Please check this page regularly for the latest information about reading assignments and class discussions. I will also sometimes use this page to answer questions that may come up in class.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

As I mentioned last week, I would be grateful if you could fill out an end-of-semester survey about this course. This is not a substitute for the ESTHER evaluation, but it will help me improve the course in the future. If you only have time to do one evaluation, do the official ESTHER one. But if you have time to do both, I and future students would appreciate your constructive feedback about the course.

Don’t forget that our in-class final is TOMORROW, in a different room than the one our class typically meets in. The exam will be at 2 p.m. in Duncan Hall 1070.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Remember that you should come to class tomorrow with any questions about course content that you still don’t understand or would like to review. I will return any remaining Wednesday Reports that have not been collected.

If you were not in class on Monday, you can get the slides online. On Monday and yesterday, we also discussed the format of the final exam, which is as follows:

You must take the in-class final.

  • Sunday, April 28, 2-5 p.m., Duncan Hall 1070
  • Format will be similar to in-class midterms, but there will be a bonus (extra credit) question will cover material since April 1, which you can best prepare for by reviewing notes since then and reading all the assigned material.
  • If grade is higher than lowest in-class midterm, it will replace that midterm grade. If grade is lower than lowest in-class midterm, that lowest in-class midterm will be replaced by the average of it and the final.

The take-home final is now OPTIONAL.

For this optional take-home, you may rewrite one of your take-home midterms, improving it by taking into account comments returned to you, by reviewing the Comments for Take-Home Midterm and Comments for Second Take-Home Midterm, and by making sure that you read and try to incorporate important material you may have missed on your first try. It is your responsibility to talk to me if you don’t understand comments I made on your exam.

  • Due by 5 p.m. Sunday, April 28, by email
  • If grade is higher than the take-home midterm you are rewriting, it will replace that midterm grade. If grade is lower than the midterm you are rewriting, or you choose not to rewrite either take-home midterm, your existing take-home midterm grades will remain unchanged.

It is up to you whether you decide to do the take-home midterm. If you are satisfied with your performance on the previous take-home midterms, you can simply come to take the in-class final and be done for the semester.

Friday, April 12, 2013

I am still working on grading your take-home midterms, which will appear in your personal dropboxes on OWL-Space when they are completed. To decipher my notes on your exam, please see the Comments for Second Take-Home Midterm page.

Today in class we will discuss the causes of emancipation during the Civil War and wrap up our discussion of a recent controversial country/rap duet that makes some interesting historical claims. Slides are here.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

As I mentioned in class on Friday, many of your last Wednesday Reports posed new questions having to do with Lincoln’s emancipation policy or the debate over the Fifteenth Amendment. I’ve added two new questions about these topics to our Questions page so that you can use them, if necessary, for your Wednesday Reports due this week.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Today in class we talked about the origins of the women’s rights movement in the abolitionist movement, and began to talk about the split in the suffrage movement. You can get the slides here. Also, here is the article by Gloria Steinem I mentioned. In the context of discussing the primaries contest between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, Steinem mentions the Reconstruction-era split between African American activists and white suffragist women.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Have you glanced lately at our remaining classes? Be sure to stay on top of reading assignments coming up.

Readings for Monday

Your Readings for April 8 have been posted online. Be prepared to discuss them in class on Monday.

Readings for Wednesday

Your Readings for April 10 have also been posted online. Use these readings for your last Wednesday Reports of the semester.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In-class midterms were returned in class today. We also spent some time discussing this document from the records of the Southern Claims Commission. We debated whether her claim would have been granted, using additional evidence from Georgia laws and the narrative of Frederick Law Olmsted.

