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20th Century History, Politics, and Worldview – Cold War to Present


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This course explores the politics, histories, philosophies, and worldviews of the 20th century, from the beginning of the Cold War to 9/11. A direct precursor to our own age, the events of this century created the world that we live in today. From the Yalta Conference and Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech to the horrors of the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent wars, lectures and readings will give students a highly detailed overview of this period. 

Major themes we will discuss include postmodernism as the root of many 21st century ideas; the global politics of the Cold War; power and imperialism; and the value or lack thereof in social changes. There will be weekly mini assignments which help the teacher to gauge the student’s understanding of the material and help students work towards their end of term paper with ample feedback. There are two open-book, open-note tests, for which the teacher will provide study guides. At the end of the term, there will be a single six page, primary source based research paper over a topic of the student’s choosing. The class will begin working on their papers in the early weeks of the semester with the teacher’s assistance to ensure a smooth research and writing process that engages the student with the historical method. These assignments and the grading process mimic entry level college history courses.

Class times will consist of a lecture and lively discussion over the reading material and various intellectual ideas we encounter. This is a reading heavy course, but students will be introduced to some of the most important literature and historical documents of this period, documents which have greatly impacted the present. Readings range from 15 pages to a book per week, but we have sought to even out the reading load by breaking up larger reading assignments with smaller documents. This class is intended for grades 10th-12th, but younger students may contact the teacher to discuss a lighter course load.

SPECIAL NOTE: Some of these works deal with mature themes; therefore, this class is best suited to those that can handle mature topics, situations, and themes. The teacher will send a brief description of the content to the parents at the beginning of the semester.

Please view prerequisites and required supplies below.

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The Day Lasts More than 100 Years by Chingiz Aitmatov; ISBN: 0253204828

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller ISBN: 979-8374570199

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John le Carre ISBN: 0143124757

Aitmatov’s book is available via Amazon, while Miller’s work is available on YouTube or from your local library.

Selections provided by teacher:

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

The Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon and John Paul Sarte

Selections from Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X

Mao’s Little Red Book

Selections from Ghandi

Second Hand Time by Svetlana Alexivich

Roe v. Wade Court Decision

Twenty Letters from a Friend, by Svetlana Stalina

The Tenth of December by George Saunders

Claire Pattonenjoys teaching history and various electives for middle school and high-school students. Her classes combine detailed lectures about the history, art, literature, religion, and politics with dynamic in-class discussions about important sources from the era. Claire is passionate about showing students why the past matters to the present and how the past affects them today. She realizes that when students leave her classroom, they may not remember every detail about the Balfour declaration, but she seeks to teach every student how to find information, read and understand primary sources, interrogate data, and communicate well. Mrs. Patton values an active learning environment. Rather than just reading from a textbook, Mrs. Patton teaches students how to understand the material they read, synthesize material from multiple sources, and summarize those items effectively.  Rather than question such as “What color were the curtains in Chapter 5?” Mrs. Patton loves asking questions that help students work through the broader themes of the text and show how people of the past viewed their world and the situations they lived through.

Claire holds a Master of Public History and a Bachelors of History from Oklahoma State University. During her masters, she worked as a teaching assistant and she has independently taught a research writing intensive seminar for upper high-school students. Claire’s scholarly work focuses on women in the west from 1875 to 1945. Past projects include cleanliness and clothing in the Dust Bowl, the women’s Navy auxiliary service in World War 2, and clothing on the American frontier. She has extensive experience working in museums, setting up exhibits, and interacting with the public. During the summer of 2022 she worked at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum as an intern in the curatorial and education departments. Claire has published in Forma Journal (Summer 2021) and currently has a scholarly article out for review at the Western Historical Quarterly. She has presented at numerous academic conferences, including the American Historical Association.

Claire also enjoys teaching sewing to friends both young and old. She began sewing when she was nine and hasn’t let off the foot pedal yet! Claire loves to design her own clothes and bring her creations to life. She took this love into her scholarly work and as a part of her master’s thesis, Claire conducted extensive research and then recreated an original 1875-1885 dress held in the National Cowboy and Western History Museum.

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