American History, 1865-present
Queens College, Hist. 104
The class covers topics including politics, economics, activism, technology, race, gender, sexuality, and family. American empire, as a political project and a lived experience, is a focal point of the course. Because the class is an introductory history course, I spend a lot of time discussing the craft and methods of history. Students are encouraged to think about how political and economic changes trickle into the lives of ordinary people in complex and contingent ways.
In this class of roughly 50 students I intersperse short to medium-length lectures with guided group analyses of primary sources.
Over the course of the semester, students complete two research papers. These papers give students the chance to select a primary source from a curated list and use library resources to find relevant secondary sources. The most critical aspect of these papers is that students are tasked with developing an original, focused, and historical question to guide their research. This is, they learn, the work of a historian.