If you are interested in knowing what happened to Nancy Johnson’s claim, here’s the context from the Freedmen and Southern Society Project:

Nancy Johnson, [22 Mar. 1873], claim of Boson Johnson, Liberty Co. GA case files, Approved Claims, ser. 732, Southern Claims Commission, 3rd Auditor, U.S. General Accounting Office, Record Group 217, National Archives. Sworn before a special commissioner of the Southern Claims Commission. The questions that correspond to the enumerated responses are not in the file. According to other documents in the file, Boson Johnson, Nancy Johnson’s husband, had submitted a claim for $514.50 as compensation for the following property taken by Union soldiers: 1 mare, 625 pounds bacon, 60 pounds lard, 12 bushels corn, 8 bushels rice, 7 meat hogs, 11 stock hogs, and 25 chickens. He was awarded $155.

So there you have it: although the Alpha group leaned towards denying Johnson’s claim, in this case the special commissioner approved her petition.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

When you have finished with your take-home exam, don’t forget that you do have Readings for April 3 and weekly reports due this coming Wednesday.

There is no class meeting on Monday, but take-home exams must be completed and submitted by 5 p.m. on April 1.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Don’t forget that your second in-class midterm will be this Wednesday. The take-home portion of the test will be released later today is available on OWL-Space. In the meantime, I have updated the Study Guide page, and you may also want to look back over the Comments for Take-Home Midterm to get ready for this exam.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Here’s a round-up of how we spent Willy Week in class:

  • On Monday, we talked, with slides about the political gains made by African Americans during Reconstruction and the response to those gains by white Southerners.
  • On Wednesday, we continued talking about the retreat from Reconstruction, focusing especially on the role that industrialization played. Then we discussed the Readings for March 20. I posted some follow-up notes about our discussion online.
  • On Friday, I returned your Wednesday Reports from last week and we talked, with slides about possible explanations for the Geary Act of 1892 and the movement for Chinese Exclusion, noting again the role that industrialization played in these developments.

P.S. If you’d like to read the Elijah A. Morse and John Lockwood Wilson exchange that we talked about in class, it’s available online here.

Remember the schedule for our remaining classes: you have your next in-class midterm this coming Wednesday, and the next take-home midterm (due on April 1) will be released on OWL-Space soon.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Yesterday in class we discussed the historical context of the debate between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois, drawing on the Readings for March 13 and DuBois’s obituary for Washington in Crisis.

Please be sure to complete the Readings for March 20 before coming to class on Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Apologies that a personal emergency at home led to the cancellation of class today. I’ve looked at the calendar for the rest of the semester and rearranged things to account for this cancellation. The only really salient changes have to do with this Friday and next Wednesday. Briefly, here’s the run-down:

Remaining Classes

To summarize, this means that after this week’s Wednesday Reports, which you should bring to class Friday, you have only two more Wednesday Reports to complete this semester, though you will have other readings assigned (on March 20, April 8, and April 15) that will provide evidence and context for the exams. The only significant departure from our usual MWF routine is that you won’t have readings for this Monday and you won’t have Wednesday Reports due next week.

Let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for your patience with the sudden cancellation! See you on Friday.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Yesterday in class we discussed the Readings for March 11 and I’ve written a few follow-up comments about Complexity and Context. I also have added some more items to our Questions page from your Wednesday reports and our discussion on March 6.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Slides for today’s lecture on industrialization, labor, and women are here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I have posted your reading assignments for the next week, which relate to questions raised in class yesterday.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Today in class we discussed how to incorporate known information into questions about what you don’t know, using evidence from readings or earlier in the course.

Also, an important update on the take-home exams:

I originally uploaded your graded exams on Monday at noon, attaching the graded files to your submissions under the Tests and Quizzes section. Unfortunately, I was informed for the first time this morning during class that none of you could see these attachments when you logged into OWL-Space. I contacted IT for help immediately after class, but even after following their instructions step-by-step, I still couldn’t seem to get your graded exams to show up.

In a last ditch effort to get these exams back to you, I have now tried to “drop” your graded files in a private dropbox on OWL-Space to each of you individually. You should have gotten an email alerting you to this. If not, you should be able to log in to OWL-Space, click on Dropbox on the left, and then look in your personal folder to find the graded exam. What you want is a file whose name is something like “lastname-R.pdf.”

