American Identities

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Course Schedule

Books that you need (in addition to periodic handouts and on-line readings):

Major Problems in American History Since 1945 (3rd edition)

Golden State, Golden Youth by Kirse Granat May

Aug. 9:             Introductions and Overview of the Course


Topic 1: Categories of Identity and the Meanings of Identity in History


August 13: Brainstorming on the meanings of Race, Gender, Class, and group character

Journal: On the two sure to be ready to share your first entry in class!

1) David Potter, in his seminal book, People of Plenty, explains that everyone belongs at one point or another to an aggregate group. What does he mean by aggregate groups (give some of the examples he does...think Chpt 1 here)? What groups do you belong to and what do those groups say about your character (if you think they say nothing about your character, then explain why)? Please explain in 2-3 paragraphs. I will take off 2 points (out of 20) if you have not read Potter... but please still complete this assignment by just journaling about the groups you associate yourself with.

2) In thinking abou the most basic components of your identity, write a paragraph on the following prompt: I am____...others think I am____.

August 15: What defines America and what does it mean to be an American?

READ: "Identities and Social Locations..." HANDOUT

READ:   "The Need for a Social Theory of National Identity" HANDOUT

Is America Exceptional? Read this article from Foreign Policy

And this article from one of the Cato Institute's leaders. Pay particular attention to the last paragraph.


August 19: What is History? What should it be? How should identity affect the writing and understanding of history?

READ: Read the ONE of the following you've been assigned:

WRITE: Please Answer These questions in Google Docs for your journal response and "Share" them Dr. Berry for grading.

Joan Wallach Scott, "History in Crisis: The Others' Side of the Story," The American Historical Review, Vol. 94, No. 3 (June, 1989): 680-692.

Gertrude Himmelfarb, "Some Reflections on the New History," The American Historical Review, Vol. 94, No. 3 (June, 1989): 661-670.

Lawrence Levine, "The Unpredictable Past," The American Historical Review, Vol. 94, No. 3 (June, 1989): 671-679.

August 21 : Finish Discussion on history and identity

Journal: Write two questions one might ask on an essay test on the first 2 weeks of content. We will look at these together.


Topic 2: Early postwar Background 1945-early 1950s

McCarthy and Red Scare

Containment (policy)

Military Industrial Complex

Restructuring of Wartime Economy

August 23: SUB! Film "Atomic Cafe" -- Hulu

Please write a summary and your reaction to the film in your journals!


August 27:Atomic Culture continued

no journal today!

Begin writing your rough drafts for Identity and Cold War Culture Topics


READ: Maj Problems Alan Brinkley "The Legacies of WWII" -- ALL

READ: Maj Problems Chpt 2 Documents 1,2, 5, 6, 7

Aug 29:Conclusions Day for Topics 1 and 2

Bring your rough drafts for your first topic papers to CLASS!


Topic 3: Domestic Containment and Gender 1950s


Feminine Mystique

Containment and baby boom

Corporate Man


Sept 3: Begin Gender -- ROUGH draft of Conclusions Paper due!

READ: Joan Wallach Scott "Gender: A Useful Catgory of Historical Analysis" -- HANDOUT

READ: Joanne Meyerowitz "Beyond the Feminine Mystique" -- Please print out!

Sept 6: WATCH: Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Sept 10: Finish Film

Sept 12: BE finishing summer reading AND Conclusions Essay #1 (due Friday at noon)!


