History 121

United States since Reconstruction • Fall 2017

A portion of the Statue of Liberty on display at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, 1876

Course Description

Welcome to History 121.

This course is an introduction to the history of the U.S. from the end of Reconstruction to the present. It will cover a wide range of topics organized around a few central themes. One: it will examine the changing dimensions of American identity, paying close attention to the roles of race, ethnicity, religion, region, class, politics, ideology, and gender in defining “American-ness.” Two: it will examine American capitalism, looking at it through the lens of industrial growth and decline, labor and immigration, the environment, consumerism, government power, and globalization. And, three: it will examine American power in the world, focusing on its rise in the late 19th century, on its uses from westward expansion through the recent wars in the Middle East, and on its meanings for American culture, politics, and society.

To all of these ends, the course will draw upon traditional kinds of historical narratives. Yet, it will also incorporate mass media, technological innovation, popular entertainment, and material culture as a way to provide an updated version of the American history survey. Through lectures, readings, discussions, films, and exams, students will not only explore the changing contours of American life, but they will also have the opportunity to develop as writers, researchers, critical thinkers, and problem solvers.

This course satisfies these requirements: 1)GE -- D2-LD, American Institutions, US History, 2)SF Studies – Global Perspectives, 3)History Major – LD requirement

This website is designed as an interactive syllabus. Here you will find all the basics, including weekly schedules, assignment descriptions and due dates, and writing resources. Bookmark it, and use it in conjuction with iLearn.


Class Time

MW 11:10a – 12:25p

Class Location

HSS 317

Required Texts

  • Frederick Hoxie, ed., Talking Back to Civilization (ISBN: 978-0312103859)
  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (ISBN: 978-0679744726)
  • Various documents via iLearn
  • TEXTBOOK: David Henkin and Rebecca McLennan, Becoming America: A History for the 21st Century, Volume 2 (any edition, book or ebook, used, rental, or new, as long as Volume 2 is included)

Books are available at the SFSU student bookstore, through online book outlets, and on reserve in the Library. Please note: the course textbook can be purchased new, so I recommend finding a used copy or a one-semester rental copy. Please note: the course textbook can be purchased new at the bookstore or through McGraw-Hill Connect, but you can also find a cheaper used copy or one-semester rental copy via Amazon.com.

Sitting Bull, Chief of the Lakota Sioux, pictured here with a ceremonial pipe, 1885