Dr. P. Dreyfus
THE AMERICAN WEST
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 Americas 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.
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. Dont wait until the last minute to get started. Look over this whole syllabus soon and plan ahead.
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.
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: Turners 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