MIT OpenCourseWare
  • OCW home
  • Course List
  • about OCW
  • Help
  • Feedback
  • Support MIT OCW

Syllabus

Syllabus (PDF)

This subject studies the changing structure of American politics, economics, and society from the end of the Civil War to the present. We will consider secondary historical accounts and primary documents to examine some of the key issues in the development of modern America: industrialization and urbanization; U.S. emergence as a global power; ideas about rights and equality; and the changing structures of gender, class, and race. This subject also examines the multiple answers that Americans gave to the question of what it means to be an American in the modern age. As a communications-intensive subject, students will be expected to engage intensively with the material through frequent oral and written exercises.

Requirements

The success of this class depends on the active participation of all students. Classroom participation (15%) represents a substantial portion of the grade, and will be evaluated in terms of preparation, participation in large and small group discussion, active listening, collaboration, and overall contributions to the class experience during the term. Needless to say, if you do not attend a class it is impossible for you to contribute to it. All students will take charge of discussion (10%) for a particular class session - labeled on the syllabus with the notation (*PR) - in collaboration with the instructor; preparation includes a short presentation about a primary document of your choosing that relates to the readings for a particular class.

Writing assignments in this subject are frequent. Everyone will write two 5-6 pp. essays (20% each), of which one must be revised in conjunction with me and/or the staff of the Writing Center. In addition, each student will write a longer 10-12 pp. essay (30%) on a topic of your choosing. Preparatory writing exercises (5%) will help students develop a topic, a bibliography, and an argument in advance of the final paper itself. There is no midterm or final examination in this class.

Writing assignments are due on paper in person at the beginning of the class in which they are due. Extensions will be granted only for good reasons explained well in advance; computer malfunctions are never an acceptable excuse for a late submission. Adherence to standards of academic honesty is required; if you have any questions about how to go about your writing or cite your sources, don't hesitate to ask.

Books

Copies of all books have also been placed on reserve in the Humanities Library. Additional readings are available through handouts. Readings should be completed by the beginning of the class under which they appear, unless otherwise stated.