Online Course Syllabus:
U.S. History from 1870


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Lectures & Readings
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Victor Valley College

Fall 2012

US History 118,

Sections: 41783, 41798

Instructor: Dr. Eric Mayer,

Skype:  dr.eric.mayer



All lecture notes can be downloaded for free from the site. Please do not bring lecture notes to class…they are for home study and use only. Prerequisite: None—But there is an intensive amount of analytical writing in this course as well as critical thinking. However, it is assumed that most of you do not have college level or academic writing skills and there will be online help available.
*Note: Syllabus subject to possible revision

Requirements: Students must watch or listen to at least 30 minutes of national or international news per day. If you take the local newspaper or the Los Angeles Times make sure that you read the national and international news. The New York Times is also an excellent newspaper. The key for doing well in this course and understanding the history that we cover is that you be informed as to what is happening about you. History is not "dead", it is constantly affecting your reality, and if it is dead, then we all are affected by the ghosts of the past. History is the analysis and understanding of processes that have created our present reality

Course Description: A survey of US history from the 1870's to the present. In the course we will be particularly concerned not with names and dates, but rather with historical processes that made the US the way it is. The course will focus on political history, but more importantly on the history of the struggles between labor and capital, women and minorities versus the dominant patriarchal state, and the plight and status of the working poor and the way in which they either made, influenced, or were exploited by the American system. In essence, political, economic, and most importantly social history will be covered in this course in order to understand just what the "American Experience" represents for the majority of Americans, not just the elite. Note: This is not a “lollipop” history course where everything turns out for the best. US history is an epic drama full of victories as well as atrocities. For this reason you will not be fed disconnected facts so common in courses that focus on what can only be described as American mythstory. This is course emphasizes critical thinking and understanding processes of causality that forged the saga of US historical development between 1870 and 1988.


Prerequisites:  None


Instructional Objectives


Upon completion of the course the student should be able to:

Correctly identify and explain the major historical events and their

impact on the U.S. since 1876. The student can then:


A.  Chart the  development of the United States from post-Reconstruction society

to the emergence of the New South, the American West, and  'Modern' America;


B. Correctly identify the changes in the late 19th century as the United States moves from a rural to urban environment;


C. Discuss the emergence of the United States as a world power and its effects on politics, economics and diplomacy from the late 19th century to the present;


D. Discuss the shifting of political power from the East Coast to the South and Southwestern  areas of United States after World War II;


E. Discuss the effects of immigration on the economic, political and social culture of the United States.


Student Learning Outcomes:


1.       Chart the expansion and development of the U.S. domestically and

internationally in the post-Civil War era. The student can then: A.

Identify the factors in causing Western settlement and the growth of

urban areas from the 19th century to the present; B. Discuss the

similarities and differences in United States involvement in World

War I and World War II; C. Correctly identify and discuss the policies

of the United States both domestically and internationally during the Cold War


2.  Discuss and analyze the role of race and gender in from the

Reconstruction Era to the present, especially politically, socially,

politically and intellectually. The student can then: A. Correctly

identify and discuss the impact of Jim Crow laws and segregation in

the 19th and 20th centuries; B. Chart the emergence of the Women's

Suffrage movement and its goals; C. Identify and discuss the key

players and objectives in the Civil Rights movements of the 20th

century; D. Evaluate and discuss the state of racism and

gender-based discrimination in the early 21st century, and historical



3         Identify and explain global economics, politics and diplomacy and

how those factors have affected the development of the U.S. and its

reaction to global events since 1876. The student can then: A.

Correctly identify the key factors contributing to the United States'

emergence as an economic world power in the late 19th century and

the link to imperialism; B. Correctly identify and discuss the key

elements involved in the causes, progress and end of the Great

Depression; C. Compare and contrast the role of the United States

as an international economic power with domestic economic issues

such as unions and protective tariffs; D. Analyze the role of the

United States in world events since World War II.


Student Learning Outcomes:


Upon completion of the course the student can:


Analyze causal variables that led to the historical development of the

United States between 1870 and the early 21st Century.

1.       Compare and contrast various eras of US history since 1876 and explain their historical commonalities and differences.

2.       Critically analyze how issues of race and gender were affected by both the economic and political development of the United States from 1870 to the present.

3.       Explain how global economic cycles have historically affected not only the economy of the United States, but also its political responses.

4.       Recognize, identify and discuss the political, economic, social, diplomatic and intellectual development of the United States from 1876 to the early 21st century.

Required Text

American Horizons: U.S. History in a Global Context, Volume II: Since 1865 (Paperback)
by Michael Schaller (Author), et al.


or if you prefer Barnes and Noble



I will send you a PDF of The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck




Attendance: Students must check their email regularly. Class time is composed of your reading and writing analytical historical essays. It is the students’ responsibility to make sure that they have been dropped, reinstated, or is currently enrolled in the course. I will not do any grade changes that are related to attendance or registration issues. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE BEEN DROPPED. DO NOT ASSUME THAT I WILL DROP YOU AS A MATTER OF COURSE DUE TO YOUR LACK OF ATTENDANCE

Grading The grade breakdown is as follows: Exam one=25% of final grade, Book review =25% of final grade; Exam 2= 25% of final grade; Final Exam = 25% of final grade.   In order to pass the course all outstanding assignments or exams must be turned in by the day of the final examination..The percentage/letter grade is as follows:  90%-100% A 80% -89% B 70% -79% C 60% -69% D 0% -59% F

Course Mechanics: The course is internet driven. Therefore it is essential to surf the net regularly. I encourage on line class participation in the forms of comments, questions, contention, and even debate. My ultimate goal in the course besides teaching US history is to create students who will be able to argue logically and back up their assertions with evidence. An objective of this course is to teach students the skills that they need to educate themselves. The course stresses on-line, learning interaction. This course will not be a passive learning experience; it will be highly interactive in terms of how you explain historical causality and outcome.