HIST 211 -- American History to 1865 syllabus (LaMonica, Summer 2020).pdf

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HIST 211: American History to 1865 Summer 2020 McGill University Instructor: Mike LaMonica E-mail: [email protected] Schedule: M-Th @ 13:35-15:55 Course Description This class will explore major themes in American history from the beginnings of European contact with the New World in the late 1400s to the end of the Civil War in 1865. These themes include conflicts between settlers and natives over land and resources, the expansion of slavery and the plantation system, competition between rival empires, the development of liberal political institutions, and competing notions of what the American nation should be and who gets to be included as a member. The approach we will utilize here is perhaps different from other history courses you have taken. Although we will be guided by the macro-level actions of states and empires, the focus of our attention will not be solely on war, politics, and grand diplomacy. We will incorporate social history in order to better understand the day-to-day realities of women and men living at the time. Additionally, we will not limit our scope only to the territory that forms the present-day United States of America. This course situates American history in the wider currents of Atlantic history, demonstrating how the Thirteen Colonies and later United States were intimately connected to Canada, Latin America, the West Indies, Europe, and Africa. This course has two primary goals: First, to provide a rigorous overview of early American social, political, cultural, religious, legal, and economic history; and second, to sharpen your analytical skills through discussion, critical reading, and interpretive writing. Its larger purpose is to demonstrate how the study of history can help us to better understand the present. Course Format This course will take place entirely online. There will be 17 class sessions hosted via Zoom as well as one session each devoted to the midterm and final exams. Each class will consist of two, approximately 30-minute long lecture sessions. Each lecture session will be accompanied by 20 minutes of questions and roundtable discussions. There are assigned readings listed for each class that you must do prior to the lectures. These readings are essential to understand the lectures and to fully participate during the discussion period. Everyone should come to the discussion with either a well-thought out question, comment, or insight into the material based on the readings. This course expects quite a bit out of you. We are attempting to squeeze a nearly four- month semester into five weeks. In addition to the time we will be spending together online for classes, you will also need to devote a considerable about of time each day to