Cal Poly Pomona

History 202 United States History, 1865-Present


Instructor: Zuoyue Wang                               Office: Building 94, Room 335

Spring Quarter 2013                                       Office Hours: MW 11:30am-12:35pm & appointment

Class Hours: MW 4-5:50pm                          Email: zywang at

Classroom: 5-104                                           Website:


Learning Objectives: In this survey of the modern history of the United States, we explore the tremendous changes--social, political, economic, technological, and cultural--in American society that shape our world today.  We will, as our goal, not only gain knowledge about the experiences of the American people from the post-Civil War to the post-Cold War periods, but also develop our writing and critical thinking skills.  Through readings, lectures, discussions, videos, and writing exercises, we will learn to collect and interpret historical evidence.  In short, we will make history alive and meaningful. 


Professor Wang encourages you to raise questions at any time in class and to talk to him, in class or in his office during office hours, on any issue related to this class.  You can contact him outside of class via either phone or email.  He will also be happy to make special appointments with you if you can not make to his regular office hours.  He also encourages students to read a daily national newspaper, such as the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times (you can read them on the web: and or a national news magazine.  These will help you keep up with current events and provide a basis for comparisons between our times and the earlier periods we study.


Texts Available at Bronco Bookstore (we will refer to them by the last names of the first authors; Tindall and Wheeler are also available at reserved books in the library):

George B. Tindall and David Emory Shi, America: A Narrative History, vol. 2, brief 9th edition (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013).

William Wheeler and Susan Becker, Discovering the American Past: A Look at the Evidence, vol. 2, 7th edition (Stamford, CT: Cengage, 2012). 

John Hersey, Hiroshima (New York: Vintage Books, 1989). 

Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 5th edition (New York: Bedford/St. Martin, 2012).


Assignments: There will be a midterm exam, a family history term paper (see below), and a final exam.  In addition, you will complete: a weekly worksheet covering assigned readings, periodic video reviews, group discussions on Wheeler, occasional assignments based on the use of the web, quizzes on the readings, and other in-class activities. See below for detail. These exercises will not be individually graded but will be collectively assessed by the professor.  It is crucial that you try to finish each session’s reading assignments BEFOREHAND.  Good attendance, active participation in discussions, and good writing count in this class. 


Tindall Worksheets: For each session you are required to turn in a worksheet summarizing and commenting on the chapter(s) in Tindall assigned for that session.  It should be typed (word-processed), to be turned in at the end of class. 


Wheeler Worksheets: For those sessions where a Wheeler chapter is assigned, students will fill out a worksheet associated with that chapter (see list of topics for links to worksheets), bring it to class, use it as a basis for group discussion (see below), and turn it in at the end of class.


Group Discussions on Wheeler: In many sessions, we will divide into groups of 3-4 to discuss issues raised in that week’s Wheeler chapters.  Bring your Wheeler worksheet and the Wheeler book to class on the day it’s assigned.  Group members will take turns to lead the discussions and write down the main points of the discussions on a form provided by the professor.


Video Reviews: In this class we will watch a number of videos related to the class to help us better understand major events and figures in American history.  You will write a one-paragraph comment about what’s most striking to you.


Examinations: There will be a midterm, which covers the first half of the class, and a final exam, which covers the second half as well as the whole class.  There will be both identifications and essay questions on the exams.


