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Homework answers / question archive / Writing Assignment #5 -- J

Writing Assignment #5 -- J


Writing Assignment #5 -- J. Ronald Oakley, "Good Times: The American Economy in the 1950s"

The links to Oakley's article and to study questions that will help guide your reading are posted on the web syllabus.

To access the article below, remember you need to enter the course password 271


Answer the two questions as thoroughly as you can in two separate responses.

The response to each question should have an introduction, body, and conclusion. A thorough answer will likely require 3-4 paragraphs. While there is no word-limit, this assignment asks you to utilize the skills you have developed to write clearly and craft concise paragraphs. Think about what you want to say before you start writing. Be sure every sentence you write is contributing directly to answering the question and not just filling space.

Cite any direct quotations or paraphrased textual evidence, for example: (Oakley, 30).


  1. Why was there an economic boom in the United States during the 1950s? What were the main contributing factors that produced economic "good times" for such a large number of Americans?
  1. How, as a result of the good economic times, did many Americans' daily lives change -- often, though not always -- for the better?
  2. The United States Since 1865 Syllabus and Survival Guide History 271 – Spring 2021 – GE Title V Requirement Mondays/Wednesdays 2:00 – 3:15 pm History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations. – JAMES BALDWIN Instructor Dr. Thomas W. Devine Office Hours: Via Zoom: Tuesdays, 12:30 pm - 1:30pm; Wednesdays 3:15 pm - 4:15 pm and by appointment gladly given. Email: Sean McCaskill, Teaching Assistant Office Hours: Via Zoom: TBA Email: Spirit of the Course As someone who believes an informed citizenry is vital to sustaining the health of a democracy, I hope that by studying the unfolding of American history since the Civil War, you will leave this course a more informed citizen than when you entered. Far too many aspects our contemporary culture – particularly new technologies – enable people to remain perpetually entertained and distracted, but also keep them docile and easily manipulated. We are urged to consume mindlessly yet actively discouraged from developing our minds. Living in such a culture, many of you – and indeed most Americans – have never “learned how to learn.” As a result, people around the world 1 see today’s Americans as astonishingly ignorant and, worse still, as being proud of their ignorance. In particular, Americans seem to know virtually nothing about their own history. This is not only embarrassing but perhaps even dangerous, for as the British author George Orwell reminds us in his novel 1984, those who have no knowledge of the past are not only powerless, they inevitably are dominated by those who do possess such knowledge – something to think about as we begin the semester. I have specifically designed this course for the non-History major in an effort to persuade you that a History course, if well taught, can actually provide you with valuable skills and prepare you for a career in numerous fields that are unrelated to the discipline of History. I will not be inundating you with lists of facts or asking you to memorize random names and dates or expecting you to mindlessly copy down text from Powerpoint slides. This is not learning. Most of the time, I’ll be asking you questions, or, more precisely, trying to get you to think critically by using logic and evidence to solve problems and make judgments. Particularly in the short writing assignments, I will ask you why you believe something is so and challenge you to convince me that you’re right by making an argument based on evidence (and not on your opinion or your “feelings”). This kind of thinking can be hard work, which explains why most Americans never bother with it, but as college students, you should consider giving it a try. A few of you may someday take jobs that might require you to do some critical thinking and problem solving. In this course, I will give you the opportunity to learn and practice these skills. The questions we will be addressing in class have no simple answers, though today one hears no end of simple-minded ones. To grapple thoughtfully with these issues, one needs more than a 20-second sound bite, a four word slogan, or 140 twitter characters. One needs to exercise one’s brain, rather than passionately adhere to a dogmatic liberal or conservative political “line.” Being “passionate” achieves little if you don’t know anything. Accordingly, in this class, we will try to do the serious thinking that those in power – both liberals and conservatives – understandably do their best to discourage, lest the average person become too inquisitive or informed. Learning