15 August 2007

Welcome to History 117: America to 1848

Here's my first stab at teaching a survey class. I'm not using a textbook, although I've made one available as a security blanket for students who want one. I've formatted it so that I lecture at least twice a week, there are seven classes dedicated exclusively to discussion, and in my own planning I've built in some flexible time for discussion of relevant primary sources. Wish me luck!

HIST 117 America to 1848
E Pluribus Unum? In Uno Plures?

E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) is the motto of the United States, but in some ways In Uno Plures (many in one) is a subtly different yet perhaps more accurate rendering of American history and of the American people. Students will consider the appropriateness of each phrase while learning how historians think about important questions and major themes in American history. This course examines the America’s colonial beginnings, the founding of the nation we now call the United States, and the early years of the Republic, as the United States sought to expand and cover the entire continent. The course will conclude at the end of the war between the United States and Mexico, and consider what it meant to be an American in 1848.


1st Short Paper…………………..10%
2nd Short Paper………………….10%
3rd Short Paper…………………..20%
Occasional quizzes……………...20%
Final Exam……………………..25%

The first short paper will deal with the first two primary sources we read for the class (Cabeza de Vaca and William Bradford). The second paper will be a book review of either The Unredeemed Captive or Pox Americana. The third paper will involve your analysis of a portion of the online documents collection America’s Historical Newspapers. You will receive more detailed assignments for each paper later.

You’ll see in the syllabus that seven times in the semester we have a class period especially dedicated to “discussion.” In these sessions, you will be asked to participate in an in-depth analysis of our readings. Please come prepared: this means you must not only finish the reading but also spend some time thinking about it. Come to class ready to ask questions and make arguments!

The occasional quizzes will be unscheduled. They will cover your reading. Thus it is a good idea to make sure you stay on top of each week’s readings, even if we don’t have a discussion scheduled for that week.

Required Readings:
∑ Alvar Nuñez Cabeva de Vaca, Castaways (California, 1993)
∑ William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation (McGraw-Hill, 1981)
∑ John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive (Vintage, 1995)
∑ Elizabeth Fenn, Pox Americana (Hill and Wang, 2001)
∑ Adam Rothman, Slave Country (Harvard, 2005)
∑ Elliott West, The Contested Plains (Kansas, 1998)

A copy of each of these books is available on reserve, or you may purchase them in our bookstore (or online if you prefer—be sure you get the right editions). I will also be handing out various primary sources in class. Make sure you keep these—I suspect some might turn up on exams. J You’ve probably noticed that I don’t use a textbook. I generally think textbooks are a huge waste of students’ money, so I don’t assign them. However, I have put a standard American history textbook on reserve at the library. If you feel like you need a refresher course on names, dates, places, facts, and figures, feel free to check it out. Nothing from the textbook will be discussed in class or on exams.


You will note that there is no percentage for participation. This does not mean, however, that your presence in class and active involvement in our discussions is not expected. Many aspects of your work rely on collaboration with your classmates, and so unexcused absences harm everyone in the class, not just yourself. I take attendance at each class; after three unexcused absences your final grade, based on the percentages listed above, will fall by one letter grade. Your grade will fall by another letter grade for each unexcused absence after the third. That means even the perfect A student will fail the course after six absences. So, the moral of the story is…come to class!

If you are sick, or if you have a personal emergency that requires your absence from class, provide the appropriate documentation and I will excuse you. You may come to office hours or make an appointment with me to discuss material you missed.

I will NOT accept late papers. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date (unless otherwise noted)…not halfway through the class, not at the end of class, not slipped under my office door sometime after the start of class. Only illness and personal emergency are suitable excuses for turning in a paper late with no penalty. Papers turned in late without verification of illness or personal emergency will receive a grade of ZERO.

If you are traveling on the day a paper is due for an athletic event or other college event, you must make arrangements with me to turn in your paper before you leave. I do not accept emailed papers (as we all know, attachments sometimes get lost—there is no substitute for a hard copy!).

