HI324 Professor Sarah K. Nytroe
The American West (3 credits) Office: Dooling 253
Spring 2012 Office Extension: x1303
Classroom: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Class Time: T/Th, 11-12:30PM Office Hours: MW, 1-3PM; T/TH 9-11AM;
or by appointment
“Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way” by
Patricia Nelson Limerick, Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West (W.W. Norton & Co., 1987) (ISBN# 0393304973)
James Sandos, Converting California: Indians and Franciscans in the Missions (Yale University Press, 2008) (ISBN# 0300136439)
Susan Lee Johnson, Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (W.W. Norton & Co., 2001) (ISBN# 0393320995)
Joy S. Kasson, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West: Celebrity, Memory, and Popular History (Hill and Wang, 2001) (ISBN# 080932449)
Jeffrey Ostler, The Lakotas and the Black Hills (Penguin, 2011) (ISBN# 0143119206)
Primary Sources accessible via:
· PBS’ “New Perspectives on the West: Archives of the West.” Available: http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/
· National Archives and Records Administration’s “100 Milestone Documents.” Available: http://www.ourdocuments.gov/content.php?page=milestone
· Additional assigned primary sources
This course will analyze the experience of ordinary people who took part in, or were affected by, the westward migration into the American frontier. Our examination of migration and frontier life will begin in the seventeenth century and will end with an examination of the meaning and myth of the “frontier” in American history and culture (as listed in the 2011-2012 DeSales University Undergraduate Course Catalog).
The class will examine the historical development of the trans-Mississippi West from the period of European contact through the 21st century with particular attention given to the following themes:
1.the processes of contact and conquest, conflict and cooperation as manifested in the shifting borders of the frontier,
2.the social, economic, and religious experiences in the West,
3.the aspects of “new western history,” including gender, race, and ethnic relations,
4.and the role of the mythic West in American popular culture and imagination.
This will be a reading and writing intensive course aimed at broadening your understanding of the American West and developing your historical inquiry skills.
Student Learning Outcomes:
For the History Major, at the successful completion of this course, the student will demonstrate the following Student Learning Outcomes:
1. analytical, critical, and argumentative writing, speaking, and historical research.
2. knowledge about the frontier and the West in United States history.
3. application of the Christian humanist philosophy to historical dialogue.
At the successful completion of this course, the student will also demonstrate the following Student Learning Outcomes:
1. knowledge of the major social, political, economic, and cultural factors contributing to the development of the trans-Mississippi West.
2. intelligent and respectful analysis of developments in the American West.
3. Competent use of a balanced combination of primary and secondary sources to discuss and analyze the past.
Course Requirements & Evaluation:
Attendance (25 points)
Participation (120 points)
Monograph Reading Responses (100 points)
Primary Source Reports (100 points)
Mid-Term Exam (100 points)
Final Exam (150 points)
Research Project (130 points)
Final course grades will be based upon the following rubric:
725-671 points = A
670-649 points = A-
648-628 points = B+
627-599 points = B
598-577 points = B-
576-555 points = C+
554-526 points = C
525-504 points = C-
503-483 points = D+
482-454 points = D
453-0 points = F
Attendance (25 points) – Yes, attendance on a daily basis is required. An attendance sheet will be circulated at the beginning of every class period. Avoid arriving fashionably late, and if you do, it is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet before leaving. Also, be aware that every three late arrivals will constitute one full absence from class.
Of course, life happens, so you will be allowed two (2) unexcused absences; excused absences constitute those accompanied by a professor or doctor’s note. For every additional absence you will be docked one point from this portion of the course grade (beginning Thursday, January 26 after the add/drop deadline) As outlined in the DeSales University Undergraduate Course Catalog, eight accumulated absences will result in failure of the course!
This is a reading, writing, and discussion intensive course, and absences from class will be detrimental not only to your attendance grade but also your ability to fully engage in the content of the course. It is your responsibility to make up any course work missed due to an absence. Contact me or come see me as soon as possible after missing a class to remain on pace with the course material.
Participation (120 points) – This course will be a cooperative learning experience. You are not merely sponges soaking up whatever information and material presented to you. As such, participation on a daily basis is needed. Moreover, as men and women who will become active participants in the national and global community, it is essential that you are able to formulate and articulate your own thoughts and arguments clearly.
For each week of the semester (beginning Tuesday, January 30 after the add/drop deadline), you can earn up to 10 points for active participation; if you do not speak up and make your voice heard at all during the course of a week, you will only earn 5 points. Each week of participation is worth 10 points, for a total of 120 points throughout the semester.
