I want you to write an eight page paper (ok, it can be nine pages or seven) about a book that was written sometime between 1914 and 1945. It can be either fiction or nonfiction. Below you will find a list of recommendations. Read the book, read a biography of the author and a study giving larger context to the issue(s) the author addresses. In your paper outline the arguments, opinions or sentiments of the writer and provide historical context. How did this book address the transformations that took place in the United States from 1914 through 1945? Was the author part of those changes? Or, if the book appears to studiously ignore them, why?
This is only a partial list; you can come up with your own book, but be sure to consult with me.
Some recommended books
- Fredrick Lewis Allen (1931), Only Yesterday: An informal history of the 1920s. Read the history that defined the 1920s for a generation, and to some degree still does.
- Herbert Asbury (1933), Barbary Coast: An informal history of the San Francisco underworld. Sex, drugs, and debauchery on the west coast.
- Gertrude Atherton, Black Oxen, (1924). A novel for the “New Woman” of the 1920s.
- Bruce Barton, The Man Nobody Knows (1924). Jesus, it turns out, was really a businessman.
- Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture, (1934). The renowned anthropologist’s first book; Race, Science and Politics (1940), her second.
- Pearl Buck, The Good Earth (1931). A novel about pre-World War I China that influenced US public opinion about events in East Asia.
- General Smedley Butler, War is a Racket, (1935). To hell with war!
- Rachel Carson, Under the Sea Wind, (1941). Why didn’t this precursor to her famous opus Silent Spring, generate the same public interest?
- Willa Cather, Death Comes to the Archbishop, (1927). A very romantic look at a priest’s efforts to set up a diocese in New Mexico.
- Pietro Di Donato, Christ in Concrete, (1937). One of the great social realist novels of the 1930s.
- W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction (1935). An essay, as Du Bois put it, “toward a history of the part which black folk played in the attempt to reconstruct democracy in America, 1860-1880.”
- Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1924; revised 1936). The flivver king takes his stand; or, read The International Jew, Ford’s anti-Semitic screed of the early 1920s.
- William Z. Foster, Towards Soviet America (1932). The head of the Communist Party offers his master plan.
- E. Franklin Frazier, The Negro Family in the United States (1939). A milestone text in the history of African-American thought. Very influential in the 1960s.
- Madison Grant, The Passing of a Great Race (1924). Immigrants are the problem. Massive residency restrictions are the solution.
- Ole Hansen, Americanism Versus Bolshevism (1920). The mayor of Seattle, following his triumphant crackdown on that city’s general strike, shares his thoughts on the impending crisis.
- Lillian Hellman, The Children’s Hour (1934). The renowned play about the power of a lie.
- Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. A novel about love and remorse after the First World War.
- Herbert Hoover, American Individualism (1922). The future president’s credo while Secretary of Commerce; A Challenge to Liberty (1934), Hoover’s critique of the “regimentation” of the New Deal.
- Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944). A warning against state planning during the Second World War.
- Stanley Horn, Invisible Empire (1939). A sympathetic portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan.
- Zora Heale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). A novel by one of the most introspective of the Harlem Renaissance writers.
- John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920). A scathing indictment of the Treaty of Versailles.
- Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922). The novel that defined for a generation what H.L. Mencken called “the booboisie.”
- Mary McCarthy, The Company She Keeps (1942). A budding young author’s first collection of loosely linked stories, including an account of New York intellectual life during the Second World War.
- Aimee Semple McPherson, The Second Coming of Christ. The evangelist’s vision of redemption.
- Carry McWilliams, Factories in the Field (1939). A searing history of west coast migrant labor.
- Carry McWilliams, Ill Fares the Land (1942). Updates Factories with an emphasis on the impact of the New Deal on migratory labor.
- H.L. Mencken, A Preface to Politics (1917). Cynic and funny guy, Mencken anticipated the 1920s’ rejection of progressivism.
- Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind (1936). Read the novel that defined slavery and reconstruction for a generation.
- Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932). Christians must recognize that power politics will always be with us.
- Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead (1943). The great libertarian novel of the Second World War.
- Eleanor Roosevelt, any book from this period, including The Moral Basis of Democracy (1940), My Days, (1938); This Is My Story, (1937); This Troubled World, (1938).
- Margaret Sanger, Happiness in Marriage (1940). The famed birth control advocate opines on the requisites for domestic bliss.
- Upton Sinclair, I, Governor of California and How I Ended Poverty (1933). Sinclair offers his prescription for radical prosperity during the worst years of the Depression.
- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1940). The hit novel about the Okie migration of the 1930s.
- Dorothy Thompson, influential journalist of the late 1920s and 1930s. Check out New Russia, (1928); I Saw Hitler! (1932); Anarchy or Organization (1938); Let the Record Speak (1939).
- Jean Toomer, Cane (1923). A collection of prose/poetry associated with the Harlem Renaissance.
- Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun (1939). The last of the pre-World War II anti-war novels.
- Walter White, Rope and Faggot: The Story of Judge Lynch (1924). Walter White’s searing indictment of lynching.
- Wendell Wilkie, One World (1943). Franklin Roosevelt’s last Republican challenger offers his recipe for world peace.
- Richard Wright, Native Son (1940). A compelling look at Depression era race relations.
General requirements for the paper:
Use double spaced pages.
Number the pages.
Footnote or endnote all quotes, eg: 1Matthew Lasar, Pacifica Radio: The Rise of an Alternative Network (Philadeophia: Temple University Press, 2000), p. 187.
Include a bibliography at the end of the paper.
Use a spell checker!!!!! Do not hand in a paper with lots of misspelled words.
Proof your paper. Your spell checker will not help you discover that you used the word “there” when you should have used the word “their.”
Review the paper to make sure that the grammar is acceptable. While I will not grade for grammar, you will lose credit if your paper’s grammar and syntax are particularly bad.
It is my experience that the most dangerous day of the year for grandparents and the roommates of college students is the day that term papers are due. An astonishing number of grandparents die on or around this day, compelling their grandchildren to halt all term paper writing activities and attend a funeral. An equally astounding number of roommates begin displaying symptoms that require a midnight trip to the emergency room, accompanied, of course, by the student whose term paper deadline has arrived. Pets also display an uncanny mortality rate around this time, as do printers.
Do not hand in your paper late. The excuses listed above and their many variations are acceptable only when accompanied by doctors notes, police reports, and other forms of convincing documentation. I am sorry for the cynicism, but experience has made me cynical. Without documentation, your term paper will be downgraded a full grade by the number of days you handed it in late (this gets unpleasant fast: A paper becomes B; B paper becomes C, etc).
What is Plagiarism? Here is the definition, according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary:
” … to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own …”
The University’s statement regarding plagiarism can be found here.
Please do not plagiarize. If I find that you did, I will give you an F in the course and turn your name over to the Provost of your college.