Riots, Strikes, and Conspiracies in American History >> Content Detail



Syllabus Archive

The following syllabi come from a variety of different terms. They illustrate the evolution of this course over time, and are intended to provide alternate views into the instruction of this course.

Fall 2008, Robert Fogelson and Pauline Maier (PDF)

Writing Tutor

Madeline Brown

Course Description

This course uses readings and discussions to focus on a series of short-term events that shed light on American politics, culture, and social organization. This semester will focus on four events: the Boston Tea Party of 1773; the crisis at Boston over the case of Anthony Burns, an escaped slave, in 1854; the textile workers' strike at Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912; and the student uprisings at Columbia University in 1968. The course places its emphasis on finding ways to make sense of these complicated, highly traumatic events, and on using them to understand larger processes of change in American history. The class also gives students experience with primary documentation research through a term paper assignment.


  1. Attendance and participation in class discussions. This subject is taught entirely through discussions. As a result, it is essential that students come to class having read the assigned readings and participate in discussions. Students will also be expected to give brief, cogent presentations on their chosen paper topics (see below) in the specially scheduled classes on writing papers. Class performance will be a significant consideration in assigning grades.

  2. Preparation of three papers, of which the final one will be a research paper on a riot, strike, or conspiracy not discussed in regular class meetings, but which applies the analytic techniques developed there. As the schedule below indicates, special classes will be devoted to choosing an appropriate paper topic, conducting research, and preparing final papers. Students will be asked to turn in a brief statement of topics on which they might write their papers on or before the class in session 6, and those proposed topics will be discussed in class on session 7. Thereafter written assignments will fall due as follows:
    • Session 11: First paper, circa 5 pages
    • Session 17: Second paper, circa 3-5 pages
    • Session 25: Final paper, circa 15-18 pages

There will be no final examination.


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