This course examines disparate reformers and reform movements advocating for social or legislative change in America, from the Progressive Era to the present day. In various areas of public debate – inequality, public morality, race relations, sexuality, and educational policy, to name just a few – it will probe the relationship between reform, radicalism, and mainstream discourse, clarifying not only what role reform and reformers have played in transforming the United States, but also the limits to what “reform” can achieve.
Each week in seminar, in addition to discussing readings and situating them within broader historiographical debates, we will collectively examine primary documents relevant to the main assignment, integrating conversations about historical practice and method in preparation for your writing assignments. We will also brush up on the basics of university-level writing.
|A||Spring Term 2020-21|
The aims of this module are:
Students who complete this module successfully will:
Teaching will be in weekly 2-hour seminars taught over nine weeks, plus an overview and revision session in Week 2 of Summer Term. Each week students will do reading and preparation in order to be able to contribute to discussion.
The provisional outline for the module is as follows:
1. The Populist movement
2. Anti-lynching reform
3. Progressive Era urban reform
4. The labour movement and the New Deal
5. Jim Crow and conservative reform
6. Civil rights and “second-wave” feminism
7. Welfare reform of the 1990s
8. Contemporary educational reform
2. Overview and revision
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During the Spring Term students will prepare a presentation in pairs or small groups. Tutors will determine the formative work for the course: all groups will present either on a primary source or on an assigned historiographical question. Formative work will be completed in one or more sessions at the tutor’s discretion.
An open exam in the Common Assessment Period, comprising one essay question chosen from five options.
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The formative assessment is a group presentation and verbal feedback will be provided by the tutor in class followed by a written summary to each student within 10 working days. Students will have a 15 minute one-to-one tutorial to discuss the formative assessment and prepare for the summative assessment. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.
For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement on Assessment.
For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Should you wish to do any preliminary reading, you could look at the following:
Fraser, Steve. Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015.
Strunk Jr., William and White, E.B. The Elements of Style. 4ed. New York: Pearson, 1999.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses
The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.
Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.