United States since 1877
MWF 10:30–11:20, EE 129
: Darren Dochuk, Ph.D.
: University Hall, 125
: Wed, 1:00-3:00 PM
This course surveys the expanse of social, political, economic, and cultural forces that shaped the
development of the United States in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To this end, this course
not only attempts to draw attention to the broad trends and key figures of these times but to examine their
impact on ordinary Americans. Topics to be covered in this course include western expansion,
modernization and industrialization, World Wars I and II, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the
Cold War at home, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and the rise of conservative America.
Questions asked and debated during class and in our readings will include: What social, cultural, and
political realities define “America”? What does it mean to be “modern” in America? Was (and is)
America “exceptional” in its encounter with modernity? And most importantly, what does it mean to
embrace democracy and freedom in America? How has the American experiment with liberty been both a
constructive and contested one?
Exploring the notion, possibilities, and limitations of “liberty” in modern America is the first objective of
this course. Our second objective is learning how to think like historians. The vast majority of you will
not pursue history as a career, but historians have a unique way of approaching problems that should be
beneficial to you, whatever your field or discipline. For this reason, we will spend some time on the
processes of interpreting and writing history. In this course you will read the works of historians first
hand, and then practice historical analysis by interpreting “primary” and “secondary” source materials on