HIST 702: Readings in American Historiography Monday, 6-8:30 pm, AD 711
Professor Brad Simpson
718 Administration, x2042
Office hours: M 2:30-5:30, W 1-4 and by appointment
This course introduces graduate students in history to major themes in recent American history and its historiography, weighted a bit toward the twentieth century for your postwar U.S. foreign relations historian tour guide. The course ranges widely and features a demanding load of reading, although inevitably some important topics are neglected or subordinated to other frameworks. We seek to cover the grand sweep of periods, issues, and phenomena; to attend to new methods and approaches; and to touch base with classics in the field that still influence us. Our greatest focus will be on historical arguments--their claims, evidence, persuasiveness, implications: their wisdom--and on how to be articulate and fair-minded about them. We also pay attention to different modes of learning, teaching, writing, discussion, and scholarship--ours and those of others. Dr. Simpson will lead many classes, though in earlier weeks other Americanists in the department will help lead discussion for topics in their area or period of expertise.
This is a demanding class with a heavy reading load averaging 350+ pages per week. Each week we will discuss one major work and often one or two supplementary articles describing recent developments in the field. Preparation and class participation are extremely important. Class participants will also be responsible for two kinds of papers, as described below:
Weekly Short Assignments . Students will write ten (10) 2-3 page papers (no longer!) that identify the main book’s argument, findings, strengths and weaknesses. Students may choose the weeks that they write for, but they are also responsible for keeping track of the calendar. These papers will be due before class each week, and students should be prepared to refer to them during discussion (so bring a copy with you as well). DO NOT CONSULT PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS BEFORE WRITING; THIS IS AN HONOR SYSTEM AND IT WOULD BE A VIOLATION OF ACADEMIC INTEGRITY TO ESCAPE THINKING FOR YOURSELF.
Format for all papers: 2-3 pages (typed, double-spaced, 12-point font, in your best error-free prose) due via email by 12noon the day of class. These papers will be graded on a 10 point scale.
Supplemental Book Reviews . Students will each write three (3) 6-8 page analytical reviews of major historiographical works. They will choose these books from the list attached to the syllabus, post them to the Blackboard discussion board by noon the day of class, and be prepared to make a brief (5-10) minute presentation of their book to the seminar. Thus at the end of the semester, each student will have library of analytical reviews to use for future reference and study. I will provide you with models of such book reviews.
This class will use several features of the UMBC Blackboard system, especially the Discussion Board. It is imperative that you be enrolled in Blackboard, and if you are able to register on-line for classes, you are able to enroll in Blackboard. Detailed general instructions and a tutorial are available m at http://blackboard.umbc.edu . Any changes to the syllabus, handouts, writing assignments etc. will be uploaded to the Blackboard site. If you are unfamiliar with Blackboard, I suggest you use it for the first time in an on-campus lab, where someone can help you.
Academic dishonesty is a serious matter at UMBC. We expect the absolute highest standards from students in their pursuit of new knowledge through academic course work. Students should not submit, as their own work, any work that has been prepared by others and shall refrain from acts of cheating and plagiarism or other acts of academic dishonesty. An incident of cheating, plagiarism or other form of academic dishonesty is handled through the Academic Conduct Committee and sanctions for academic dishonesty infractions may include suspension from the University.
Grades will be apportioned as follows:
Weekly Papers: 20% (100 points)
Supplemental Papers 60% (20% each) (300 points)
Class Participation 20% (100 points)
All of the assigned readings are required. All of the following books are available for sale at the bookstore and on reserve at the library. In some cases, articles or book chapters will be made available either through the library’s electronic reserve system or on-line from sites like J-Stor. The electronic version of the syllabus contains links to these readings.
William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England
Edmund Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom
Woody Holton, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution
Paul Johnson, A Shopkeeper's Millenium
Edward Ayers, In the Presence of Mine Enemies
Ann Laura Stoler, Haunted By Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History
Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina , 1896-1920
Robert Johnston, The Radical Middle Class: Populist Democracy and the Question of Capitalism in Progressive Era Portland , Oregon
Judith Sealander, The Failed Century of the Child: Governing America’s Young in the Twentieth Century
Jefferson Cowie, Capital Moves: RCA's 70-Year Quest for Cheap Labor
Mae M. Ngai, The Impossible Subject: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America
Charles Payne, I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle
Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right
Michael Hunt, The American Ascendancy: How the United States Gained and Wielded Global Dominance
Thomas Bender, Ed., Rethinking American History in a Global Age
Additional Resources: This class is in part an exercise in socialization to the discipline of U.S. history. I would therefore like you to subscribe for the semester to - and read - one of the online history discussion groups listed under H-net (http://www.h-net.org/), the online community of the historical profession. For each week I have listed one or two such networks. You can unsubscribe at the end, but during the semester you will get a sense of some of the debates that historians in your chosen discipline are having, as well as see book reviews and other useful materials.
Two additional (and indispensible) resources, both accessible through the Library research port:
Reviews in American History - nothing but reviews of recent literature in American history. Great for getting a sense of how historians respectfully but critically engage with the work of other historians.
The Journal of American History - the premier journal in the field, contains peer-reviewed articles on many different topics and extensive reviews.
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250