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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 321
Course Title: History of the Modern U.S.
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Analysis of the reformation of the United States during the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The course explores the story of how
Americans endured the Great Depression and eventually prevailed
in their struggle against totalitarianism. In particular, it highlights the
anxieties of the new era, the stock market crash of 1928, the New
Deal policies of FDR and the military campaigns of World War II.
Significant themes of gender, class, power and warfare are traced
from the twilight of the roaring twenties to the dawn of the atomic
age. Offered Odd Fall.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): HIST 122.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered odd Fall.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

The required text must be assigned and supplemented with a minimum of two recommended texts. Additional primary and secondary sources may be assigned as well.

Other appropriate scholarly monographs may be assigned.

Major Problems in American History, 1920-1945
By Gordon, Colin, ed. (Houghton Mifflin)
For the Survival of Democracy: Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s
By Hamby, Alonzo L. (Free Press)
Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1941
By Parrish, Michael E. (Norton)
New Deal
By Edsforth, Ronald (Houghton Mifflin)
New Deal
By Badger, Anthony (Ivan R. Dee)
Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal
By Leuchtenburg, William (Harper Collins)
New World Coming
By Miller, Nathan (Da Capo)
The Era of Franklin D. Roosevelt
By Polenberg, Richard, ed. (Bedford)
New Deal
By David E. Hamilton (Houghton Mifflin)
Homefront USA
By Winkler, Allen (Harlan Davidson)
Course Objectives
  • To recognize the main currents of U.S. history during the era of FDR.
  • To explore the interrelationships between liberal democratic practices and the military industrial complex.
  • To compare and contrast various historiographical perspectives on the modern U.S.
    Measurable Learning

  • Describe the significant people, places and events shaping the U.S. from 1920 to 1945.
  • Analyze the economic factors responsible for the Great Crash and the Great Depression.
  • Explain the New Deal programs and measure their success in achieving relief, reform and recovery.
  • Differentiate the major objectives, campaigns and criticism of FDR’s presidency.
  • Describe the American responses to totalitarian aggression, especially in the days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Study the experiences of GI’s from their first-hand accounts.
  • Examine the influence of total war in Europe and the Pacific on the American home front.
  • Analyze the factors contributing to FDR’s successes and failures as a leader.
  • Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and trends in the historiography of the modern U.S.

    Topical Outline:

    Because the course represents an upper-level history elective, it bears a distinctive responsibility for teaching advanced knowledge within the discipline. It must be distinguished as an advanced course by three structural components: extensive reading, intensive writing, and historiographical thinking. It must require advanced students to complete both in class and out of class projects (i.e., midterms, finals, team reports, quizzes, research papers). The reading load should be a
    minimum of 1000 pages; the course writing assignments should total c5000 words.

    The major topics include but are not limited to the following areas:

  • Modern times
  • Public policy in the New Era
  • Labor and welfare capitalism
  • The culture of consumption
  • Examine race, ethnic, and LGBT topics between the wars, depending on instructor's area of expertise
  • Liberal internationalism
  • The Crash
  • FDR and his critics
  • Agricultural crisis
  • Industrial unions
  • The New Deal order

  • The coming of World War II
  • The political economy of World War II
  • Liberation of Europe
  • A Pacific War without mercy
  • The world that the war made

    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Michael Polley Date: July 10, 2013
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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