How does the past offer a lens through which we can make sense of the present? What defined America as a cultural and political community over time? What were the possibilities, boundaries, and limits of this community? The American Civ sequence is nothing like your high school history class, for here we examine America as a contested idea and a contested place by reading and writing about a wide array of primary sources: legal cases, speeches, novels, photographs, sermons, songs, photographs, political cartoons, and music videos. We explore issues ranging from imperialism and colonialism, to slavery and race, to citizenship and identity, to capitalist development and world war.
In the process, students gain a new sense of historical awareness and of the making of America. The course is designed both for history majors and non-majors who want to deepen their understanding of the nation’s history, encounter some enlightening and provocative voices from the past, and develop the qualitative methodology of historical thinking. No prior coursework in history is required. It is recommended that students take this course in chronological sequence (HIST 13500-13600 or HIST 13600-13700).