Fall 2012 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This is a survey course in early American history from the colonial era to Reconstruction. A central assumption of this course is that the creation of the United States was an unanticipated consequence of a broader North American history shaped by European colonization, the development of colonial cultures and political institutions, the rise of African slavery, and the expansion of a global economy. Colonial society in North America was comprised of diverse regions, ethnically and racially mixed populations, and significant variations in legal and political status. The United States emerged from this colonial world but its departure was not automatic or total. Indeed much of the United States early history through the Civil War consisted of efforts to reconcile a colonial past with a new constellation of political ideals, social realities, and cultural tensions unleashed in the American Revolution.
We will attempt to understand this history by canvassing the interplay of ideas, politics, social developments, and culture from the fifteenth century through the nineteenth century. Course readings include a few books by historians and an even larger amount of primary sources texts, images, and artifacts produced in the past that historians use as evidence in their writing. This course is thus not only an introduction to main themes in American history, but also an introduction to history as an interpretive discipline.
1. Colin G. Caloway, ed., The World Turned Upside Down: Indian Voices from Early America, Bedford/St. Martin’s, first edition (paperback)
2. The Infortunate: The Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, An Indentured Servant, eds. Susan E. Klepp and Billy G. Smith Pennsylvania State University Press,
second edition (paperback)
3. Mary Beth Norton, et al. A People and a Nation: A History of the United States, Vol. I to 1877 (Brief Ninth Edition)
4. Thomas Paine, Common Sense (Penguin Classics edition)
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Regular attendance and three exams throughout the semester.