HIST 3220: Final Exam Study Guide, Part 2

Questions similar to these will appear on Monday’s final exam.  Please also refer to the list of terms to review for the test here.

In what ways did television change American politics since the 1950s?  Discuss at least three instances in which television influenced major political struggles, such as elections or movements for political change.

Explain the origins of the containment doctrine, and describe how the United States intervened beyond our borders to curb Communist influence.  What was the impact of containment on US foreign policy, and how did our approach to international affairs change from the 1950s through the collapse of the Soviet Union?

What did the Great Society hope to achieve, and was it a success?  Discuss at least four distinct policies enacted during the administration of Lyndon D. Johnson and describe their intended goals.

Discuss the goals and tactics of the postwar civil rights movement.  What did the movement accomplish, how did it do so, and what kind of opposition did it engender, both in and outside of the South?

How do you account for the failure of St. Louis’s Pruitt-Igoe public housing project?  Drawing on the film The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, use references to specific policies to explain why the project fell so far short of its original promise, and discuss the impact of Pruitt-Igoe on the ways Americans thought about government programs and housing policy.

What factors contributed to the rise of the New Right in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s?  How did conservatives with different concerns and ideological orientations unite to achieve far-reaching political influence?

When did the War on the Drugs begin, and what effect has the effort to suppress the distribution and use of illegal substances had on American life — politically, socially, economically?

Discuss how American thinking about gender roles changed over the course of the late twentieth century.  How did the lives of women change since World War II, and how did conflicts over work, the family, and sexuality increasingly define the course of American politics?

What does Daniel Rodgers mean by a “wrinkle in time” in his book Age of Fracture?  How does Rodgers link constitutional law, economic theory, and the collapse of Communism to convey a changing sense of time in the 1990s?

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HIST 3220: Blog #5

free time cat

The final post of the semester asks you to look at the big picture.  How did we get from the “Search for Order” to the “Age of Fracture”?

Write 500 words on what you believe are the three major themes of American history in the 20th century.  Look at all of our readings and lectures over the course of the semester and think about the big processes that transformed American life from 1900 to the present day.  These processes could be social, political, economic, or cultural changes.  The post should be written a clear, grammatically correct style; it should discuss specific events, people, and concepts and cite evidence from at least three of the assigned readings.  The blog should be uploaded as a reply to this post by 8AM on Wednesday morning, December 4th.

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HIST 3220: Final Exam Study Guide

Sample essay questions are coming soon — in the meantime, review these terms for the final exam.

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Blog #4: The Voguing Rights Act of 1985


We will watch How to Survive a Plague in class on the 18th.  Please watch the film Paris Is Burning (1990) outside of class.  Write a 500 word post about the differences between the two films—how do they differently portray gay life in the 1980s and early 1990s?  What separates the characters in the two films, and how do they see the world?

Various copyright holders have recently forced Google to remove the full-length Paris Is Burning documentary that previously streamed for free on YouTube, but the film is available to rent through YouTube and Amazon; it is also on reserve at the GSU library and can be viewed through Netflix’s online streaming (if you have a Netflix account).

Update: a member of the course has highlighted the following free streaming of Paris Is Burning (in several installments; be sure to watch the entire series of videos) at Daily Motion:


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HIST 8030- Age of Fracture by Daniel Rodgers

In Age of Fracture, Daniel T. Rodgers traces the fragmentation of American society in the last quarter of the twentieth century.  In this tumultuous age, “intellectual assumptions that had defined the common sense of public intellectual life since the Second World War were challenged, dismantled, and formulated anew,” (2).  It was “an era of disaggregation, a great age of fracture” in which “struggles of books and mind changed the ways in which social reality itself would be imagined,” (2-3).  Age of Fracture is about a modal shift of emphasis from the one to the many.  Holistic language yielded to particularized notions of “individuals, contingency, and choice,” (5).  Ideas about economics, identity, and power became highly pluralized as the nation experienced a “historic intellectual shift,” (11).  Rodgers’ task is not an easy one.  As Tony Judt noted in Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century (we read the intro for week one), “the recent past is the hardest to know and understand,” (Judt, 2).  Rodgers acknowledges his temporal proximity to the late twentieth century (14), but plunges forward to explore “how it was that a vocabulary of social thought unexpectedly became outmoded and passé, and another way of thinking, for an era, made claim to its place,” (14).  In my own humble opinion, Rodgers succeeds with flying colors.

Rodgers acknowledges two key limitations in his method.  First, Age of Fracture is not a complete history of American fragmentation, but, rather, only a part.  Rodgers focuses on “the fields where the heaviest public intellectual ammunition of the era was mobilized, where academic thought and public policy met with the sharpest implications for each other,” (13).  Second, Rodgers pays “scant attention to the parallel debates that swept across the world outside the United States,” (13).  These limitations are certainly understandable, given the enormity, if not impossibility, of writing a comprehensive history of late twentieth-century fragmentation and disaggregation.

