Monmouth College
Department of History
Monmouth, Illinois


The Vietnam Era
Fall 2011


bulletDr. Stacy A. Cordery
Office: Wallace Hall L-6
Office Hours: Mondays.and Wednesdays, 10:00-11:00 and noon to 1:00; Tuesdays and Thursdays noon to 12:30 p.m., and by appointment
Office Phone: 457-2372
E-mail Address: 

bulletCourse Objectives
This course is not a course solely about the Vietnam Conflict, nor is it strictly military history. Instead, the course will cover the era in United States history that was colored by U.S. involvement in Indochina, 1945-1975. We will be looking variously at foreign policy during the Cold War, the Vietnam Conflict itself, the experiences of those who were affected by the war, the resultant social changes, the effect of the conflict on the domestic agenda of the presidents of the era, and the repercussions of all of this for the rest of the globe.

bulletCourse Format
This is not a lecture class. Uncivil Wars is the book you have chosen for our text, and I expect that you will read closely, carefully, and thoroughly the assignments in that text to prepare for our classroom discussions. The same diligence should be applied to the documents assigned from Takin' It to the Streets, as well as other readings. I expect that you will come prepared to contribute to class discussions which will grow more lively and and informed the more we all read, analyze, and synthesize.

bulletRequired Books
Mark Hamilton Lytle, Uncivil Wars: The Sixties from Elvis to the Fall of Richard Nixon
Bloom and Breines, eds., 'Takin' It to the Streets': A Sixties Reader, 2nd edition
Wallace Terry, Bloods

Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
Nicholas Warr, Phase Line Green:  The Battle for Hue, 1968


1) Map quiz (20): Since an understanding of the geography of Vietnam is crucial for an understanding of Vietnamese history, U.S. foreign policy, and the veterans’ experiences, you will have a twenty point map quiz. Here is your list of terms to study.


2) Oral presentation (150): At the point designated in the semester, you will teach the class on the topic you have chosen. To that end, you must assign the readings for that day well in advance. You must lead the discussion, without monopolizing it. You may use visual aids, as long as they illuminate your subject and assist in your colleagues' learning--and as long as you don't use visual aids as a substitute for your teaching. Your grade will be based upon the thoroughness of of your understanding of the subject, your ability to convey the information to the class, the appropriateness of your readings, and an annotated bibliography you will hand in to me at the conclusion of the class. The bibliography should contain all of the works you consulted in preparation for teaching. An annotated bibliography must include a paragraph explaining the source and its use to you. The bibliography must be done according to the Chicago Manual of Style. The bibliography is worth fifty points (so impress me) and the teaching is worth one hundred points. If you are not ready to present on the day assigned you on the syllabus, you will automatically drop one letter grade.


3) The oral history project (100) consists of the following:

       a) finding someone appropriate to interview;
       b) writing up germane interview questions based on their experiences and our readings which you will hand in (10 points);**
       c) conducting a THIRTY MINUTE audiotape interview (60 points);
       d) writing up a brief paper (no more than three pages; 30 points) that explains what you learned from the interview;
       e) handing in the questions, the tape, the paper, and a release form from the interviewee.

You will not get full credit if any of these steps are missing or if not all of the required items are turned in on time. You will not get full credit if the tape is shorter than thirty minutes. I will not accept the tape if it is not accompanied by a release form.

** Appropriate questions are those which are experience based. Asking "who ran for president in 1968 and what did you think of them?" is not a good question. That is asking your interviewee to teach you history, and you are supposed to be the history expert here. Questions about your interviewee’s OWN experiences are best.


4) Classroom discussions (100): This class is a discussion-based class. I take the discussion part very seriously, and hence have weighted it as much as one of your book papers. You should contribute to the discussions throughout the semester. Be sensitive to your colleagues and respectful of their opinions. Don’t monopolize the discussion--it’s not easy to discuss with a class this size, and it will help if you are self-policing. Engage each other in discussion--don’t talk only to me. There are no stupid questions in this classroom, and I hope you’ll never fear to express your thoughts. After every class discussion time, I’ll go back to my office and make a check in my grade book to identify everyone who spoke that day, and that’s how I’ll start to evaluate the discussion grade.


5) Book papers (100 x 3 = 300): You will write a paper based upon the three books we will read (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Bloods, and Phase Line Green). Book questions will be handed out in plenty of time, and you may hand in the book papers early. These will be thesis-based, analytical papers with beautiful grammar and exceptional prose. Your arguments will be infused with the information you have mastered from earlier in this course.


ATTENDANCE POLICY:  Alas, as of 5 September, we now have an attendance policy. After three unexcused absences, you will be placed on a no-cut policy. Excused absences require a note from a physician, a coach, or another professor.

One last thing:  This syllabus is subject to change at the professor's discretion, but not until I tell you all about the changes.


Apologies in advance for the language used on the Youtube video comments. To avoid it, don't scroll down below the videos.

