| History 17c Spring 2014
IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOUR PAPER INCLUDE AND DEVELOP A THESIS STATEMENT AND ADDRESSES ALL ISSUES AND QUESTIONS RAISED BY YOUR CHOSEN PROMPT! Write a coherent essay that integrates your own interpretations and uses your evidence to support them. Your paper should draw on relevant readings, Youtube selections, lectures and section discussions. There is no need to do additional research. Use footnotes or endnotes. Write an 1800 word essay on one of the following topics. BE SURE TO INDICATE WHICH PROMPT YOU HAVE CHOSEN. You must submit your paper to your TA via gauchospace, so we can run it through a plagiarism detection program.
1. For much of the twentieth century, the 1920s was a forgotten period stuck between WWI, on one hand, and the Great Depression, the New Deal, and WWII, on the other. Yet today historians recognize that the 1920s witnessed large transformations that greatly affected American society. In what ways did American society change? In what ways was the period “progressive" and in what ways was it one of traditionalism and conservatism? What is the legacy of the 1920s? A good paper will consider, among other issues, the relationship between the state, business and labor; consumer culture; the Red Scare; immigration politics; the “New Woman’” and “the New Negro.”
2. In contemporary American political discourse the New Deal is often portrayed, whether positively or negatively, as a radical program of federal intervention. Historians and other scholars have complicated this simplistic view of the New Deal by suggesting that certain aspects of the New Deal were conservative. Do you believe the New Deal was radical, conservative, or both? A GOOD response will go beyond generalizations to discuss specific New Deal programs and legislation, such as the Emergency Banking Act, work relief, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Recovery Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and Social Security. How successful were they? Who, if anyone, was left out of their protections, and why? What was the legacy of the New Deal for the second half of the twentieth century?
3. In 1998, journalist Tom Brokaw wrote a best-selling book, The Greatest Generation, in which he argued that World War II-era Americans were "the greatest generation any society has ever produced." Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who worked in the Office of Price Administration during the war, had a different perspective “Never in the history of human conflict has there been so much talk of sacrifice and so little sacrifice,” Galbraith told Studs Terkel. Which statement do you think more accurately describes WWII-era Americans, and why?
4. If the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments guaranteed equal protection of the laws and the right to vote, why was a Civil Rights movement necessary in the 1950s and 1960s? What major factors and events led up to the Civil Rights movement and what were the gains and losses experienced by those participating in the movement?
5. Americans pride themselves on the idea that they live in a country that embodies the ideals of democracy and freedom for all. Can the Cold War moment of McCarthyism, the fervent pursuit of Communist sympathizers in the United States, and the accompanying suppression of civil liberties be reconciled with this tradition of the “land of the free”? Does it represent an anomaly? Or is it one example of many in which the freedom of individual Americans has been (needlessly) sacrificed to protect perceived threats to the United States?
6. “I'm a child of the sixties, I'm a man of the sixties,” major league baseball player Curt Flood famously said. “During that period of time this country was coming apart at the seams. We were in Southeast Asia. Good men were dying for America and for the Constitution.” Pick one event from the 1960s; show how it affected American politics, movements, economics, society and/or culture; and explain how it contributed to the feeling that the country was coming apart. Pay particular attention to change and continuity over time. What did your event leave changed; what unchanged?
7. Describe how two social movements of the 1960s grew from seeds that had been planted in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. You will want to cite specific examples of government policies; court cases, where relevant; and the experiences of specific groups to demonstrate how these earlier events directly contributed to 1960s social movements.
8. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 is often referred to as the “Reagan Revolution.” But how revolutionary really were Reagan, his administration, and his policies? Did Reagan's election really represent a sea change in American politics, or was it part the slow but steady rise of the Right? Was Reagan the most revolutionary of Presidents between 1921 and 1989, or does that honor belong to someone else? (FDR comes to mind as one possible alternative). Be sure to discuss the relevant Presidents since Hoover in your response, and it may also be useful to ground your explanation in a few key policy moments. You might want to discuss, for example, how the programs of the New Deal, World War II and the Great Society compare with Reagan’s intervention.
9. Historians and political observers have argued that American politics became more conservative during the 1970s and 1980s. Explain whether or not you agree with this claim. What continuities did American society, politics, and the economy experience between World War II and century’s end? Did any social, political, or economic ruptures occur in the 1970s and 1980s that made the end of the century significantly different from what came before?
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