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The Brief American Pageant , Sixth Edition
David M. Kennedy, Stanford University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Thomas A. Bailey
Mel Piehl, Valparaiso University
Suggested Lecture Topics
Chapter 41
Developing The Chapter: Suggested Lecture Or Discussion Topics


  • Describe the rise of conservatism in the 1980s. Explain Reagan's unique ability to link economic, social-policy, and foreign policy conservative principles into a potent political coalition. Discuss the successes and failures of Reagan's "supply-side" economics, as well as the ideological polarization of America's "culture wars."

    REFERENCE: William C. Berman, America's Right Turn: From Nixon to Bush (1994).

  • Explain the revival of the Cold War in the 1980s. Examine the relation between American policies and the internal changes within the Soviet bloc, culminating in the collapse of Communism, the reunification of Germany, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Include consideration of the new problems for the United States created by the breakup of Communism in places like the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia.

    REFERENCE: Theodore Draper, The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War (1993).

  • Examine the increasing importance of religion in American politics and culture in the 1980s and 1990s. Include consideration of both the "religious right" and evangelical movements, as well as other religious voices like those of the Catholic Church, the black churches, and rapidly growing religious groups like American Muslims and Buddhists affiliated with the immigration boom of the period.

    REFERENCES: Garry Wills, Under God: Religion and American Politics (1990); James Davidson Hunger, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America (1991).

  • Examine the ideas and politics of Bill Clinton in relation to the changed ideological climate of the 1990s. Consider how Clinton attempted to steer a middle course between the more aggressively conservative Republicans and his own party's traditional liberal base on issues like welfare, social security, civil rights, and the environment.

    REFERENCE: James MacGregor Burns and Georgia Sorenson, Dead Center: Clinton-Gore Leadership and the Politics of Moderation (1999).



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