Term Paper on Family History

You are required to write a paper on your family history and relate it to major themes in the history of the United States during the period we study, such as wars, immigration, and other political, economic, and technological changes.  In your paper, describe the experiences of your family and provide an analysis as to how they fit  (or don't fit) the general pattern of American history.  Our aim is not a complete family tree or genealogy; you can focus on one family member’s experiences or on the most recent years of your family history if you want.  It should be an exciting journey into our past heritage and present identity when placed in the broader context.  We are, after all, what we have been and our family histories are the building blocks of national history.  Make this a quarter-long project by starting early.  Read the texts and listen to the lectures for major topics that might apply to your family.  At the same time begin to collect information about your family history by interviewing your parents, grandparents, and other relatives, giving careful thoughts to questions that might elicit valuable information from them.  It’s usually best to start with simple questions, such as “When and where were you born?  What was it like to grow up at that time?”  You can also list some major events and trends that occurred in your interviewee's lifetime and ask about their experiences or how they reacted to them.  You could inquire about the impact of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, the great depression, immigration policy, racism, civil rights and women’s movements, and changing technology (such as automobiles and computers) on their lives.  By the end of the interview, you could ask some general questions, such as “What’s your American dream?  Do you think you have realized your American dream?”  Also ask people you talk to about family letters, diaries, photos, journals, and even newspaper clippings they have that are related to your family. 


You are required to submit a one-paragraph write-up on your paper project on the day indicated on the syllabus.  Please describe whom you are going to focus on, what kinds of experiences and events you are going to cover, and what source materials (letters, journals, interviews, newspaper articles, etc) you plan to use.  Prof. Wang might make additional suggestions to you on further readings that might be useful to your project.  You can also come to his office to look at sample papers from the past.  Be sure to keep a record of books and articles you have consulted--they will go into your footnotes.  Remember to treat oral history accounts with a healthy skepticism because one's memories of events in the distant past do not always correspond to the facts.  One of your central tasks as a historian is to test and evaluate evidence.


The paper is to be 5 to 8 pages long, double-spaced, with one inch margin on all sides, printed on plain paper using a laser-jet or ink-jet printer, stapled at the upper-left corner.  Put your name, class, title of the paper on a plain-paper cover-sheet separate from the body of the paper (no plastic cover or binding please).  You can attach copies of photographs (no originals) or other illustrations. You can cite interviews: e.g., "Interview of Barbara Woo by John Woo, April 25, 2008, Irvine, CA."  All writings are graded for both grammar and content.  For help with writing, refer to the Rampolla book and check out the University Writing Center in the Library in 15-2919 (phone x5343 to make appointments).


A good paper will have a clear thesis statement, supported by a narrative built on a variety of evidence such as family letters, oral history interviews, newspaper clippings, and secondary scholarly works.  Remember that the paper is not only about the history of your family, but also, more importantly, about how that micro history fit (or does not fit) into the national pattern.  In the conclusion of the paper you can reflect on what you have learned about your family’s history and about American history through this exercise.  The paper is due in class near the end of the quarter as indicated in the syllabus.


Tips on Family History Project

Please focus on the period covered in this class, i.e., 1865-present.  You can provide some general information in the introduction but the main focus of the paper should be ht epost-1865 period.

Try not to cover too many people or too many events; you can, for example, cover three generations (grandparents, parents, and your own generation).

It’s fine to focus on one person, one generation, or on the most recent period.

It’s best to follow a chronological order in your narrative.

Remember that you don’t have to cover only big events like wars; people’s everyday experience, such as their interactions with new technology, is also a valuable part of American social history.

If you are writing about your or your family’s immigration experience, it will be useful to find a book about the history of the country where you or your family immigrated from.


Ground rules to ensure a suitable learning environment for everyone:

1.     Avoid late entry or early exit without instructor's prior authorization; late works will be penalized by 1/3 letter grade per day.

2.     Repeated, unexcused absences will considerably lower your grade for the class; signing-in for another student is prohibited.

3.     Make-up exams are allowed only for documented emergencies. 

4.     Cell phones should be turned off during class period; no text messaging—either sending or receiving—is allowed once class starts.

5.     Use of a laptop is allowed only for taking notes during lectures; otherwise please close it so it does not distract others.

6.     In general, activities not related to this class are prohibited during class: e.g., newspaper-reading, doing work for another class, and chatting.

7.     Make sure that you receive your Cal Poly Pomona emails.

8.     You can purchase Microsoft Windows XP and Office, including MS Word, at a greatly discounted price at Bronco Bookstore.

