (ed.), Towards a New Past: Dissenting Essays in American History, 1968. 5th floor ; E175 .B46  

Carl N. Degler,Remaking American History,” The Journal of American History 67, no. 1 (Jun., 1980): 7-25.


Week 7 (Feb. 12) Debate over the Civil Rights Movement


Novick, on black history (pp. 469-491).

Hoffman and Gjerde, chapter 12

Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1962, 1988.  5th floor; E185.61 .B7914 1988

------------------, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965, 1998. 5th floor ; E185.61 .B7915 1998

Steven Lawson and Charles Payne, Debating the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1968, 1998.  E185.61 .L377 1998 


Week 8 (Feb. 19) Feminism and Women’s History


Novick, on women’s history (pp. 491-510).

Hoffman and Gjerde, chapter 11.

Ruth Rosen, The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America, 2000. 4th floor,  HQ1421 .R68 2001 

Daniel Horowitz, Betty Friedan and the Making of the Feminine Mystique: The American Left, the Cold War, and Modern Feminism, 1998. 4th floor; HQ1413.F75 H67 1998.

Elaine Tyler May, Pushing the Limits: American Women, 1940-1961, 1994, 4th floor; HQ1420 .M374 1994 


Week 9 (Feb. 26) Science, Technology, Environment, Consumerism, and Globalization


Novik, on history of science and recent trends in American history (pp. 522-546, 573-629)

Hoffman and Gjerde, chapter 15.

Merritt Roe Smith and Leo Marx (eds.), Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism, 1994, 3rd floor, T14.5 .D64 1994.

Ruth Schwartz Cowan, A Social History of American Technology, 1997, 3rd floor,  T14.5 .C69 1997.

Daniel Kevles, The Physicists: The History of a Scientific Community in Modern America, 1995, 3rd floor ; QC9.U5 K48 1978  (our library has only the 1978 version but I will ask it to purchase the 1998 edition).

Steve Fuller, Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times, 2000, 3rd floor ; Q175 .F927 2000  

Carolyn Merchant, The Columbia Guide to American Environmental History, 2002.  5th floor, GF501 .M47 2002 

Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles, 1990, 4th floor, HN80.L7 D38 1990

Lizbeth Cohen, A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America, 2003, 5th floor, HC110.C6 C537 2003 

Benjamin Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World, 1995. 4th floor  HM201 .B37 1995 


Week 10 (Mar. 5) Presentations of Papers


Monday, March 12, 2007, Term Paper Due