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HIST 4685 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

HIST 4685 - Emergence of Modern America (1877-1914)

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course explores some of the major historical forces that shaped the United States from the end of Reconstruction to the outbreak of World War I.  Students will read works from some of the best historians working in this time period, as well as a generous sampling of primary sources produced at the time.  Monographs, journal articles, and different types of primary source materials will be used to explore the era.

Course Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will gain: An understanding of the forces and themes in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A factual knowledge of the events and people of this historical period. Developed and improved their skills in historical analysis, critical thinking, and the ability to relate disparate information. Improved their ability to relate the historical significance of the subject through written assignments and online discussions. 

Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

 None, but completion of HIST 2020 is strongly recommended.

Course Topics:
  • Race and Racial Boundaries
  • American Expansion and Imperialism
  • Immigration and the Migration
  • Reconsidering Gender Ideals
  • Religion at the Turn of the Century. 
Specific Course Requirements:
  • Weekly Postings - Original postings due Wednesdays at 11:59 pm and two replies due Fridays at 5 pm
  • Five two to three page book reviews for the five assigned books
  • One Exam 
  • One five to seven page capstone essay that relates one of the optional books to at least three of the Course Themes 

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:
Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

There is only one exam: a mid-term. It will consist of several short identifications (each one to be answered in a paragraph of 3 - 5 well developed sentences). For each ID the student must clearly identify the person or term and its historical significance to the course. The remainder of the exam will consist of one or two essays of 5 - 7 paragraphs. The exam is open book so it will be important to establish a clear thesis statement, and to support the thesis in a logical and systematically developed essay. Exact dates will be posted in the course Calendar and the Dropbox. While you are not required to use footnotes, any evidence, direct quotes, or information you gained from other sources needs to be noted in some way. Any evidence of plagiarism will result in a grade of zero for the exam. The instructor may use to help identify plagiarism, but this is not used as the final grading tool. Specific directions for the exam are included on the test itself. These are both open- book, non-timed tests that do not require proctors. Please be aware, though, that you still must cite your sources, and you should never use Wikipedia. 

Grading Procedures:

Because this is an online course, one of the most helpful things I can do is give comments on your written work. Thus, it may take me a full two weeks to grade papers and tests. When you get them back, however, you will see that this is because I try to give substantive comments on how to improve your work - both historical analysis and general writing skills.

10 Discussions @ 25 points each250
5 Reviews @ 50 points each250
Midterm Exam250
Capstone Paper250
Total Points Possible in the Course1000
Grading Scale:
Points EarnedAssigned Grade
under 600 pointsF


Assignments and Projects:

Discussion Topic Responses

Discussion Topic Responses (Weekly Postings) are the primary tool for communication in this course. As such, students must post each week there is a topic assigned. Postings are due each Friday night at 5 pm. The new week opens at 12 midnight Saturday morning. Original postings are due Wednesdays by 11:59 pm, replies are then due on Fridays at 5 pm. You must have both an original post and at least two replies by their respective due dates to receive any credit for the week. This gives everyone a chance to actually read and think about different people’s postings. This is also so that I can be a part of these discussions. This is an important class that discusses a lot of important issues in American history, and, frankly, I want to be a part of the discussions as well.

Additionally, in order to get credit for the week, you must not only post an original comment by Wednesday at 11:59 pm, you must also reply to at least two other people each week. If you do not reply, you will not get credit for that week. Simply replying, “Great post, I agree” while polite, will not receive full points. Students are expected to give substantive responses. I hope that these forums become a chance for everyone to actively participate and invest in the course. To access the discussion boards, click on the 'Discussions' link on the Course Menu. The discussion boards provide an excellent forum for students not only to discuss the particular topic under consideration, but they also allow students the opportunity to consider other viewpoints. Some of the questions are provocative, and none of them has a single correct answer, so make sure to provide valid reasons for your argument or viewpoint.

Please note that there are 11 weeks to post, but I will only grade 10. I recognize that there are weeks that everyone gets overwhelmed and might have to miss discussion, and have tried to provide for that. The only option for extra credit in this course is for you to post and reply on each of the 11 discussion boards.


This course has two types of papers that are a significant part of your grade. This means that you need to read the following guidelines carefully. This is a 4000-level course, which means only a step down from graduate school, and I do grade the papers at this level. I have supplied you with a "Tips for Writing History Papers" handout, as well as a "Footnote Guide" handout. Please do use these.

All papers should use double-spaced text in Times New Roman 12-point font with one inch margins using formal, academic English. These papers must be uploaded to the Dropbox by the appropriate date. Late papers may or may not be accepted; that is up to the discretion of your instructor. The paper must follow the Chicago Manual of Style. (This book is not required, though I do recommend getting it.) The following web link will serve as a general introduction to the Chicago Style for citations, however the student should consult the publication for final guidance. Chicago Manual of Style online.

Be sure to provide footnotes or endnotes for quotes, paraphrases, or ideas developed by someone else. Failure to do so is plagiarism and will result in a grade of zero. Extensive plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the course. Direct quotes should be kept short and to a minimum. Do not use Wikipedia under any circumstances. I expect these papers to be in essay format. This means that they must have an introductory paragraph with a clearly defined thesis, the main body of the paper must use evidence from the module that supports the thesis, and there has to be a concluding paragraph that restates the thesis.

At the end of the second week of each module, students must turn in a one to two page book review for the assigned book. In that book review, they must identify the thesis of the book, provide their assessment of how well the author defended that thesis using examples from the book, and relate it to at least two other readings from that module.

For the capstone paper, students must read one of the five possible capstone books and write a five to seven page essay that answers how the book they read dealt with at least three of the five course modules/themes. In their essay, students must incorporate the book from each module/theme chosen as well as at least one primary source from each of the modules/themes they talk about. 

Class Participation:

Participation in the Module Discussions is a class requirement. We will get the most benefit from each other’s active participation in the discussions. This is also the reason why discussions are broken up – with original posts due two days before replies. This class flourishes or fails on how much we all put into the class discussion and I want all of us to actively participate on these discussion boards. 

Late Policy:

This is not a self-paced course. There are hard deadlines all along the way. In order to receive a passing grade, students must turn in all the papers and the test. Any students who do not turn in all papers and the midterm will automatically fail the course. If you are late on any deadline, it is your responsibility to email me. There will be a late penalty of 10% for every week past the deadline until it is turned in, but I will still accept the work. If you know that you will miss a deadline for an extreme circumstance (funeral of a family member, medical procedure greater than a doctor’s appointment, prolonged illness) please email me as soon as possible so that we can try to work out suitable arrangements. This WILL include providing some type of documentation via email or regular mail. 

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on April 28, 2017