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Unit 1 (9/2 – 9/16): What is “The West”?

In this unit, we’ll look at how the American West has been defined – as both a place/region and as a field of scholarly study.

1. Wed 9/2 Course Intro
Reading: none. “Bugs Bunny Rides Again

2. Fri 9/4 Where is the West?
Reading: Walter Nugent, “Where is the American West” in Major Problems in the History of the American West [pdf]
See our survey results on Google Maps
The West: A Reference Map (the in-class handout)

Mon 9/7 No Class

3. Wed 9/9 Turner, the Frontier and the Power of an Idea
Reading: Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” with John Mack Faragher’s introduction [pdf]. Read all of Turner’s essay, and be able to discuss and summarize his main thesis for our class session on Wednesday. Faragher’s intro helps put it into context as one of the most important and influential essays ever written, and as the piece of writing which really begins the field of Western history.
In-class case study: “Closing of the Frontier” (World Book Encyclopedia)

4. Fri 9/11 Where Lewis and Clark Went, and What They Found There
Reading: Lewis and Clark diary excerpts online (1 week, as assigned in class), and complete a document report for homework, due in class on Fri 9/11

5. Mon 9/14 Reimagining the Boundaries of the West
Reading: John Mack Faragher, “Frontier Trail: Rethinking Turner and Reimagining the American West” [pdf]

6. Wed 9/16 Unit 1 Test, in class

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