You should be able to see annotations and your grade on this PDF, but you may need to download the file and look at it using a PDF viewer (such as Preview on Mac, or Adobe Reader), because not all of the annotations will show up in the browser. The grade will be on a “rubric” page at the very end of the file. If you see a yellow comment box, you may need to click on it in your PDF viewer. Be sure to read the Comments for Take-Home Mid-Term page on the website for a fuller explanation of comments.

I apologize again for all of these technical difficulties. No one is more frustrated than I am that you had to wait unnecessarily an additional two days to get exams that were ready for you at the beginning of the week! I am happy to talk with you individually about the comments on your exam; please come by during office hours or set up an appointment with me if you would like to discuss my feedback.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Today’s lecture was about the New Deal(s). For Wednesday, please complete the Readings for March 6 and complete your reports as usual.

Exam Grades

In-class midterms were returned in class today. Take-home midterms will be delivered to you on OWL-Space.

You should also read through my Comments for Take-Home Midterm, which will explain some of the shorthand you will see on your returned take-home exams.

As you will see on both exams, I used a more fine-grained grading scale and rubric to assess these exams, both because (a) each one is worth 20% of your final grade; and (b) more fine-grained feedback should help you to improve on the next exam or continue to do what you are doing well.

Keep in mind that both sections of the final exam will present you with an opportunity to replace your lowest exam grades. After you have had a chance to read through my comments, I would be happy to meet with you individually to discuss the exams in my office hours (Friday, 2-4 p.m.) or by appointment.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hope everyone is enjoying your Spring Break!

I am still working my way through your exams, which will be graded and returned by Monday. In the meantime, please note that this week you do have Readings for March 6, and Wednesday Reports about these readings will also be due that day.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Today we discussed a Practice In-Class Exam in preparation for the in-class portion of the midterm this Wednesday.

A few reminders:

  • You don’t need to bring anything for the exam on Wednesday other than something to write with.
  • There will be no class this Friday.
  • The take-home portion of the exam (see link at the top of this page) must be completed by this Friday at 5 p.m.

Also, I wanted to alert you to an interesting event that is taking place this Wednesday at noon. It’s called In the Aftermath of Newtown: Gun Violence, Mental Illness, and American Anxieties about Race. Given that many of our Questions in this course have revolved around gun control and race, you may be interested in attending: Wednesday, 12 p.m., at Rayzor Hall 123. I’m told sandwiches will be provided.

Friday, February 15, 2013

In class we worked on a Practice Question on Women’s Roles. First, we compiled a list of evidence and information from readings and lectures pertaining to women, as advised by the Study Guide. Then we discussed how we would use the specific evidence and information we had gathered to answer a practice question about changes in women’s roles over time.

For next week:

  • The in-class portion of the first midterm exam will be this coming Wednesday. You don’t need to bring anything to class other than something to write with. We will do some practice for this portion of the exam in class on Monday.
  • There will NOT be class on Friday, so you will at least have the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. block of time next Friday to do the take-home exam if you cannot find two hours at any other time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Today in class we talked about how answers to historical questions can be improved, especially by asking these questions about the first drafts of your answers.

For the take-home portion of your exam, you will have to write an essay responding to an historical question, using evidence from our course readings and lectures. Hopefully today’s workshop demonstrated that when you are presented with a question that’s new to you, one hour is usually not enough time to assemble the evidence you might need to answer a question well. That’s why I have strongly recommended that you follow the tips in the Study Guide about organizing and “tagging” your notes before you begin the exam; it’s the only way you’ll be able to put your hands quickly on the evidence you need to write a fully developed answer.

