Introductory Seminar in United States History

Spring 2015

HIUS 1501 (1)

Introductory Seminar in United States History

"The Great Depression and the New Deal"

Charles W. McCurdy

This seminar focuses on the response to the Great Depression (1929-1941), first in the realm of ideas (social, economic, legal) and then in the realm of public policy.  Group discussions and individual presentations will focus on people and ideas, on major statutes (social security, agricultural price supports, and the like), on the causes and consequences of the growth of the federal government relative to the several states, and on the connections between all these things and the changing role of the United States in the world during Second World War.  The reading list will include standard histories of both the depression and the New Deal.  Reading assignments will average 150 pages a week.

Each student will write four five-page papers during the semester—one on a person, one on a new federal law, and one on an aspect of the Great Depression in American foreign relations.  The final paper will be a review of a new synthetic account of the period, Fear Itself:  The New Deal and The Origins of Our Time by Ira Katznelson.  And each student will make two 20-minute presentations to fellow students—in effect, teaching their peers about things on which they have obtained more specialized knowledge.

This seminar will fulfill the College’s second writing requirement.


Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904

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