Age of Fracture is a complex work that transcends simple categorization.  One could simultaneously label the book as a work of intellectual, cultural, political, or economic history, without any contradiction of terms.  Rodgers addresses a different theme in each chapter.  In “Losing the Words of the Cold War,” he examines the changing rhetoric in presidential speeches.  More than any other president, Reagan changed the language of American politics, as he abandoned conceptual, combative structures in favor of a personalized, conversational approach.  In chapter two, Rodgers discusses the economic fragmentation of the age, in which the free market emerged into a “socially detached array of economic actors, free to choose and optimize, unconstrained by power or inequalities, governed not by their common deliberative action but only by the impersonal laws of the market,” (76).

Chapter three details the ways in which power “fragmented and diffused,” as its vocabulary became “less graspable, less easy to employ,” (110).  In chapter four, Rodgers explains the complexity of racial issues in the United States that led to its fragmentation.  In the post-Civil Rights era, varying attitudes about its implications emerged, which resulted in a “certain amnesia” about racial history (137).  Chapter five is devoted to the fragmentation of gender and sexuality in relation to the culture wars of the late twentieth century.  In chapter six, Rodgers shows the ways in which political theorists began to favor and emphasize localized, fragmented communities.  These theorists imagined society as smaller, more voluntaristic, fractured, easier to exit, and more guarded from others,” (220).  Chapter seven is a fascinating examination of changing conceptions of time and history.  Competing versions of American history emerged in the late twentieth century, resulting in fragmented interpretations and understandings of the Constitution’s meaning and applicability.  The age of fracture made it possible for one to conceive of time and history in more privatized ways.  Liberals and conservatives alike framed American history within their own respective eschatological mentalities concerning the origin and destiny of the nation.

In the epilogue, Rodgers explores the implications of the age of fracture for twenty-first century America.  He argues that although American society has resembled the Cold War period in the post-9/11 era, the disaggregation of the last quarter of the twentieth century fundamentally and permanently altered the nation.  In the understatement of the century, Rodgers suggests that President George W. Bush was not a gifted orator (262).  Nonetheless, President Bush, with the help of his talented speechwriting staff, called for a “new civic culture,” that emphasized service and community (264).  While this rhetoric resembled the language of the Cold War, Rodgers assures us that it would be economically impossible for such a culture to emerge in a fractured society in which “markets and politics” had “become radically intertwined,” (265).  Furthermore, the changes that emerged in the age of fracture became imbedded in the U.S. foreign policy and power structures.  Rodgers makes this point more eloquently on the last page, stating, “Pieces of old and new social paradigms filled the air, full of promise and full of danger.  They formed fragments out of which the new century’s debates would be constructed…The age of fracture had permanently altered the play of argument and ideas,” (271).  Thus, fracture still persisted, even if it hid behind a veil of rhetoric.

Also, here is an interesting interview with the man himself, Daniel Rodgers, about Age of Fracture.


1.) As the title suggests, Age of Fracture explores the disaggregation of many components in American society (e.g. race, power, sex, economics, conceptions of time).  In what ways were their fragmentations intertwined?  For example, how did the fracturing conceptions of power intersect with the changing notions of gender and sexuality?

2.) In chapter two, “The Rediscovery of the Market,” Rodgers attributes the appeal of supply-side economics in the early 1980s to its simplicity.  He argues that the “supply-siders spoke to a widespread public weariness with being hectored with hard choices and uncertain forecasts,” (73).  Supply-side economics accounted for “the hunger for self-administering economic rules, and the rising stock of simple ideas,” (73).  However, Rodgers’ evidence appears to be relatively thin, as he does not expand upon this idea for the remainder of the chapter. Do you believe that Rodgers is correct in his claim that supply-side economics won support, in whole or in part, because of its simplicity?  Are Americans in 2013 attracted to simplicity in seeking answers for complicated issues?

3.) According to Rodgers, as power “fragmented and diffused” in the 1980s (110), it was viewed with skepticism in the academy and with optimism by the masses.  Has this trend endured into the twenty-first century?

4.) In the great age of fracture, Americans struggled to make sense of the language and meaning of race.  Conservatives disliked strategies, such as Affirmative Action, that showed preferential treatment based on race.  Instead, they preferred a “colorblind” approach that, theoretically, evaluated people, regardless of race, within the same set of qualitative criteria (129).  Do you believe the push for a “colorblind” America is an example of racecraft?  Would Barbara and Karen Fields view it as such?

