History 101: Survey of the History of the United States, Syllabus and Course Assignments

Course Syllabus




Department of History

Spring, 2013

Instructor: Professor Quintard Taylor 

Office: Smith 316-A

Phone: (206) 543-5698

Office Hours: MWF, 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Email: qtaylor@u.washington.edu


The history of United States has been a paradox of triumph and tragedy as Americans over three centuries have continuously confronted each other over the meaning of democracy, opportunity, justice and equality.  Due to its ten week duration, this course cannot possibly present a detailed examination of the American historical experience.  It will, however, identify and examine critical periods such as the revolutionary era, the 1830s, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the era of industrialization, World War II and the 1960s, when those themes have been challenged and tested.  The challenges continue through today.  However we can take full advantage of our current vantage point to examine how this nation's past has prepared all of us in varied ways for our contemporary world.  Is the battle for democracy, justice and equality over?  Using a variety of historians and history sources, we shall try to answer that question during this quarter.


Required Textbook:

Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty: An American History (New York: W.W. Norton, 2012)

Quintard Taylor, UNITED STATES HISTORY from 1775 to 2000: A Manual for Students in HSTAA 101 This manual is online at 



Your course grade is based on a midterm exam (40%), a final examination (40%), a series of short papers (10%)  and your classroom participation (10%).   Some students will be unable to take the midterm exam with the rest of the class. In that case I ask them to take a makeup exam scheduled for 5:006:00 p.m. on the last Friday of instruction during the quarter.  The room will be announced later.  Since the makeup exam will be penalized 10 points on a 100 point exercise, all students should make every effort to take the exam at its scheduled time.  

Those students who perform poorly on the midterm exam (69 or below) have the option of writing a book review to offset that grade.  Should you choose to write the review, it can be handed in no later than the Friday of the tenth week of the term.  Please read the page titled Optional Book Review Assignment in the manual before initiating your review.

The course grading procedures are simple.  You will be assigned a proportionate numerical score for your exams, your short papers, and your discussion participation.   Your numerical scores will then be averaged to determine your course grade.  Thus if your overall average is 76, your course grade will be the numerical equivalent of a "C" in the UW grading system. 

I do not issue "incompletes" to students who by the end of the quarter have not taken an exam, handed in an assigned paper or otherwise met the course requirements.  If you have not completed all of the course requirements by the end of exam week, and you have not, by that point, explained why, your grade will be lowered accordingly.


Week 1: Creating the United States 

Foner, Chapters 5-6

Taylor Manual, Chapter 1

Week 2: Democracy Expanded, Democracy Tested 

Foner, Chapters 10, 12

Taylor Manual, Chapter 2

Week 3: American Slavery

Foner, Chapters 11, 13
Taylor Manual, Chapter 3

Week 4: The Civil War and Reconstruction

Foner, Chapters 14-15

Taylor Manual, Chapter 4

Week 5: Industrializing America 

Foner, Chapter 16

Taylor Manual, Chapter 5


Week 6: The Progressive Era 

Foner, Chapters 17-18

Taylor Manual, Chapter 6

Week 7: The Great Depression and the New Deal

Foner, Chapter 20-21

Taylor Manual, Chapter 7

Week 8: World War II and the Cold War World

Foner, Chapters 22-23

Taylor Manual, Chapter 8

Week 9: The Rise and Fall of Liberalism, 1960-1980

Foner, Chapters 25-26

Taylor Manual, Chapter 9

Week 10: The United States in a Conservative Era

Foner, Chapters 27-28

Taylor Manual, Chapter 10

Optional Book Review Assignment 

United States History, 1775-2000

You have the option of writing a book review to offset a low midterm exam grade.  As with most standard book "reviews," you will describe the book's major thesis or argument.  But I also request that you follow these guidelines in your assignment.  Remember, collectively they are as important to your overall review grade as the report on the contents of the work.

1. Assess whether you were convinced by the author's argument.

2. Discuss the most important new information you learned about American history from the book.

3. Describe how the book reinforced or challenged ideas about American history that you have learned from the assigned readings, my lectures, and the discussions.

4. State whether you would recommend the book to others, and include specific reasons for your decision.

Your review should be approximately five typewritten pages, 1,500 words for those of you who use computers.  I recommend that you devote the first three pages to a review of the book itself and the remaining two pages to respond to the four guidelines.  Please number your pages.  

The first page of each review should have information on the book which appears as follows:

Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle's Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994)

You may choose almost any book on United States history except the ones that are primarily U.S. history textbooks.  Also not eligible are regularly assigned textbooks for any other history courses you are currently taking. 

You should present your choice either via email or on a sheet of paper to your teaching assistants by the eighth Friday of the term.  The completed book review should be handed in 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 7.  Unless prior permission has been granted, no book review will be accepted after the due date.   

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