From Reagan to Obama: Contemporary US History

Term: Spring 2012

Subject Code: GHIS

Course Number: 5172

In the 1970s, US capitalism underwent a tectonic shift: from industry to
finance, from a US economy that sold to the world to one that invested in
the rest of the world, and from the family wage to the two-earner family.
The global role of the US also shifted, especially through its focus on the
Middle East, through the abolition of the draft, and through the enormous
uprooting of global ecological balances. Culturally, the country dropped its
historic commitment to equality in favor of a new ideal of meritocracy.
Intellectuals abandoned their historic antipathy to business, and the
Democratic Party largely adopted neo-liberal politics. Beginning in the late
nineties and continuing to the present, these policies seem to have led the
country into an era of rapid and sometimes frightening decline, not merely,
and not even primarily, economic in character. The course will explore this
history. Readings include work from Daniel Rodgers, David Harvey, Jefferson
Cowie, Elizabeth Shermer, Becky Nicolaides, Bethany Moreton, and Nelson
Lichtenstein.

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