Paper Assignment

Consensus America: U.S. History, 1945-1960

History 390



This assignment, in the final analysis, is an opinion paper. You will certainly be required to do your own analysis and come to your own conclusions regarding the material. You should also be mindful, however, that any of your opinions should be well grounded in historical detail and evidence to make your case.



Paper Topic: Your assignment is to assess the credibility of anti-Communist measures utilized in the Second Red Scare (AKA "McCarthy Era"). Were those methods justified? Did anti-Communist crusaders perform an important and valuable public service for their country, or- as their critics claimed- a destructive anti-constitutional campaign that, in the end, ironically damaged the viability of the country they claimed to defend?

Consider the personal dilemma faced by Elia Kazan (and those faced with a similar dilemma). How can you see that dilemma-- and the choices Kazan ultimately makes when faced with that dilemma-- reflected in his landmark film On the Waterfront? Do you find the argument he makes (in that film and in interviews reflected in Kenneth Hey's article) persuasive? Why or why not?

Your Sources for This Paper: You should use the Kenneth Hey article on reserve, your Schrecker readings, and the film On the Waterfront as your major sources. In addition to that, you should use any material from class time (lectures or documentary films shown in class time). To address the issue of the personal dilemma faced by HUAC witnesses and others having to make such difficult personal choices during the Second Red Scare, you may find it helpful not only to consult the Hey article and On the Waterfront, but also Documents 3,4, and 14 in the Schrecker book in particular.

Nuts and Bolts: This paper should be 4 to 6 pages long (double-spaced typewritten surrounded by a 1 inch margin and Times New Roman 12 point font size), and conform to other general format rules for a college paper. Should you use sources outside of the common class sources listed in the paragraph above (not necessary to perform well on this assignment), you should be sure to fully note those sources using The Chicago Manual of Style. When using the common sources indicated above (i.e., regularly assigned readings and lectures already designated in the syllabus for this class), you may more informally note using parenthetical citations within the text of the paper itself in the following ways: for the common readings you would list the author/editor followed by a comma and a page number "(Hey, 252)" or "(Schrecker, 252)." If you are citing either "On the Waterfront" or a documentary film shown in class, simply parenthetically note the film's name: e.g., "(On the Waterfront)." Lastly, should you be citing ideas from lecture, list my name followed by a comma and the date: e.g., "(Schutz, 5/15)." All ideas which are not originally your own, of course, must be cited using whatever the appropriate format, or risk the serious charge of plagiarism and be subject to failing this class.

What Not to Do for Your Paper: Do not simply recount the plot of this film in your paper. I will presume you have seen the film (as I have) and done the readings as a simple necessary first step to composing your paper. Your job will be analysis-- which will include your own thoughts. Hence, you should cite scenes and dialogue from the film briefly and text from the readings essentially only as examples to support your analysis-- not as the fundamental skeleton of your paper.