Topic 4: Class and Consumerism in the 1950s

Patriotic to buy (cars)

Teen Markets

GI Bill (and suburbia)

Rock n Roll


Davy Crockett (TV)

Sept 16: Opening discussion of Consumerism...Discuss Potter, People of Plenty

BEGIN writing summer reading paper (optional rough draft due Sept 26)

Sept 20:

READ: "Why all Americans think they Are Middle Class"

Sept 24:

READ: Major Problems ALL the Documents chpt 3


Sept 26: Mass culture, consumption, and non-conformity

WRITE: Summer Reading Paper rough draft

Watch: This early history of rock n roll (be SURE to watch parts 1, 3, and 4 but try to watch all of them...they are each about 12 min long and there are 5 of them so if you want to watch all of them, it will take you about an hour!)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5


Sept 30: Utopian Dreams in an Age of Dystopia

READ: The Following excerpts from the Cultural History of Levitttow:


Building Levittown: A Primer

Feel free to read all of the following -- but you will be responsible for a particular section!

Davis, Sarah, Javier, Peter will read "The Automobile Shapes the City"

Raymond, Ashton, Jodi, Trihana will read "The Rise of the Unions and the Effects of WWII" and "Labor and the Postwar Automation Movement"

Arii, Alison, Noah, Garrett will read Building the Motor Metropolis: Automobiles, Highways, and Sprawl

Andrew, Alison, Nile, Chloe will read Moving Out: Decentralization and the Decline of Urban Factories

SKIM: Wikipedia's History of Disneyland - bring ONE fascinating fact to share with the class

THINK: about the context of Disney's opening (1955)...what about this space was SOOOO Cold War and what about it is STILL Cold War but also 21st Century? Think too about the ways in which 1950s concepts of gender are obvious in Davy Crockett (the character and the song) and the Mouseketeers.

LISTEN: to Davy Crockett song... and see the actor who played Davy in the Disney mini-series

WATCH: Mickey Mouse Club episode

Oct 2: California Dreamin'

READ: Golden State, Golden Youth Intro, Chpt 1-2 and Chpts 7- end

DUE: FINAL Draft of Summer Reading Paper


Oct 4: Conclusions day

Watch: Consumerism and Teens today

Journal: due in your journal by class time...find your favorite ad or music video and analyze it. Questions that may help:

What are the messages in the ad/video? Are the messages the same as the product? What techniques are used to convey the messages? Who is the target audience? How do you know?

Also, be thinking about which brands or products give you a sense of identity and belonging. Be ready to discuss in class those objects/brands and their meanings for you.


Possible Prompt: What role did consumption play in creating culture in the 1950s and in what ways was that culture (and the practice of consumption in general) politicized and/or problemtized?


Topic 5: Race in the 1950s

Brown v. Board

Emmett Till

MLK vs. Malcolm

SCLC etc.

Cesar Chavez


Oct 4: Conclusions day

DUE: FINAL Draft of Summer Reading Paper

Chicago Style MUST be used for citation format Chicago Manual of Style

Summer Reading Paper assignment

Oct 8:

READ: Brown v. Board decision

and Maj Problems pp 226-233 ("The Rise of Rights Consciousness")

Oct 10:

Read : Maj Probs: pps 193-203

WRITE: Optional Rough Draft Conclusions Essay for Consumerism due

Possible Prompt: What role did consumption play in creating culture in the 1950s and in what ways was that culture (and the practice of consumption in general) politicized?

Oct 15: Race Violence Then and Now

FIND: an article about the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin controversy...try to find one about the ways in which the mothers were put on display.

READ: Article on Emmett Till "I wanted the Whole World to See" -- HANDOUT

Journal: Please answer the following questions based on the handout I gave you in class

What is Historian Ruth Feldstein studying in this article?

What is her central argument?

Who was Maime Till Bradley? What did she have to do to make herself respectable in order to speak out against her son's murder? What actions did she do that were received as controversial by the conservative press?

What questions about gender and race did the murder and subsequent trial represent?

What were the culturally perceived differences between black motherhood and white motherhood? And the differences among the murderers' and Till's families ?

What crucial American categories were invoked and contested during the funeral?

Oct 17: Finish Race...American Indians and Brown Power


Topic 6: The 1960s -- the beginning of 2012?

Second Wave Feminism


War Against Poverty

Rise of Conservative Right/Silent Majority

Civil Rights (take 3)


Gay Rights

Politics of Resentment?


