October 2012 Archives

Week 9 Reading Guide

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Monday Class

1) Gerstle, Chapter 6
• On page 245, Gerstle argues that the Red Scare of the early Cold War (1946-1960) was worst that the first Red Scare in World War I. Why does he say this?
• On page 246, Gerstle writes that exclusion from the full freedoms of civic nationalism was now "being constructed almost entirely from the tradition of civic nationalism itself, a development that revealed how much this tradition, too, relied on exclusion--of individuals deemed un-American because of their behavior and ideas, rather than because of their race or ethnicity." What does he mean here? Why did racial nationalism not overlap with anti-radicalism as was the case in World War I and the 1920s?
• What type of black activism was deemed "acceptable" during the Cold War? What type was deemed "unacceptable"?
• On page 250, Gerstle writes, "In such ways did geopolitical exigencies impel several reluctant presidential administrations to advance the cause of racial equality and to enhance the success of civil rights struggles." What does he mean by this? How did this lead new black activists like Martin Luther King to use "a militant deployment of civic nationalist language" (250)?
• On page 255, Gerstle argues that, "In the hands of McCarthy and his fellow crusaders, 'un-American activities' became a matter of class and sexual behavior rather than of ethnicity or race." What does he mean by this? Why was domestic anti-communism so tied up in fears of "effeminacy"? Why does Gerstle argue that domestic anti-communism was also about Catholics (Irish-American and German-American) versus a "Protestant elite"?
• Why does Gerstle argue that the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 was significant? How did it break down the racial nation but also reinforce it? What was the vision that it promoted to immigrants?
• Why does Gerstle argue that the black church (and preachers like Martin Luther King, Jr.) replace unions as the central institution of the black struggle? What does this have to do with critiques of the economy in the Cold War?

Wednesday Class

1) Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound, Introduction

As you read the Introduction of May's book remember what is important--identifying the book's overall argument. Remember, as with Gerstle, that the Introduction is where the author lays out her/his argument most explicitly. Take notes and engage with the book as you read. Here are some questions for to think about as you go through the Intro. I've tried to put these in the order that their answers appear in the text.

• There was a "baby boom" in the post-World War II United States as families had more babies than ever before right after the war. May argues that other scholars and observers have argued that this is related to the postwar prosperity that existed in the U.S. Why does she reject this? What evidence does she rely upon for her rejection?
• Typically, people conceptualize the 1950s at "traditional." Why does May reject this assumption? How can the fifties be seen as an exceptional decade rather than a traditional one?
• Why does she argue that the early African American civil rights movement of the 1950s was focused more on certain "freedoms," as opposed to "equality"? How do you see overlap with Gerstle's argument in this way? Why will she not really be looking at the African American experience in the fifties in her study?
• Suburban family life is integral to May's argument. How so? Why does she are that class lines were blurred in the suburbs, but not racial lines?
• How is May trying to bridge the conversations of diplomatic historians of the Cold War and sociologists who look at family life in the same period? How is she trying to bridge the "public" and the "private" in her study?
• Why are fears of "subversion from within" during the Cold War important for her study? Why was "subversion from within" seen as a problem at the time? How did this fear of subversion translate over into the "lavender scare"?
• What primary source evidence will her study rely on? Why? What type of history is she writing?
• Ultimately in the Intro, May makes the case for something called "domestic containment." What is this? How does it relate to what we've been describing as the "masculine nation"
• Why does she argue that the fifties were "apolitical"? What do "experts" have to do with this sensibility? How did "experts" allow people to privatize their problems?

2) Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound, Chapter 1

It is best to think of chapter 1 of May's book as an extension of her introduction. Here, she begins laying out the broadest evidence for the argument that she makes in the intro.

• Why does May begin Chapter 1 with such an in-depth discussion of the "Kitchen Debate"? How is the debate a particularly good piece of primary source evidence to prove her argument?

Week 8 Reading Guide

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Monday Reading

Gerstle, Chapter 5

Once again, remember that you always want to think about Gerstle's chapters as evidence for the argument he put forward in the Introduction. That is, how, in the case of Chapter 5, is Gerstle attempting to prove his argument to you? What evidence and historical events does he use to support the book's overall argument?

These questions are designed to help you think about how the argument and these terms play out in this chapter:

1. Why does Gerstle title the chapter "Good War, Race War"? How does this help to discern how his argument will be developed in the chapter?
2. Note that Gerstle often puts "Good War" in quotes. Why does he do this?
3. Why was the civic nation greatly expanded during World War II? Why was this different than previous wars?
4. Why does Gerstle characterize World War II as a "race war"? What three reasons does he give for this?
5. On page 202-3, Gerstle argues that there is a historical debate around whose fault it was that the Japanese/American Pacific theater of World War II became a "race war." What is the debate? Which side of the debate does Gerstle come down on?
6. Gerstle argues that the dynamic of World War II combat brigades greatly resembled the Rough Riders. Why? How did Hollywood help promote such a vision?
7. In the section of the chapter entitled, "Combat & White Male Comradeship," Gerstle heavily employs William Manchester's memoir Goodbye, Darkness. Why? What does he say it shows evidence of?

