Course Schedule

Part I: Individuals in Empires

September 1: Your Life as History

reading:

assignment:

September 8: Biography and Autobiography

reading:

  • Benjamin Franklin and Louis P. Masur. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin : with Related Documents. 2nd ed, The Bedford series in history and culture. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003: Preface & Table of Contents (vii-xiii), Introduction (1-26), Franklin's First Outline (169-171), Chronology, Questions and Bibliography (194-199).
  • Sheila L. Skemp, Benjamin and William Franklin : Father and Son, Patriot and Loyalist. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1994: Preface & Table of Contents (vii-xiii), Introduction and Chapter I (3-27), Chronology, Questions and Bibliography (194-199). [In OnCourse Resources.]
  • David Waldstreicher, Runaway America : Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution. New York: Hill and Wang, 2004: Table of Contents, Preface (ix-xv), Chapter 1 pages 3-7, Chapter 3 (55-83), related notes. [In OnCourse Resources.]

assignment/questions

  • Why, according to each of these historians, is Franklin's biography useful as history?
  • How does biography differ from autobiography?
  • Is biography necessarily history?
  • Find at least one point of agreement and one point of disagreement in these historians' interpretations of Franklin.

Group Work

September 15: Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography

reading:

assignment/questions

  • Exercise: Identifying Topics*
  • Try to use these primary sources (autobiography/on-line Papers) to:
    • resolve a point of disagreement in historians' interpretations of Franklin.
    • follow up on a question his autobiography raises for you.
    • Do the Franklin Papers give different answers to your questions than does the autobiography?
  • Can Franklin's story speak to your interests? Look for points of connection, however obscure.
  • What questions or issues does Franklin's story NOT address?

Group Work

High-Five Nation

September 22: Library Resources - MEET IN WELLS LIBRARY, SEMINAR ROOM E157

reading:

  • Colley, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh, from the front matter through Chapter 3.

assignment/questions

September 29: Eighteenth-Century Empires

reading:

  • Colley, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh, Chapter 4 through end of the book.

assignment/questions

  • Exercise: Reading the Reviews*
  • What "compelled" Colley to write this?
  • What did she want readers to learn? What did you learn?
  • List at least one "take away" point for each chapter.

Group Work

October 6: Rebecca Protten's Atlantic World

reading:

assignment/questions

  • How does Rebecca Protten's world connect with that of Benjamin Franklin?
  • Who were the Moravian Brethren, and where did they fit within 18th century Atlantic religious culture?
  • How did Carribean slavery and the slave trade work?
  • Exercise: Reading the Reviews*

 

Part II: Colony and Nation

October 13: George Robert Twelves Hewes, John Adams and George Washington

reading:

In common:

Pick one for comparison:

  • Joseph Ellis, His Excellency George Washington [Selection in OnCourse Resources]
  • David McCullough, John Adams [Selection in OnCourse Resources]
  • Rhys Isaac, Landon Carter's Uneasy Kingdom, [Selection in OnCourse Resources]

assignment/questions

  • What is Young’s main argument? What changes over time does he describe, and what does he think drives them?
  • How do the arguments in the second work you chose to examine compare? Are they compatible with Young's claims?

Annotated Bibliography Due

Group Work

October 20: Equiano

reading:

  • Caretta, Equiano the African, [Selection in OnCourse Resources]
  • Equiano, An Interesting Narrative, http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/equiano1/menu.html
    • Note that there are two volumes. Pick a chapter or two that either connects with your research, or helps you address the questions below.
  • Exchange between Paul Lovejoy and Vincent Carretta in Slavery & Abolition. [OnCourse Resources]

assignment/questions:

  • We've been exploring a continuum of significance that ranges from "obvious" to needing explanation. Where does Equiano fall? How do Caretta and Lovejoy handle the issue?
  • What do you learn about the origins of antislavery from these sources?
  • What is at stake in the debate over the authenticity of Equiano's Narrative? Whose arguments do you find more persuasive, and why?

Group Work

October 27: Writing Week

October 30: Writing Samples Due on OnCourse

November 3: Writing Samples/Peer Review

reading:

  • J300/J400 Resource Site
  • 2-3 page writing samples by your peers
  • review course readings and research materials, looking for methods of tackling different kinds of writing challenges, and for models to emulate.

assignment/questions

Forums:

Post examples from readings that help address writing, source, method issues.

Group work

November 10: Martha Ballard

reading:

  • Ulrich, A Midwife's Tale, Introduction, pages 102-203, Epilogue.
  • www.dohistory.org - browse

assignment/questions

  • What image from the book are you most likely to remember? Why?
  • In which medium (book, film, web) did you first encounter this history? Do you think you would remember the story differently if you had looked at it first in a different medium?
  • What is the relationship between the structure of the main primary source used in this book, and the book itself?
  • Give an example of how Ulrich deals with uncertainty - with questions her sources cannot answer.
  • What kind of history is this?
  • What stories about change over time does it tell?
  • Who regulates sexuality in Martha Ballard's community? What are the rules?

Group Work:

 

November 17: Writing Week - No Class

December 1: History and Film / Drafts Due

A draft of at least 8 pages and a self-evaluation form should be posted to OnCourse AND turned in to me. This should be a substantial and editted piece of writing, not a rough collection of notes. The introductory paragraph should include a well-articulated thesis statement. The thesis statement and the topic sentences of successive paragraphs should be in bold-face. Note paragraphs and sections which you think need additional work in the text, and on the self-evaluation form. All borrowed ideas and evidence should be footnoted. Please see the section on the Chicago Style Guide on the J300/J400 resource page for guidance on formatting your citations.

reading:

assignment/questions

If you plan to write a response paper this week, please view either the film A Midwife's Tale (on reserve in the Kent Cooper Room in the basement of Wells Library) or 2 episodes of HBO's series on John Adams. Your response should either:

1) Pick a scene or element of the film and discuss the relationship between film, the history books on which they are based and the underlying evidence on which historians and filmmakers rely. Are the problems of evidence the same for each? How do writers and filmmakers deal with uncertainty?

2) Use your viewing of a film to respond to the Lepore or Peterson's critique. You can do this directly if you watch John Adams, or you can think reflect upon whether or not the same concerns apply to A Midwife's Tale.

December 8: Founding Brothers / Life as history, redux

reading:

assignment/questions

  • What, for Ellis and Lepore, are the aims of historical inquiry and writing? Where do they disagree, and where do they agree?
  • Why does history matter to you? Why did you become a history major? Which of the historians we've read in this course most closely connect with those concerns? If you are more struck by disconnections than connections, explain this using examples of historical work that is more closely alligned with your own passions.
  • What are Ellis and Lepore's views on the place of imagination in historical writing?
  • What does Lepore say about the ways in which "the Founders" are invoked in contemporary thought? How migh Ellis respond?
  • Give an example of how Ellis deals with uncertainty - with questions his sources cannot answer. How does he compare with Ulrich in this regard?
  • What kind of history is Founding Brothers?
  • What stories about change over time does it tell?
  • Compare the episode of the HBO series on John Adams with Ellis' rendering of the same material. Does the film make imaginative leaps that the text does not? Do you agree with Mark Peterson and Jill Lepore's criticisms of the film? Do their objections also apply to Ellis's text?

Group Discussion

Final Papers Due Tuesday December 15 at Noon in Hard Copy and via OnCourse