Fall 2022

Pivotal Decade - 1970S

Listed in: History, as HIST-358


Vanessa Walker (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 358 [US/TR/TS])

Often overshadowed by the long 1960s and the conservative ascendancy of the 1980s, the 1970s provides an important transitional moment for the United States, one that arguably linked local experiences to global dynamics and social movements in unprecedented ways.  It was also a decade fraught with contradictions.  On the one hand, Americans experienced widespread disillusionment with the power of the federal government to promote and protect the minority from the majority.  Historians seeking to understand the collapse of the welfare state or the origins of white resistance to civil rights’ initiatives most often point to the 1970s as the time when the Supreme Court abandoned school desegregation and the federal government shifted the burden of the social welfare system onto the market, state and local governments, and onto poor people themselves.  And yet, the 1970s also saw an explosion of progressive social activism, as the women’s movement, the gay rights movement, and the environmental movement, among others, all came into their own.  Likewise, this was also a time when U.S. realignment internationally and military overextension intersected with new hegemonies of human rights regimes, multinational corporations, and “globalization.” This course will emphasize a wide array of social movements and activism—both left and right—and the interplay among formal politics, grassroots organizing, and popular culture. It will ask students to consider how the 1970s catalyzed many of the domestic and international dynamics and debates that define American politics and society today. One class meeting weekly.

In Fall 2022, this course will be offered at both Amherst and Williams College campuses. There will be an end of the semester symposium at Williams College that all enrolled students are required to attend as part of the final project.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Walker.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority to history majors and then by class -- seniors, juniors, sophomores, first year students

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which may include written documents, images, music, films, or statistics from the historical period under study. Exploration of scholarly, methodological, and theoretical debates about historical topics. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions.

HIST 358 - LEC

Section 01
M 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM CHAP 103


Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2022