Document 22 in Course Reader, A. Philip Randolph, "Why Should We March?" (1942)

• How does Randolph try and connect African American activism on the home front to the U.S. government's stated aims in fighting World War II?
• How can this document be used as evidence for the argument Gerstle makes in Chapter 5?


Essay 2 Prompt

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Due: October 24th at the beginning of class

Length: A typed, double-spaced essay of 3-4 pages.

Guidelines:

Although I discuss the essay in terms of "sections" do not actually have section headings. Instead, I want you to write the paper as a cohesive whole with transitions from section to section using the topic sentences of paragraphs, not section headings. Here are the requirements for each section of the paper:

• In the first section of the essay, choose either Chapter 3 or Chapter 4 in Gerstle's book and summarize the chapter you've chosen. In your summary, it is most important that you address how the chapters flow from the argument the author is making. That is, how do the contents of the chapter you have selected work to prove the overall argument of the book?

• In the second section of the essay, using Flivver King as your primary source, discuss how Upton Sinclair's novel can be used as evidence in support of Gerstle's argument in the chapter you chose to summarize in the first section of your essay. That is, what specific details and textual evidence in the Flivver King support Gerstle's argument in the chapter you summarized in section 1? Which specific parts of his argument does your textual evidence support?

• In the third section of the essay, choose one female character from Flivver King. How specifically, and to what extent, does the character you've chosen attempt to resist and/or reinforce the masculine nation? How conservative or radical is their resistance and/or reinforcement? Given the time period that this character is situated, does their reinforcement and/or resistance surprise you or would this be about what you would expect at the time?

It is always best, when writing these sections, to use direct textual quotes. For instance, when conveying what an author of a secondary source (Gerstle) is arguing, using direct quotes helps to ensure that intent and clarity is not lost. When directly quoting from Flivver King, you help to better convince me of your own interpretation by marshaling direct textual evidence.

When directly quoting from the text, simply use parenthetical page numbers as citations. A fake example: Smith argues that, "The Civil War was fought primarily over the issue of slavery as it related to westward expansion" (12).

For section 1, this essay will be evaluated on how well you have understood the material in Gerstle and how well you have communicated that understanding. Section 2 will be graded on how well you used The Flivver King as primary source evidence to support the argument Gerstle is making. For section 3, you will be graded on how well you have interpreted the character you have chosen. Have you marshaled the best evidence from your sources and convinced me as to how specifically, and to what extent, she resisted and/or reinforced the masculine nation. Finally, for section 3, have you correctly situated the character and her response to the masculine nation within the time period you drew evidence from?

Extra Review Session for this paper: Friday 10/19, 4:30-6:30 in Burton Hall 120

Week 7 Reading Guide

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Monday Reading

1) Gerstle Chapter 4

Once again, remember that you always want to think about Gerstle's chapters as evidence for the argument he put forward in the Introduction. That is, how, in the case of Chapter 4, is Gerstle attempting to prove his argument to you? What evidence and historical events does he use to support the book's overall argument?
These questions are designed to help you think about how the argument and these terms play out in this chapter:

• In what ways was Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) similar in ideology to his cousin Theodore Roosevelt (TR)? In what ways was he different? What does Gerstle argue accounts for the differences?
• How and why was the New Deal (FDR's responses to the economic dislocation of the Great Depression) pushed to be more radical in 1934-35? How and why were immigrants integral in this?
• Why does Gerstle argue that this radical action by citizens "was not a revolt against the nation per se but a revolt against the kind of moderate and conflict-free civic nationalism that FDR had advocated" (140)? How did workers, unions, and political radicals (communists and socialists) use "civic nationalist rhetoric as a language of protest" (143)?
• How does FDR respond to this radical action during and after his re-election campaign of 1936? Did he become a radical himself or, as Gerstle argues, was "the content of his legislation attacking economic privilege . . . less threatening than the rhetoric which it was couched" (155)? Why after the 1936 re-election did many workers and union leaders think that the United States was moving towards a system of industrial or social democracy?
• Why, according to Gerstle, did there emerge a "conservative counterattack" to the New Deal? From where did this conservative counterattack come from? What vision of civic nationalism did this counterattack promote against the liberal civic nationalism? How did this counterattack reinforce the racial nation--particularly its anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) elements?
• How did the racial nation continue to survive not only among the "conservative counterattack" but also among liberals associated with the New Deal? How and why did New Deal programs, political movements, art, and popular culture continue to promote what Gerstle calls a "Nordic ideal"? How did some radicals attempt to challenge this ideal but also promote it?
• Why does Gerstle argue that the New Deal was very conservative when it came to the issue of gender roles? How did the new Deal relate to what we've been calling the Masculine Nation? How was FDRs view similar to TR's view of gender? Why does Gerstle argue that the discrimination inherent in the racial nation should be viewed differently than the discrimination within the masculine nation?

