HIST   B0510
Monday-Thursday, 2:30 – 5:05 PM
Room:  NA/6213
Evan Friss
Syllabus PDF


This course will provide an overview of the History of the United States since 1865, with a particular emphasis on newer modes of understanding the past.  The course will be divided into three parts.  The first will entail readings and exercises focusing on history as a discipline.  We will examine some of the major historiographical trends, debate the purpose of studying history, and discuss the politics of studying, writing, exhibiting, and talking about history.  The second part of the course will require you to engage with some important secondary texts.  Despite the fact that the readings will not provide a complete history of the last century and a half, these books (all but one of which was written in the 21st century), nonetheless, represent a diversity of historical themes and perspectives.  The final section of the course involves practicing the craft of history.   Through an experiential learning project, you will be given the opportunity to produce your own history.  Instead of a traditional research essay, you will create a digital history.


Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles
Dave Eggers, Zeitoun
Drew Gilpin Faust, Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City
John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History
Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right
Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America


Digital History:  The primary and final assignment will involve the production of a digital history.  Using either Omeka or WordPress, you will design and create a digital exhibit, archive, or museum built around a single topic.  You can explore any historical theme/topic you wish so long as it represents an important aspect of U.S. History since 1865.  In the final week, the entire class will visit and critique your site.  Due: June 27-30.

Op-Ed:  Based on the readings from the first week, write a two to three page Op-Ed piece arguing why (or why not) we should bother to study and/or require our students to take History.  Due: June 13

Digital/Traditional History Essay:  Find a digital history project online that relates to a central theme in one of the books that we will read in the second week.  Write a four page essay comparing/contrasting the different approaches of the book, the digital history project you found, and the brick and mortar museum we visited earlier in the semester.  Which was the most effective medium?  Due: June 20

Grading Scale:


Participation (25%)
Op-Ed (20%)
Short Essay (20%)
Digital History Project and Critiques (35%)



June 6:  Introduction

June 7:  The Craft
Richard J. Evans, In Defense of History, 65-87
Eric Hobsbawm, On History, 10-36, 201-216
Peter Novick, That Noble Dream, 1-17
Daniel J Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig, Digital History
Orville Vernon Burton, “American Digital History

June 8:  Museums and Archives
Nicholson Baker, Double Fold, 3-21
Digital Museums and Exhibits: Lincoln at 200, Object of History

June 9:  Political Uses of History
Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History, 249-309
Excerpts from interview with David Barton:

June 13:  The Aftermath
Faust, Republic of Suffering, Preface, Chapter 1, Chapter 3, Chapters 5-8, Epilogue

June 14:  Ideas
Menand, The Metaphysical Club, Preface, Part One, Part Four, Part Five, Epilogue

June 15:  Capitalism and Imperialism
Grandin, Fordlandia, Introduction, Part I, Part II, and Epilogue

June 16:  Race
Marable, Malcolm X, Prologue, Epilogue, and either Chapters 1-5 or Chapters 6-10 or Chapters 11-16

June 20:  The Cold War
Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History, Prologue, Chapters II, IV, VII, and Epilogue

June 21:  Conservatism
McGirr, Suburban Warriors, Introduction and Chapters 1-4.

June 22:  The City
Davis, City of Quartz, Prologue, Chapters 1, 4-7.

June 23:  Post 9/11 America
Eggers, Zeitoun

June 27:  Digital History: Student Projects

June 28:  Digital History: Student Projects

June 29:  Digital History: Student Projects

June 30:  Digital History: Student Projects