Hist 150c6, Spring 2015


Introduction to Political History
Hist. 150c6, Section 1
Offered by the Department of History, University of Arizona

Spring semester, 2015
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30-10:45am
Location: Biological Sciences, East Rm. 100

David N. Gibbs, Professor of History 
Office: Social Sciences 227
Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday, 8:30-10:00am
Tel: 621-5416

URL for Syllabus:

Graduate Teaching Assistants:
1. Secil Uluisik, suluisik@email.arizona.edu
Office Hours: Tuesday, 11-12:30, Social Sciences 124

2. Joseph Bickley, jbickley00@email.arizona.edu
Office Hours: Monday, 10:00-12:00, Starbucks near the Main Library

** Class Announcements **
Students should check the above site regularly.


    This class will focus on persuasion and propaganda, and their role in political history. The course will have four components: First, it will examine the role of propaganda in totalitarian regimes, such as Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Second, we will examine more "modern" forms of propaganda, as it appears in political advertising, speeches, and newspapers in the United States and other western democracies. Third, we will study the use of logical political arguments, and how these differ from propagandistic arguments. Fourth, this course aims to improve basic skills, especially the incorporation of logical thought and analysis into the writing of student papers.

    The overall purpose of this course is to provide training on how to recognize political propaganda, and how to distinguish propaganda from reasoned, logical political arguments.    


This class contains offensive material. If this is a problem for you, then you should select a different class.


Students with Disabilities

    I will be happy to arrange the exams in any reasonable way that is consistent with the student's needs, in cooperation with the UA Disability Resource Center. It is the student's responsibility to find out what the Center requires, to fill out the forms, and to undertake the necessary "foot work" for special arrangements. The student is responsible to make sure that all deadlines are met.



    There will be three midterm exams and an optional final. If you opt not to take the final, then each of the three midterms will be worth one third of your final grade. The grades are apportioned as follows:

Midterm 1 (in-class)        20 percent;
Midterm 2 (take-home)   20 percent; 
Midterm 3 (in-class)        20 percent;
Final  (take-home)           40 percent.

If you take the optional final, you must accept whatever grade you get, whether it raises or lowers your overall course grade.         

    Students must take the exams on the scheduled dates. Please look at the syllabus and make sure that the exam dates are open for you. If you have an engagement scheduled for one of the required dates -- if you have a wedding or a sports event, for example -- then you should take another class. The following circumstances constitute legitimate reasons to miss an exam: illness, death in family, religious holiday, or mandatory military service. Students who present such reasons must be prepared to present documentation, such as a note from a doctor, clergy, or commanding officer.

    On the take-home exams, the clarity and conciseness of the writing style will count toward your grade.The History Department has a part-time writing assistant, who can read your draft papers and help you to improve your style. For this semester, the writing assistant is Katherine Gallien (kgallien@email.arizona.edu). I strongly recommend that you contact Ms. Gallien for help your papers.  

    When turning in the take-home exams, students should attach copies of the first page of all research materials that were used in preparing the papers. Students should also keep copies of papers on their computers. The reason for these requirements is to dissuade plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. If I have any doubts about a student paper, I may ask the student to produce a computer disk and research materials. For further information on the issue of plagiarism, see the UA Code of Academic Integrity and the UA History Department's Policy on Academic Dishonesty.



The following readings are required and may be purchased at the University Book Store:

Howard Kahane and Nancy Cavender, Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life, Twelfth edition (New York: Wadsworth Publishing, 2014).

George Orwell, 1984 (New York: Signet, 1950).

Several articles listed below are available through electronic databases, as indicated below. Other materials are available through D2L

 I may make small changes in the reading list -- with advance notice -- during the course of the semester.


January 15

No assigned readings.


Week of January 19
Logical Reasoning: What is an Argument?

Kahane and Cavender, Logic, chaps. 1, 2.


Week of January 26
Logical Fallacies I

Kahane and Cavender, Logic, chap. 3. 


Week of February 2
Logical Fallacies II

Kahane and Cavender, Logic, chap. 4.


Week of February 9
Logical Fallacies III

Kahane and Cavender, Logic, chap. 5.


Week of February 16
Review of Fallacies

No readings.

First (in class) midterm exam: February 19.


Week of February 23
Analyzing Arguments

Kahane and Cavender, Logic, chap. 8.


Week of March 2
Writing Essays

Kahane and Cavender, Logic, chap. 9.

Economist Style Guide (online). This is the standard writing guide used by journalists at the Economist magazine of London. For full text, click here


Kahane and Cavender, Logic, Appendix ("More on Cogent Reasoning").


Week of March 9
What is Propaganda?

"How to Detect Propaganda," Propaganda Analysis, November 1937. Available through D2L.

"Some ABCs of Propaganda Analysis," Propaganda Analysis, December 1937. Available through D2L.


Kahane and Cavender, Logic, chap. 7.


Week of March 16, Spring Break, no class.


Week of March 23
Propaganda in Totalitarian States I

Orwell, 1984. Read the whole book.


Week of March 30
Propaganda in Totalitarian States II

George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," in George Orwell: A Collection of Essays (Garden City, NY: Doubleday-Anchor, 1954). For full text, click here.

Second (take-home) midterm exam: Handed out in class March 31; due April 9 (to be handed in at end of class).


Week of April 6
Propaganda in U.S. Politics

Kahane and Cavender, Logic, chap. 11.

"How to Analyze Newspapers," Propaganda Analysis, January 1938. Available through D2L.


Week of April 13
Propaganda in the Cold War

Daniel Golden, "After Sept. 11, the CIA Became a Force on Campus," Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2002. For full text, click here.

Elizabeth Nickson, "Mind Control: My Mother, the CIA, and LSD," London Observer, October 16, 1994. For full text, click here


Week of April 20
Case Study: War in Afghanistan

A. Petrov, "A Soviet Perspective on the Invasion of Afghanistan," in Current Digest of the Soviet Press, January 1980 (translated article originally in Pravda). Available through D2L.

Ronald Reagan, "Proclamation 5034 -- Afghanistan Day," March 21, 1983. For full text, click here.

Arnaud de Borchgrave, "Osama's New Strategy," Washington Times, December 29, 2004. For full text, click here.


David N. Gibbs, "Forgotten Coverage Afghan 'Freedom Fighters: The Villains of Today's News were Heroes in the 80s," Extra, January/February 2002. For full text, click here


Week of April 27

Third (in-class) midterm: April 30.

May 5
Last Day of Class.

No assigned readings. 

Optional (take-home) final exam: Handed out: May 5, last day of class; due on May 12, 5:00pm. Please place the papers in my mailbox, Social Sciences 217. 



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