Richard R Johnson
Supplies the knowledge of American history that any intelligent and educated American citizen should have. Objective is to make the student aware of his or her heritage of the past and more intelligently conscious of the present.
Note: This course was formerly numbered HSTAA 201. If you have already taken HSTAA 201, do not register for this course.
HSTAA 101 is a survey of the history of the United States from the time of first transatlantic contact to the present day. The lectures are designed to give a sense of continuity to this rapid overview: they will give particular attention to social history, racial relations, politcial reform, industrial development, the impact of business on American life, and Americans' conceptions of themselves and their nation's role in the world. Besides gaining a fuller understanding of the significance of these themes for the unfolding of American history, students will also be encouraged by the format of the class to sharpen their skills of critical thinking and expression. Weekly discussion periods, besides allowing further analysis of issues raised in the lectures, will center on the readings required for the course. These readings are chosen for their capacity to illuminate the nature of the American past; they also furnish examples of both the raw materials with which the historian works and the interpretations that scholars and writers have constructed from such materials. The course assignments are designed to train students in handling these materials and thereby develop their own skills of analysis and expression. The format of the class is four lectures a week, plus Friday quiz sections. The sections will center upon the discussion of weekly readings that are in turn the basis of the papers that each student is required to submit.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
No prerequisites, except a lively curiosity about the origins and development of American society. During the duration of the course, however, regular attendance -- at the lectures and more especially at the discussion sections -- is essential for success, along with a readiness to complete the assigned readings week by week, so as to contribute to class discussions and the timely completion of assignments. Preparation for exams will be facilitated by the distribution of revision sheets. The course is structured to give the greatest success to those students able to engage with its content and varied requirements on a regular rather than a spasmodic basis, and to demonstrate that engagement through cogent and well-informed papers and contributions to class discussion.
Class assignments and grading
One midterm and a final examination, each consisting of short identification and essay questions. Two 3-4 page analytical papers, based on the assigned materials of the course. Several brief oral or written reports on the weekly reading. Papers will be judged according to the strength, clarity, and concision of their arguments, their capacity to employ and anayze the appropriate course materials, and the revelance of their response to their chosen topics. This is a W-course, with a consequent emphasis upon writing assignments. Books required for the course: Several autobiographical accounts, plus a package of primary source readings, plus a concise text
See above for the skills and preparation that the course seeks to encourage and reward. Mathematically, the examinations count for 45% of the grade, the papers for 40% with the remaining 15% for overall class performance.