History 121

United States since Reconstruction • Fall 2018

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.

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)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 and Location

See syllabus

Required Texts

  • Rosalyn Baxandall and Linda Gordon, eds. Dear Sisters (ISBN: 978-0465017072)
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (ISBN: 978-0525510307)
  • Various documents via iLearn
  • TEXTBOOK: The American Yawp, 2017-2018 edition (free, online)

Books are available at the SFSU student bookstore, through online book outlets, and on reserve in the Library..

Student Learning Outcomes

      1. Understand the interaction and evolution of economic, political, social and cultural processes in the development of the United States.
      2. Evaluate information from a variety of sources and use this information to formulate well-reasoned responses to major idea, concerns, and debates in the study of US history.
      3. Describe the role of major ethnic and social groups in such events and the contexts in which the events have occurred, with attention to the multiple heritages of US culture.
      4. Identify and appreciate ethical issues related to US history and its study and interpretation, including the treatment of the diversity of American peoples and cultures.
      5. Situate significant historical events, across 150 years, in their cultural and sociopolitical contexts within and beyond the US.
      6. Articulate the relevance of events in US history to your own life.
Sitting Bull, Chief of the Lakota Sioux, pictured here with a ceremonial pipe, 1885