Finally, please be up front with me if speaking in class is uncomfortable for you. Speak with me individually and we will determine a plan of action for this portion of the course grade.
Monograph Critical Reading Responses (100 points) – Throughout the semester, you will be asked to come to class having written a one-page analytical and critical response to the assigned reading for each of the following four monographs (Sandos, Kasson, Johnson, and Ostler). Each response will provide the beginning of an historical conversation for that day’s class period. There will be ten responses assigned throughout the semester. Each response is worth 10 points, for a total of 100 points over the course of the semester.
Primary Source Analysis Reports (100 points) – You will write five primary source analysis reports during the course of the semester. Each report will consist of analyzing and evaluating a primary source from PBS’ “New Perspectives on the West: Archives of the West.” Each report needs to be two pages (double-spaced) in length. Each report is worth 20 points, for a total of 100 points over the course of the semester. Please see the additional handout on the reports.
Mid-Term Exam (100 points) and Final Exam (150 points) – Exams provide you with the opportunity to exercise your analytical and critical thinking skills. The exams will be structured in a manner that ask you to incorporate both the reading and lecture material, since they are mutually reinforcing tools for looking at various historical developments.
Historical Research Project (130 points) – You will create a written research project based upon a topic that falls within the parameters of this course using a combination of both primary and secondary sources. Avoid projects that focus on a particular personality of the American West, unless exploring the memory and myth of that figure. Think outside of the box by seeking to incorporate different types of history to more fully understand an idea, movement, event, or outcome of the American West. This research paper should be a minimum of 5,000 words, double-spaced using Times Roman 12-point font.
The DeSales University policy on plagiarism states, “Plagiarism describes the act of copying the ideas, and/or speculations, and/or language of any other person or persons, without acknowledgement, and presenting this material as one’s own original work in order to satisfy any academic requirement or complete any academic project. Plagiarism takes place even in the event that a person makes any use of another person’s unique and distinctive terminology, whether it be a single word or phrase or extended passage, without acknowledgement. This need not be verbatim use; it is considered plagiarism when a person uses his or her own language to alter the original expression of the ideas or speculations of another person or persons. Plagiarism also takes place when a person disguises the language of another person or persons by altering the formal elements of the original (e.g., diction, syntax, grammar, punctuation) and submitting it as his or her own, without acknowledgement, to satisfy any academic requirement or complete an academic project” (Available: http://www.desales.edu/assets/desales/coursecatalogsu/DesalesUndergraduateCatalog2009.pdf).
Appropriate steps, as outlined in the DeSales University Undergraduate Course Catalog, will be taken if a case of plagiarism arises. Your own thoughts and interpretations are more valued in this course than those you have taken from somebody else, so be sure to avoid plagiarism. When in doubt, just check with me. And remember, if you can Google, I can Google too.
Be sure to turn in assignments on time and come to predetermined exam days! Extensions and making up missed exams will be decided on an individual basis. A half-letter grade will be deducted if the assignment is submitted late on its due date, and a full letter grade for every additional late day. Assignments will not be accepted after one week.
Questions Concerning Grades
Your success in this course is very important to me and I understand the desire to achieve good grades. The structure of the course should aid you in achieving that end. I take the grading process seriously and the grades you earn on papers and exams are based upon careful evaluation of your work. If you discover that I have made a mathematical error or missed reading a page of your papers or test, please let me know.
If you feel that you have received an “unfair” grade, please resubmit the assignment to me with an attached cover letter (one-page single spaced) explaining why the grade in question is inappropriate. I will re-read your assignment with these concerns in mind. Be aware, however, that your grade could change for either the better or for the worse; I will read the paper as if it was the first time I graded it. Moreover, I will discuss any assignment with you and talk with you about how to improve on the next exam or paper.
I do not allow the use of laptop computers in this class. The only pieces of technology that you will need in this class are paper, a writing utensil, and course readings.
In addition, I love my cell phone just as much as the next person, but we should not hear nor see your cell phone/Blackberry/iPhone in class. If I see you texting or if I hear your phone in class, I will take it from you and return it to you after class.
Students with a documented disability who wish to request academic adjustments should contact the Coordinator of Learning and Disability Services (Dooling Hall, Room 26, Extension 1453).
Evaluations of courses at DeSales are conducted through CoursEval. The course evaluation process is an important one. Your comments and feedback assist me in improving this course for future students and help me to reflect upon my own teaching style. To encourage you to do the CoursEval, when the time comes, there will be a course bonus (to be revealed at the evaluation time).
(All reading is due on day of class, unless otherwise noted in class)
(Please be flexible with the course calendar. Adjustments may be needed.)
