History 274. 10 Readings Seminar: Nineteenth-Century American History Fall 2010



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History 274.10

Readings Seminar: Nineteenth-Century American History

Fall 2010

Richard Stott Office Hours: Tuesday

316 Phillips Hall 9:30-11:30 and Thursday

Email: rstott@gwu.edu 2:30-4 and by appointment

Phone: 202-994-8154
This course is intended to familiarize graduate students with some of the most significant work on nineteenth-century American history. You should come to class having read the assigned reading and ready to discuss it. In addition, each student will have to prepare two four-page reports on the additional readings listed in the syllabus and make a brief oral presentation of the report to the class. The reports should summarize what the book is about and evaluate the book, taking into account the general reading for that week. Those readings marked with an asterisk are works that are in some way directly relevant to that week’s reading and will be assigned first.
There will be a 15 to 20 page paper (around 5000 words) on a historical issue or controversy. A proposal for the paper is due on Ocober 11. The paper should describe analytically how historians in the past have dealt with the issue you have chosen. It should explain what you think are the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches with the goal of suggesting what seems likely to be the most fruitful line of historical analysis.

Learning Objectives

The goals of this course are the following:

1. To familiarize students with some of the main events, processes and themes in the writing of nineteenth-century American history.

2. To acquaint students with a variety of approaches to the era, including political, social and cultural history.

3. To give students a grounding in history from multiple perspectives, including mainstream American society but also minorities including women, African-Americans and Native Americans.

4. To be able to identify and analyze some of the major historiographical debates in the field.

5. To carefully investigate how historical works are constructed and to understand what may make one book more convincing and significant than others.

6. To understand the various sources used by scholars in the field and the challenges of interpreting them.


Grading: 15 percent class attendance and participation, 30 percent reports, 55 percent final paper.
Books Available for Purchase at the Bookstore:
Martin Bruegel, Farm, Shop, Landing: The Rise of a Market Society in the Hudson Valley, 1780-1860

Nancy Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: “Women’s Sphere” in New England, 1780-1835

Thomas Bender, Toward an Urban Vision: Ideas and Institutions in Nineteenth Century America

Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made

Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln

Elizabeth Varon, Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859

Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction

Elliott West, Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado

Olivier Zunz, Making America Corporate, 1870-1920

Edward Ayers, The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction

Charles Postel, The Populist Vision
Date: Topic and Assignment

August 30 Introduction

Recommended Reading: Gordon Wood, “The Significance of the Early Republic,” Journal of the Early Republic 8 (1988), pp. 1-20. On Blackboard
September 6 No class – Labor Day
September 13 Topic: The Market Revolution

Reading: Martin Bruegel, Farm, Shop, Landing

Reports: George Rogers Taylor; The Transportation Revolution; Christopher Clark, The Roots of Rural Capitalism; Allan Kullikof, The Agrarian Origins of American Capitalism; Daniel Vickers, Farmers and Fishermen; Winfred Rothernberg, From Market-Places to a Market Economy

September 20 Topic: Women

Reading: Nancy Cott, Bonds of Womanhood, and Linda K. Kerber, “Separate Spheres, Female Worlds,Women’s Place: The Rhetoric of Women’s History,” Journal of American History 75 (1988), pp. 9-39 on Blackboard

Reports: Jeanne Boydston, Home and Work; Mary Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class; Anne Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture; Thomas Dublin, Women at Work


September 27 Topic: Cities

Reading: Thomas Bender, Toward an Urban Vision

Reports: Stuart Blumin, The Emergence of the Middle Class, Sam Bass Warner, The Private City; Stephan Thernstrom, Poverty and Progress; William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis; David M. Henkin, City Reading
October 4 Topic: Slavery

Reading: Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, pp. 3-25,

113-158, 232-255, 285-441, 535-540, 658-660

Reports: James Oakes, The Ruling Race*; David Davis, Inhuman Bondage; Lawrence Levine, Black Consciousness and Black Culture; Brenda Stevenson, Life in Black and White; Dylan Penningroth, Claims of Kinfolk; Ira Berlin, Slaves Without Masters


October 11 Topic: Politics – The Second Party System

Reading: Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy, Preface, pp. 181-518

Reports: Arthur Schlesinger, The Age of Jackson; Lee Benson, The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy*; John Ashworth, Agrarians and Aristocrats; Stuart Blumin and Glenn Altschuler, Rude Republic



Paper proposal due in class

October 18 Topic: The Road to Sucession

Reading: Elizabeth Varon, Disunion!

Reports: Michael Holt, The Political Crisis of the 1850s*; Tyler Anbinder, Nativism and Slavery*; Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men; William Gienapp, The Origins of the Republican Party


October 25 Topic: The Crisis of the 1850s

Reading: Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy, pp. 521-796

Reports: David Potter, The Impending Crisis; Michael Morrison, Slavery and the American West; Don Fehrenbacher, Slavery, Law, and Politics; Steven Channing, Crisis of Fear
November 1 Topic: The Civil War

Reading: Edward Ayers, “Worrying About the Civil War,” in Ayers, What Caused the Civil War: Reflections on the South and Southern History, pp. 103-130. James M. McPherson, “Who Freed the Slaves?” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 139 (1995), pp. 1-10; and Ira Berlin, “Who Freed the Slaves? Emancipation and Its Meaning,” in Union and Emancipation: Essays on Politics and Race in the Civil war Era, ed. David W. Blight and Brooks D. Simpson, pp. 105-121. George Frederickson, “Becoming An Emancipator: The War Years” in Big Enough to be Inconsistent. All on Blackboard

Reports: Phillip S. Paludan, “People's Contest;” Edward Ayers, In the Presence of Mine Enemies; Iver Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots; Richard F. Bensel, Yankee Leviathan

November 8 Topic: Reconstruction

Readings: Eric Foner, Short History of Reconstruction

Reports: Leon Litwack, Been in the Storm So Long; Thomas Holt, Black Over White; Julie Savile; The Work of Reconstruction; Heather Cox Richardson, The Death of Reconstruction


November 15 Topic: The West

Reading: Elliott West, Contested Plains

Reports: Patricia Limerick, Legacy of Conquest; John Faragher, Women and Men on the Overland Trail; Susan Johnson, Roaring Camp; Robert Dykstra, The Cattle Towns
November 22 Topic: Corporate America

Reading: Olivier Zunz, Making America Corporate

Reports: Matthew Josephson, The Robber Barons; Alfred Chandler, Strategy and Structure; Morton Keller, Affairs of State; David Montgomery, The Fall of the House of Labor
November 29 Topic: The New South

Reading: Edward Ayers, The Promise of the New South, chs. 1-8, 12, 15, Epilogue

Reports: C. Vann Woodward, Origins of the New South*; Leon Litwack, Trouble in Mind; Glenda Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow; Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet
December 6 Topic: The People’s Party

Reading: Charles Postel, The Populist Vision and Ayers, ch. 10-



11

Reports: Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform*; Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment, Robert Weibe, The Search for Order; Walter Lafeber The New American Empire; Kristin Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood


Term papers due in History Department Office on December 10




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