HIST 372
The North American West: Histories and Meanings Fall 2019
Division II

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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 both has a remarkably rich history and poses central questions to how we view 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? Or 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 both 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’ stories 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: Type: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 10
Class#: 1270
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on class participation, 5 short-to-moderate writing assignments and one 8-10 page research paper, due at the end of reading period
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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