HIS 365G • History of the U.S. West
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
What is the West? Americans from all parts of the country have a different definition of what defines the region. Even those who consider themselves westerners probably wouldnt agree on what the West is, needless to say where it is. Americans have even more contentious debates over what constitutes western history. To some, the West created the ideal Independent Americanbe he a mountain man, farmer, cowboy, or outlawwho prospered without interference from the pesky federal government. To others, Western history is best defined by the very domination of the federal government. If most Americans cant seem to agree on what or where the West is today, it wasnt so different in the past. Debates over the nature and character of the American West have played a large role in shaping the history of the region.
This course is a survey of the history and culture of the region Americans label the West. The course will move chronologically from the first North American West of European and Indian contact across all of North America, through the fur trappers, explorers, and pioneers of the nineteenth century, beyond the supposed closing of the Frontier in 1890, and into the twentieth-century West of cities, suburbs, and countryside that many Americans occupy today. Along the way, we will stop and check in with some of the major topics of Western history: social history of the West; the growth of an extractive capitalist economy; the role of the federal government; and the urban versus rural West. This can be a daunting task. In order to make sense of it all, we will focus on the ways that both westerners and easterners understood the region and the role those perceptions played in its history. What was and what is the West? Where (and when) does it begin and end? What, if anything, makes it distinct from the East? Only by understanding the West as a place, can we begin to understand what happened there.
Mid-Term 20% 12-15 page Paper 50% Final Exam 30%
Deutsch, Sarah (1987). NO SEPARATE REFUGE: CULTURE, CLASS, AND GENDER ON AN ANGLO-HISPANIC FRONTIER IN THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST, 1880-1940. Goetzmann, William (1963). EXPLORATION AND EMPIRE: THE EXPLORER AND THE SCIENTIST IN THE WINNING OF THE AMERICAN WEST. Gutierrez, Ramon (1991). WHEN JESUS CAME, THE CORN MOTHERS WENT AWAY: MARRIAGE, SEXUALITY, AND POWER IN NEW MEXICO, 1500-1846. Langston, Nancy (2002). WHERE LAND AND WATER MEET: A WESTERN LANDSCAPE TRANSFORMED. Peck, Gunther. (2000). REINVENTING FREE LABOR: PADRONES AND IMMIGRANT LABORERS IN THE NORTH AMERICAN WEST. Robbins, William (1994). COLONY AND EMPIRE: THE CAPITALIST TRANSFORMATION IN THE AMERICAN WEST. Ronda, James (2002). JEFFERSONS WEST: A JOURNEY WITH LEWIS AND CLARK. Course packet (all primary source documents located in course packet unless otherwise stated)