Kaitlyn Swenson—office: THS 2153

History 221--Fall 2010/

Office Hours: T/R 11-12 and by appointment

email: kswens@gmail.com

US History Since 1877


You need to get the following books as soon as possible. Without them you will sink. I recommend buying personal copies. If for some reason you can’t purchase a copy I have requested that a few of each be held at the library reserve. Please come talk to me if you have any concerns. All other readings can be found on electronic reserves or on class website (kaitlyn-swenson.blogspot.com).

Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot’s History of the United States (most recent edition)

William Bruce Wheeler and Susan D. Becker, Discovering the American Past: A Look at the Evidence, Volume 2: Since 1865 (6th edition)

Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (newest edition)


If you know almost nothing about the conventions of writing a history paper you will want to check out: Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Seventh Edition); or you might invest in a pocket guide like Mary Lynn Rampolla’s A Pocket Guide to Writing History (5th edition). There are many similar guides that may suit you equally well.



A-F  ROOM 341

G-P  ROOM 343

Q-Z ROOM 363

Course Objectives:

By the end of the course, each student should be able to:

  1. Think about “history” as more than a stable set of facts. Instead you will view the past as an unsettled narrative that calls upon our imagination, creativity, empathy, and moral judgment. Above all, you will acquire the skills to “pull back the curtain” on how historical narratives are written.
  2. Read, analyze and discuss a variety of different types of primary sources pertaining to the history of America.
  3. Write short, critical, original essays drawing on the assigned primary and secondary sources.

In sum, the ultimate objective of this course is to help each of you part the curtain between laypeople and professional historians. You will learn to appreciate what is at stake when historians write narratives about the past--and have a better idea of how they go about it. Through our workshops you will learn various methods that historians use to uncover lost worlds. If you pay your dues, by the end of this course you will no longer think of history as a discipline that seeks to answer “what” happened; instead, you will think of history as a craft that first asks “why” and “so what” about the past.





Group Summaries……………………………….……….20%

First Essay....................................................................18%

Final Essay...................................................................22%

Response/Critique to Final Essay...................................7%


Quizzes: Over the semester there will be frequent quizzes that we will administer at the beginning of class. Therefore, skipping class or showing up five minutes late will significantly lower your grade (you will get a few charity points just for turning something in). The quiz will not only allow me to assess attendance, but it will help us get a sense of whether or not you are doing your reading. On the whole, the quizzes will ask basic questions about the assigned readings. Your lowest score will be tossed.

Group Summaries & Questions: Once formed, groups will turn in periodic summaries of the readings. The summaries will be no more than 135 words. Without an ounce of fluff they will crystallize the argument that holds the reading together. A good summary will find a balance between pinpointing the broader argument and explaining how that argument is made. (In other words, what is holding the chapter together--ideologically and thematically--and how do/does the author(s) go about it?) Just below the summary add a word count. And below that pose two of the smartest questions your team can muster. Here you will showcase your group’s ability to read critically and pose provocative questions. Your posting will need to be up on our designated Blackboard discussion board at least 20 minutes before class begins. The two questions will constitute one half the grade for each assignment (so don’t skimp on them).

First Essay: Your first essay will be a 4-5 page (double spaced, 12 pt font) paper that addresses one of the historical problems that come up in our regular workshop sessions. Pick something that actually interests you! Your paper will attempt to answer a historical question by closely scrutinizing the sources provided in the relevant chapter in Discovering the American Past. A question that genuinely intrigues you, that puzzles you, will yield more fruit than one you lift from the book. You are welcome to cover some of the ground covered in discussion, but will be expected to take your analysis a few levels deeper. Though due November 1, you may request to turn the paper in later if you have interest in any of the topics after chapter 6--say Vietnam, or immigration. To do this you will have to plan ahead and request an extension before the end of week 3. Inform me or your TA the day you will be turning the essay in. (Please be careful in that postponing your first essay presents something of a gamble on your part.) 

Final Essay: We will discuss this more in the future. Just know that you will be asked to write a short, razor-sharp defense of one of the two assigned textbooks. Thus reading regularly will not only help your quiz scores, it will prepare you to write your final!

Participation: You are expected to do your readings and be prepared to have something interesting to say each class.

Late Papers: Your papers will lose half a letter grade for every day late. It is up to you to find out how your TA wants your paper turned in.



N.B. Our class time will be devoted primarily to discussion, not lectures. I will begin some of our classes with a few comments that place our readings into context. Every student must therefore do the readings prior to class and pull her/his weight in the discussions! We will try to have a good time during this semester. But I am dead serious about my students taking this material into their own hands. Sloughing off the readings will almost certainly lead to an unpleasant experience for both student and professor. Also, this syllabus is merely an outline, not a contract.  I almost certainly will add, substitute, or cancel readings, as I find the need.

WK1 Aug 30: Introduction

         Sept 1:  a little more Introduction

         Sept 3: Schweikart & Allen, xxi-xxiv; Zinn, 1-22 (pay special attention to the parts about American history)  

WK2 Sept  6: OFF

          Sept  8: Schweikart & Allen, 323-352 (this reading starts midway through the Civil War)

          Sept 10: Zinn, 171-197 (ch. 9)

WK3 Sept 13: Zinn, (ch. 10) “The Other Civil War” page 231-251 (the first half of this chapter provides a sweeping list of riots and labor unrest in America; Zinn is arguing about a larger picture that stretches from the 1830s to the “end” of Reconstruction.)

