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His 640 (section TBD): Readings in American History to 1877

Class: day/time/place: TBD

Instructor: TBA Office: TBD Phone: TBD

e-mail: TBD (preferred) Office hours: TBD

Course Description (Overview)

This course is the first of a two-semester sequence of readings (History 640 and 641) that are designed to acquaint graduate students with major historiographical debates, important interpretive works of scholarship, and new methods of historical analysis in American history. The focus of History 640 is on the period to 1877. The seminar is also intended as a crucial step in preparing doctoral students sitting for qualifying exams for the general field in American history. Professor TBD will administer the seminar, participate in all sessions, and handle all grading for the course, but other faculty specializing in the pre-1877 period will lead various weekly meetings.

Course Goals

The goal of History 640 is to introduce and acquaint entering graduate students with the major debates and scholarly controversies in U.S. history to 1877. By the end of the seminar should have a clear sense of the major issues and scholarly works involved in these debates. The course is a first step toward preparing students for the first half of the general qualifying exam.

Course Objectives

  • to familiarize students with a broad range of historical topics and suggest others worthy of study

  • to familiarize them with the major historiographical debates

  • to prepare them to teach their own courses

  • to give them a foundation for their own research

  • to prepare them for their qualifying exams, should they seek the PhD

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, a student should be able to:

  • define and describe historical topics and debates of the period

  • defend the worthiness of selected historical topics and debates for study

  • apply historical topics and debates of the period to research and courses the student teaches

  • interpret historical topics and debates of the period for qualifying exams, should they seek the PhD

Policy on Academic Accommodations due to disability:

If you have a documented disability that requires academic accommodations, please see me as soon as possible during scheduled office hours. In order to receive accommodations in this course, you must provide me with a Letter of Accommodation from the Disability Resource Center (Room 2, Alumni Gym, 257-2754, email address jkarnes@eamil.uky.edu) for coordination of campus disability services available to students with disabilities.

Course Policies: TBD

(Attendance, Excused absences, Make-up opportunities, Verification of absences, Submissions of assignments, Academic Integrity, cheating & plagiarism, Professional preparations, Group work & student collaboration)

Requirements and Grade Assessment
Grades (all grades are letter grades): A 100-90, B < 90-80, C < 80-70, E < 70
Participation – 30 percent

Book Reviews (2) – 20 percent

Annotated Bibliographies (2) – 10 percent

Historiographical Essay – 40 percent

(No exams)

Participation – 30%

You cannot pass the class with an A if you do not contribute to the discussions.

I expect you to come prepared for each class period having read the materials closely. You will write a brief synopsis of each work that includes the author’s thesis and its usefulness for your particular area of interest. Bring these synopses with you to class, along with any other notes. In your study of each book, you should do some research on it. Read reviews of it and find out about the author: How was the book received? In what historiographical debate does it engage? Is the author part of a particular school of historiography? Were their current events that might have influenced the author? What and where does s/he teach? What other works has s/he published and with what presses? You should be prepared for discussion with questions and critical observations about the text. You should also be prepared to answer questions I pose to you. Your job is to demonstrate to me that you have been critically engaged with the book. Be prepared to refer to specific passages to support your interpretation of the text.
Two Book Reviews

20% (10% each; due when your books are discussed)

Each student will write two book reviews of no more than 1000 words each, present his/her findings to the class, and lead discussion on the books. Treat this assignment as practice for writing book reviews for a scholarly journal. Model your reviews on published reviews of similar length in respected journals in the field. You will, of course, be looking at reviews of the same book you are working on. Be careful not to plagiarize! Know that I am also aware of the other reviews and expect originality from you. You may, however, draw on the reviews to explain what other historians have said about the book. Include the word count at the top of your review.
NOTE: It is expected that all of your work will be as polished as you can make it. This means that you should proof-read everything in hard copy yourself and give everything that I will see to at least two other readers for comments and edits. At the top of your reviews, along with the word count, please give the names of your two readers. If you are a reader for someone in the class, your work in editing the paper will reflect on you!
The first draft of the review will not be graded. It will be returned to you with edits and comments and ranked using the language of editors of scholarly journals:

  • Accepted, no revisions

  • Accepted, with revisions

  • Revise and resubmit

  • Rejected (If you get a “rejected” on one of your reviews, I strongly urge you to come talk to me about how to improve your performance.)

