History 303, America 1877-1945

Professor Jonathan Rees

Colorado State University – Pueblo

Fall 2015

MWF 10:10AM-11:05AM, PSY 202E

Office:  PSY 118

Office Phone: 549-2541

Office Hours:  MWF 11:10AM-12:10AM, MW 1:15-2:15PM or by appointment.


This course will examine the history of the United States between 1877 and 1945.  My intention is not to cover everything form that period, but to afford you the opportunity to examine particular aspects of that period in the same kind of depth that professional historians do.  I encourage students with questions or concerns about any aspect of this course to either visit me during office hours, make an appointment or contact me by E-Mail.

The taping of class discussions is not permitted unless you have my explicit permission.  Please turn off your cell phones before class begins.  Under no circumstances will you be permitted to take notes on a laptop computer.  The reason for this restriction is too many people surfing the web with their Wi-Fi connection during class time.  Even if you assure me you won’t, I will not make an exception in order to maintain a consistent position.

In order to facilitate communication between you and I, having an e-mail is a requirement of this course.  I will be collecting e-mails from you on the first day of the course.  You will want to give me an address that you check fairly frequently because I will use it if I need to get a hold of you for course-related business.  All correspondence with me should go through the university e-mail listed above.  All assignments (including draft papers, but excluding final papers) should be sent to  All final papers should be handed to me in paper format in class on the day they are due.

This University abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which stipulates that no student shall be denied the benefits of an education “solely by reason of a handicap.”  If you have a documented disability that may impact your work in this class and for which you may require accommodations, please see the Disability Resource Coordinator as soon as possible to arrange accommodations.  In order to receive accommodations, you must be registered with and provide documentation of your disability to:  the Disability Resource Office, which is located in the Library and Academic Resources Center, Suite 169.

Required Reading:

Freeberg, Ernest.  The Age of Edison.

Painter, Nell Irvin.  Standing at Armageddon.

Schuster, David G.  Neurasthenic Nation.

Solnit, Rebecca.  River of Shadows.

Stross, Randall.  The Wizard of Menlo Park.

Grading and Attendance Policies:

It is assumed that students will make every effort to attend each class period, arrive on time and stay for the entire class. An attendance sheet will be passed around at the beginning of each class. If you arrive late to class, make sure your name is on the attendance sheet before you leave. Otherwise, you will be counted as absent.

Your final grade will be determined by this formula:  Paper #1 = 10%, Paper #2 = 20%, Paper #3 = 20%, Research Paper = 20%, Blogging = 30%.

The question for Paper #1 is:  Nell Irvin Painter took the title of her book from a Theodore Roosevelt quote on p. 268.  Was this a good or bad decision?  What aspects of that era does that quote embody?  Explain. [This is not a research paper assignment. Please restrict all cited material to Painter’s book.]

The question for Paper #2 is Was Thomas Edison’s vision of our electrical future more wrong than right or more right than wrong?  Explain, citing material from the Stross and Freeberg books to prove your point.

The question for Paper #3 is: Were the benefits of modernization worth the costs?  Explain, citing material from the Solnit and Schuster books to prove your point.

Each of these papers should be from between six and eight pages long, double-spaced.  The required drafts of these papers must be at least three complete double-spaced pages long.  Otherwise, I will not accept your final copy.  Parenthetical references for page numbers are fine for purposes of citing your material.

The Research Paper should be 10-12 pages long, double spaced one any subject of your choice that is mostly about the history of the United States during this era.  It does not have to relate to any other material covered in the course.  Look for more information about the paper as we discuss it in class and online over the course of the semester.

You will set up a Blog during the first week of class.  The blog will be a place where you will post answers to questions about the reading and updates on the progress that you’re making on the research paper.  All posts which answer questions should be timed to appear at 10:10AM on the day that we’ll be discussing them.  Instructions for what to blog will appear on the main class blog if they aren’t in the course calendar below.  Blogging will be graded on the timeliness and the thoroughness by which you answer the questions and explain your research progress over the course of the semester.  There should be one post for each book (five in all) and  at least one research update by the end of each month of the course (three in all).

