AMS f355 • Main Currents in American Culture to 1865
10:00 AM-11:30 AM
"Who is this new man, this American?" Hector St. John de Crevecoeur At the beginning of this course, we find scattered groups of Europeans huddled on the Atlantic shore of North America. Nearly two hundred years later there was still no nation called the United States and certainly no conception of anything called "American." Yet by 1865 this geographical entity would witness one of the most bloody and vicious wars of modern times precisely over this identity and even a reluctant Europe would recognize the national identity of Americans. Although we today think of this emerging identity in political terms, this course will try to demonstrate that politics was only one of many developing institutions and perspectives that formed this identity. Indeed, this course will argue that religion was at least as important as politics. Yet, other factors such as economics, race, gender roles, painting, architecture, literature, occupations, philosophy, law, and social reform played important roles in this development as well. The assigned reading throughout the course points out the interaction of the lives of ordinary--and a few extraordinary--individuals with such ideas and institutions and how they influenced and were influenced by these historical events and patterns.
There will be just two examinations in the course; the midterm will count 40% and the final 60%. The second exam will not be cumulative and will cover only the material after the mid-term exam.
Timothy Breen and Stephen Innes, Myne Owne Grounde John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America Alfred Young, The Shoemaker and the Tea Party Carol Sherriff, The Artificial River Frederick Douglass, A Narrative of the Life of out-of-class film The Shakers: Hands to Work: Hearts to God