If you want to see the revisions that different groups made to the answers discussed in class, click here and scroll down to find the text in red. Of these revisions, I noticed a few that serve as particularly good examples of the concepts we’ve discussed today and last Wednesday:

  • The new answers posted under alpha05 and beta07 cited specific evidence from specific readings to bolster the claims made by the original author. The alpha05 revision, for example, uses the Oscar Heline reading and provides excellent, direct quotations from the interview illustrative of his contemporaries’ views about government intervention. Given more time, this group probably could have found similarly specific evidence to support the final two sentences, such as information about Reagan’s two tax cut bills from our January 11 lecture, or Clinton’s declaration that “the era of big government is over” in his State of the Union speech.
  • The new answer posted under alpha06 took a paragraph that didn’t refer at all to evidence from historical documents, and used the readings by Heline and Soule to lend support to the original author’s claims.
  • The new answers posted under alpha07 and gamma06 spotlighted why considering the point of view of a document’s creator is so important in determining how much it tells us about a particular questions. The authors of the gamma06 revision, for example, pointed out that there is only so much a film clip can tell us about the general views of the population; together with other evidence or research, however, a film clip may well help you build a case about general views at the time, particularly if it can be shown that a particular film was very popular.
  • The new answers posted under beta05 and gamma08 are good examples of making sure that the strength of claims is calibrated to the strength of the evidence at hand. The authors of the new gamma08, for example, removed the original claims about the different impacts of war on the two recessions because there was not really enough evidence from the readings about the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and their impact on the economy to draw a different comparison on this point.

Each of these revisions offer good demonstrations of how to put into practice the general principles we discussed at the beginning of class; but each revision could also be improved by bringing in a larger body of evidence from other weeks of the course. To get a grasp on the evidence available to you, of course, you’ll have to do some reviewing of what we’ve done. Hence, the Study Guide!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I have put together a Study Guide to help you prepare for the mid-term exam. I strongly encourage you to go over this guide. We will also be spending time in the next three class meetings to prepare for the exam.

In class yesterday, we discussed the Readings for February 11 and also stepped back to think about the broad sweep of the history of conservatism, drawing on earlier lectures and readings.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Your Wednesday Reports will be returned on Monday. Today’s lecture slides are here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Your reading assignments for the coming week are now live:

Also, please note that office hours this Friday will be from 1 to 3 p.m. instead of the usual 2 to 4 p.m. I will also be eating in West Servery after class if you would like to talk more informally about the course or course topics there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Today our format for the Wednesday Workshops was different than in weeks past. We focused on how to use evidence from the readings to answer an historical question.

A few of the general lessons we learned:

  1. Many historical documents will not be relevant to answering a particular historical question; the first task is always to rule out sources that aren’t relevant in favor of the documents that serve best as evidence for the question at hand.
  2. Sometimes additional research about the facts of a source is necessary to determine whether it is relevant to answering a question; the nature of the question will determine which facts need to be investigated further.
  3. Before concluding that a document provides evidence to answer a question, it is crucial to consider the source’s point of view and the nature of the document.

To work on developing these skills, which will help you prepare for your first exam in two weeks, here are a couple of extension activities you could do on your own:

  • Would any of the material covered in our January 25 lecture support or challenge our answer to the question discussed in class today? If you had to write an essay in response to our question from class, how would you incorporate this material and the other evidence brought up in class into a persuasive answer?
  • In today’s Wednesday Reports, many of you wrote about the comic book hearings and connected what you learned in this reading to the earlier seat-belt comic we read. One of the best examples of this was provided by gamma04:

The information from the comic book hearing with William Gaines helps to gain a better understanding of how comic books shifted to a more propaganda type focus as we saw with Supergirl and seatbelts in 1987. This is in great contrast to the blood and gore published by William Gaines prior to the Comic Code of 1954. Here we see that comics as seen in 1987 were not always so censored, but regulations put in place (such as the Comic Code) forced these publishers to adapt their content to what the lawmakers deemed appropriate. Thus we see that the views of comics changed from being accepted while gory (pre-1954) to being vilified for being so. From this reading we know that people were uncomfortable with horrific scenes of blood and gore as well as presentations of criminals as deserving of empathy in 1954. This view of comics led to the creation of more conservative comic books that often just reinforced some proposition the government did approve of (i.e. wearing seatbelts). This reading does not though tell us how comic books arrived at the more controversial portrayals we see in Gaines’ comic and if there were many other comics of the sort at the time.

