SYLLABUS, 2013-2014



First semester:

Book review                                        10%

Long paper                                          20%

Seminar participation                          20%


Second Semester:

Comparative book review                  10%

Long paper                                          20%

Seminar participation                          20%


Instructors for 2013-14

Marc Egnal                             Vari 2138                                 megnal@yorku.ca

Molly Ladd-Taylor                   Vari 2136                                 mltaylor@yorku.ca

Carolyn Podruchny                 Vari 2194                                 carolynp@yorku.ca

Marc Stein                              Founders 234                          mrstein@yorku.ca



This team-taught seminar is designed to prepare Ph.D. students for comprehensive examinations in U.S. history, provide M.A. students with a broad overview of U.S. history and historiography, and encourage graduate students more generally to broaden and deepen their understanding of the contents and methods of U.S. history. This syllabus presents the topics and readings for each week, though be advised that individual instructors may announce modifications to the pages assigned and additions of primary texts in advance of each seminar. The instructors have collectively identified the topics as core subjects in U.S. history, though the issues covered are necessarily constrained and limited by various factors. The syllabus is designed to be used in conjunction with the U.S. history comprehensive examination reading list, which provides more complete citations for the works on the syllabus. The reading list, collectively developed by the instructors and broken down into subfields, indicates the books and articles that Ph.D. students are responsible for knowing for Ph.D. comprehensive examinations in U.S. history. The books and articles on the reading list include many of the most important, influential, and innovative works that have been published on U.S. history in the last fifty years.


Along with mastering the works on the syllabus (and the reading list for those planning to take comprehensive examinations in U.S. history), students should work toward an understanding of the broad narrative of U.S. history, including the events and developments generally considered to be important in that history. For those who have not done extensive course work in U.S. history, we recommend reading the appropriate chapters in a university-level U.S. history textbook and/or attending the lectures in a U.S. history survey course (History 2600 at York).


Students are expected to attend all class meetings and participate actively in seminar discussions. Silent attendance is not acceptable. Seminar discussions are particularly productive when students are prepared to summarize the main contributions of the works assigned, offer critical perspectives on those works, make connections between different readings (including previously-assigned ones), respond to the questions raised by the faculty, and address the comments of other students. If it is necessary to miss a class, students should inform in advance the individual faculty member leading the seminar. Missing more than one seminar per term is not recommended. If personal emergencies or health problems lead to more than one absence in the fall or winter term, the student should consult with at least one member of the 6020 teaching team to develop a plan to make up the missed work.


The seminar meets Wednesdays in Vari Hall 1018, from 2:30 to 5:30.


Written Assignments

During the course of the year you will submit four written assignments.


                  In the first semester you will write a 750-word book review, examining one of the assigned books. You will decide which week you will do this review, though you should choose wisely and not leave yourself with excessive work during the last weeks of the semester. A strong review should summarize the book (topic, method, and argument), situate the book in relation to major historiographic debates and developments, highlight its main strengths and contributions, and discuss important weaknesses and limitations. This essay is due at the beginning of class on the day the book is discussed.


                  During the first semester you will also prepare a longer paper, which should be 2500-3000 words in length. There are two choices for this paper. One option is to write a historiographical paper that examines 5 to 8 books on similar or related topics. You can use books on the syllabus and reading list, but are not limited to these works. You may substitute four articles for one book. A strong historiographical paper summarizes the selected works (topic, method, and argument), compares and contrasts them, situates them in relation to major historiographic debates and developments, highlights their main strengths and contributions, and discusses their important weaknesses and limitations. The second option is to write a primary source analysis of a major text in U.S. history (for example, The Federalist Papers, Notes on the State of Virginia, Narrative of Frederick Douglass). A strong primary source analysis introduces and describes the source, discusses its importance, offers an original and interesting interpretation, and situates your analysis in relation to the relevant historiography. Whichever paper option you choose, you should discuss your work in advance with the professor who will be reading your paper. This essay must be handed in by December 20.


                  In the second semester you will write a comparative book review of 1250 words. Again you can choose the week for this assignment. This essay should focus on two books rather than two articles. A strong comparative book review should do everything highlighted above for a strong book review, but in addition it should compare and contrast the two works (or, in other words, discuss their similarities and differences). This essay is due at the beginning of class on the day both works or the second of the two works are discussed.


                  During the second semester you will write another major essay, similar to the one assigned first semester. This paper is due April 18.


Book reviews will be handed in to the professors directing those weeks, but you can choose which professors will read your major papers. Please work with at least two professors during the course of the year. (We recommend that you select three.)  Also keep in mind that the mark on late essays will be reduced a half grade each week; we strongly encourage you to request permission in advance if you will need extra time to complete the papers.



