HIS2208 U.S. History Since 1865

HIS2208 U.S. History Since 1865

Course paper

On April 15, 2015 you will turn in your course paper.

1. The paper is worth 100 points and about 16% of your grade.

2. The paper will be no fewer than 4 and no more than 6 pages long (1000 -1500 words).

3. You will need to use at least 5 different sources and at least 2 of those cannot be online sources.

4. You must use MLA format

5. It will be based on one of the following sets of questions:

a. Write a paper on the origins of the modern-day Republican Party. What political factions coalesced to transform the Republican Party into a national party? What ideologies defined the Republican agenda? Was the party a product of pre-Civil War sectionalism? Compare and contrast today’s Republican Party with that of the era of Lincoln. Do the same comparison for the Democratic Party.

b. Write a paper on the history of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, focusing specifically on its performance at Fort Wagner, South Carolina. How was the regiment recruited? What is the significance of the Massachusetts 54th in terms of the lasting reputation and historical legacy of African American troops who fought in the Civil War? What was the 54th’s role in the Darien affair? Who led the Massachusetts 54th? How were white officers perceived by black soldiers, or other white soldiers? In answering this question, focus specifically on the life and death of Robert Gould Shaw.

c. Research the role of southern women in the Civil War, focusing on the diary of Mary Chesnutt of South Carolina. Chesnutt left an extensive record in which she addressed issues such as slavery, gender roles in the antebellum South, class distinction in the antebellum South, and the impact of the Civil War on southern society.

d. Research the military personality of William Tecumseh Sherman. Examine his innovative contributions to the northern war effort. Why is Sherman often considered the originator of concepts about modern war? What is Sherman’s legacy? How is he viewed in the South today as opposed to the North?

e. Write a paper on white terrorism in the South during Reconstruction, concentrating on some of the more obscure local paramilitary groups such as the Mississippi Riflemen or the South Carolina Red Shirts.

f. Examine the role of black politicians during Reconstruction. Who were the black congressmen or senators during reconstruction? What roles did these individuals play in politics? (Specifically look at the life of Hiram Revels.) What were the goals of these individuals? What was their background and what was their idea of an effective leader? How were they different or similar to their white counterparts? How successful were black politicians?

g. Look at the persistence of sectional tensions in the United States today. Are there southerners who “won’t forget”? What issues still distinguish the South from other parts of the nation? Do these same issues divide modern-day southerners? Is the South still a region apart?

h. Research the issue of lynching and its historical connection to the preservation of southern white female purity. Why was the separation of white women and black men so important to southern white males? What other factors contributed to lynchings? Was lynching a unique southern phenomenon? How did southern women feel about being used as a justification for lynching? Research on this topic might also involve the work of Jessie Daniel Ames during the 1930s and 1940s

i. Watch the film Birth of a Nation; next analyze the work as a cultural artifact and introduce the aspect of cultural memory. Begin with the creators of this film (and book on which it was based, ‘The Klansman’) who was W. D. Griffith? Describe the plot, the characters and the work as a whole. How did these works attempt to reexamine history? What aspects were based on fact and which were purely fiction? What sources, if any, did the creators utilize while creating their interpretation? Finally, discuss both the intended audience and the effects on society. The project should include an analysis of the stereotypes used and the historical significance of the tragic view of reconstruction.

j. Research the impact of immigration on American public education. Identify the challenges that faced the public school system at the end of the nineteenth century. How did native-born Americans expect public education to support the assimilation of the immigrant population into American society?

k. United States immigration at the turn of the twenty-first century is being compared in many ways to immigration at the turn of the twentieth century. How are the two demographic trends similar? How are they different? Examine the number of immigrants who have entered the United States in the past 25 years or so. From where have many of these immigrants come? How has the United States addressed the economic, social, ethnic, racial, and political challenges that have accompanied present-day immigration?

