The Culture Wars

Daniel Rodger’s Age of Fracture is “a history of the ways in which understandings of identity, society, economy, nation, and time were argued out int he last decades of the century, and how those struggles of books and mind changed the ways in which social reality itself would be imagined.” (2) The first chapter of his book–which … [Read more]

The 1960s

Van Gosse, in Rethinking the New Left: An Interpretive History, provides a history of the movements that struggled and advocated for change between the 1950s and 1975, which are collectively termed the New Left. Gosse states that his goal “is to offer a new synthesis of older and recent scholarship on all of the movements of … [Read more]

African American Civil Rights Movement

Thomas Sugrue, in The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, examines Detroit in the 25 years following World War II. The work examines issues of housing, segregation, industrial relations, racial discrimination, and deindustrialization. Sugrue argues “the coincidence and mutual reinforcement of race, economics, and politics in a particular moment, the period … [Read more]

The Cold War

John Lewis Gaddis’s The Cold War: A New History is a political historical narrative of the Cold War. Gaddis is a skilled writer and adeptly details the significant foreign policy decisions, political ideologies, and key actors of the Cold War. Beginning with World War II, Gaddis discusses the goals and objectives of the US and Russia during World War II and … [Read more]

Depression and New Deal

Anthony Badger, in The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933-1940, examines specific aspects of New Deal activity, including industry, organized labor, agriculture, welfare, and politics. He argues that the New Deal did not represent a sharp break with the past and instead functioned merely as a ‘holding operation’ for American society. Badger posits that more dramatic … [Read more]


Daniel Rodgers’s Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age examines progressivism in Europe and America. Rodgers argues that “American social politics were tied to social political debates and endeavors in Europe through a web of rivalry and exchange.” (5) Looking at the 1870s through the end of World War II, Rodgers examines the origins of transnational … [Read more]

Gender and Sexuality

In her seminal article “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” Joan Scott defines gender as being comprised of two interrelated parts: “gender is a constitutive element of social relationships based on perceived differences between the sexes, and gender is a primary way of signifying relationships of power.” (1067) Each of this week’s readings adhere to this … [Read more]

Immigration and Racial Formation

This week’s readings examine the intersection of immigration and the construction of race throughout American history. Conzen, Gerber, Morawska, Pozzetta, and Vecoli, in “The Invention of Ethnicity: A Perspective from the USA,” argue that ethnicity is “a process of construction or invention which incorporates, adapts, and amplifies preexisting communal solidarities, cultural attributes, and historical memories. That … [Read more]