History | American History I
H105 | 8140 | Marsh

Above class open to undergraduates only
Need study skills help?  Then contact the Student Academic Center
(855-7313) for on-line authorization for EDUC-X101 (Learning
Strategies for History, two additional credits) that will be offered
2:30-3:45 MW or 2:30-3:45 TR.

How did Americans in previous generations create consensus with one
another on contentious issues? What were the results when such
issues could not be resolved? What are the benefits and costs of
being a society that is diverse racially, politically, ethnically,
socially, and culturally? Can we use that diversity to our
advantage, or is it a disadvantage that makes unity impossible?
While we will not arrive at definitive answers to all of these
questions, this class will provide us with an understanding of
American history and the conflicts Americans have faced while
attempting to resolve those questions. To do this, we will explore
the experiences of various groups as they attempt to define both
their place in American society and what it meant to be an American
at different times throughout history. We will look at the
experiences of “everyday” people in addition to the elite to gain a
better, more nuanced, understanding of the coalitions they formed
and how these relations changed over time in response to key issues
in American history. We will explore how changes in the environment,
population, and the economy have influenced the choices individuals
and groups have made over the course of American history.

We will look at how the definitions and the different understandings
of the terms “America” and “American” have evolved from the
settlement of North America to the end of Reconstruction. We hope,
in the end, to have a sense of how people have defined themselves as
Americans in the history of the United States and the impact their
definitions have had on their lives and the lives of those around
them; how each generation of Americans has rekindled the debate over
what it means to be “American”; and how the experiences of those
living in America hinges on their ethnicity, gender, class, and
race. We will also explore how diverse groups have overcome barriers—
economic, political, racial, social, and legal— to take their place
in American society.


Ø To improve your critical and evaluative skills in the handling of
a variety of primary and secondary sources.
Ø To enhance your independence of judgment in dealing with
conflicting interpretations of major historical issues.
Ø To improve your ability to express yourself in writing in a clear,
logical, and persuasive manner.
Ø To give you an understanding of significant events, themes, and
debates in American history.


Students will be assessed on short essays (approximately 1 page
each) based on the readings, quizzes, a longer essay, and 2 exams.