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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jessie L Kindig
HIST 498
Seattle Campus

Colloquium in History

Each seminar examines a different subject or problem. A quarterly list of the seminars and their instructors is available in the Department of History undergraduate advising office.

Class description

This senior seminar will explore narratives of democracy and racial equality in the United States in the early years of the Cold War. Emerging from World War II as a world power, and increasingly defining itself against the Communism of the Soviet Union, the United States sought to project an image of itself to the world as a democratic nation in which racial and social equality was achievable. Yet government officials' claims were consistently undercut by the existence of Jim Crow segregation, Asian exclusion immigration laws, continued lynchings, and racist violence. African American radicals and anti-racist activists increasingly looked toward the decolonizing nations of the "Third World" in order to frame their struggle against racism within the United States, or used the Cold War emphasis on civil rights to push for more expansive visions of racial justice. This seminar will explore the struggle over the United States' Cold War image and the competing narratives of race and democracy that activists, government officials, policymakers, and cultural workers produced.

To ground our inquiry, students will consider how the rhetoric and policies of the Cold War influenced and shaped racial ideologies, political rhetoric, and the activism of racialized groups in the Pacific Northwest. For their final research project, students will write an interpretive history paper (15-20 pages) based on their own original research.

Student learning goals

To read, analyze, and critically discuss historical texts.

To do research using primary and secondary sources.

To craft an interpretive historical argument from their research, and develop it as a long essay.

General method of instruction

The first half of the course will explore histories of racial politics during the Cold War and in the Northwest, and introduce different methods for exploring Cold War propaganda, and anti-racist activism. The second half of the course will be devoted to developing students' research papers in a collaborative, seminar setting. Students will learn how to find primary sources in the archives and then use those sources to make historical claims about the significance of their particular topic.

If students so desire, and if the quality of their work warrants it, completed research reports may be published as part of the Pacific Northwest Antiwar and Radical History Project website and the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project (

Recommended preparation

Interest in the topic and in learning to do primary source research in library archives.

Class assignments and grading

One short review essay of an assigned text and a longer 15-page research paper. To aid in writing the research paper, very short topic and source descriptions, as well as a rough draft, will be handed in throughout the quarter. Students will be expected and encouraged to actively participate, discuss, ask questions, and propose their own ideas.

Class Participation: 30%; Book Review: 15%; Research Paper Preparation, (proposal, source list, thesis paragraph, rough draft): 20%; Final Research Paper: 35%

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.
Last Update by Jessie L Kindig
Date: 01/27/2012