— M.A. in Latin Literature, University of Texas at Austin
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
HIS 315K • The United States, 1492-1865
MWF 100pm-200pm MEZ B0.306
This course examines the history of early America, from the first contact between Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans to the end of the Civil War. While the guiding framework of the class will be a chronological narrative, the course will focus mainly on social and cultural developments, rather than on political, military, or diplomatic history (though those will be covered whenever appropriate). In doing so, this course explores such topics as economics/labor/capitalism, religion, the formation and growth of cultural movements, how the interaction of disparate groups created a multiplicity of ideas about different peoples, and the impact of chattel slavery on many elements of life throughout the United States. It also places the British colonies and the US in the larger context of the Atlantic world.
There will be three overarching questions that will structure the lectures and readings for this course: 1) How did people from many different places, backgrounds, and cultures come together to form a single nation? 2) How was it determined who counted as "citizens" or "Americans" at different moments in time? 3) What was life like for those groups who did not count (such as the enslaved, women, natives, and immigrants)?
To begin to answer these questions, we will look at the differences and similarities among the British, African, and Native peoples who populated the colonial and eventually national landscape of the United States. Shifting ideas about identity and inclusion were formative to the nation's politics, changing beliefs about slavery, and allegiances to specific localities. This cultural and multi-dimensional approach will allow us to track how the United States was created out of difference and how it went from a new, apparently unified victor after the revolution to full-fledged civil war in less than a century's time.
The focus in this course is on reading, interpreting, and criticizing texts that exemplify certain moments in American history - not on the memorization of factual information. It is intended to introduce students to historical thinking, including the tools needed to analyze documents from the past. To do so, the course readings will balance original historical documents (primary source documents) and scholarship by historians. There is no textbook for this class.
Course Structure and Grading:
This course will consist of two weekly lectures (Mondays and Wednesdays).
Fridays will alternate between reading discussion and quiz, and small group discussion and response to an assigned primary source reading.
Exam #1: 25%
Exam #2: 25%
Final Exam: 35%
Primary Source group responses: 5% (you must complete 5 during the semester, each counting at 1% of your grade)
Reading quizzes: 5% (you must complete 5 during the semester, each counting at 1% of your grade)
Reading quizzes: For the weeks of reading discussion, Fridays will consist of a 30-minute class discussion about the assigned readings. The remaining 20 minutes of class will be a quiz that combines the theme of that week's lecture with the assigned reading. The quiz is pass/fail. Every student will need to take 5 of the reading quizzes during the semester, each one counting as 1% of your overall grade. Any additional quizzes taken and passed will add 1% to your final exam grade.
Primary source responses: For the weeks of primary source responses, students will be divided into groups of 3 or 4 as assigned by the instructor (these will change throughout the semester). The students will discuss the primary source document that was assigned and, as a group, will answer a short response quiz about the document (there will be a single quiz handed in for the group). Groups will have 30 minutes to discuss and write their answers to the quiz. The quiz is pass/fail. The remaining 20 minutes of class will be a class discussion of the document in the context of that week's lectures and other readings. Every student will need to take 5 of the primary source response quizzes during the semester, each one counting as 1% of your overall grade. Any additional responses taken and passed will add 1% to your final exam grade.
Attendance: It is your responsibility to check in with the TA before class begins on Mondays and Wednesdays. You may NOT email the TA later to get attendance added for that day. Once class is over, you must see the instructor about any attendance issues. On Fridays, your completed quiz will count as your record of attendance.
Exams: The first two exams of the semester will be in-class while your final will be take-home.
The first two exams will consist of an essay and a primary source response. A list of possible essay prompts will be given out a week in advance and one will be chosen on the day of the exam. The primary source response will be on a primary source document specifically assigned for the exam. It will mirror the types of responses done in class on Fridays. The essay will count for 80% of the exam grade, the response for 20%.
The final exam will consist of a single essay. The prompt and instructions will be given out a week before the final exam and students will have that week to prepare and write their essay.
None of the essay questions will have a "right" answer; instead you will be evaluated on the clarity and strength of your arguments, and on the way that you use factual evidence from lectures, readings, and primary sources to support your interpretations.
All readings will be part of a course packet that will be available at _________________. They will also be online via Blackboard or Electronic Reserves. There will be no other texts or a textbook assigned for this class. If you would feel more comfortable having a textbook to reference, try Created Equal: Vol 1 (Jones, Wood, May, Borstelmann, and Ruiz).
On average, 80 - 100 pages of secondary source readings will be assigned each week. A much smaller selection of primary source pages will also be assigned.
Possible reading sources (selections are not limited to these texts):
Secondary source readings:
• William Freehling, The South v. The South: How Anti-Confederate Southerners Shaped the Course of the Civil War
• Gordon Wood, The American Revolution: A History
• Trevor Burnard, Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World
• James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
• Vincent Brown, The Reaper's Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery
• James Sidbury, Becoming African in America: Race and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic
• Canizares-Esquerra and Seeman, eds., The Atlantic in Global History: 1500 - 2000
• Richard Godbeer, Sexual Revolution in Early America
• April Hatfield, Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the Seventeenth Century
• Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect & Ideology in Revolutionary America
• Daniel Richter, Facing East from Indian Country
Primary source readings:
• Michael P. Johnson, ed., Reading the American Past, Vol. 1
• Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography and Other Writings
• Henry Louis Gates Jr. ed., The Classic Slave Narratives, 2nd ed.
• Collin Calloway, ed., The World Turned Upside Down: Indian Voices from Early America
• Kenneth S. Greenberg, ed., The Confessions of Nat Turner and Related Documents
• Shi and Mayer, eds., For the Record: A Documentary History of America, 4th ed.
• Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of a