during Covid19 Current conditions make “learning how to learn” even more difficult. Personal interaction, the exchange of ideas in real time, and meaningful, evidence-based discussion are at the heart of the learning process. Obviously, on-line Zoom sessions with 155 participants are hardly conducive to learning, but that is the hand reality has dealt us. Since we will not be able to replicate the discussions we would normally have in a face to face environment, how much you learn this semester – even more so than under normal circumstances – will be largely up to you. I will provide opportunities for you to learn and do my best to make the learning process palatable, but ultimately you will determine whether you take anything away from this course. 2 Required Reading You are not required to purchase any books for this course. All required reading will be available through the links on the web version of this syllabus or through the course Canvas page. You access the readings on the syllabus by entering the password when prompted to do so. The password is 271. Grading & Requirements Short writing assignments (5 total – each worth 5%) --25% Quizzes (5 total – each worth 4%) --20% #1 – February 3rd #2 – February 22nd #3 – March 8th #4 – April 19th #5 – April 28th Test One [February 17th] --10% Test Two [April 5th] --20% Test Three [May 17] --25% Explanation of Requirements Quizzes There will be five 20-question quizzes based on lecture material and short reading assignments. A missed quiz will count as a zero unless you make arrangements with me before the day of the quiz to schedule a make-up. You will have 25 minutes to complete each quiz. Tests Each of the three tests will consist of 50 multiple choice questions based on the material covered in class and from any of the assigned readings. I will post study questions and lecture notes on the web syllabus. Going over these questions and notes is the best way to prepare yourself for the tests. The tests will not be cumulative. Each will cover the material from one unit of the course. You will have 75 minutes to complete each test. 3 Writing Assignments There will be six short writing assignments over the course of the semester. Each will require an approximately 500-word response. Instructions and deadlines for submission will be posted on the syllabus and on Canvas. You will submit the assignments on Canvas. A missed or late assignment counts as a zero. I will drop your lowest score. Surviving History 271… Office Hours and Personal Consultation Contrary to what you may have heard about professors who teach large classes such as ours, I go out of my way to be available for students on a one-on-one basis. So, if you need advice or help – even if your problem is not directly related to this course – do not hesitate to email me, “visit” during my regularly-scheduled Zoom office hours, or set up an appointment for a Zoom conference at a time that is convenient for you. Students who make the effort to get to know their professors end up benefiting far more from their college education than those who don’t. Part of my job is to interact with you, and I’m happy to do so. Because on-line instruction depersonalizes (and therefore diminishes) the educational experience, I urge you to meet with me one-on-one at least once during the semester to ask questions, discuss course material, or simply introduce yourself to me. The teaching assistant will also be available for individual consultations. Problems I am well aware that we are living in crazy times. If you are feeling overwhelmed, find yourself falling behind, or are having any problems outside of class that are adversely affecting your performance in class, be sure to let me know. Do not wait until the end of the semester when it will be too late. I am not here to intimidate you or to make you feel uncomfortable. In fact, I am more than willing to work with you to insure you “survive,” but you need to tell me that you are having difficulties. Schedule a Zoom chat or send an email as soon as a problem arises and we can work something out. Also, if you are struggling academically, I will gladly give you extra help. Lecture Notes, No Textbook Because I don’t like reading textbooks any more than you do, and because they are ridiculously overpriced, there is no textbook for this course. Instead, I will post lecture notes from each class on the web syllabus. These notes, in narrative or essay form, will either repeat or develop further what was said in class. Reading these notes after class or before the next class will help you better retain and understand the information. If you do not attend class regularly, you should read these notes carefully in order to prepare for the quizzes and tests. Academic Honesty Do not tell me things that are not true and expect me to believe you. It is unnecessary and it insults my intelligence. Do not cheat