HST 112 / U.S. History after 1865 (Fall 2015)

This course narrates the grand arc of U.S. history after the Civil War. The lectures analyze the political, social, and cultural history of the nation, using individual stories as starting points to explore the broader themes of the American past. We will give ample time to the major movements of the twentieth century while also critiquing history’s blind spots. What gets omitted from the master narrative, and why? Students will use the lecture material and the readings to ask difficult questions, among them: What ideas and peoples “made” the United States? How has this changed over time? And are we living in a singular country, sharing similar national visions, today? By raising these and other questions relevant to nationalism, this course will give students a better understanding of the American past, sure, but this class also strives for a more noble ideal: to enable students to use the acquired knowledge so that they may more effectively contribute to their own nations’ future, whether in the United States or elsewhere.


By the end of the course, participants will understand:

  • the larger political and economic history from Reconstruction to the present.
  • the global dynamics that contributed to shaping the United States.
  • the multiplicity of perspectives of what the United States represented.
  • how varying ideologies and beliefs came together—often times clashing—in the formation of the modern United States.
  • the long history that has crafted the current positioning of the United States in the contemporary world order.

Students will also be able to:

  • analyze a primary source document and contextualize it in the broad sweep of U.S. history.
  • ask difficult questions regarding their own positioning within the U.S. past and present.
  • contribute to a better-informed citizenry.