This was a good attempt to bring multiple readings together into a direct answer to the question about how comic books and views of them have changed over time. But suppose you were given a broader statement like:

Between the 1940s and the 1990s, Americans grew less and less concerned by the depiction of graphic sex and violence in entertainment media.

Using evidence from the various readings or lectures we’ve had so far, what could you use in support of this position? What could you use to challenge it?

By thinking about these questions you will hone the skills you need to be an historian and prepare yourself well for the take-home portion of our first exam.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On Monday we discussed the Readings for February 4, and you can see some of the record of our discussion on that page. Don’t forget to bring your Wednesday reports tomorrow for our next set of primary sources.

As a side announcement, some of you may be interested in attending a lecture being hosted tomorrow by the history department, titled “A Hidden Civil War: A Fugitive Slave’s Quest to Free Her Family.” The lecture is at 5pm in Humanities 117. Although we have not yet reached the Civil War in our class, we will get there! And when we do this lecture may well give you added context for understanding historical documents and posing new questions. Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Here are today’s slides. I have also added some questions from your Wednesday Reports and Wednesday discussion to our Questions page. See below to get your reading assignments for the coming week.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

You have two sets of readings to complete for next week:

See you tomorrow for a lecture about the effect of the Vietnam War on the Civil Rights movement, another one of the big questions posed by the Gamma group on Wednesday!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

To follow up on some of our recent conversations in class about the conservative movement, I created a page called Conservatism Questions and encourage you to read it. On that page I included several still unanswered questions about the rise of conservatism that I have added to our general Questions page.

I have also updated the Questions page to include the Gamma group’s recommendations from today’s discussion.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Don’t forget that before Wednesday you need to complete the Readings for January 30 and write up your Wednesday Reports, just as you did last week.

In class we discussed the Quinn article assigned for today. If you were confused about something in the article that we didn’t talk about in class, send me an email or come to office hours this week.

We also discussed the Wednesday Reports from last week. If you would like to gain a better understanding of your grade on last week’s report, see the grading rubric for some additional comments.

I also added some of the best examples of New Questions from last week’s report to our Questions page. Any of the questions on that page give you good models for historical questions, but if you want to specifically see the ones I added this week, click here and look for the questions highlighted in yellow.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Today we will discuss the rise of conservatism, focusing on the questions raised on Wednesday (see below) about Phyllis Schlafly. Slides are here.

Don’t forget that by class time on Monday you must read this article on affirmative action in Hollywood. We will discuss it in class.

For Wednesday, complete the Readings for January 30 and your Wednesday Reports. Last week’s reports will be returned on Monday.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first workshop today! (See the Wednesday Workshops page if you weren’t there and want to know what we did.) I have cleaned up the formatting on the [@Readings for January 23]() page so you can see what the groups posted.

At the end of class, we slightly revised the Beta group’s questions and came up with a few major new questions:

  • How popular was Phyllis Schlafly’s campaign against the ERA and NOW, and what effect did it have on the women’s movement in the 1970s? Did Phyllis Schlafly’s campaign actually benefit the feminist/women’s movement by rallying more women to support its goals? Or does her campaign show that the increase of radicalism in the women’s movement in the 1960s had sparked a broader backlash?
  • How have affirmative action policies affected race relations or perceptions of racial discrimination? Did they contribute to the rise of a black middle class?
  • Have affirmative action policies affected different groups in different ways—for example, was the experience of black college students the same as those of inner city dwellers like those in Los Angeles?
  • Given the success of African Americans like Barack Obama, who was elected to the Harvard Law Review presidency, in higher education in the early 1990s, why did some African Americans like Ward Connerly oppose affirmative action?
  • What role did the reach of media and the changing ethos of the reporters play in public perceptions of stories about race, like the Rodney King beating or the Los Angeles riots? Were there incidents of similar natures that were over- or under-reported, and if so why did they not result in the same chain of events?

