Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King leads a civil rights movement march

HIST 3822
3 credits/Spring 2004
T/Th 11:15-12:30
Anderson Hall 330

Professor Barbara Welke
752 Social Sciences Bldg
Office Hours:
T 1:00-3:00 (or by appt.)
tel: (612) 624-7017

Main | Syllabus | Schedule | Assignments | Internet Resources



World War II created a new world at home and abroad. Never again could Americans treat the worlds of domestic and foreign affairs as separate. The postwar years would be defined by the contest between democracy and communism led by the two superpowers the United States and the Soviet Union. The atomic bomb transformed the stakes of that confrontation and with it domestic policy and the limits of liberty. From 1946 through the 1980s, the Cold War cast a shadow over every facet of American life. Yet, paradoxically, it also created possibility. How was it that a nation committed to freedom and democracy could so baldly deny basic civil liberties and opportunity to African Americans? In an arms race with no holds barred, could America afford to send women home to fulfill “the feminine mystique”? The fight for racial, and, in turn gender equality, the politics of identity which they inspired, are crucial to the larger story of U. S. history in the second half of the Twentieth Century.

The unprecedented era of economic prosperity ushered in by World War II spread the fruits of the American Dream more broadly than ever before and made it possible to believe that poverty itself could be eliminated. That dream was both fueled by the Cold War and ultimately sacrificed to it. It was in the wake of World War II that America became the ultimate consumer society. That transformation meant, among other things, that the social and political convulsions of the era would be brought into homes across the nation. Through the medium of television, Americans witnessed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as he rode in a motorcade down a street in Dallas in November 1963; they witnessed mobs of whites attacking Freedom Riders in Alabama; they witnessed scenes of American carnage and devastation from halfway across the globe in Southeast Asia. Television transformed American culture and transformed as well the social movements of the era and national policy. Paradoxically, the domestic analogue to the “fall” of communism in the 1980s has been a resurgent conservatism.

The years from the end of World War II through the end of the century were marked by drama, possibility, tragedy, and, above all change. In the next fifteen weeks we will try to cover as much as we can. From assassinations to impeachment, from Korea to Southeast Asia, from civil rights to women’s rights, from the environmental movement to the consumer movement, we will explore and debate the key developments and important themes in U. S. history in the second half of the Twentieth Century. We will consider how a transformation in the American historical profession spawned by these movements itself means that the questions we ask, and the history we read is different. Most of our reading will be in primary sources -- speeches, articles, letters, photographs, court opinions, television clips -- the actual “stuff” of history and from which history is written. Ask questions of the sources we read, of yourself and each other, participate, have fun, be troubled. It is by engaging the past that we develop a sense of who we are today.


The complete syllabus including announcement page, syllabus, schedule, assignments, and internet resources page are on-line. The course website will be my principle means of communicating with you as a group outside of class, so please check the website every week before class. You also will be getting access to web-linked readings on the schedule page. All this means that you should familiarize yourself with the course website:

For the hours and locations of all University computer labs, please contact Academic & Distributed Computing Services or by phone at 612-625-6817.



Students are responsible for all assigned readings and regular lecture attendance. There will be no exams in the course. Rather, grades will be based on three short papers (3-5 pages each)(each 20% of the final grade) and a Final paper (10 pages)(40%). All assignments are fully described on the Assignments web-link.

You may also improve your grade by 1/3 letter grade (e.g., B to B+, B+ to A-) by regular, active, informed class participation. Most classes will incorporate some element of discussion into the lecture.


The following texts are required reading. The books may be purchased at the University Bookstore in Coffman Union.

1. Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi

2. David Beers, Blue Sky Dream: A Memoir of America's Fall from Grace (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997)(available either at the U of M bookstore at Coffman Union, the University Bookstore in Dinkytown, or used through or

3. Internet Documents as listed on schedule.

Both Moody and Beers are also on 2-hour reserve at Wilson Library.