9.     If you have any learning disabilities and might need special accommodations, please contact me or the Disability Resource Center (x3333).

10.  Plagiarism and other misconducts: See Cal Poly Pomona Catalog regarding university policy governing student conduct and discipline, including rules against plagiarism (presenting ideas and writing of others as one's own). 

Grading (roughly): Attendance, Participation in Discussions, Worksheets, Quizzes, Other Assignments: 25%; Midterm: 25%; Term Paper: 25%; Final: 25%


Topics and Reading Assignments (Subject to Change):


Week 1

4/3: Introduction.


Week 2

4/8: Reconstruction and Industrialization. Tindall, ch. 17-18, browsing ch. 19; Wheeler, ch. 2.  Video: Mark Twain

            Due: Tindall and Wheeler worksheets


4/10: No Class Meeting but complete the following assignments:

1.     Watch the video Last Stand at Little Big Horn online at Youtube, write a one-paragraph review, bring it to class during the next session

2.     Read the Rampolla book, write a one-page review, and bring it to class during the next session.


Week 3

4/15: Impact of Industrialization: Urbanization and Immigration. Tindall, ch. 20. Video: Journey to America

            Due: One-paragraph review of Last Stand video and one-page review of Rampolla book.

Due: Tindall worksheet


4/17: Populism. Tindall, ch. 21; Wheeler, ch. 3. Video: Mr. Sears’ Catalogue

            Due: Tindall and Wheeler worksheets


Week 4

4/22: American Imperialism. Tindall, ch. 22. Video: Seeds of Change.

Due: Tindall worksheet


4/24: The Progressive Era. Tindall, ch. 23.  Video: Theodore Roosevelt

Family History Outline Due

Due: Tindall worksheet


Week 5

4/29: World War I. Tindall, ch. 24; Wheeler, ch. 5. Video: Shell Shock

            Due: Tindall and Wheeler worksheets


5/1: The Roaring 1920s. Tindall, ch. 25.  Video: Boom to Bust

Due: Tindall worksheet


Week 6

5/6: The Great Depression, FDR, New Deal.  Tindall, ch. 26-27; Wheeler, ch. 7. Video: Stormy Weather

            Due: Tindall and Wheeler worksheets


5/8: World War II and the Atomic Bomb. Tindall, ch. 28; Hersey.  Video: Hiroshima

            Due: One-page review of Hiroshima

Due: Tindall worksheet

Handout Midterm


Week 7

5/13: The Early Cold War and the Korean War. Tindall, ch. 29.  Video: Cold War: Korea

Due: Tindall worksheet



5/15: The 1950s, Eisenhower, and Civil Rights Movement. Tindall, ch. 30.  Video: Happy Daze.

            Due: Tindall worksheet


Week 8

5/20: The 1960s: JFK, LBJ; Vietnam War and Aftermath Tindall, ch. 31-32. Wheeler, ch. 9.  Video: Poisoned Dreams and America Unpinned

Due: Tindall and Wheeler worksheets


5/22: 1980s and 1990s.  Tindall, ch. 33; Video: Star Wars

Due: Tindall worksheet


Week 9

5/27: Holiday, No Class Meeting.


5/29: Our Own Times.  Tindall, chs. 34.  Discussion of family history papers Video: Bioterror

Due: Tindall worksheet

Due: Family History Paper Draft

            Handout Final Exam Study Questions


Week 10

6/3: No Class Meeting; Work on Completing Family History Paper and Study for Final Exam


6/5: No Class Meeting; Work on Completing Family History Paper and Study for Final Exam

            Family History Paper due via Email to Prof. Wang by 5pm Today (June 5, 2013)

            Handout Final Exam Questions via Email to Students Today (June 5, 2013)

            Final Exam due via Email to Prof. Wang by 11pm on Monday (June 10, 2013)