Taught by Helen Zoe Veit
In this class, we’ll use short lectures, readings, songs, film clips, works of art, and other sources to explore American history during a period of almost unimaginable change. We’ll move together from early contacts between native North Americans and Europeans in the late 1400s up to 1876, the year that Reconstruction – the astonishing and controversial period after the Civil War – ended. An enormous amount happened during these four hundred years, and the people who were alive at the time witnessed staggering changes in politics, technology, the economy, the environment, and religion, as well as in understandings of sex, gender, race, age, morality, and a variety of other things that we’ll explore together in depth.
The class is divided into seven units, one for each week of the class. Every week you’ll watch a series of short lectures and do a selection of readings, all available for free through our class website. Most of your readings will be “primary sources,” meaning documents created during the time period we’re talking about. On any given week your primary sources might include things like a newspaper article, a letter, a fashion plate, a political work, a recipe, a religious sermon — or something completely unexpected. Each week you’ll be writing a paper that ties the lectures and readings together through a prompt. Our class website explains all expectations for the class in detail, and the professor and teaching assistants will be in regular email contact and available for online chatting to make sure you know exactly how things work and to answer any questions that come up.