          Sept 15: Sam Wineburg, “Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts” (find it on Blackboard)

          Sept 17: Workshop: Discovering the American Past, chapter 1: “The Reconstruction Era”

WK4 Sept 20: Schweikart & Allen, 353-391

          Sept 22: Zinn 197-210

          Sept 24: Workshop: Discovering, chapter 2: “The Road to True Freedom”

WK5  Sept 27: Zinn, chapter 11, 253-295

          Sept 29: Schweikart & Allen, 422-456

          Oct 1: Workshop: Discovering, chapter 3: “”How they Lived”

WK6 Oct 4: Schweikart & Allen, 457-491

          Oct 6:  Zinn, 297-320, 321-349(skim this just to get a sense for what’s there); 349-357 (start at:“what was clear…”)        

          Oct 8: Workshop: Discovering, chapter 4: “Progressives and the Family”

WK7 Oct 11: Schweikart & Allen, 492-532

           Oct 13: Zinn, 359-376            

           Oct 15  Workshop: Discovering, chapter 5: “Homogenizing a Pluralistic Nation” (WW1)

WK8  Oct 18: no class—work on your midterm!!!!

           Oct 20: choose one: Schweikart & Allen, 554-588 (start at break at bottom of page. “Hoover, wedded…”); Zinn, 377-406

           Oct 22: Workshop: Discovering, chapter 7: “Documenting the Depression”

 WK9 Oct 25: read one: Zinn, 407-442 or Schweikart & Allen, 589-630

           Oct 27: Workshop: Discovering, chapter 8: “Going to War with Japan”

           Oct 29: DUE: Come with one copy of your written midterm essay (you are welcome to bring two if you can coerce someone else into trading with you)

WK10 Nov 1: DUE—paper critiques: come with the essay you have read and critiqued. You need to have your one-page critiques stapled to the front.  

           Nov 3: READ ALL: Zinn, 443-467; Schweikart & Allen, 661-666; 683-689

           Nov 5: Workshop: Discovering, chapter 9: “Separate but Equal?”

WK11 Nov 8: Midterm due (hand it in with the critique attached) Come prepared to strategize with your group about plans for writing the final paper. By the end of class you need to have a rough plan of attack. Which book will you defend? What will be your main grounds for choosing it? Do you want to be more strategically offensive or defensive?

           Nov 10: Zinn, 469-501          

           Nov 12: Workshop: Discovering, chapter 10: “A Generation in War and Turmoil”

WK12 Nov 15: Schweikart & Allen, 676-715 (skip 683-689 & 696-707)

               Nov 17: Zinn: 503-539

           Nov 19: Workshop: Discovering, chapter 6, “The New Woman”

WK13Nov 22: Schweikart & Allen, these are various parts about social and cultural aspects: 653-661; 696-707; 731-736 (Your group should begin writing the final essay by or during this break)

           Nov 24: off

           Nov 26: off

WK14Nov 29: Read both: Zinn 675-682; S&A 801-827  

               Dec 1: Read the short final comments: Zinn, 683-88; S&A 828-9; Meet in large room to hammer things out with final groups. Your team should have something akin to a rough draft by now, or at the very least a detailed outline of what will be argued, how this argument will unfold and who will do what.

           Dec 3: No readings (It’s essential that you pare down, polish and streamline your final paper over this weekend.)  

WK15 Dec 6: Discovering, “Who Owns History?” (this is not in our edition; you need to pull it up on Blackboard; go to Course Materials, and click on HBLL Course Reserve Readings; Print a copy or refer to the PDF on your laptop. Bring either hardcopy or PDF to class for discussion.)

***Final Paper Due by 11:59pm of the last day of class, December 8***        

          Dec 8:  Last meeting. Closing remarks from professor.


Cheating in all of its shameful forms will not be tolerated. Though plagiarism is an epidemic at American schools it is still as despicable as ever. It not only reveals a poverty in morality and ethics-- it often reflects an empty, immature mind. Though I never hope to, I have discovered plagiarism almost every year I have taught. If you are ever tempted to plagiarize or cheat come talk to me. We can cut a bargain that will be preferential to getting caught for intellectual piracy.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (an important piece of legislation in the history of American women and something we will be discussing in class!) prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education and pertains to admissions, academic and athletic programs, and school-sponsored activities.  Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment of students by school employees, other students, and visitors to campus.  If you encounter sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, please talk to your teacher; contact the Equal Employment Office at 801-422-5895 or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours), or http://www.ethicspoint.com; or contact the School Office at 801-422-2847.

Timpanogos High School is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities Office (801-378-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the SSD office. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures.  You should contact the Equal Employment Office at (801)378-5895, D282 ASB.

THS provides free counseling services to students. Our School’s liaison at the Counseling Center is Jim McArthur. THS also provides 24 hour, seven-days-a-week emergency help. During regular business hours call the Counseling Center at (801)422-3035.  After hours a counselor can be reached by calling (801)422-2222.