2) Document 20 in course reader, Huey Long, "Share Our Wealth," (1935)

• How does Long's document represent a radical attack on Roosevelt's New Deal? How specifically does Long want to go further in his programs than Roosevelt?
• How does this document support the argument that Gerstle is making in Chapter 4 about radicalism during the New Deal?
• How does Long identify overproduction and underconsumption as problems? What are the solutions to these problems?

3) Document 21 in course reader, Angelo Herndon, "You Cannot Kill the Working Class," (1937)

• How specifically are the lines of the racial nation enforced in the case of Angelo Herndon?
• How does the legacy of racial slavery continue to live on in the South some 75 years after its end?
• How does this document support the argument that Gerstle is making in Chapter 4 about the racial nation during the Depression?

Wednesday Reading

1) Flivver King, p. 71-119

• As you read, be sure to focus on the female characters and ask yourself how they reinforce and/or resist the masculine nation.
• How and why does Henry Ford become more and more isolated in this section of the book? What is Sinclair trying to show with this portrayal? What does the shift in the plant from the Social Department to the Service Department have to do with Ford's isolation?
• What is Abner's one moment of questioning the goodness of Henry Ford? Why does he go back on this one moment and reassert his old way of thinking of Ford and his company? What do you think Sinclair is trying to show with this portrayal?
• How do we see evidence in the Flivver King for what Gerstle calls the "conservative counterattack" to the New Deal and radical political movements? How does this counterattack relate to the racial nation?
• What did you think of the end of the book?

Week 6 Reading Guide

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Monday Readings

1) Gerstle, Chapter 3

Once again, remember that you always want to think about Gerstle's chapters as evidence for the argument he put forward in the Introduction. That is, how, in the case of Chapter 3, is Gerstle attempting to prove his argument to you? What evidence and historical events does he use to support the book's overall argument?

These questions are designed to help you think about how the argument plays out in this chapter:

• How did the IQ test (instituted during World War I) help to reinforce the racial nation?
• How do the Alien and Sedition Acts relate to Gerstle's overall argument? How did the federal government work with private groups to enforce the acts? Which private groups does he argue were most important?
• Why does Gerstle argue that the various immigration restriction acts of World War I and the 1920s were the best way to suppress political radicalism?
• Which nationalities and ethnicities were most heavily targeted by the immigration restriction acts? Why?
• What did the Russian Revolution have to do with immigration restriction?
• How and why did the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 rely heavily on "scientific racism"? Why did this scientific racism work differently for different immigrant groups? Why did it lead to fears of miscegenation?
• Why (on pages 114-115) does Gerstle argue that he is inverting the dominant historical view of the 1920s?
• How did opponents of immigration restriction use the civic nation to defend immigrant groups? How did they (at times) paradoxically rely on the racial nation in their defenses, thus reinforcing the Rooseveltian Nation?
• What happened to the New Nationalist economic reforms in World War I and the 1920s?

2) Course reader document 19, Eugene Debs, "Address to the Jury," (1918)

• How does Debs attempt to claim the mantle of the civic nation in his address to the jury?
• How does he attempt to historicize his politics and his opposition to the war?

Wednesday Reading

1) Sinclair, p. 25-71

• VERY IMPORTANT: As I said in a previous study guide, I suggest you keep a character chart somewhere in the book. There are a lot of characters and you don't want to mix them up. Here are the names that should be on your list: Henry Ford, Abner Shutt, Milly Shutt, Tom Shutt (two different Tom Shutts), Dell Shutt, Daisy Shutt, John Shutt, Annabelle Shutt, Hank (Henry Ford) Shutt.
• As you read pages 25-71, think back to the week in class where we discussed the way the industrialized corporation is changing the lives of workers both inside and outside of the factory. Once again, consider all the following questions that I put forward in a previous study guide: How can this portion of the book (25-71) once again be used as evidence in support of the lecture from week 4 of the course? That is, how does this section show a shift in power from worker to industrial corporations like Ford? How is this shift achieved? How does the knowledge of work get transferred from the worker to Ford and his managers? How are the work and private lives of workers regulated by Ford? What do you make of Abner's reaction to this shift? What is Sinclair trying to convey with this reaction?
• How can your reading from the Flivver King for today be used as evidence for Gerstle's argument in Chapter 3? What parts specifically would you focus on?

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