The U.S.: Colonial America to 1877 (HONORS)

Required and Recommended Texts, Manuals, and Supplies: 

Required: All readings and reading excerpts will be provided to you (see list below).
Supplemental TextsThe American Yawp: A Massively Collaborative Open U.S. History Textbook, Vol. 1: To 1877, edited by Joseph L. Locke and Ben Wright (Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press). Freely available here: Print copies are also available. [Vol. 1 ISBN: 9781503606715]

Course Texts:

  1. DuVal, Kathleen. Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution. New York, NY: Random House Publishing Group, 2015. [ISBN: 9781588369611]
  2. Egerton, Douglas R. “Markets without a Market Revolution: Southern Planters and Capitalism.” Journal of the Early Republic 16, no. 2 (1996): 207–21.
  3. Floyd, Claudia. Maryland Women in the Civil War: Unionists, Rebels, Slaves & Spies. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2013. [ISBN: 9781609499198]
  4. Goss, George William, “The Debate over Indian Removal in the 1830s.” Graduate Masters Theses. 44 (2011).
  5. Johnson, Paul E., and Sean Wilentz. The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America. Updated ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. [ISBN: 9780199892495]
  6. Lepore, Jill. The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1999. [ISBN: 9780375702624]
  7. Levin, Kevin M. Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2019. [ISBN: 9781469653273]
  8. Mustakeem, Sowande’M. Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2016. [ISBN: 9780252098994]
  9. Salisbury, Neal. “The Indians’ Old World: Native Americans and the Coming of Europeans.” The William and Mary Quarterly 53, no. 3 (1996): 435–58.
  10. Stannard, David E. American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992. [ISBN: 9780195085570]
  11. Torget, Andrew J. Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015. [ISBN: 9781469624259]
  12. Varon, Elizabeth R. Disunion! The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2008. [ISBN: 9780807887189]
  13. Weber, Jennifer L. “‘William Quantrill Is My Homeboy’: Or, The Border War Goes to College.” In Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri: The Long Civil War on the Border, edited by Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke, 259–76. University Press of Kansas, 2013.
  14. Woodward, Walter W. “Captain John Smith and the Campaign for New England: A Study in Early Modern Identity and Promotion.” The New England Quarterly 81, no. 1 (2008): 91–125.
  15. Zagarri, Rosemarie. “Women and Party Conflict in the Early Republic.” In Beyond the Founders: New Approaches to the Political History of the Early American Republic, edited by Jeffrey L. Pasley, Andrew W. Robertson, and David Waldstreicher, 107-128. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004. [ISBN: 9780807898833]

Grading Standards:

  • Discussion Lead: 10%
  • Reading Discussions/In-Class Activities: 20%
  • Primary Source Analysis (x3): 30% [10% each]
  • In-Class Debate: 15% 
  • Final Project: 25%

Course Requirements:

Discussion Lead: Once during the semester, you will be responsible for leading the class discussion of the week’s readings. You will be responsible for developing five to seven though provoking questions to guide that day’s discussion. During your discussion time, you may also choose to include videos, primary sources, or other activities that can help further foster discussion.

Reading Discussions/In-Class Activities: During the semester, you will routinely participate in class discussions of the readings and complete in-class activities. You will be required to respond to the questions posed by the week’s Discussion Lead. Also, please come come to each class with questions you have about the reading, topics/questions you’d like to discuss or debate, or with favorite passages/information you learned to talk about. In addition to discussion, we will do everything from watching film clips/online videos to creating political cartoons, discussing primary sources to completing writing activities, etc.

Primary Source Analysis: At three separate points in the term, you will engage with one of the critical activities of a historian: analysis of primary sources. A brief review of primary sources can be found under the “Miscellaneous Information” section of the syllabus. You will be given one primary source document and one primary source image/cartoon to analyze using questions from the National Archives Primary Source Worksheets. In the In-Class portion of the assignment, you will work with an assigned partner to complete the worksheet. Once the worksheet is completed, you will individually write up a written version of your own analysis in short essay form, conducting a sort of comparison/contrast between the two sources. These will serve as practice for the final project, which constitutes examination of at least seven primary sources.

In-Class Debate: Once during the semester, we will conduct an in-class debate on a controversial topic from the historical past. You will use the course readings, primary sources, and any additional online research necessary to participate in these debates. The class will be divided in half in a “pro” camp and an “anti” camp. You will spend one class period discussing with your debate partners what information you will need to successfully defend your stance, craft your debate strategy, determine who will speak when, and prepare to counter the opposition’s arguments. During the next class, you will come prepared to participate in the official debate. Of utmost importance is to keep this debate civil, respectful, and focused on the topic at hand using concrete evidence to support your team’s stance. I will provide you the debate topic.

Final Project:

Option A (Popularly known as an Unessay): To get you used to working with both primary and secondary sources and introduce you to the field of public history, you will create a public history product on a topic of your choice related to the course themes. Options may vary widely, but suggestions include: creating a website, designing a museum exhibit, filming a video (think Drunk History or CrashCourse), making a physical artifact, writing a pamphlet (such as those used for historical tours), creating an interactive and explanatory historical timeline (such as Tiki-Toki,, designing a public history blog, or even creating a “live-tweet” series of an event on Twitter! I’ve had students perform magic tricks, design their own choreography, and give historical tours! The options are nearly endless. A short explanatory/analytical write-up will accompany your “visual” product.

Option B (Research Paper): This option is also designed to get you used to working with both primary and secondary sources. Rather than crafting a public history project, you will write a traditional five to eight page academic paper on a topic of your choice related to the course themes. A key element of this project is using both primary AND secondary sources to create a compelling historical argument (also known as a thesis).