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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Margaret Pugh O'Mara
HIST 388
Seattle Campus

Colloquium: Introduction to History

Introduction to the discipline of history for new or prospective majors. Emphasizes the basic skills of reading, analysis, and communication (both verbal and written) that are central to the historian's craft. Each seminar discusses a different subject or problem.

Class description


This seminar explores the evolution of the national Democratic, Republican, and independent political parties over the course of the twentieth century. Through close reading of primary documents (text, audio, visual materials, film), we address how shifting demographics, market changes, and social issues changed the composition of the major national parties over time. We also examine key political leaders who shaped the identity and future of their political party. Readings and discussion cover the major social movements that shifted party allegiances, watershed elections, cultural and social issues shaping party platforms, the influence of grassroots activism on formal political institutions, and the growing influence of the independent voter.

Student learning goals

Students will learn about the changing character of the two major political parties and important third-party movements in the US from 1896 to 2008.

Students will learn about grassroots social movements, demographic and geographic shifts, and economic and technological changes that had important effects on national politics during the past century.

Students will learn how historians "do history" by surveying primary source materials, synthesizing and interpreting secondary literature, and engaging in critical analysis and writing.

Students will "do history" themselves through both short and longer writing assignments based on critical analysis of primary texts.

Students will learn how to engage actively in productive, intellectual conversation and collaboration with their peers in a seminar setting and through well-considered online discourse.

Students will learn the fundamentals of historical writing to prepare them for successful completion of upper-division History courses as well as towards using effective, cogent written communication in professional and other academic settings.

General method of instruction


Recommended preparation

Some college-level US history preferred

Class assignments and grading

Engaged participation, close reading of primary and secondary materials, analytic writing assignments.

attendance and in-class discussion 25%; weekly discussion question posting 5%; team presentation 5%; four 2-page papers (10% x 4 = 40%); one 7-10 page final essay 25%.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Margaret Pugh O'Mara
Date: 04/19/2011