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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Richard R Johnson
HIST 388
Seattle Campus

Colloquium: Introduction to History

Introduction to the discipline of history for new or prospective majors. Emphasizes the basic skills of reading, analysis, and communication (both verbal and written) that are central to the historian's craft. Each seminar discusses a different subject or problem.

Class description

Title of Course: Comparative Empires in Early Modern North America

What students can expect to learn from the course. HST 388 is designed as an intensive introduction to the study of history for students who have recently declared their intent to be history majors. Students will receive a training in several of the basic techniques of historical analysis. Among these will be the discovery, assessment, and use of source materials; an understanding of how historians work by means of reading and discussing a selection of assigned readings capped by the writing of a comparative book analysis; and the opportunity for students to plan, research, and write their own historical essays, all in close collaboration with the teacher and other students in a seminar-style class format. The skills of research and of oral and written analysis that are fostered by the class are expected to contribute significantly to the students' subsequent success as history majors. Each 388 centers on a different historical problem: this one takes as its subject Comparative Empires in Early Modern North America, ranging from the Aztec and Iroquois confederacies encountered by arriving Europeans to the Spanish, French, Dutch, English and eventually American empires created by 1800. It places a special emphasis on learning the value of a comparative approach to historical study.

Student learning goals

See description of the course's coverage and its various learning goals outlined above

General method of instruction

Twice-weekly seminar-style meetings: discussion of assigned readings; occasional student presentations

Recommended preparation

RECOMMENDED PREPARATION : Recommended preparation for success in the course. Some knowledge of early American history (as through having taken courses in early modern Indian, Hispanic, Canadian, or British American history) would be useful but is not a prerequisite. More important is a desire to learn the skills of being an historian, and a readiness to attend every class and commit to at least twelve hours of study a week outside class in preparation for the class and its assignments.

Class assignments and grading

The class will consist of two seminar-style 90-minute meetings a week: it will involve discussion of the assigned readings and student presentations. Assignments will consist of a commitment to regular attendance in class, digesting substantial weekly readings in primary and secondary sources, and the preparation of three mid-sized (4-5 page) papers plus several short (1-page) papers and oral reports. This is a W-course, with a consequent emphasis upon writing assignments. Class readings include primary and secondary accounts of: Aztec and Iroquois history; French and Spanish missionary writings; Dutch and English cartography; the conduct of European and Indian warfare (as assessing Ian Steeleís Warpaths and Jill Lepore's The Name of War); the settlement of Virginia and French Canada; and the processes of state-formation and imperial policy making.

25% for each of the two longer papers, 25% for short papers and reports, remainder for in-class performance A 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.


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: 02/05/2014