Optional Reading. I have placed two copies of a survey textbook (Schaller, Schulzinger, Anderson, Present Tense: The United States Since 1945) on 2-hour reserve at Wilson Library. This text is also available at the Coffman Union bookstore. It is not required and there are no assigned readings from it.


You may enroll for an additional 1-credit discussion section (Hist. 3970 Section 3) taught by Jason Stahl. The discussion section meets on Thursdays from 9:05-9:55 a.m. and is limited to 25 students. Students in the discussion will receive a separate grade for the discussion. For more information about the discussion section, contact Jason at


I follow University-wide grading standards, which are:

  • A - achievement that is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements
  • B - achievement that is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements
  • C - achievement that meets the course requirements in every respect
  • D - achievement that is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet fully the course requirements
  • S - achievement that is satisfactory, which is equivalent to a C- or better
  • F(or N) - Represents failure (or no credit) and signifies that the work was either (1) completed but at a level of achievement that is not worthy of credit or (2) was not completed and there was no agreement between the instructor and the student that the student would be awarded an I (see also I)
  • I - (Incomplete) Assigned at the discretion of the instructor when, due to extraordinary circumstances, e.g., hospitalization, a student is prevented from completing the work of the course on time. Requires a written agreement between instructor and student .
  • Academic dishonesty in any portion of the academic work for a course shall be grounds for awarding a grade of F or N for the entire course.


Creating an environment that fosters learning for every student is essential to the mission of the University. It is my mission too. Below I have outlined the policies and services that are most important to building and sustaining a learning community for this class in which every student is asked to do their best work supported by services and rules to help make that happen. Some of the University policies noted below are matters of federal law. They can sound like just so much legal boiler-plate. It's important for you to know that behind that legal language is real meaning for the University, for me as a teacher and scholar, and for you as a student.

DISAGREEMENT AND UNDERSTANDING: History is never just history in the sense of not mattering. Studying American history can generate lively discussions and sometimes touch nerves. The topics we are discussing this term include subjects about which members of our classroom community may well profoundly disagree, including topics such as American foreign policy, and, on the home front, abortion, affirmative action, and gay rights. What is important to remember as we read and as we debate in class is that disagreement and dissent are as fundamental to the life of a university as they are to a democratic society. I value that diversity and I ask you to value it as well. It can sometimes make learning less comfortable, but it can also make it more engaged, meaningful, and even fun. In all, I think it makes us think more deeply and gives us practice in the kind of debate that lies at the heart of a democratic society.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Academic integrity is also a key element in a positive teaching and learning environment. The University expects, as do I, that all students enrolled in courses will complete coursework with fairness and honesty. For most students academic integrity is a given. In fairness to them, it must be a given for all students. The University Student Conduct Code defines scholastic dishonesty as submission of false records of academic achievement; cheating on assignments or exams; plagiarizing; altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement. In the context of this course, the most important elements of the University policy relate to plagiarism and interfering with another student's access to course/research materials. I know that plagiarism is especially something about which students are sometimes confused, so we'll go over what it means in class. I will follow the policy of the College of Liberal Arts of giving a failing grade for any plagiarized assignments. A second offense would result in a failing course grade. For more information on academic conduct, contact the Office of Student Academic Integrity107 Eddy Hall (612-625-5900).

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY: Diversity in persons as well as viewpoints makes for a richer learning environment. The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, religion, color, sex, national origin, handicap, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation. For further information, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action in 419 Morrill Hall (612-624-9547).

DISABILITIES: It is important to the University that every student, regardless of disability, be provided with the tools that will make the University a productive learning environment. Please let me know if this may apply to you. You should also contact Disability Services which is part of the Office for Multicultural and Academic Affairs.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Another element of equal opportunity is the right to a learning environment free from sexual harassment. It is the right of every student to a learning environment free from unwelcome sexual advances/demands, sexual conduct, and sexual suggestion. As a faculty member, I, as well as other University supervisors and administrators, am both legally and ethically obligated to take appropriate action to prevent sexual harassment. For further information, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action in 419 Morrill Hall (624-9547).

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