Grading will be done on an A-F scale with pluses and minuses with the exception of the exception of the grade C- which has been banned across the University. Your final grades will be recorded the same way. I will do my best to explain the criteria by which each assignment is graded before you undertake them.

Any form of academic dishonesty will result in a failing grade for the entire course. This includes plagiarism, the taking of words and/or ideas of another and passing them off as your own. If another person’s work is quoted directly in a formal paper, this must be indicated with quotation marks and a citation. Paraphrased or borrowed ideas must be identified in the footnotes of the text.

Attendance will be gathered via an attendance sheet passed out during the course of each evening.  You are allowed to miss four classes over the course of this semester on account of disease, job-related duties or acts of God.  Miss more for any reason and you will fail this course instantly.

Course Schedule and Reading Assignments:

***Schedule is subject to change at the discretion of the professor***

August 24th: Introduction to the course.

August 26th:  Set up blogs/rss readers

Please bring your laptop to class today.

August 28th:  Introduction to 1877-1945.

August 31st:  Introduction to Industrialization.

September 2nd: Painter Discussion, Part 1.

September 4th: Painter Discussion, Part 2.

Painter answers due on blog.

September 7th:  Painter Discussion, Part 3.

September 9th:  Library Day #1

Library Training and research paper topic exploration

September 11th:  Draft Painter Paper Discussion, #1.

Draft Painter Paper Due – Email me a copy and bring three paper copies to class.

September 14th:  Draft Painter Paper Discussion #2.

September 16th:  Stross Discussion, Part 1.

September 18th: Stross Discussion, Part 2.

Stross Answers Due on blog.

Final Painter Papers due in class.

September 21st:  Stross Discussion, Part 3.

September 23rd:  Film: “Thomas Edison,” Part #1.

September 25th:  Film: “Thomas Edison,” Part #2 and Discussion.

September 28th:  Library Day #2

Research paper topic due via e-mail to the reesassignments address by the end of class.

September 30th:  Freeberg Discussion, Part 1.

October 2nd:  Freeberg Discussion, Part 2.

Freeberg answers due on blog.

October 5th:  Freeberg Discussion, Part 3.

October 7th:  Freeberg/Stross Paper discussion (no draft required)

October 9th:  Class Canceled.

October 12th:  Preliminary Research Presentations, #1.

October 14th: Draft Stross/Freeberg Paper Discussion #1.

October 16th:  Class Canceled.

October 19th:  Draft Stross/Freeberg Paper Discussion #2.

October 21st:  Solnit Discussion, Part 1.

October 23rd: Film:  “Modern Times,” Part 1. 

October 26th:  Film: “Modern Times,” Part 2 and Discussion.

Stross/Freeberg Paper Due.

October 28th:  Solnit Discussion, Part 2.

Solnit answers due on blog.

October 30th:  Solnit Discussion, Part 3

November 2nd: Schuster Discussion, Part 1.

November 4th: Schuster Discussion, Part 2.

A chat with David Schuster.  Class in LARC 217.

Schuster answers due on blog.

November 6th:  Schuster Discussion, Part 3.

November 8th:  Schuster/Solnit Paper Draft Discussion #1.

November 11th:  Schuster/Solnit Paper Draft Discussion #2.

November 13th:  Library Day #3.

You should e-mail your thesis to me at the reesassignments address before the end of this period.

November 16th:  Footnotes (aka The bane of your existence).

November 18th:  Film: “Henry Ford,” Part 1.

November 20th:  Film: Henry Ford,” Part 2 and discussion.

Schuster/Solnit Paper Due

November 30th:  Film:  “The Great Crash.”

December 2nd:  Final Research Paper Presentations #1.

December 4th:  Final Research Paper Presentations #2.

Research Papers due during final exam period.


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