Course Syllabus

History 3460:  American Politics and Society Since Vietnam

Instructor:  Dr. David Parsons


F 11:10am-2:05pm VC 10180

Office Hours: TH 10:00-11:00am VC 5-250 C

* * *

Welcome to History 3460! This course will examine the major political, economic, and social trends in American life in the years since the end of the Vietnam War. Beginning with the energy crises, stagflation, and economic uncertainty of the Ford and Carter years, we will continue into the 1980s, studying the Reagan administration’s transformative social and economic policies, before concluding in the 1990s with a consideration of globalization and the digital revolution. Topics will include deindustrialization, deregulation, foreign policy, “trickle down” economics, the Wal-Mart business model, “culture wars,” and the dot com crash. We will be using two popular music genres born during this era, hip-hop and grunge, to draw connections between the politics, economics, and culture of American society. Students will need to keep up with the reading each week and attend all classes in order to do well in the course.  The course goals are to give students: 1) A deeper understanding of the recent history of the United States; 2) Basic knowledge about how to read, write about, and analyze history; 3) A desire to continue learning about history and a sense that history is relevant to our world today.


This course is reading intensive and its success will depend largely on the active participation of everyone in the class. Most class meetings will involve some discussion. Please do the reading and complete the course blog assignments before you come to class each week.. Please remember to bring the book(s) that we are discussing with you to each class meeting.

There are three required books for this course:  

1.  Joshua Freeman, American Empire: 1945-2000 (Penguin, 2012) 

2.  Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop:  A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (St. Martin’s Press, 2005)

3.  Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town:  An Oral History of Grunge (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

These books are available at Shakespeare Books on 23rd Street, as well as online (probably the cheapest option is  There may also be additional readings distributed as class handouts or available on the course blog.

Course Blog: 

An important component of the course will be your participation in a collaborative online environment, which can be found at Detailed instructions on how (and when) to contribute will be shared in class.  The course blog is meant to provide a place for you to participate in the larger class discussion and to collaborate with your classmates in thinking about the course material. Since much of that material will be audio/visual, the web will be particularly important for sharing ideas and drawing connections between culture and politics.


The grading scheme for the course—which will be discussed further as the semester progresses—is listed below, followed by the class, reading, and assignment schedule for the entire semester.  In addition to the listed grading scheme, attendance will be taken each class and students with excessive absences will be graded accordingly. 

Attendance/Participation 25%

Course Blog 30%

Midterm Essay 20%

Final Paper 25% 

Course Schedule:

            *all course meetings are on Friday**

Week 1: 8/30                 

Course Introduction                                                                    

Week 2:   9/6

*No class meeting*


Freeman, Introduction, Prologue, and Chapter 8

Week 3:  9/13                 

*No class meeting*


Freeman, Chapter 9

Week 4:  9/20


Freeman, Chapter 10

 Week 5:  9/27


Chang, Prelude and Chapters 1 and 3

Week 6:  10/4


Freeman, Chapters 12 and 13

Week 7:  10/11


Freeman, Chapters 14 and 15                                                                                                                                                           

Week 8:  10/18


Chang, Chapters 9-11


Week 9:  10/25

Reading:  Chang, Chapters 12-13

**MIDTERM ESSAY IN CLASS**                              

Week 10:  11/1


Freeman, Chapters 16-17                                          

Week 11:  11/8


Freeman, Chapter 18                 

Week 12:  11/15                                                                       


Freeman, Chapter 19 and Epilogue 

Week 13:  11/22


Yarm, Selected Passages                                                                                          

Week 14:  11/29

*No class meeting* 

Week 15:  12/6


Yarm, Selected Passages

Week 16:  12/13


Yarm, Selected Passages




Blog Group List: American Empire


1. Karla Cervantes

2. Fabiel De Leon

3. Amrita Singh

4. Elizabeth Urbaez

5. Jie Qiong Xia

6. Anthony Beauford

7. Dmitriy Guberman

8. Yohei Okawa

Organizations and Institutions

1. Kareem Eid

2. Marat Gubaydullin

3. Volha Hurava

4. Robert Mirfield

5. Mohammad Qaiyum

6. Tony Li

7. Mohamed Ali

8. Laia Muller-Villalba


1. Michael Gapanovich

2. Anton Maslov

3. Nicholas Paldino

4. Mark Thorn

5. Reynaldo Torres

6. Leonardo Depablos

7. David Shmidt

8. Charm Lee