History 448

Dr. P. Dreyfus

THE AMERICAN WEST

DESCRIPTION:

The American West occupies a special place in the historical identity of the United States. Throughout the world even today the "Old West" symbolizes the uniqueness of America’s culture and national experience. The West has unquestionably played a significant role in shaping American history, but the specific contributions of Western lands and Western people are frequently obscured by romanticism and myth. This course will explore the reality of the trans-Mississippi West from the 1840s to the 1940s. Because what we call the West has spatial, temporal, and cultural dimensions, we will focus on multiple Western experiences that, taken as a whole, will offer a portrait of a land in transition. We will examine the lives of various groups of Westerners – Native Americans, homesteaders, women, wage earners, and foreign-born immigrants.

We will address the economic role of the West in national history, and the ideological influence of the "frontier" on the American people.

REQUIRED READING:

   Clyde Milner, et al, The Oxford History of the American West

                    Paul Carlson, The Plains Indians

                    Walter Prescott Webb, The Great Plains

                    Ruth Moynihan, et al, eds., So Much To Be Done

                    Mark Wyman, Hard Rock Epic  

Additional required reading of primary sources and documents must be done on-line at:

Resources for Students of California /Western U.S./Environmental History.

These additional readings are listed by title in the syllabus, following the designation "RSC." They can be accessed directly by using the links in this syllabus. You will see from the schedule below that most of the books for this class are assigned in segments. The Wyman book, however, must be read in its entirety by early November. Don’t wait until the last minute to get started. Look over this whole syllabus soon and plan ahead.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

Students will be responsible for an in-class examination that will occupy two class periods at mid-semester; one take-home examination at the end of the semester; and class discussion of assigned readings and documents. Grading will be calculated on the following basis: in-class exam, 40%; take-home exam, 50%; class participation, 10%. Class participation is not optional! Do not risk 10% of your grade by remaining eternally silent! Attention to your reading is essential to your ability to make thoughtful comments in class. Graduate students will be required to produce a historiographical paper on some aspect of the history of the US West.  Please consult the instructor.

A late take-home exam or late graduate paper will automatically be discounted by one full grade level (10%). In addition, university policy requires students who wish to receive a grade of "I," or "incomplete," to file a formal petition with the instructor. These petitions are available in department offices. Any student who has not completed the course assignments for this class and has not filed a proper petition will receive a grade of "F." Since the instructor cannot read your mind, please be certain to follow proper administrative procedures. It is in your best interest to do so.

CLASS SCHEDULE:

Week of 8/28: INTRODUCTION & NATIVE AMERICANS ON THE GREAT PLAINS

Topics: Amerindian origins, economy, social and religious life.

Readings: Carlson, chapters 1-7.

Week of  9/4:NATIVE AMERICANS, continued

Topics: Trade, diplomacy and warfare.

Readings: Carlson, chapters 8-9.

Film: How the West Was Lost, vol.1, pt.2, I Will Fight No More Forever, AV#86941

Week of 9/11:U.S. EXPANSION & MANIFEST DESTINY

Topics: Politics of territorial expansion, the Mexican-American War, the impact of ideology and economics on popular perceptions of the West.

Readings: Milner, chapter 5.

Week of 9/18:FEDERAL LAND & INDIAN POLICY

Topics: Aims, function and consequences of federal land allotment programs; American reformers and native detribalization.

Readings: Carlson, chapter 10; Moynihan, chapter 17; RSC: Homestead Act of 1862; Dawes Severalty Act of 1887; Camping with the Sioux, fieldwork diaries of Alice Fletcher, Foreword and entries for September 25 through October 5, 1881.

Week of  9/25:GREAT PLAINS ECOLOGY & SETTLEMENT

Topics: The natural setting and physical limits of the Plains; migrants, settlers, and the American approach to populating, developing and controlling the West.

Readings: Webb, chapters 1-2, 4-5; RSC: Kansas, Great Plains and Western U.S. history collection - The Prairie Traveler: A Handbook for Overland Expeditions by Captain Randolph Barnes Marcy (1859), chapter 1.

Film: The West, #7, Geography of Hope, AV#85717

Week of 10/2:THE FARMING & RANCHING ECONOMY

Topics: Transformation of the landscape and the emergence of the Western market economy.

Readings: Milner, chapters 7-8; Webb, chapter 6.

Week of 10/9:SOCIAL LIFE

Topics: Women, families, cowboys and vigilantes.

Readings: Milner, chapters 9, 11; Moynihan, chapters 12-15, 19, 22; RSC: Kansas, Great Plains and Western U.S. history collection - Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest by Joseph McCoy (1874), chapters V, VIII; Marvels of the New West by William M. Thayer (1890), read only Marvels of Stock Raising: the Cowboy.

Week of 10/16:MIDTERM EXAMINATION 

Week of 10/23:WATER

Topics: The search for water and the development of water law in an arid land.

Readings: Webb, chapters 8-9.

Week of 10/30:THE WORKERS’ WEST

Topics: Loggers, miners, and the extractive industrial economy.

Readings: Milner, chapter 6 & pages 431-447; Moynihan, chapters 8, 9, 16; Wyman, all.

Week of 11/6:WORKERS’ WEST continued

Film: Out of the Depths: A Miners’ Story, AV#82116

Readings: Be sure to finish Wyman, Hard Rock Epic.

Week of 11/13:THE FEDERAL WEST IN THE 20th CENTURY

Topics: The federal government as a regulatory and integrative force in the modern West; New Deal era conservationism.

Readings: Milner, chapter 13; RSC: FDR's Campaign Address on Public Utilities and Hydroelectric Power, 9/21/32, and My Hopes for the CCC, Robert Fechner, Director, Civilian Conservation Corps, January 1939.

Film: The Plow that Broke the Plains, AV#5322

Week of 11/27:INTERPRETATIONS

Readings: Milner, chapters 19, 21-22; RSC: Turner’s Frontier Thesis, chapters 1, 7, 9.

DISTRIBUTION & DISCUSSION OF TAKE-HOME EXAM QUESTIONS

Week of 12/4:INTERPRETATIONS (Cont'd)

Film: Stagecoach, AV#65307

Week of 12/11:CONCLUSION

Topics: Contemporary Western issues.

Film: Four Corners, AV#84558

TAKE-HOME ESSAYS DUE Tuesday, December 18 by NOON in SCI 222

GRADUATE PAPERS DUE Tuesday, December 18 by NOON in SCI 222