Aug 23:  Introduction and Explanation of the Class

Aug 25:  The Lessons Vietnam Learned from the Past


Aug 30: French Colonial Rule and the Development of Vietnamese Nationalism

Sept 1: Dien Bien Phu and the Geneva Conference


Sept 6: Chapter 1: The Consensus
A brief excerpt from "Reefer Madness"
                The Howdy Doody Show

Sept 8: Chapters 2 and 3: The Cultural Cold War and Cracks in the Consensus


Sept 13:  Chapter 4: The New Generation
                M. L. King, "The Power of Nonviolence," 15
                A. Moody, 18
                SNCC Founding Statement, 21
                Port Huron Statement, 50
                The Sharon Statement, 290

Sept 15:  Chapter 5: The Cold War on the New Frontier
               Kennedy campaign speeches

               Kennedy campaign commercial
               Kennedy--Nixon debate 1960
               Nixon campaign commercial


Mentioned in class today:
The Kitchen Debate
The Checkers Speech, part 1-- wherein you see Pat Nixon and learn his assets and debts
The Checkers Speech, part 2--with the Republican cloth coat and the dog Checkers--when he concludes the financial litany, he launches into a campaign speech. Listen to the topics Nixon addresses.
Kennedy commercial with Eisenhower's disavowal of Nixon's contribution to important administration decisions.


Sept 20: Chapter 6: The Second Civil War
                The Freedom Rides, 22
                Letters from Mississippi, 29
                Birmingham, 1963
                Letter from a Birmingham Jail
                SNCC, The Basis for Black Power, 116
                Fannie Lou Hamer on the roots of her activism
                Walter Cronkite announces the death of Pres. Kennedy

Sept 22: Chapter 7:  1964
                San Francisco Bray, 237
                Love, Janis, 240
                Janis Joplin live
                Nothing Would Ever Be the Same, 242
                Rock and Roll is a Weapon of Cultural Revolution, 243
                Pres. Johnson's speech on civil rights, 1965 (for the Voting Rights Act)
                Hamer and Schwerner, Testimony, 34
                Lodge on Removing Diem, 161
                Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, 162
                SNCC Position Paper, 38
                Hayden and King, Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo, 40
                Free Speech Movement, Rossman, 81 & Savio, 89, & Leaflets, 92-96


Sept 27: Teresi::  The Beatles

Sept 29:
 Chapter 8:  Teach In, Strike Out
                Pres. Johnson, on Why Fight in Vietnam?, 166
                Paul Potter, The Incredible War, 174
                SDS Call for March on Washington, 183
                SNCC Position Paper on Vietnam, 184
                Watts, 108 & 109
                Watts newsreel -- pay attention to the language used to describe the events and the participants
                George Skakel, One Soldier's View, 168


Oct 4: Arambula, The Berrigan Brothers
Fr. Berrigan at Cornell, 191

                For the last fifteen minutes:
                Pres. Johnson, on Why Fight in Vietnam?, 166
                Paul Potter, The Incredible War, 174
                SDS Call for March on Washington, 183
                SNCC Position Paper on Vietnam, 184
                Watts, 108 & 109
                Watts newsreel -- pay attention to the language used to describe the events and the participants
                George Skakel, One Soldier's View, 168

Oct 6:  Lindorff, Art and the 1960s
                Larry Neal, Black Art and Black Liberation, 122

               For the last fifteen minutes: whatever we don't finish from Tuesday's readings


Oct 11: Fall Break--take home The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test to read

Oct 13:  Chapter 9: The Great Freak Forward
                The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
The Drug Culture, 254-264
                Hippies, 268-278 


Oct 18: Hoffman, Women Strike for Peace

bulletElectric Kool-Aid Acid paper due

Oct 20:  Driscoll:  the Birth Control Pill
                The Sexual Revolution, 264-267
No More Miss America, 404
                NOW Bill of Rights, 398


Oct 25: Chapter 10:  A Very Bad Year Begins
                Jimi Hendrix live
                Clip from The Graduate
                COINTELPRO, 317-324
                Detroit 1967, Newsreel
                Black Panthers, 125-130

Oct 27:
Map quiz, then read ahead for Phase Line Green next week


Nov 1:  Chapter 11:  A Bad Year Gets Worse
M. L. King's Declaration, 186
            Draft resistance, 193-209
            Walter Cronkite Remembers

            Dan Rather, embedded in Vietnam
            "The Hell of Vietnam", to "The Eve of Destruction"
            This one will surprise you!

Nov 3:  Bloods 

bulletBloods paper due-exam handed out in class


Nov 8: Folger:  Khe Sahn

Nov 10: No Class--be reading Phase Line Green


MONDAY, NOV. 14:  Guest Speaker, 7:00 p.m.???

Nov 15: Phase Line Green

bulletPhase Line Green paper due

Nov 17: Gillengerten:  1968


Nov 22: Fry:  Woodstock
            Woodstock & Altamont, 508-511
            Coming of Aquarius, 511-516

Nov 24: Thanksgiving Break


Nov 29: Chapter 12:  The Rise of Gender and Identity Politics
            Betty Friedan, 388
            Redstockings Manifesto, 407
            The Politics of Housework, 412
            Women Support Panther Sisters, 415
            Women Destroy Draft Files, 416
            Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female, 43
            Gay Power Comes to Sheridan Square, 499
            Lesbians and the Ultimate Liberation of Women, 506
Dec 1:  Chapter 13:  Identities of Race and Ethnicity
The Mexican-American Woman, 444
            What is Reality?, 452
            Cesar Chavez

            From yesterday: if you have never heard Helen Reddy sing "I Am Woman," click here and listen.


ORAL HISTORY PROJECTS DUE in class. Don't forget your release form.


Dec 6:  Chapters 14 & 15, Taking on the State and The Uncivil Wars

The final exam for this class is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. Friday, 9 December.  Neither the date nor the time of this final may be changed.

            Pagan, Kent State/Jackson State
            Delessio, Anti-War Music

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