Elspeth Brown,

Historian: markets, visual culture, gender, sexuality

HIS 272H US History, 1877-Present

This class will explore the politcal, economic, social history of the U.S. since the Civil War through a cultural history lens. The first half of the course will examine a survey of struggles for political and economic citizenship during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through to the Great Depression, charting how ordinary citizens and policymakers worked to reshape the American state and social structure. The second half of the course examines how people excluded from the full benefits of the welfare state—people of color, women, and members of the LGBT community—succeeded in gaining access to these benefits and/or developing alternatives to the existing social structure. It ends with how rightward shift of American society since the 1970s. In addition, each part of the course casts the United States in a transnational frame, reflecting on the relationship between U.S. history and U.S. empire. 

At the conclusion of this course, students should not only understand the basic outlines of American history since Reconstruction and how various political, social, cultural, economic, and diplomatic developments have helped shape present-day America, but they will also have worked on skills related to core competencies central to the discipline of history.  These include:

  • Critically evaluating sources for their credibility, position and perspective. Specifically, in this course we will focus on learning how to read and evaluate primary sources and secondary sources, and to understand the difference between the two.
  • Understanding that the ethics and practice of history means recognizing and building on other scholars’ work, peer review, and citation. This means that students will learn how to cite (accurately) other scholars’ work using the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, as well as what plagiarism is.
  • Demonstrating expertise in historical argument through learning to: a) identify and summarize a historical argument; b) explain and apply a historical argument; and c) generate a historical argument.

Course Resources