5.)  Rodgers devotes a significant amount of space to Presidential rhetoric, detailing the manner in which America lost the language of the Cold War, only to gain the language of the War on Terror in 2001.  Do you believe this ebb and flow of national language is a continuing trend in American history or is it unique to the age of fracture, existing parenthetically between two wars (one cold and one quite hot)?


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HIST 3220 — Dulles and Duller


Check out the full audio of Terry Gross’s interview with journalist Stephen Kinzer about the Dulles brothers and American foreign policy in the 1950s and 1960s:


You can also find the full video of Dr. Strangelove online here:


And read about the movie’s history here:


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HIST 8030 — Alex Sayf Cummings, Democracy of Sound

Cummings’s Democracy of Sound acknowledges the explosive financial success and social significance of the burgeoning Culture Industries; rather than recounting the history of these industries’ development, though, Cummings focuses on the shadowy counterpart to their supposed domination of the landscape: piracy. Cummings asks how American music fans, artists, and entrepreneurs (both “legitimate” and “criminal,” a distinction which changes over time) “deal with” the ability to duplicate sound throughout the last century (4). Specifically, Democracy of Sound traces the tradition of unauthorized duplication from its roots in the unsanctioned copying of sheet music and piano rolls, through the era of jazz aficionados’ project of “cultural preservation,” through the counterculture’s embrace of bootlegging as a means of spreading the cultish appeal and counter-hegemonic values of bands like the Grateful Dead, to more recent waves of piracy, bootlegging, and sampling represented by punk and hip-hop fans, musicians, and aspiring mini-moguls.

As the book’s title suggests, “sound” (music, specifically) has been democratized over the course of the century, as it became easier and easier to duplicate and distribute it (and sometimes exploit it) thanks to technological innovations (handmade, one at-a-time phonograph copies being replaced by LPs, magnetic tape formats, and ultimately “perfect” digitization) and growing social networks (jazz fans, “greatest hits” shoppers at truck stops, jam-band camp followers, and so on). On the other hand, though, the book traces the concomitant de-democratization of sound: attempts made by the increasingly powerful representatives of the music subsidiaries of the Culture Industry to restrict people’s access to musical duplication in order to protect their own investments and maximize profits. The industry’s enablers were legislators whose allegiance shifted during the course of the twentieth century, gradually moving towards embracing a pro-corporate, anti-copying agenda – or prohibition, to use a historical evocative term – that ultimately criminalized unauthorized duplication, regardless of what the citizenry wanted or what practices it might have already been engaged in.

One might have expected a history of piracy and copyright to highlight the details of technological advancements in recording, the chronological tracking of the changes in regulations and legal status of “copying” recorded sound, and the political-economic institutional history of the music-based culture industry, and Cummings’s hits upon each of these in the unfolding of his narrative. Instead of merely focusing on the Great Men who made that history, though, Cummings turns Hoftstadter on his head and focuses on a parade of not-so-great-men who have pushed the limits of notions of “intellectual property” itself, creating a history of entrepreneurs, hobbyists, fans, get-rich-quick schemers, hippies, self-made cultural curators, and the occasional scoundrel, limning an alternative genealogy that becomes a kind of American Piratical Tradition and the Men Who Made It. By examining the contributions of Dante Bollettino, Boris Rose, John Perry Barlow, and companies like Jolly Roger and the Hot Record Society, Cummings constructs a democratic approach that underscores his central opposition: the story of piracy – or its flipside (ahem), the story of an ever-strengthening, increasingly restrictive new set of property rights as expressed via state-created, business-provoked copyright – is the story of the desires of the people bumping up against the profit-drive of the Culture Industry.

Cummings demonstrates that the tool that corporate interests relied upon was copyright (both in re-shaping its meaning and in the eventual construction of the idea of “intellectual property” rights). The Copyright Clause of the Constitution (Article I, Section 8) originally both protected the creators of ideas and established the importance of the public domain, which allows other creators to build on the original ideas (“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries,” see http://www.copyright.gov for more details). Thanks to the tireless lobbying persuasion of the Culture Industries, the jolts produced by economic recessions that were argued to have been driven, in part, by challenges to the entertainment industry, and, it must be noted, by the visibility and virality of the egregious excesses of some pirates and bootleggers too, Congress’ conception of Copyright changed drastically, increasingly protecting industry and curtailing the public domain. Congressional iterations of new laws (in 1909, 1956, and 1976, for instance; also in the Clinton-era Digital Millennium Copyright Act) recognized new “property rights” for intellectual and cultural creations, while simultaneously limiting citizens’ ability to copy them (and thus characterizing most copying as “stealing” something that had previously not even been recognized as property).

