HST 350E / The American West (Spring 2016)
This course investigates the history of westward expansion and of the resulting cultural encounters in the North American West, from the colonial era to the present. Students explore this history through the lived experiences of its actors--via autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories--and by analyzing Western films and images.
For this class, I am also interested in distinguishing between the past as told through its participants and the versions remembered in Hollywood, in contemporary politics, and in popular culture. Thus, students will also use current news and events as a bridge to unpacking the multivocal and multilayered past. Through our readings, we will place an emphasis on Native American history.
By the end of the class, students will be able to:
- understand how the Western past shaped the creation of modern America.
- articulate the long history behind contemporary issues in the West.
- critically analyze Western tropes in popular culture.
- link the observations and experiences of historical actors to the broad narrative of Western expansion.
- recognize how Native Americans contributed to and challenged the formation of the American state.
- identify common historical processes elsewhere in the world (colonialism, imperialism) at play in the U.S. West.