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Early American History

HY 107 American Civilization to 1877 (Honors)
Matoaka als Rebecka, Simon van de Passe, 1616
Matoaka als Rebecka, Simon van de Passe, 1616

In this course, we explore America’s history before permanent European settlement through the Civil War and Reconstruction. You will study broad themes such as concepts of citizenship and the nation, the role of Native Americans, politics, economic changes, territorial shifts, gender roles, religion, race, slavery, and intellectual and cultural patterns. We will focus on the various and competing definitions given by a wide variety of people to “America,” “freedom,” “citizen,” and “revolution.” What was America, and who counted as Americans? What rights, duties, and privileges came with being Americans? What did it mean to be excluded from this identity? What revolutions changed people’s lives, and how? You will also develop the ability to think historically through critical analysis of primary and secondary sources; place events, people, and documents in their historical contexts; and create your own historical interpretations and narratives about the past. In this course, you should expect to do much more than memorize facts or dates—you will be busy actively learning by doing history, not passively sitting back and being told what to think.