In recent years, many have challenged the frontier thesis
first articulated by Frederick Jackson Turner-that the frontier is "the
meeting point between savagery and civilization"-as racist and rife with
imperialism. Turner delivered the thesis in 1893, amid rapid industrialization
and urbanization following American westward expansion to the Pacific Coast; it
summed up decades of American understanding and influenced several generations
of American historians. Now, Native Americans, Western historians and others
have challenged many aspects of Turner's thesis and have offered alternative
histories of Anglo-American expansion, colonization and settlement in North
culture, land and gender, we will explore many of these histories during the
fall quarter. Considering the points of view of the colonized and the
colonizer, we will examine the role of power and power relations in the encounters
of diverse peoples on American frontiers. We will analyze the experiences and
perspectives of indigenous peoples; women; Anglo-American explorers,
entrepreneurs and settlers; African-Americans; Latinos; and Asian immigrants.
During fall quarter, we will explore the initial encounters of Europeans and
indigenous peoples; the culture and society of the American backcountry and of
Native peoples in the 18th and early 19th centuries; the development of Andrew
Jackson's Indian removal policy and the consequent transformation of Native
American society; and slavery, Africans, Native Americans and the
transplantation of slave society to the Southwestern cotton frontier. Winter
quarter we will address the frontier as it addresses regions further to the West.
will have three central considerations that structure our group inquiry. We
will reflect on the images and mythology of American frontiers and critically
contextualize its place in popular culture. We will take as our starting point
the difference between the "frontier" versus a homeland/region. How
does American expansionism contribute to the creation of regions as
"places" and how do you contrast that to having your homeland
transformed/invaded? Finally, we will complicate history as a social process
by interrogating the interaction of cultures and identities in the formation of
approach of this program will attempt to locate events in both time and space,
taking into account chronological events, geographical places, and thematic
ideas. The progression of the course will roughly follow the chronological
progression of American “frontiers” across specific regions, and address the
social and cultural issues that each historical stage has presented.
and seminars will focus on an overview of these temporal periods and issues.
To facilitate a more in-depth treatment of particular issues, students will be
part of small groups focusing on a particular region. In this way, we can
better understand the complexity and local nuances of “frontier” history and
its legacies. For example, we can begin to see how modern public stereotypes
of American “frontiers” often focus on particular regions and not others, and
that an assumption made in one region may not apply well in another.
projects will derive from our regional focus; the final project will deal with
the legacies of the “frontier” found in contemporary issues in the region.
Students will become the “experts” on their particular region, and contribute
their regional angle to discussions. It may be more fruitful for students to
study a region that they are not already familiar with, to enhance the breadth
of their knowledge. Each of our three seminars will include three regional
groups each, though all seminars will read and discuss the all-program readings
on all the regions.
You will receive a separate handout on how you will work in your geographic region group.
You will use Atlas of the North American
Indian as your reference text and first
source for your background on the Native history of your region.
Schedule for submission and presentation of short synthesis essays
- All papers must be set in Times (or TImes New Roman) 12pt, double spaced
- All papers will bbe discussed on Thursdays in writing seminar in the following order:
|writing group one||writing group two||writing group three|
|weeks 2 & 5||weeks 3 & 7||weeks 4 & 8|
to participate in writing seminar, students must possess sufficient copies of
their completed essay to distribute to their peers and seminar leader, and a
copy for themselves (most likely this will be an approximate total of nine copies), at the beginning of writing seminar. Be certain to
complete your paper draft well ahead of time and to acquaint yourself with
copying facilities so that this requirement is easily fulfilled. No exceptions
will be made.
Full credit can be earned by doing all of the following:
- Reading assigned texts in advance of class
- Participating in class activities (participation is defined as active listening, speaking, and thinking)
- Attending class (as attendance is a precondition of participation, absences will diminish your ability to
earn full credit; more than three absences will mean reduced credit; three occasions of tardiness will equal
- Completing all assignments by the due date
- Writing a narrative self evaluation for your transcript
- Attending an evaluation conference when you leave the program
If you do all the above at a passing level, you will earn sixteen credits for the quarter. The quality of your
work will be described in a narrative evaluation from the faculty.
Your evaluation will consist of your seminar leader's
written evaluation of your work, your self-evaluation, and the evaluation
conference. You will be evaluated on your level of comprehension of the
material, on your skills (writing, thinking, speaking, listening, research,
presentation), and on your intellectual engagement with the major themes of the
program as reflected in assignments and seminar discussions.