HIST 419: American Social and Intellectual History

Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30-10:45 p.m., in the Academic Building, Room 140


Instructor: Dr. Michael Perri                                                     Office: 903-223-3194.  Home: 903-792-1304

Office: 229F                                                                             E-mail: michael.perri@tamut.edu


Course description: A survey of the social and intellectual currents and ideas that influence and inform the American people. 


Text:                     Eric Foner, The Story of American Freedom

                              Bibliobase: Primary Source Documents for History


Course objectives:

1.       To further the studentís understanding of the following:

a.       the social and intellectual currents in American history.

b.       some of individuals and ideas that have shaped American society.

2.        To improve skills in analyzing historical data and making oral presentations.

3.        To enhance knowledge of the discipline of history.


Each student will be expected to carry out the following tasks:

  1. Read the assigned materials.
  2. Take three examinations (100 points each) covering the lectures and reading materials.
  3. Make an oral presentation.
  4. Complete or participate in class assignments.


Grades:  500 points; 90 - 100 = A, 80 - 89 = B, 70 -79 = C, 60 -69 = D, 59 or less = F

In accordance with departmental policy, grades will not be posted nor reported over the telephone or e-mail.

Class assignments: 100 points

Class presentation: 100 points

Examinations: 300 points (100 each)


Examinations: Three examinations worth 100 points each.  The examinations will be in a short answer and multiple-choice format.

Makeup examinations: Students should make arrangements for missed examinations in advance of their absence or promptly thereafter.  The deadline for arranging a makeup examination is the first class period following the scheduled examination day, although the examination may be taken later.  Students who do not adhere to this deadline may receive a grade of ďFĒ for the examination.  Make-up examinations may be essays. 

Tardiness for examinations: Any student who enters class after the first test-taker has left may be required to take a make-up examination.


Class assignments and attendance: Approximately once a week, students will be given an assignment.  Such assignments will most often comprise composing a list of questions regarding a primary document.  Other possible assignments include group presentations and writing answers to short questions given in a handout or listed by the professor.  Most assignments will be worth 10 points.  Although official attendance will not be taken, students are responsible for regularly attending class.  Absenteeism should be avoided.  If a participatory in-class assignment is missed due to an absence, there will be no opportunity to make up that particular assignment.  However, missing one assignment should not trigger alarm or despondency.  Over the course of the semester, students will have the opportunity to earn at least 110 points, although only a maximum of 100 points ultimately will be counted towards the final grade.  In other words, a student can miss at least one in-class assignment without damaging their grade.  Missing several assignments, however, will most likely lower a studentís class-assignment grade.  Moreover, frequent absences might cause the student to be dropped from the course.  ďStudents who consistently have not attended class and are not making satisfactory academic progress in a course may be involuntarily dropped from the course at the request of the instructorĒ (TAMUT Catalog 18).


Oral presentation: Each student will be assigned either a primary document or a chapter from Fonerís book during the second class session.  On the day that the studentís assigned document or chapter is scheduled to be discussed, the student is required to present a 10-minute oral report on the assigned section and submit a typed outline of the presentation.  In the presentation, try to avoid reading verbatim from your notes as much as possible.  Instead, you should prepare to give a short lecture highlighting the content and historical significance of the document or chapter.  In the case of most of the primary documents, giving some biographical details on the author is expected.  In presentations of a chapter, the presenter should spend several minutes summarizing the chapterís major points.  No late presentations will be allowed except for officially excused absencesLate presentations tend to throw the course off schedule.  Keep the presentation date and your schedule in mind when choosing a presentation and planning your semester.  Despite best efforts, the class schedule sometimes runs behind.  Therefore, do not be surprised or upset if your presentation is postponed to the next class session.


Course reading:  Students should read judiciously if they wish to do well in the course.  Reading for a college course differs significantly from the casual reading of a novel or newspaper.  Course materials should be read actively.  This implies taking note of major points, writing down questions or concerns, and summarizing chapters or sections.  The assigned readings should be completed before the corresponding class session in order to maximize comprehension.  For each hour in class, students are expected to spend 2-3 hours of study outside of class.  Students are required to read the primary documents that are being presented, even if they are not making a presentation.


Office hours: My office hours are 11:00-12:00 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, and 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Other times can be arranged.  To arrange an appointment, see me in class, or reach me by telephone or e-mail.  E-mail: mperri@tamut.edu.  Office phone: 903-223-3194.  Home phone: 903-792-1304. 


Cheating and plagiarism: Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses.  Cheating on an exam or plagiarizing a writing assignment will result in an ďFĒ for the concerned exam or assignment.  Students can avoid plagiarism by citing their sources properly.  If there is any uncertainty in how to document a source, the student should reference Watkins and Dillingham's Practical English Handbook, or a variety of reference websites addressing how to cite sources.  Some helpful websites are as follows: http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/DocChicago.html







Opportunities for Enriched Study

Students have the option of contracting enriched-study projects.  The purpose of this option is to enrich the learning experience by enabling students to study areas that are of particular interest to them.  Enriched-study projects also provide students with a means to improve their course grade.  Most projects will probably improve a studentís course grade, although there is no guarantee of this.  The projects will be evaluated, and a low grade on a project will yield minimal benefit.  Moreover, if a student fails to submit a contracted project, the instructor will subtract one-tenth the value of one examination from the studentís total score for the course.

            The number of points contracted through enriched-study projects will correspondingly increase the total possible points for the course.  For example, the final grade of a student who contracts to complete a project worth 100 points will be calculated from a possible total of 500 points.  (90% of 500 = 450; 90% of 400 = 360.) 

