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These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

History (HIST)

HIST 552 Late Modern America Society, Culture, and Politics 1975-2008 (3) This course considers the political, cultural and social history of the United States from 1975 to the present.

HIST 552 Late Modern America Society, Culture and Politics 1975-2008 (3)

This course provides a broad exploration of the political, cultural and social history of the United States from the mid-1970s through 2008. In particular, it investigates the cultural and political counter-revolution of the 1980s, the social movement that is closely associated with the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and how those trends continued through the subsequent decades. The course will consider the role of terrorism as a factor driving policy-making in US government, and the background and impact of the September 11 attacks. The course culminates with the economic and political crises of 2008, and the historic election of that year.

Other major topics include the origins of modern gender attitudes and assumptions; the importance of changing gender roles in the making of mainstream political life; the changing role of religion in American life and politics; and the continuing power of conspiracy and paranoia in the nation's political culture. The course will also seek to understand the origins of current party political structures and ideologies. A major aspect will be the observation of the critical transition in American politics from the historic emphasis on class and economics to the politics of morality and gender: in short, the end of New Deal alignments. In the process, readings will address whether the old politics were in fact as class-oriented as they are commonly represented; and at the same time, how far social class underlies modern alignments. Finally, the course will stress a fundamental but little noticed rhetorical shift in modern America, namely the shift from moral relativism to absolute moralism, and the emphasis on moral absolutes - in short, the return of evil to political discourse.

Among other sub-topics, the course will explore how popular culture can be used to illuminate themes in social and political history; and at the same time, to understand the interrelationship between popular culture and mainstream politics. The course will use an understanding of political and social realities to illuminate the study of culture, high and low, from film and fiction to the visual arts. Building on these insights, students will explore these diverse themes in detail with specific reference to issues, problems or debates relevant to their own interests.


General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2012

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.



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