Oct 22: Political Context Lecture of the 1960s (JFK, LBJ, Vietnam)

WATCH: Annenberg Media Video on the 60s (you need to scroll to Transcript and Click on this icon Icon for Video on Demand)

Oct 24: SUB -- film

Nov 1: Racial Equality

Nov 5: Gender Equality, Sexual Revolution, and Gay rights

Nov 7: Conservative Resurgence


Nov. 12 Wrap up 60s social movements (activity)

Nov. 14: Finish post 1960s...introduce 80s museum project

READ: Maj Probs: Chpt 10: Docs 5, 7 Chpt 11, Docs 2, 3, 4; Chpt 13 Docs 1, 2, 3,

OPTIONAL: the 2 essays in Chpt 11

WATCH: Need to Know on politics of resentment

WATCH: Madonna's Video "Like a Prayer"

Nov 18: Work day -- 80s Project SUB!

Nov 20 and 22 and 26: Work Days

Dec. 3-5:Installation Days

Dec. 9-11: Exhibits DUE -- presentations on Exhibits and Begin Workshops on Museum Analysis Papers

Dec. 13: Debrief What have we learned? Who are we? And who is the US? What does it mean to be American after all?




Project Entry Document

Project Assignment Sheet

Project Rubric

The presentations are to be formal. Everyone in the group must participate verablly in some part of the presentation. You must dress professionally.

Remember you are presenting to PBS executives (there will be guests in our class that day playing the role of the PBS executives). It should be a formal, polished, and engaging presentation.

Your presentation must be 10 min long NOT including the 3-5 minute trailer or the podcast (shorter will result in a 2% grade deducation for every minute you are under). You must expalin why your movement is the best candidate for a new documentary AND you must utilize your website and show the trailer and podcast/screencast.

If you cannot get the trailer and casts on Weebly, do not worry but DO bring them on a flash drive so you may use them in your presentation!

Click here for the assignment sheet Comparative Elections.

Click here for access to The American Presidency Project at UCSB.

Rubric for the Essay

Rubric for the Video


(? maybe...for Spring) READ: Captain America and 9/11

1920s and 1930s Race

DAY1 : Race -- 1920s

In-class reading: Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes

Harlem -- Listen to Jazz


4 documents on race riots at

2 on Chicago – enter in the Quick Search Box race riot 1919  click on go and read “A Crowd of Howling Negroes” and “Says Lax Conditions Caused Race Riots”

1 on Tulsa – enter in Quick Search Box Tulsa Race Riot 1921 and read “The Eruption of Tulsa”

DuBois’ response to the 1919 riots, enter “Let Us Reason Together”


DAY 2: Race -- 1930s

Read: Excerpt from Grapes of Wrath (find)


1920s and 1930s Gender

DAY 1: Gender -- 1920s Watch "It"

Movie Analysis due next class


DAY 2: Gender -- 1930s

Read: (HANDOUT!)

“Men, Women and the Assumptions of American Social Provision,” Linda Gordon in MAJOR PROBLEMS 329-336

“A Working Class Woman on Making Do in the 1930s,” in MAJOR PROBLEMS pp. 274

“An Ordinary American Appeals to her Government, 1935” in MAJOR PROBLEMS pp. 280

“Women’s Work in Hard Times,” Ruth Milkman in MAJOR PROBLEMS 281-286

“Gender and Community in the Minneapolis Labor Movement,” Elizabeth Faue in MAJOR PROBLEMS pp. 356-363

1920s and 1930s Workers and Consumers

Day 1: Workers and Consumers -- 1920s Ad analysis in class


“The Ku Klux Klan Defines Americanism, 1926” in MAJOR PROBLEMS pp. 157 HANDOUT!

Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan chapters 3, 4, 5 ?????

1919 Steel Strike documents on-line at:

Homemaking or Love