            The evaluation of projects is by its nature subjective.  The following are tentative criteria that are intended to be general guides to evaluation.  Student initiative in working with the instructor will improve the process of evaluation.  The student should seek guidance and evaluations from the instructor throughout the semester.  The student should keep written records of the teacherís suggestions and the studentís responses to those suggestions.  The student should not wait until the due-date, submit the project, and then be surprised by a lower grade than anticipated.  The instructor will help the student to do her or his best work.  The instructor will evaluate the work fairly to the best of his ability.

The last class period prior to the first examination is the deadline for the instructor to approve projects.


Study Options

1.       With the instructorís assistance and approval, an interested student may contract to read one or more books.  The books may be scholarly studies in history, culture, society, or biography.  The student may write an essay or a critique.  Students who choose to write an essay will meet with the instructor when the book is approved to discuss the topic.  The student will write the essay in the testing center.  A student who chooses to write a critique will get a guide from the instructor.  The instructor will evaluate the essay or critique on the quality of the analysis, the quality of the writing, and adherence to guidelines.  Typically, students choose to have their work evaluated on the basis of 100 or 150 points.

2.       Students may choose to form a colloquium for extra-credit reading.  Three to five students may choose to read books on the same subject.  Each will then write a critique of her or his book and make an oral presentation to the others in the group.  The instructor will provide a guide for writing the critique and making the presentation.  He will evaluate the critique on the quality of the analysis and the writing.  He will evaluate the oral presentation on the quality of organization, analysis, and presentation.  Typically, students choose to have their work evaluated on the basis of 100 or 150 points.

3.       A student may choose to view one or two films related to the course material and answer a discussion question (or questions) pertaining to the film.  Students will write their responses in the testing center.   The instructor will evaluate the papers on the quality of the analysis and the thoroughness of the response.  Typically, students choose to have their essays evaluated on the basis of 50 points.  The student should obtain a copy of the discussion questions before viewing the film.  The student may find it convenient to view the film in a group where the questions could be discussed following the viewing.  The instructor will help to organize such a viewing session and help the student to respond to the questions.

4.       A student may choose to do an oral history.  The instructor will provide the student with an oral history guide.  He will teach an oral history workshop if students express an interest.  The student will write a paper  which summarizes and evaluates the project.  The instructor will evaluate the project on its adherence to the criteria in the oral history guide.  Typically, students choose to have their project evaluated on the basis of 150 points.

5.       A student may wish to do a research project.  The instructor will provide a research guide and work closely with the student on a tutorial basis.  The project will be evaluated on its adherence to the criteria in the research guide.  Typically, students choose to have their research paper evaluated on the basis of 300 points.



Class Schedule


August 23: Introduction


August 25: John Winthrop: A Model of Christian Charity; John Cotton, The Devine Right to Occupy the Land; Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.


August 30: Edmund Burke, Conciliation with America; Samuel Johnson, Taxation No Tyranny; Adam Smith, America and the Wealth of Nations.


September 1: Michel St. John de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer; Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson on Slavery; Anonymous (Yates), Brutus #1.


September 6: LABOR DAY.


September 8: Foner, Chapter 1, The Birth of American Freedom.


September 13: Foner, Chapter 2, To Call It Freedom.


September 15: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, Jefferson and Adams on Aristocracy (1812-1814); Daniel Webster, Against Universal Manhood Suffrage (1820); Daniel Raymond, Thoughts on Political Economy.


September 20: Examination 1.


September 22: Foner, Chapter 3, An Empire of Liberty.


September 27: Foner, Chapter 4, The Boundaries of Freedom in the Young Republic.


September 29: Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America; George Bancroft, The Office of the People; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance.


October 4: Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Young American; Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience; George Bancroft, The Progress of Mankind.


October 6: Foner, Chapter 5, A New Birth of Freedom.


October 11: B.M. Palmer, M.J. Raphall and Henry Ward Beecher, Fast Day Sermons; Alexander Stephens, Slavery and the Confederacy.


October 13: Foner, Chapter 6, Liberty of Contract and Its Discontents.


October 18: Horatio Storer, The Origins of Insanity in Women, U.S. Supreme Court, Bradwell v. The State of Illinois; William Graham Sumner, What Social Classes Owe to Each Other


October 20: W.E.B. Du Bois, Strivings of the Negro People; Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class.


October 25: Examination 2.


October 27: Foner, Chapter 7, Progressive Freedom.


November 1: Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life; U.S. Supreme Court, Lochner v. New York; William James, The Moral Equivalent of War.


November 3: Clarence S. Darrow and Arthur M. Lewis, Marx Versus Tolstoy; Walter Lippmann, Drift and Mastery; Jane Addams, Social Ethics, Robert Frost, North of Boston.


November 8: Foner, Chapter 8, The Birth of Civil Liberties.


November 10: U.S. Supreme Court, Abrams v. United States; John F. Carter, Jr., Wild Young People; Margaret Sanger, Woman and the New Race; U.S. Supreme Court, Buck v. Bell.


November 15: Foner, Chapter 9, The New Deal and the Redefinition of Freedom.


November 17: Foner, Chapter 10, Fighting for Freedom.





November 29: Foner, Chapter 11, Cold War Freedom.


December 1: Foner, Chapter 12, Sixties Freedom.


December 6: U.S. Supreme Court, Engel v. Vitale; U.S. Supreme Court, Brandenburg v. Ohio.


December 8: Foner, Chapter 13, Conservative Freedom.


December 13: FINAL EXAM