University of Manchester
American Studies Programme
Autumn 2003

AM 2011: American History, 1900-1945
Course Unit Director: Dr Natalie Zacek


By the conclusion of the course, the student will have demonstrated:

This course examines the enormous changes which the United States experienced in every aspect of its society, culture, economy, and politics in the years between 1900 and 1945. In addition to introducing students to the significant events, including the two World Wars and the Depression, which shaped the era, it explores the experiences of African-Americans, women, and immigrants, and interrogates the circumstances under which the United States rose over the course of a mere five decades from comparative geopolitical obscurity to the rank of superpower. The course addresses ideas relating to the structure and function of government, the potential and limitations of cultural interchange, and the development of an American identity, or identities, throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

The basic textbooks for the course are John Milton Cooper, Jr., Pivotal Decades, and Michael E. Parrish, Anxious Decades. They are available for purchase at Blackwell's bookstore in the Precinct Centre or via Amazon. All other readings will be photocopied and distributed in the lecture prior to each tutorial.

Teaching method
The course will consist of one fifty-minute lecture and one fifty-minute tutorial in each week of the autumn semester.

Contacting me
My office is located in Room N.2.8 of the Arts Faculty Building, and my office hours are posted on the door. You can also contact me by phone at 275-7073, by e-mail at, or by leaving a note in my pigeonhole in the American Studies office.

One essay of 2000 words (25% of overall mark) and one three-hour examination (75%)

Course Plan

Week Topic
Week 1 Organisational meeting/introduction to course
Week 2 That damned cowboy: Theodore Roosevelt and the rise of American hegemony (Cooper, chs.2, 4)
Week 3 Goin' to Chicago: migration and immigration (Cooper, chs. 3, 5)
Week 4 A war to end all wars?: Woodrow Wilson's war and peace (Cooper, chs. 6, 11)
Week 5 The Roaring '20s (I): isolationism and the Red Scare (Cooper, ch. 12; Parrish, part 1, chs. 1-4)
Week 7 The Roaring '20s (II): popular culture, popular religion, and unpopular Prohibition (Parrish, part 1, chs. 5-10)
Week 8 Brother, can you spare a dime?: The Great Depression (Parrish. part 1, ch. 11; part 2, ch. 1)
Week 9 Nothing to fear but fear itself: FDR and the New Deal (Parrish, part 2, chs.2-9)
Week 10 World War II: the soldiers' war (Parrish, part 2, chs. 10-11)
Week 11 World War II: the home front
Week 12 I am become Death, shaker of worlds: America as superpower (John Hersey, Hiroshima)

Suggested Readings: A Starting Point

The following books have been placed in the JRUL’s Short Loan Collection, and will be useful in preparing your essays and revising for the exam. Please keep in mind that this is merely a selection of books relevant to the course, and that the JRUL’s holdings include many other titles which will be equally helpful in essay writing and revision.

ADAMS, Henry. The Education of Henry Adams
ADLER, Selig. The Uncertain Giant, 1921-1941: American Foreign Policy Between the Wars
ARCHDEACON, Thomas. Becoming American: An Ethnic History
ARGERSINGER, Jo-Ann. Towards a New Deal in Baltimore: People and Government in the Great Depression
ASINOF, Eliot. 1919: America's Loss of Innocence
BADGER, Anthony. The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933-40
BENSON, Susan Porter. Counter Cultures: Saleswomen, Managers, and Customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1940
BERNSTEIN, Irving. A Caring Society: The New Deal, the Worker, and the Great Depression
BLEE, Kathleen M. Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s
BRINKLEY, Alan. Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression
COHEN, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939
DALLEK, Robert. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945
FASS, Paula S. The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s
FERRELL, Robert H. Woodrow Wilson and World War I, 1917-1921
FUSSELL, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory
GABLER, Neal. An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood
GARRATY, John. The Great Depression
GILMORE, Glenda. Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920
GINGER, Ray. Six Days or Forever?
GLUCK, Sherna Berger. Rosie the Riveter Revisited: Women, the War, and Social Change
GORNICK, Vivian. The Romance of American Communism
HALL, Jacquelyn Dowd. Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World
HEVENER, John. Which Side Are You On?: The Harlan County Coal Miners, 1931-1939
HIGHAM, John. Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-1925
HONEY, Maureen. Creating Rosie the Riveter: Class, Gender, and Propaganda During World War II
IRIYE, Akira. The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific
JACKSON LEARS, T.J. No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture
KELLEY, Robin D.G. Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists in the Great Depression
KENNAN, George F. Memoirs, 1925-1950
KENNEDY, David M. Over Here: The First World War and American Society
KESSLER-HARRIS, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States
LASH, Joseph P. Eleanor and Franklin
LEMANN, Nicholas. The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How it Changed America
LEUCHTENBERG, William. FDR and the New Deal
LEWIS, David Levering. When Harlem Was in Vogue
LINK, Arthur S, ed.. The Impact of World War I
MARCHAND, Roland. Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940
McELVAINE, Robert S. The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941
MELMAN, Billie. Women and the Popular Imagination in the Twenties: Flappers and Nymphs
MELTZER, Milton. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?: The Great Depression, 1929-1933
MORGAN, Dan. Rising in the West: The True Story of an Okie Family
MOWRY, George. The Era of Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of Modern America
PAINTER, Nell Irvin. Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877-1919
PELLS, Richard H. Radical Visions and American Dreams: Culture and Social Thought in the Depression
SITKOFF, Harvard. A New Deal for Blacks
STEEL, Ronald. Walter Lippmann and the American Century
TERKEL, Studs. The Good War: An Oral History of World War II
TERKEL, Studs. Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression
TOLAND, John. Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath
TUTTLE, William. Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919
TWELVE SOUTHERNERS. I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition
WALL, Cheryl A. Women of the Harlem Renaissance
WARD, Geoffrey C. A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt
WARE, Susan. Beyond Suffrage: Women in the New Deal
WARE, Susan. Holding Their Own: American Women in the 1930s
WEINBERG, Sydney Stahl. The World of Our Mothers: The Lives of Jewish Immigrant Women
WINTZ, Cary. African-American Political Thought, 1890-1930

[AM2011 Assessed Essay]

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