Did the criminalization of piracy – and a huge chunk of music’s listenership too – wind up destroying music, turning it wholly into corporatized “product”? Perhaps I am sensing Cummings’s faith in democracy in my reading of his conclusion, which strikes (it seems to me) an optimistic note for the future. Instead of wiping out popular music – and unplugging its systems of meaning, its power to create, speak to, and organize social groups, and its ultimate value as the people’s “authentic” cultural expression (and boy is that a throwaway phrase that needs unpacking, huh?) – copyright restriction did not end piracy at the end of the twentieth century at all. Cummings notes that music has proliferated instead, is “as abundant as ever” (218), and we currently live in a climate in which more music is available and in circulation than ever in the industry’s history. The democratic challenge to rigid copyright laws, or “home taping,” as the music business used to put it, did not “kill music” as the suits formerly warned, but allowed it instead to flourish; as Cummings approvingly notes, the history of piracy’s eventual triumph “may record that it killed the twentieth-century record industry” (218).


1) Assuming that there is an “air of optimism” running through Dr. C’s book – a debatable point of course, as the comments below and the class session may reveal – do you agree with it? Has the democratic, piratical challenge to the expansion of copyright succeeded; have the good, populist Davids won and the bad, corporate Goliaths lost? Has this been a good thing or a bad thing? Dr. C’s conclusion hints that one of the “fruits” of the work of the historical march of bootleggers and pirates has been the emergence of copyright-challenging “new businesses” (218; I’ll suggest examples like iTunes and Spotify). Has this development been beneficial for fans and artists (and the “cultural legacy” the early jazzbo fanboys were creating) alike? I’d love to take some time during class on Wednesday to hear about everybody’s own experience with the piracy/copyright dynamic: do we have music fans in the house for whom this is a pivotal issue? Has your relationship with music gotten better or worse under the watchful eyes of the RIAA?

2) Part of the “curious status of sound” (45) is its immateriality; while other cultural works may have either the aspects of a tangible good (books, paintings) or visuality (movies, tv), music has tended to float upon the ether. In the contemporary era, though, many cultural works have the same kind of immateriality – they’ve all been digitized into ones and zeros. Does the new non-materiality of all “new” media mean that books, movies, and television will follow the same piratical trajectory as music in the 21st C? Is file size the only thing that has forestalled the collapse of all of the culture industries? And how long will that advantage last?

3) The chapter “The Global War on Piracy” takes a different turn than the rest of Dr. C’s book, detouring into an international story that intersects with the American one most of the book tells. Why do you think he does that (Dr C: no telling until after we discuss!)? Put another way, how, why, when, and in which ways is the domestic narrative imbricated with the global one? To open the question up a little further: should all of the histories we’ve been reading so far tried to layer in a global perspective as well, or does it satisfy you to bracket our histories at the nation’s borders? (PS: Moreton’s essay is a very notable exception to the rule)

$) I don’t know if you agree that Dr C’s book functions, in part, as a kind of Not-So-Great Men narrative (both in the sense of just-plain-folks versus Popes and Presidents, but also in the sense of its description of some semi-scrupulous characters). What seems beyond debate, though, is that the book is a history of men; with very few exceptions (Patti Smith and Sylvia Robinson?), this is a story of male artists, male businessmen, male fans, and male pirates. Do you think that the phenomena of piracy and bootlegging is somehow gendered? (There’s a great passage about the “manly tinkering” of sound duplication and stereophonics during the ’50s on pages 71-3) I’d love to spend a few minutes of class-time picking apart this commercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiJzLfxWooo – complete with Wagner!), but it might speak for itself. If so, has the gendering continued into the present? If so, any speculation as to why and how this might have happened?

5) As long as history books are material things that we hold between covers (see question 2 above!), they will be forced to omit some parts of the stories they tell (or they’ll never get published). Dr C’s book touches upon some parts of the piratical tradition very briefly (high culture “appropriation art,” Post-Modernism), omits some (the Clinton Era Digital Millennium Copyright Act), and missed out on more recent others due to the relentless march of history beyond the realities of writing deadlines and publication dates (Kim Dotcom, the rise and fall of MP3 blogs). How do you think that piracy-related phenomena that have occurred since the publication of Dr C’s book fit within the narrative he has built? Have recent events taken the twins of piracy and copyright into new, unanticipated directions , or have the dynamics Dr C describes still hold? Finally, to look at the question another way, are there parts of the story that you either expected or wanted to see in Democracy of Sound that you did not? Most broadly: if the history of the twentieth century led American culture and economics from Fordism to Post-Fordism – from a reliance on manufacturing things like light bulbs, in one of the text’s fascinating details, to relying on the light bulbs over people’s heads instead – what might be the ways in which this tension between copyright and piracy will shape our future?

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