All assignments in this course are covered by the honor code. You may NOT work together on writing assignments or on the final paper.

Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations must speak with me during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. Students with disabilities should also contact Disabled Student Services in the Ley Student Center.

Week 1: Reading, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, Castaways, xv-xxx, 1-45
Monday August 27: Introduction
Wednesday August 29: Native North America
Friday August 31: The Columbian Exchange

Week 2: Reading, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, Castaways, 47-127.
Monday September 3: Labor Day (No Class)
Wednesday September 5: Settling North America
Friday September 7: Discussion: Castaways

Week 3: Reading, William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, chapters 9-15, 27-32.
Monday September 10: English North America
Wednesday September 12: Tobacco and Furs
Friday September 14: Discussion: Of Plymouth Plantation

Week 4: Reading, John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive, 1-166.
Monday September 17: From Servitude to Slavery, part I
First short essay due by the beginning of class, Monday 17 September
Wednesday September 19: From Servitude to Slavery, part II
Friday September 21: Essay discussion

Week 5: Reading, John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive, 167-252.
Monday September 24: Imperial Clashes
Wednesday September 26: The Seven Years’ War (1754-1763)
Friday September 28: Discussion: The Unredeemed Captive

Week 6: Reading, Fenn, Pox Americana, ix-166.
Monday October 1: Frustrated Empire
Wednesday October 3: Independence and War
Friday October 5: What Independence Meant

Week 7: Reading, Fenn, Pox Americana, 167-277.
Monday October 8: Republic
Wednesday October 10: Discussion: Pox Americana
Friday October 12: MIDTERM EXAM (Dr. Goetz in Nova Scotia)

Week 8: Reading, Rothman, Slave Country, ix-70.
Monday, October 15: Midterm Recess (no class)
Wednesday October 17: Of Factions
Friday October 19: Another Revolution? The United States in 1800

Week 9: Reading, Rothman, Slave Country, 71-163.
Monday October 22: Jefferson’s America
Wednesday October 24: The War of 1812
Friday October 26: The Cotton Frontier and the Old South

Week 10: Reading, Rothman, Slave Country, 164-224.
Monday October 28: Discussion: Slave Country
Wednesday October 30: No Class (Dr. Goetz in Richmond, VA)
Friday November 1: No Class (Dr. Goetz in Richmond, VA)
Second Short Essay due to the History Office by 4pm, Friday, November 1

Week 11: Reading, Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, pages TBA.
Monday November 4: Jackson’s America
Wedneday November 6: From Awakening to Reform
Friday November 8: Discussion: Democracy in America

Week 12: Reading, West. The Contested Plains, xv-xxiv, 1-62.
Monday November 11: Jackson and Removal
Wednesday November 13: Urban America
Friday November 15: Immigrant America

Week 13: Reading, West, The Contested Plains, 63-170.
Monday November 18: Industrializing America
Wednesday November 20: Slavery and Freedom
Friday November 22: No Class (Thanksgiving)

Week 14: Reading, West, The Contested Plains, 171-271.
Monday November 26: A Texas Revolution, and Statehood
Wednesday November 28: War with Mexico
Friday November 30: The Great Plains, Gold, and Indians

Week 15: Reading, West, The Contested Plains, finish.
Monday December 3: Discussion, The Contested Plains
Wednesday December 5: America in 1848: E Pluribus Unum? In Uno Plures?
Friday December 7: Conclusions, and final exam information.
Third Short Essay due at the beginning of class, Friday, December 7

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At Friday, August 31, 2007 11:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Prof. Goetz,

I think King Phillip's War
may be one of the most im-
portant events in American
history, even iconic. What
do you think?

At Friday, August 31, 2007 1:11:00 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

I agree that KPW is important. It had enormous ramifications for the end of native power in New England. I'm not sure what you mean by iconic.

KPW is one of many Euro-Indian wars that happened around the same time: there was Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. So I think the larger question is, at what point did the tensions between Indians and colonizers become so severe that open, catastrophic warfare was the best option for both sides?


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