The Questions Page

I have added these to our main Questions page. This might be a good time to explain what that Questions page is for. It’s a running list of the questions we come up with, so we’ll be adding to it each week. I will put the ones we talk about as a group there, but I will also occasionally post especially good examples of questions from the Wednesday Reports. I will also be highlighting with a bullet point those questions that we have at least partly addressed or answered in class or in the readings. As we go, the master Questions list will serve as a resource for your weekly reports and as a good place to review what we’ve been talking about in class.

Reading Assignments for This Week

You have two major reading assignments for this week.

As always, if you have questions, let me know.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Please remember to bring two copies of your complete Wednesday Reports—that is, your reports containing answers to all three prompts and not just the one you posted online—to class tomorrow.

Also, I have just published some Reference Tools that may be helpful to you as you respond to the first prompt asking you to investigate some unfamiliar concept, person, event, or claim made in the readings.

Monday, January 21, 2013

One of you alerted me this morning of a problem editing the “discuss” tab on the “Readings for January 23” webpage. Others may have experienced the problem, too, but it should be fixed now.

Remember that in addition to bringing TWO paper copies of your full Wednesday Report to class, you need to post one portion of your report on the website under your assigned username. For full instructions, see the Wednesday Reports page.

To edit the webpage, you will need to create a user account. As announced in class on Friday, YOU MUST USE the USERNAME I sent you by email when creating your account, which should be “alpha,” “beta” or “gamma” followed by a number; don’t make your own username. This is to protect your privacy.

If you have already created an account using a username other than the one I sent you, please make another account with the correct, pseudonymous username and make your edits using that new account. I will delete any old account that you made with unauthorized usernames. If you lost your alpha/beta/gamma username, send me an email.

Stonewall in the Second Inaugural

Given that the Stonewall Inn came up in class on Friday, did you notice that “Stonewall” was mentioned in President Obama’s inaugural address this morning?

Many commentators have noticed the reference as a striking departure from earlier inaugural addresses, which raises additional questions stemming from our discussion: given that Stonewall is only now being included with Civil Rights events as part of the national memory of the Sixties, what were the larger effects of the movements for “gay liberation” that emerged in 1969 and 1970? Are movements for civil equality today (President Obama talked about equal treatment “under the law”) exactly like the calls for “gay liberation” that we discussed on Friday, or did those earlier calls include other arguments and demands as well? Have the changes following the Sixties been as rapid as the changes between the 1950s and 1970, or more gradual, and if more gradual, why?

Perhaps you can think of other questions raised by the speech as well. If so, you’re starting to grasp what I’ve called the “recursive” dimension of historical thinking: answers to one question often lead to new questions, or force us to make refinements of our earlier questions.

See you on Wednesday!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Today in class I gave a lecture that tried to answer one of the questions that came up on Monday about changes in same-sex activism from the early homophile organizations of the 1950s to the gay liberation movement of the early 1970s. Here are the slides.

Be sure to create a website account (instructions below), and don’t forget to complete the Readings for January 23 and your Wednesday Reports before coming to class next week.

As I reminder, I have been posting some additional links and resources on Twitter for those of you interested in learning more about subjects that come up in class. If you’re not on Twitter, you can still see an archive of class tweets, which is updated every few hours.

Have a good Martin Luther King, Jr., Day!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Today in class we will discuss some handouts on the NRA and practice writing Wednesday Reports. You can see the example Wednesday report made in class here.

Website Accounts

We will also discuss how to create an account on the website, which you will need in order to complete next week’s assignment:

  • You must use the username that I sent you by email when creating your account; if you didn’t get this message, let me know.
  • You must have the “code” word distributed in class to create your account, so if you miss class, .
  • Important: Do NOT use your NetID password for this website, as I cannot guarantee its security. Make a new password just for this site.

