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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Richard R Johnson
HSTAA 404
Seattle Campus

New England: From the Foundings to the Civil War

New England from colonial beginnings to the region's emergence to national leadership in the mid-nineteenth century. Emphasis on Puritanism, the New England town, adjustment to empire, revolution and constitution making, the growth of party, abolitionism, the flowering of a regional culture, and the personalities who embodied these key themes and periods.

Class description

The class studies the history of New England from its beginnings to the region's emergence to national political and economic leadership in the mid-nineteenth century. Emphasis on such themes as Puritanism, ecological change, race relations, the New England town, adjustment to empire, revolution, constitution making, the reform impulse, industrialism, and the rise of a market economy.

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. Class discussions and written assignments center on the readings described below. Each weekly unit of the readings is designed to illuminate some particular episode or issue in early American history, and to enable students to assess the cultural values of the past and act as historians in constructing their own documented analyses through discussion and writing. This is therefore a history course in the double sense that students can expect to learn both about the nature of the past (in this case one of the most formative and exciting periods of American history) and about how to develop the skills of thinking and research needed for effective study of that past, and its legacy for the present.

Student learning goals

See course description

General method of instruction

Two eighty-minute lecture period, one eighty-minute discussion period per week.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites, except a lively curiosity about the origins of American society. During the duration of the courses, however, regular attendance--at the lectures and more especially at the Thursday discussions--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 completions of assignments.

Class assignments and grading

Attendance at the two lectures a week, and at the third meeting, each Thursday, given to class discussion. Two 5-7 page papers (a book review and an assessment of a primary source) that can be rewritten, plus several one-page papers based on the weekly reading. Students will also be asked to do small research projects of their own, in newspapers and a reformerís life. No midterm but a takehome final exam consisting of essay questions. Studentís work will be judged according to the strength, clarity, and concision of its arguments, its capacity to employ and analyze the appropriate course materials, and the relevance of its response to its chosen topic. This is a W-course, with a consequent emphasis upon writing assignments.

25% each for the two longer papers and the take-home final exam. 25% for the several one-page papers and class participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Richard R Johnson
Date: 10/14/2011