American Study Short Essays

Sketch the context for, define, and tell the significance/after-effect of each, in terms of late-19th & early-20th-century American history & culture:

1- 1890s-1910s peak of the “second wave” of U.S. immigration
2- Taylorism vs. “speeding-up the gang” & pacemakers*
3- “embalmed beef”, “potato flour” & “patent medicines”*
4- Pure Food & Drug Act and Federal Meat Inspection Act (1906)
5- Socialist Party (1901+)/”wage slavery”*
6- “Melting Pot” (1890s-1960s in its original meaning)*
7- National Labor Relations Act (1935) & Fair Labor Standards Act (1938)

Give the context for, define, and tell the significance/after-effect of each of the following, in terms of 20th-century US culture/history:


[1] McCarthyism (1950s)
[2] Korean War (specifically the U.S. part of the U.N.-led “police action” in Korea, 1950-53)
[3] atom-bomb shelters (1945-1960s) & “duck and cover” drills (1951-1960s), vs. “overkills” (1960s-80s)
[4] Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (passed 1964, repealed 1970)
[5] anti-war protests (1967-71) and the “counter-culture”
[6] Tet Offensive (January 1968)
[7] Vietnam Veterans Memorial (dedicated 1982)
[8] Powell [Bush I] Doctrine (1991-2001)
[9] U.S. invasion of Afghanistan (Nov. 2001 – Dec. 2014)
[10] “Axis of Evil” (2002) & WMDs (2003)



1.  Years after the publication of his Socialist novel The Jungle, Upton Sinclair ironically noted the chiefly Progressive impact of his book, stating that he “had taken aim at America’s heart and hit instead its stomach.”  Compare & contrast the two, major, early-20th-century reform-minded ideologies of Progressivism and Socialism.
2.  Using examples from Sinclair’s book The Jungle to illustrate the dangers Americans faced, compare and contrast attempts to protect workers from unregulated capitalist industry, and the slow development of labor unions, during the Progressive Era (1890s-1910s) and the New Deal (1930s).

3.  Why was Socialism considered a “radical” ideology and why had it collapsed as a nationwide party by the mid-1920s?

1.  In what ways was or was not the “Cold War” (1947-90) either “cold” or a “war”?

2.  Citing specific examples either from the book or class, discuss how Englehardt’s concept of “victory culture” was reflected in war toys, films & TV series, in the 3 periods noted in his book, namely, the peak (1950s-60s), fall (1970s) and potential revival (1980s+) of “victory culture” (i.e., before, during and after the Vietnam War).

3.  Compare & contrast the U.S. military action in, and U.S. domestic popular support of American intervention in Vietnam (1965-73) & Iraq (2003-11).

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