on quizzes or tests – running simple programs on the spreadsheet generated by Canvas makes it almost immediately apparent who is cheating off whom. Cheating in on-line classes is pretty easy, but just because you can cheat doesn’t mean you should. We’ve already taken your money, so 4 the only one you’re cheating is yourself. In fact, if you can’t get through this course (or any lower division course at CSUN) without cheating, you don’t belong in college. More importantly, get in the habit of being honest with others and with yourself. You will be a better person for having done so. Zoom Etiquette When we meet as a class, please mute your microphone unless you are answering or asking a question. You are encouraged to keep your webcam on throughout the class, but this is not required. The standard of conduct for Zoom sessions is the same as that for in-person classes. Schedule of Topics & Assignments On those days for which an assigned Reading is listed, be sure to have completed the reading BEFORE class begins. There will be no Zoom session on Test days. You will have the entire class time (75 minutes) to complete the test. On Quiz days, you will complete the quiz on your own and the Zoom session will start at 2:25 pm. Unit One Mon. 25 Jan. Introduction: An explanation of course objectives, mechanics, and procedures. INTRODUCTORY POWERPOINT Wed. 27 Jan. “What this Cruel War was Over” – Assessing the Results of the Civil War RECONSTRUCTION POWERPOINT LECTURE NOTES Mon. 1 Feb. “Reconstruction or Restoration?” – The South Rejoins the Union Reading: Eric Foner, The Second Founding, Chapter 2 LECTURE NOTES Wed. 3 Feb. “The Iron Horse” Railroads as the Herald of the Industrial Age Reading: William Cronon, “Railroads and the Reorganization of Nature and Time” 5 Burton W. Folsom, Jr., “James J. Hill and the Transcontinental Railroads” RAILROAD STUDY QUESTIONS James J. Hill: Empire Builder [click for a short video on Hill’s career] QUIZ #1 (February 3rd) – Reconstruction and Railroad Readings Mon. 8 Feb. “The New Economy” – Railroads and the Rise of Big Business INDUSTRIALIZATION POWERPOINT Wed. 10 Feb. “Let us prey” – John D. Rockefeller and the “4 ‘C’s” LECTURE NOTES Mon. 15 Feb. “Raise Less Corn and More Hell!” – The Populist Revolt POPULISM POWERPOINT LECTURE NOTES SOME ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIPS TO KEEP IN MIND Wed. 17 Feb. TEST 1 Unit 2 Mon. 22 Feb. “Worse Than Slavery?” – Black Poverty in the Rural South Reading: Jay Mandle, Not Slave, Not Free, pp. 1-67 MANDLE STUDY QUESTIONS QUIZ #2 (February 22) – Mandle, Not Slave, Not Free Wed. 24 Feb. “The New Empire” – Why American Expansion? Why Now? LECTURE NOTES FOUR “D”s POWERPOINT Mon. 1 Mar. A “Splendid Little War” – The Spanish-American-Cuban Conflict 6 Wed. 3 Mar. “Duty, Destiny, Defense, Dollars” – Motivations for U. S. Foreign Policy at the Turn of the 20th Century Reading: Mark Twain, “Incident in the Philippines” Albert Beveridge, “The March of the Flag” LECTURE NOTES Mon. 8 Mar. “The Search for Order” – The Progressives’ Response to Industrialism LECTURE NOTES PROGRESSIVE REFORM POWERPOINT QUIZ #3 (March 8th) – Lectures 3/1, 3/3, 3/8 Wed. 10 Mar. “Social Justice or Social Control?” – Progressive Reform at the Local, State, and Federal Levels Mon. 15 Mar. SPRING BREAK Wed. 17 Mar. SPRING BREAK Mon. 22 Mar. “Over There” – The Catastrophe of the Great War LECTURE NOTES WORLD WAR I POWERPOINT Wed. 24 Mar. “From Harding to Hard Times” – The Origins of the Great Depression, 1919-1929 LECTURE NOTES Mon. 29 Mar. Origins of the Great Depression Part II LECTURE NOTES Wed. 31 Mar. CESAR CHAVEZ DAY Mon. 5 Apr. TEST TWO 7 Unit 3 Wed. 7 Apr. “FDR and the New Deal” – Solving the problems of the Depression LECTURE NOTES Mon. 12 Apr. “The Second World War” – Long Origins, High Stakes LECTURE NOTES WORLD WAR II POWERPOINT Wed. 14 Apr. World War II, Part II – U.S. Involvement on Two Fronts WWII LECTURE NOTES PART TWO Mon. 19 Apr. “Anxiety and Anticommunism” – The Postwar World QUIZ #4 (April 19th) – Lectures 4/7, 4/12, 4/14 Wed. 21 Apr. “Affluence and Alienation” – American Culture during the 1950s FOUR “A”s POWERPOINT FOUR “A”S LECTURE NOTES Reading: J. Ronald Oakley, “Good Times: The American Economy in the Fifties” STUDY QUESTIONS Mon. 26 Apr. “A Promising Time” – John F. Kennedy and the Optimism of the Early 1960s 1960s POWERPOINT 1960s LECTURE NOTES Wed. 28 Apr. “Shall We Overcome?” – The Civil Rights Struggle FILM: “FREEDOM ON MY MIND” QUIZ #5 (April 28th) – Lectures 4/21 and 4/26 Mon. 3 May “The Rise and Fall of Liberalism” – Why the Rise? Why the Fall? 8 1960s LECTURE NOTES PART II Wed. 5 May “The Rise and Fall of Conservatism” – Why the Rise? Why the Fall? Mon. 10 May “Cold War’s End and Endless Wars” – U. S. Foreign Policy from 1980 to 2009 Wed. 12 May “The Last Days of the Republic” – Mr. Trump’s America 9

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