l. Research both the image and the reality of the American cowboy. What is the historical myth surrounding this figure? Where have most late twentieth-century Americans received their defining images of the American cowboy? Students may want to choose one figure from the American West, such as Wyatt Earp or Billy the Kid, and compare the person’s image as it has been represented in twentieth-century popular culture to the historical facts of his or her life.

m. Analyze the HBO dramatic series Deadwood in relation to other pop-culture depictions of the West. To what extent does the series seem to reflect accurately the demographics and dynamics of a booming mine town, and to what extent is it simply a repackaging of the same old myths, with more foul language and more on-screen sex?

n. Research the children’s author L. Frank Baum and prepare a paper on his Oz series. Was Baum a zealous Populist who used children’s literature as a medium for communicating his political agenda? Look at the characters, symbols, and themes of the Wizard of Oz and explain how they may be representative of components of the Populist agenda. Also, some attention can be given to the idea of using children’s literature as a means of education or even indoctrination. Can you think of other literary works that do more than entertain?

o. Examine Prohibition from the perspective of a distillery. Look at the growth of the distillery business at the turn of the century, perhaps focusing on one company, such as Anheuser-Busch, Bacardi, etc. Connect the growth in the distillery business to turn-of-the-century immigration. How did distilleries fight prohibition? How did these companies survive the years of prohibition?

p. Examine nationalist responses to American imperialism at the turn of the century. Have students research and present reports on examples of native resistance to American expansion. Among topics to consider, include Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian nationalist movement, Emiliano Aguinaldo and the Filipino-American War, and Augusto Sandino and the Nicaraguan resistance.

q. Research the roles of African Americans in the military history of World War I. How were African Americans recruited? How were they treated in the armed forces? How were they treated in combat? What impact did the war have on the psychology of African Americans and their feelings about racism in America?

r. Choose an author or a poet from the Harlem Renaissance and read a sample of his or her work. Then place the author’s literature within its historical context. Point out universal themes in the work, but also look at it in terms of the times in which it was written, particularly within the context of the Great Migration. Does the author’s work make reference to southern rural African American poverty? Does it refer to African American urban poverty? Does it make statements about the status of African Americans during the early twentieth century? Does it offer hope or reflect hopelessness?

s. Examine the photographic legacy of the New Deal. Resources for such a project include the work of Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, Russell Lee, James Delano, Roy Stryker, and James Agee. In assessing this work, have students consider the following:

i. Is one region of the country the particular focus of most of this work? Why?

ii. What does this photography tell us about life in the region at the time?

iii. Was it important and/or necessary for the government to finance this work?

iv. What is its value?

t. Examine the role of technology in Depression-era politics. Look at the use of radio by Roosevelt and his opponents. How much impact did radio have in defining political allegiances in the 1930s? What did this predict for the future?

u. Write a paper researching the impact of one of the prominent evangelists of the modern era, such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, or Jimmy Swaggart. In the paper, address the contribution of the person to the popularization of evangelical Protestantism, as well as the extent to which each evangelist had a political agenda attached to his ministry

6. You may want to do another topic, but you must first get my approval.

a. I WILL NOT GRADE ANY PAPER ON A TOPIC I HAVE NOT ASSIGNED OR APPROVED. That paper will automatically receive a grade of 0/100.

7. You will submit the paper to the folder provided on Blackboard. The folder system automatically submits your paper to turnitin.com, where it will be examined for plagiarism.

a. If you would like your paper to be graded by hand, make sure you turn in a hard copy of it, as well as uploading it to Blackboard

8. If your similarity index is over 20%, you will be asked to redo the paper to fix that. This is entirely optional. You can choose to keep whatever score you have already received.

a. If your similarity index is over 20%, your paper will be automatically deducted the number of points that is your similarity index, then graded as normal. That means that if your similarity index is 32% percent, the paper grade will be no higher than 68/100.


10. I WILL NOT GRADE ANY PAPER THAT HAS NOT BEEN UPLOADED TO Blackboard, even if it has been turned in as hard copy.


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