Assignment for Next Wednesday

Complete the Readings for January 23 and your Wednesday Reports. Please read the instructions carefully, and if you have questions, let me know.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Coming up this week:

  • Monday: We will discuss the Readings for January 14 and get some practice identifying good historical questions.
  • Wednesday: We will look at some primary sources on gun control in class in preparation for your first graded assignment due on January 23.
  • Friday: Lecture on one of the questions we’ve raised so far

Friday, January 11, 2013

Today’s slides.

Our discussion centered on how to move from simple historical questions to more complex ones; throughout this course, we will gather new information about the past both to answer our existing questions and to refine those questions. In illustration, we talked about how the history of debates over the deficit and the national debate during the Reagan administration spotlights the contingency of the present moment (i.e., gridlock isn’t inevitable) and raises new questions about how we’ve arrived at crises like the “fiscal cliff.”

Assignment for Monday

Before class on Monday you need to complete the Readings for January 14. These include a brief film clip (about 20 minutes long), and a set of short readings about the history of activism for same-sex marriage. As we did with the fiscal cliff in class, see if the information you gain from these sources raises new questions for you about the history of same-sex marriage. We will talk about your findings on class.

Follow-up questions about Reagan

  • One question raised in class today was how Reagan won the 1984 election given the recession that set in following his 1981 tax cuts. It’s a good question, especially considering that, by the end of 1982, his job approval rating was at 35 percent, and Democrats had picked up seats in Congress in the midterm election. Plus, in 1984 Reagan won an even more resounding popular victory than in 1980, when he had a bare popular majority but a large electoral college win. There was an economic rebound in 1983, and Reagan’s Democratic opponent Walter Mondale proposed new taxes and military cuts in the campaign. Were these changes responsible for voters’ choices, or did they vote for Reagan for other reasons without fully buying into Reaganomics?
  • Another question raised after class was whether Reagan had to work with split Congresses the way President Obama does today. The answer is yes: Democrats controlled the House throughout his administration, while Republicans mostly controlled the Senate. All of that, perhaps, deepens the mystery of how (say) the Tax Reform Act of 1986 was passed partly with liberal Democratic sponsorship; on the other hand, perhaps we would need to look closer at the makeup of the Democratic Party in Congress to see whether its own consensus was fracturing at the time.

Keep up the questions!

Twitter hashtag

As I mentioned in class, I will be using my Twitter account ([@wcaleb]( to post occasional links to things that relate to our conversations in class. Even if you are not on Twitter, you can use a search for the course hashtag #hist118 to see these tweets. If you are on Twitter, feel free to post your own links with the course hashtag if you see something relevant.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Today in class we talked about how to frame questions that historians can answer and the “Five C’s of Historical Thinking.” You can look at the slides from class to see some examples of historical questions: the questions following the “Five C’s” are better questions, from a historian’s standpoint, than those on the early slides.

Assignment for Friday

Before class on Friday, please visit this Google Doc and edit it by adding your own historical questions under the topics listed. You should not delete other people’s questions, but you can use Google Docs to leave comments on questions if you think they could be slightly modified or extended. Just highlight the question, right-click, and choose “Comment.”

Monday, January 07, 2013

Welcome to the first day of class! Announcements for HIST 118 will appear on this page in reverse chronological order, with the most recent announcements at the top of the page.

Assignments for Wednesday

  • Please take a careful look at the Syllabus so we can address any questions you have on Wednesday.
  • Please complete the present-day issues survey as soon as possible. On this form, you can list up to ten issues, events, questions, or things about the present-day U.S. that interest or concern you. If you’re having trouble thinking of things, check out a recent newspaper or news website, or scan your social media to see what is on people’s minds these days. Feel free to ask roommates and friends what they would put on the list too.

  1. I stand corrected.

  2. Just wanted to see if you are reading carefully.