January 17 – Introduction to the Course
January 19 – The “F-Word”: The Frontier in History and Myth
· Read: Limerick, Preface, Introduction and chapter 1 and Frederick Jackson Turner’s “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (Available: http://www.h-net.org/~hst203/documents/turner.html)
· Assignment (for discussion in class). Respond to the following questions in written form: What is the “west” to you? What is the frontier? What do you know about the historical development of the trans-Mississippi West?
· Research Project: One-paragraph statement of topic
January 24 – European Contact in the American Southwest
· Read: Primary sources from Archives of the West, Episode 1 – Coronado's Report to Viceroy Mendoza Sent from Cibola (August 3, 1540), Coronado's Report to the King of Spain Sent from Tiguex (October 20, 1541), and Account of the Pueblo Revolt (1680)
January 26 – European Contact in California
January 31 – A Meeting Place: Religion and the West
· Read: Sandos, Introduction through chapter 7
February 2 – A Meeting Place: Religion and the West
· Read: Sandos, chapter 8 through chapter 11
February 7 – American Contact with the West: Lewis and Clark
· Read: Primary sources from the National Archives’ “Our Documents” – Thomas Jefferson's Secret Message to Congress Regarding the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1803) and Thomas Jefferson’s Letter of Instruction to Lewis and Clark (1803) (Available: http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/jefflett.html)
February 9 – American Contact with the West: Fur Traders & Pioneers
· Read: Primary sources from Archives of the West, Episode 2 – Catherine Sager Pringle’s “Across the Plains in 1844” and Letters and Journals of Narcissa Whitman (1836-1847), and Episode 3 – Letter from William Swain to Sabrina Swain on the Trail to California (July 4, 1849)
February 14 – Clash of Cultures: American and Mexican competition for Texas
· Read: Primary source from Archives of the West, Episode 2 – Declaration of War with Mexico
February 16 – Clash of Cultures: Anglos and Mexicans along the Borderland
· Read: Limerick, chapter 7
· Read: Primary source from Archives of the West Episode 4 – Juan Cortina’s “Proclamation to Texas” and “Proclamation to the Mexicans of Texas” (1859)
February 21 – A Meeting Place: Social Worlds of the West
· Read: Johnson, Preface through chapter 2
February 23 – A Meeting Place: Social Worlds of the West
· Read: Johnson, chapter 3 & 4
February 28 – A Meeting Place: Social World of the West
· Read: Johnson, chapter 5 through the epilogue
March 1 – Midterm Exam
March 5-9 – Spring Break! Enjoy!
March 13 – The Federal Government and the West
· Read: Limerick, chapter 3
· Read: Primary sources from Archives of the West, Episode 2 – Andrew Jackson on the Necessity of Indian Removel (1835), and Episode 4 – The Fort Laramie Treaty (1868)
March 15 – The Federal Government and the West
· Read: Limerick, chapter 6
· Read: Primary sources from Archives of the West, Episode 7 – President Chester Arthur’s statement on Indian Policy Reform (1881), and Episode 6 – Chief Joseph, Selected Statements and Speeches by the Nez Percé leader (1879-1879), and Charles Erskine Scott Wood’s “The Pursuit and Capture of Chief Joseph” (1884)
March 20 – A Meeting Place: Competition for Land
· Read: Ostler, Introduction through chapter 4
March 22 – A Meeting Place: Competition for Land
· Read: Ostler, chapter 5 through the conclusion
March 27 – Capitalism in the West: Farming, Ranching, and Mining
· Read: Limerick, chapter 2 & 4
March 29 – Capitalism in the West: Farming, Ranching, and Mining
· Read: Limerick, chapter 9
· Read: Primary sources from Archives of the West Episode 8 – Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Conversation of Natural Resources” (1907) and Declaration of the Conservation Conference of Governors (1908)
April 3 – Racial Unrest in the West
· Read: Limerick, chapter 8
April 10 – Ecological Chaos in the American West: The Great Depression
· Read: Limerick, chapter 5
April 12 – Women of the American West
April 17 – The Fictional West of the late 19th century
April 19 – A Meeting Place: Fact and Fiction
· Read: Kasson, Acknowledgments through chapter 2
April 24 – A Meeting Place: Fact and Fiction
· Read: Kasson, chapter 3 through 5
April 26 – A Meeting Place: Fact and Fiction
· Read: Kasson, chapter 6 and conclusion
May 1 – The American West in the 20th Century American Imagination, Part I
May 3 – The American West in the 20th Century American Imagination, Part II
· Read: Limerick, chapter 10