Remembering the Alamo: Landmarks of American History

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Remembering the Alamo: Landmarks of American History”
Program at a Glance
The Community College Humanities Association, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will sponsor two one-week workshops for a total attendance of eighty K-12 teachers at the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, a site symbolic of courage, self-sacrifice and a monument to American expansionism of the mid-nineteenth century.
Each six-day workshop (June 21-26 and June 28-July 3, 2009) will be devoted to the new scholarship centered on the Alamo, the history, the material culture, the literature, and the symbolic importance of the struggle for personal and political independence. The workshops will feature five prominent scholars who will address the topics of Spanish expansionism and settlement; American expansionism and rugged individualism; the Texas Revolution and its implications for American history; mid-19th American social and political issues, including slavery, and the role of women on the frontier; the historical significance of architecture and preservation efforts, and the representations of the Alamo in popular culture.
Each week forty K-12 teachers will have the opportunity to conduct systematic, guided research using the documents housed in the Alamo collection and the University of Texas-Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio, as well as the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, and to develop lesson plans and/or classroom materials for infusion into new or existing teaching modules.
Participants will be chosen through a nationally competitive process following the National Endowment for the Humanities guidelines. The application process will include: completion of the NEH online cover sheet, submission of a detailed resume and a letter of recommendation from your principal, department head of you teaching institution or the head of your home schooling association. Perhaps the most important part of the completed application is an essay of up to one-page doubled spaced page. This essay should include information about your professional background and interest in the Alamo, and its historical and intellectual importance to American history; your special perspectives, skills or experiences that would contribute to the Workshop; and how the experience would enhance your teaching or school service. Your completed application (3 copies) should be post marked no later than March 15, 2009, and should be addressed to:

David A. Berry, Project Manager, “The Alamo”

Community College Humanities Association

Essex County College

303 University Avenue

Newark, NJ 07102-1798

The selection committee will include K-12 teachers, faculty and staff from the Community College Humanities Association (CCHA) and the Alamo and will review all applications to ensure a qualified, diverse group of participants.
Each participant will be awarded a stipend of $750.00 meant to cover some of the housing and program costs and a variable travel stipend for those traveling long distances for the week in San Antonio. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will receive written certification of their attendance and participation in all sessions.
The workshop will be directed by Carole N. Lester, Ph.D., Dean of Instruction, Academic Enrichment, and Professor of History and Humanities, Richland College (Dallas County Community College District), Dallas, Texas. In addition to administrative duties, Dr. Lester teaches American history and humanities at Richland, and for several years taught Texas History at the University of Texas at Dallas. She was Richland's project director for three CCHA and National Endowment for the Humanities grant funded projects, "Advancing Humanities through Technology”, “Faces of America,” and “Landmarks of American History” workshops. Karen D. Marcotte, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, History and Humanities, Palo Alto College, San Antonio, Texas will serve again as co-facilitator and faculty mentor for the project.
The senior scholars include:

  • Dr. WH Brands, University Professor, University of Texas at Austin. In addition to teaching classes at the University of Texas, he has also taught at Vanderbilt University and at Austin Community College. He is the author of many journal articles and longer works, including his latest work: Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence—and Changed America. Doubleday, 2004.

  • Dr. Caroline Castillo Crimm, De León: A Tejano Family History, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004, currently Professor of history at Sam Houston University, Huntsville, Texas where she teaches a variety of history courses.

  • Dr. Stephen L. Hardin, professor of history at The Victoria College in Victoria, Texas. He is an inductee of the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters, a member of Western Writers of America, and was a historical advisor for the John Lee Hancock film The Alamo.

  • Dr. Raul Ramos, scholar of Hispanic history and author of Beyond the Alamo: Forging Mexican Ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821-1861, University of North Carolina Press, 2008. Currently professor of history at University of Houston, Houston, Texas where he teaches courses in Texas; the Spanish Borderlands; and Colonial Mexico.

  • Dr. Richard Bruce Winders, Historian and Curator, the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas. He has taught classes in U. S. History, 19th Century Social/Political History, Civil War & Reconstruction, Old South, Jacksonian Era, Borderlands, Military History, Texas History, and Mexican History at Texas Christian University.

Western historians have long valued the significance of the Alamo and its place in both Texas history and the history of American western expansion, but the landmark and the issues it represents have farther reaching implications that faculty workshops on the Alamo grounds will explore. Faculty from a variety of disciplines will have the opportunity to explore five central themes:

  1. Spanish exploration and Mexican settlements – The Alamo began its existence as a symbol of Spanish religious and political expansion into the area. Faculty workshop participants will have the opportunity to probe the issues of Spanish colonial expansion and the development of a Texan-Mexican culture. They will also consider how culture and political clashes between the Hispanic and Anglo-American populations in Texas led to the revolution and continue to have implications for contemporary America.

  1. American expansion and the role of individualism in the formation of the American character – with its transformation from Catholic mission church to military “last-stand,” the Alamo site offers faculty a unique opportunity to explore not only the events of the battle, but the aftermath and the far reaching political and historical implications in terms of American individualism and American expansionism of the mid-19th century.

  1. Social issues of the 19th century and frontier cross-cultural conflict – by examining the Alamo defenders and other individuals involved in the Texas revolution, faculty will explore major elements of American western social and political history, including slavery, the role of women, and family life on the southwestern frontier. Faculty will also be able to examine the art and music of the period.

  1. Frontier architecture and the importance of historical preservation – The story of the Alamo’s preservation in the 20th century is as compelling as the story of its fall in the battle of 1836. Faculty will study with preservation scholars as they consider the importance of saving historical sites for the education of future generations. With this understanding, faculty will be able to weave historical preservation and civic responsibility more concretely into classroom scholarship.

  1. The Alamo in popular culture and the use of historical events as subjects for popular media – Often today’s student learns historical lessons from Hollywood or television instead of from primary historical sources, and the events of the battle for the Alamo have been depicted numerous times in literature, modern film, and television. Participants will have the chance to work with Alamo scholars, expert in the relationship between historical content and modern media.

Using one or more of these main themes, and working with renowned scholars, K-12 teachers attending these workshops will be able to develop teaching modules that will enable their students to make meaningful connections and deepen their understanding of the past.

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