                                                              First Semester


Sep. 11: Introduction (Ladd-Taylor)


Sep. 18:  Native Americans  (Podruchny)    

            Calloway, One Vast Winter Count


Sep. 25:  Colonial Societies and Cultures (Egnal)

            Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom, 295-387

            Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, intro, chaps. 3, 4, 5

            Lepore, The Name of War, ix-xxiii, 1-121


Oct 2: American Revolution (Egnal )

            Bailyn, Ideological Origins, v-xii, 55-143

            Countryman, The American Revolution, revised edition, xii-xxii, 3-131       

            Egnal, A Mighty Empire, xi-xv, 1-19

            Document: Declaration of Independence


Oct. 9: Constitution (Egnal)

            Forrest McDonald, We The People, 3-18, 182-202, 310-321, 400-417

            Wood, Creation of the American Republic, viii-x, 53-65, 471-518

Cornell, The Other Founders, 1-96

Document: Federalist Paper #10


Oct. 16:  Jefferson and Jackson (Egnal)

            Paul Finkelman, "Jefferson and Slavery"

            Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought, 328-410

            Sean Wilentz, Rise of American Democracy, 359-455


Oct. 23: Women in Antebellum America (Ladd-Taylor)

            Ginzberg, Untidy Origins

            Painter, ARepresenting Truth"

            White, Ar’n’t I A Woman? 27-61


Nov. 6: Manifest Destiny (Ladd-Taylor)

Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny, Part 3 and Conclusion

Hyde, Empires, Nations, and Families, 1-24, 147-219, 347-407


Nov. 13: Slavery (Egnal)

            Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll,  3-25,  70-86, 161-183, 285-294, 450-475, 587-598

            Johnson, Soul By Soul, 1-116

            Document: Excerpts from The Confessions of Nat Turner


Nov. 20:  Civil War (Egnal)

            Foner, Free Soil, 1-39, 261-317

            Genovese, Political Economy, 3-39, 243-270

            Egnal, Clash of Extremes, 3-17, 101-149, 258-286

            Document: Emancipation Proclamation


Nov. 27:: Reconstruction and New South (Egnal)

            Foner, A Short History, chaps. 3-6.

            Rabinowitz and Woodward, APerspectives@

            Wiener, AClass Structure,@ and responses that follow this article

            Wright, Old South, New South, 17-80

            Document: U.S. Constitution's 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments


Dec. 4: Imperialism

            Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, Chapter 1

            Kramer, The Blood of Government, Introduction and Chapters 1-4


                                                            Second Semester                    


January 8: The West and Populism (Stein)

            Goodwyn, The Populist Moment

            Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis, xiii-xxiii, 5-54, 371-385

            Novick, That Noble Dream, 1-17, 86-108


January 15: Industrialization and Urbanization (Stein)
            Trachtenberg, Incorporation of America, 1-139, 208-234
            Enstad, Ladies of Labor, 1-16, 84-160, 201-207

January 22: Immigration (Ladd-Taylor)

Gerstle, "Liberty, Coercion, and the Making of America"

            Ngai, Impossible Subjects, 1-90

            Sanchez, Becoming Mexican American, 3-14, 87-150

            Orsi, Madonna of 115th Street, 1-49, 107-218


January 29: Progressivism (Ladd-Taylor)

            McGerr, A Fierce Discontent

            McCormick, “Progressivism: A Contemporary Reassessment”

            Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow, Chapter 6


February 5: World War I (Stein)

            Kennedy, Over Here

            Novick, That Noble Dream, 111-132, 206-224


February 12: The 1920s (Stein)

            Hawley, The Great War and the Search for a Modern Order, v-vii, 58-172

            Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism, 3-174, 271-283


February 26:  The Great Depression and the New Deal (Ladd-Taylor)

            Cohen, Making a New Deal, 1-9, 53-368 (especially Chapters 5-6)

                Brinkley, Liberalism and Its Discontents, 1-78


March 5: World War II (Ladd-Taylor)

            Brinkley, Liberalism and Its Discontents, 79-110

            Cohen, A Consumers’ Republic, 62-109

            Dower, War Without Mercy, ix-xii, 3-146, 293-317

            Bernstein, “Atomic Bombings Reconsidered”


March 12: Cold War (Ladd-Taylor)

Leffler, Specter of Communism, 33-130

Williams, Tragedy of American Diplomacy, 276-312

Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights, 3-17, 79-114

            May, Homeward Bound, Chapter 1


March 19: The Sixties (Stein)

            Gosse, Rethinking the New Left: An Interpretive History


March 26: The United States and the World in the Post-World War II Era (Stein)
            Young, Vietnam Wars, ix-x, 1-123

            McAlister, Epic Encounters, xi-xix, 1-83, 125-197


April 2: The New Right (Stein)

            Schulman and Zelizer, eds., Rightward Bound, 1-51, 71-89, 171-192
            Maclean, Freedom Is Not Enough, 1-113, 225-261, 300-347