HIS 350L • Coastal Comms in Early Am - W
Most of America's earliest settlements were coastal communities. Indeed, in human terms, bodies of water: oceans, lakes, rivers, bays, sounds, tidal pools, ponds, and streams helped define both the extent and limits of local, regional, and ultimately global history and culture. Water simultaneously connected and separated through the movements of highly mobile populations which communicated through exploration, war, commerce, migration, and travel along routes sometimes millennia old during a time when travel by boat was far simpler than overland travel. Hence, American history can be understood within the broad, transoceanic web of human geography called Atlantic history and culture. The purpose of this course is to explore the social and cultural history of American coastal communities from an interactive perspective. Ultimately, then, we are concerned with water and water-mediated culture as fundamental modes of contact and communication in the pre-industrial world.
Partially fulfills legislative requirement for American history.
This course meets substantial writing requirements. Students will read about a book a week from a multidisciplinary list. Two films will be shown. Attendance is mandatory. Students must contribute regularly to class discussion and turn in brief (2 page maximum) weekly writing assignments analyzing the reading for that week. These readings should not be considered standard book reviews; rather, they take the form of focused essays about problems, issues, and questions that the student wants to ask in the seminar. So they are intended to help facilitate discussion. A 5-page final essay will propose an article to be included in a (fictitious) collection of essays about the major themes to emerge from this course.