Stanford University
Winter 2005
MTh 2:15-4:05


Prof. Margaret O’Mara
Office:  Building 200, Room 226
Phone: 3-9342


Office Hours: Wednesdays 1:30-3:00 and by appointment

This section of the core colloquium in U.S. History continues the exploration of the history and historiography of the nineteenth century with particular focus on urbanization, state-building, politics, and social reform.  The course also considers the contributions of scholars from disciplines other than history to the literature, and the way that scholarship in other subfields (historical sociology, American political development, et al.) has influenced the questions historians ask, the evidence they gather, and the conclusions they make.

We will read the following books, all available at the Stanford Bookstore and on reserve:
1. Elizabeth Blackmar, Manhattan for Rent, 1785-1850 (1989)
2. Sven Beckert, The Monied Metropolis, New York City and the Consolidation of the American Bourgeoisie, 1850-1896 (2001)
3. Michael McGerr, The Decline of Popular Politics: The American North, 1865-1928 (1986)
4. Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South, from Slavery to the Great Migration  (2003)
5. Robert Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877-1920 (1967)
6. Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (1998)
7. Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (1992)

  1. Viviana Zelizer, Pricing the Priceless Child: The Changing Social Value of Children (1994)

We will also read selected essays and articles.  If available online through Stanford library databases, their URL is listed on the syllabus; copies of those not available online will be passed out in class the week before. 
Students are encouraged to browse the online tables of contents of selected refereed journals as we move from week to week; suggested journals are listed on the course schedule below.  Browse with an eye to understanding the editorial focus of scholarly journals, prevailing themes and methodological emphases of published articles, larger historiographical debates playing out in their pages, and how all have changed over time. 
I also encourage all of you – if not this quarter, then at some point in your graduate career – to invest in the purchase of the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition, as this editorial form is the standard for many major historical journals and academic presses.  I ask that you adhere to Chicago style in the assignments described below.

Along with class attendance, completion of readings, and active and collegial participation in discussion, there are three class assignments:
1.  Each class session, one student will give a ten-minute historiographic presentation that outlines major debates within one strand of the literature of nineteenth century America, situates the book under discussion within this literature, and provides a brief assessment of how you think this author has contributed to, and/or changed the terms of, the scholarly debate.  In conjunction with this presentation, the student will draw up a short (one page, single-spaced) bibliography of selected works in the subfield, copies of which will be distributed to others in the class.  This bibliography should be emailed me by 11AM on the day of your presentation, and I will print copies for you and your colleagues.  Students will sign up for these presentations at the first class session on February 10.  
2.  In order to begin to think about how you might teach this literature to future students, you will write a hypothetical course syllabus for a 200-level undergraduate colloquium in nineteenth century U.S. history or one of its subfields.  The syllabus should be as substantively detailed and structurally precise as possible, built as if it were to be taught at Stanford in spring quarter 2005.  The syllabus should be accompanied by an up to 500-word (one page, single-spaced) narrative describing your choices of readings and assignments.  This assignment is due on March 10, the day of our last class meeting, and copies of each will be circulated to the full class.  The syllabus and narrative must be emailed to me by 11AM that morning; I will print copies for you and your colleagues.
3.  The final assignment is a 2500-word (ten pages, double-spaced) review essay on one major theme in nineteenth century history that includes discussion of at least three of the required books.  Although shorter than a review article found in a refereed journal such as Reviews in American History, the essay should be similar in spirit and tone of analysis.  You may presume the reader’s familiarity with the substance of the works under discussion.  Focus on how each of the works speaks to your chosen theme; contrast/compare sources and methods; discuss effectiveness of argument; assess contribution to the literature.  This essay should be emailed to me by 5PM on Friday, March 18.  Extensions or incompletes are strongly discouraged.

Assignments are weighed as follows: participation/readings 50%; historiographic presentation and bibliography 15%; syllabus and narrative 15%; final essay 20%.

Students with disabilities should (1) register with the Disabilities Resource Center [563 Salvatierra Walk, Stanford, CA 94305; TEL: 723-1066 (voice), 723-1067 (TTY)]; (2) inform me during the first week of the existence of the disability (discretion assured).



Th February 10                        Blackmar, Manhattan for Rent
Timothy J. Gilfoyle, “White Cities, Linguistic Turns, and Disneylands: The New Paradigms of Urban History,” Reviews in American History, vol. 26 (March 1998), 175-204

Historiography: Urban History and Theory (the presentation will be given by instructor; students will sign up today for further presentations)

M February 14                        Beckert, The Monied Metropolis

Historiography: Industrialism, Labor, and Class

Journals:  Reviews in American History; Journal of Urban History; Urban History; Journal of Economic History


Th February 17                        McGerr, The Decline of Popular Politics
Meg Jacobs and Julian E. Zelizer, “The Democratic Experiment,”
in The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in Political History (Princeton, 2003), 1-19.

Historiography:  Politics and Parties

M February 21            President’s Day – No Class

Th February 24                        Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet

Historiography: Reconstruction and Jim Crow

Journals: Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era; Journal of Southern History; Journal of Negro History


M February 28                        Wiebe, The Search for Order
Robert Johnston, “Re-Democratizing the Progressive Era: The
Politics of Progressive Era Political Historiography,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 1.1 (2002).

Historiography: Progressivism(s)

Th March 3                  Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings

Historiography: European Urbanization and Social Reform

Journals: Journal of Policy History; International Labor and Working Class History; Labor History


M March 7                  Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers

                                    Historiography: Welfare States

Th March 10                Syllabus and narrative emailed to instructor by 11AM.
Zelizer, Pricing the Priceless Child

                                    Historiography: The Family and Society

Journals: Social Science History; Journal of Historical Sociology; Studies in American Political Development; Journal of Interdisciplinary History.

Fr March 18                Final essays emailed to instructor by 5PM.