You will then revise the review accordingly and resubmit it for a grade.

Your presentation should be an elaboration of what is in your review with questions and issues for discussion.
Annotated Bibliography and Historiographical Essay

Draft annotated bibliography – 5% (Due at mid-term.)

Final annotated bibliography – 5% (Due with final paper.)

One historiographical essay (25-30 pp.) – 40% (Due during finals period.)

An annotated bibliography is a list of the works you will use along with a brief paragraph on the main themes and arguments of the book. These notes are for you as a way to begin organizing your thoughts for the paper. List the works chronologically by publication date.
An historiographical essay is a paper that discusses the trends and debates in a particular body of historical literature. The idea is to present a survey (usually chronological) of what the most important works (books and articles) have argued over a span of several decades. You will pick a theme of interest to you and trace its development. There is no set number of works you should use – it is up to you to chose the most important ones and address them in proportion to the effect they had on the debate.
Choose a topic early in the semester and begin working on this paper immediately. I encourage you to come discuss your idea with me. You should include sources from the course, but also others you have discovered on your own or through class discussion. I expect a well-developed analysis, highly polished and sophisticated prose, and a substantial bibliography. Not including bibliography, your paper must be at least 25 pages and no more than 30.
At mid-term, hand in your working annotated bibliography. For the rest of the semester, continue to add to it as you work on your paper. You will hand in a final version with your paper in a separate document. This annotated bibliography is not a substitute for a regular bibliography attached to your paper.
Submit the final paper and annotated bibliography via e-mail at the end of the semester. Please include all of the components in one document saved with the following name: Your last name, 640 final, F09. I will return the paper to you with electronic edits and comments after they are graded.
Required Books
Robert F. Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination.

New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America.

Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2000.

Ray Allen Billington, America’s Frontier Heritage. Albuquerque: University of New

Mexico Press, 1993.

Roger H. Brown, Republic in Peril: 1812. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1971.

Richard Bushman, From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in

Connecticut, 1690–1765. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967.

Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York:

Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2002.

William Freehling, Road to Disunion, vols. 1 and 2. New York: Oxford University Press,


Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York:

Pantheon Books, 1972.

Frank Lambert, “Inventing” the Great Awakening. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Daniel Richter, Facing East From Indian Country: A Native History of Early America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Arthur Schlesinger, The Age of Jackson. Back Bay Books, 1988.

Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1814-1846. New York:

Oxford University Press, 1994.

Alan Tully, Forming American Politics: Ideals, Interests, and Institutions in Colonial

New York and Pennsylvania. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press,


Laura Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in

Northern New England, 1650-1750. New York: Vintage Books, 1991.

Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1789. New York: W. W.

Norton and Co., 1969.

Reading Schedule (subject to change):
Each week we will read one book and a related article. The first works listed are required reading. The recommended readings reinforce, challenge, and supplement the main readings. I will expect that you will have a passing familiarity with many of them, and more so the ones related to the books you are reviewing. Most of the articles are available on JSTOR. Those required items that are not on line are available in a packet from the History Office.
First Settlement to the Constitution
Week 1 – New England

Richard Bushman, From Puritan to Yankee

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 2 – Women and Family

Laura Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 3 – Indians

Daniel Richter, Facing East From Indian Country

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 4 – The First Great Awakening

Frank Lambert, “Inventing” the Great Awakening

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 5 – Blacks and Slavery

Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 6 – The Middle Colonies

Alan Tully, Forming American Politics

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 7 – The Founding

Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA

The Constitution to the Civil War
Week 8 – Entanglements: Foreign Affairs in the Early Republic

Roger H. Brown, Republic in Peril

Article: TBA

Draft Annotated Bibliography Due

Recommended: TBA
Week 9 – Break

Week 10 – Frontiers

Ray Allen Billington, America’s Frontier Heritage

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 11 – The Rise of American Democracy

Arthur Schlesinger, The Age of Jackson

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 12 – To the Market Economy

Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 13 – Antebellum Slavery and Its Discontents

Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 14 – Age of Reform

Robert F. Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 15 – Civil War

William Freehling, Road to Disunion

Article: TBA
Recommended: TBA
Week 16 – Reconstruction

Eric Foner, Reconstruction

Article: TBA
Final paper and annotated bibliography due

Recommended: TBA

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