This course is an introduction to early North American/U.S. history reaching from colonization to the Civil War. Of particular interest in this course will be the theme of cross-cultural interactions in the midst of transforming economies, an expanding nation, and unequal power relations. We will combine a broad introduction to early American history with an in-depth look at five case studies of individuals and communities encountering each other across borders of nation, religion, race, gender, ethnicity, and class. Each case study offers a unique perspective on the question of how broad economic structures of colonization, slavery, and the market revolution shaped human encounters between natives and newcomers, captives and captors, slaves and slaveholders, northerners and southerners. Ultimately, these case studies encourage a critical rethinking of concepts of liberty, equality, and democracy, which have formed the bedrock of master narratives in United States history. Within the context of these broad, sweeping themes we will look closely at primary historical documents, produced by men and women of their time period and we will read carefully the arguments of historians in our own time. The class will emphasize history as a process of critical interpretation.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: UNITED STATES • PRE-1800