Course Description

United States History

HIUS 7021

Comparative Cultural Encounters in North America

Spring 2016

This course examines Spanish, French, Dutch, and British encounters with native peoples of North America during the initial centuries of colonization: 1492-1800. The course combines the “Atlantic” approach to early America with a “continental” approach that accords dynamism and agency to native peoples in their interplay with colonial invaders.

We will ask comparative questions, including: (1) What common attitudes and behaviors marked the European colonizers? (2) How did the colonial empires differ in their reactions to, and actions toward, the native peoples? (3) What was the range of native responses to the different European empires and their colonists?

And we will also ask methodological and epistemological questions, including: (1) Can we  understand the thoughts and motives of the diverse peoples who lived in North America four and five centuries ago? (2) What combination of materialist and culturalist approaches can best explicate the colonial encounters of the early modern world?

MEETINGS: Mondays 6:00-8:30 in New Cabell Hall 111.  In addition to regular, informed participation in discussion, the course requires at least one brief oral presentation on teaching one-week's readings to undergraduates, and three papers to consist of review essays: one of 3-pages, and two of 6-8 pages.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts