HIST 372
The North American West: Histories and Meanings Fall 2021
Division II
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This course will explore the various and contested histories of the geographical region in North America that Americans often call “the West.” With porous boundaries; changing empires and national borders; an extraordinarily diverse mix of peoples; and most importantly, continuous Indigenous presence to the present day, this region poses foundational questions about the construction of American history. What if, from the vantage point of the 1780s, we look not at the founding of the United States in the East but at the elaboration of the Spanish mission system in California and other parts of the Southwest? What if, instead of understanding “the West” as a place that people migrated “to” from “the East,” we think about “the West” as a place diversely inhabited for thousands of years that experienced very sudden and violent forms of military conquest and settler colonialism, as well as waves of migration from many different compass points around the globe? And where do Americans narratives of western “individualism” fit into the histories of massive federal interventions in “the West”? We will take up these and many other questions as we examine topics from the era before Europeans arrived in North America to the present day.
The Class: Format: seminar; In Fall 2021, history majors may take this course for 400-level credit with the permission of the instructor. Students who do so will be expected to complete a major research project instead of the shorter research paper that students taking the class at the 300-level will complete. Please contact Prof. Merrill for more information on this option.
Limit: 15
Expected: 10
Class#: 1640
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation; 3 brief writing assignments (2-4 pages); one 6-8 page research paper, based on a primary source; 24-hour take-home exam.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: History majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: AMST Space and Place Electives
HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada
HIST Group P Electives - Premodern

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