Taylor, Alan

American History to 1865

HIUS
2001
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

HI US 2001: A SURVEY OF AMERICAN HISTORY TO 1865.

This course examines the formation and early history of the United States. We will explore the lives of ordinary people as well as the actions of national leaders. The course will focus on the interplay of freedom and slavery, of prosperity and poverty, and of power and dispossession. By learning how past generations lived and acted, and how historians reconstruct the past, you will deepen your own perspective on contemporary America.

This course also means to challenge and develop your abilities to reason critically from diverse evidence and to argue persuasively in support of your conclusions.

FORMAT:  The class will meet twice a week for lectures and there will be a discussion section.  The discussion sections will serve as workshops to improve your writing, and teach you how to interpret the past based on evidence in primary source documents.

READINGS: There will be four books:

(1) Alan Taylor, Colonial America: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012);  (2) Bruce Levine, Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of Civil War (New York: Hill & Wang, revised edition, 2005); (3) Edmund S. Morgan, Birth of the Republic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press– paperback edition); (4) Eric Foner, ed., Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History, Vol. 1 (New York: WW Norton Co., 2016 – 5th Edition).

ASSIGNMENTS:  There will be two brief writing assignments (1-3 pages each), and one longer paper (5-7 pages), plus a mid-term exam and a final exam. 

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
120
Course Type: 
Discussion Sections: 
6

Seminar in United States History

American Historical Fiction
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

HIUS 4501: HISTORICAL FICTION (Alan Taylor)

This course will examine three novels about, and three clusters of historical documents from, the era of the early American Republic, 1776-1840.  We will see how novelists have imagined a plausible past by combining imagination with the limited documentary record. 

Most of the reading will consist of three novels:

James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers  (1823);  William Styron, The Confessions of Nat Turner (1966); Gore Vidal, Burr: A Novel (1973)

We will supplement the novels with historical documents which served as sources for the novelists.  These sources will enable you to evaluate the authors’ success in interpreting the past.

We will see how writers of different generations have differed in their deployment of historical sources and imagination to speak to people of the (then) present.   In sum, this course is bifocal, revealing as much about the times when these authors wrote as about the period that they engaged with. 

This course means to challenge and develop your abilities both to reason critically from evidence and to use your imagination to create scenes, characters, and plots set in the past.

PAPERS: There will be 1 short paper and 1 long paper for the course.  The short paper must consist of no more than 6 pages in two-parts: (1) 2-3 pages devoted to a scene with dialogue employing the characters from the novel discussed during the preceding three weeks. You must deploy the characters in some way distinct from that used by the author of the novel. In particular, you should seek to create a scene that you regard as a better match for the primary documents.  (2) You must also, in 2-3 additional pages, offer an explanation of the theme of your scene and of the choices you made to interpret particular primary source documents.

The major paper should be about 18-24 pages with (1) 10-16 pages devoted to a short story with dialogue followed by (2) 6 pages of analysis of original documents relevant to your short story.  In this analysis you must explain your interpretation of those documents and how they inform the choices made in your story. Your goal is to convey some larger truth that you believe the documents hint at. You should set your story at the University of Virginia or at Monticello during the period 1820-1840.  You must base your story on readings in the original sources.  I suggest that you draw on the web-site “Jefferson’s University: The Early Life (JUEL)” and from The Jefferson Family Letters available through the Monticello Web-Site and “Rotunda” (UVA Library).

ORAL PRESENTATIONS:  Each student will also have to make one presentation to the class, of about 8-10 minutes.  You will employ either Powerpoint or handouts to support your discussion of at least one primary source document and appropriate visual images.  Your goal is to identify the setting and at least one character for the short story you plan to develop.  You will then field questions and suggestions from the class.  These presentations will fall during the last six weeks of the course and your slot will be determined by either volunteering or a lottery.

THERE IS NO FINAL EXAM

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

The Era of the American Revolution

HIUS
3031
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

This course examines the transformation of North America wrought by the American Revolution against British rule and in favor of a union of republican states.  We will examine the lives of ordinary people as well as the actions of national leaders. In particular, we will focus on the interplay of freedom and slavery, of prosperity and poverty, and of power and dispossession. By learning the meaning and the limits of the revolution, you will deepen your own perspective on contemporary America.  This course also means to challenge and develop your abilities to reason critically from diverse evidence and to argue persuasively in support of your conclusions.

 

The assigned readings will probably consist of the following four books: (1) Cynthia Kierner, ed., Revolutionary America, 1750-1815 (Pearson); (2) Nicholas Creswell, Journal of Nicholas Creswell (Applewood); (3) Alan Taylor, American Revolutions (Norton); (4) James Kirby Martin and Mark Edward Lender, A Respectable Army (Wiley-Blackwell).  All are available in paperback.  There will also be some online documents assigned. 

 

There will be two lectures and one discussion section per week. 

 

The assignments will include (1) participation in discussion sections; (2) a mid-term exam; (3) a pair of short-papers of approximately 2 pages each; (4) a longer paper of approximately 5-6 pages; (5) a final exam. The course will fulfill the second writing requirement.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
120
Course Type: 
Discussion Sections: 
6

Seminar in United States History

Canada and the US
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

“A History of Canada” with a special emphasis on Canadian-American relations, 1763 to the present.  This course will examine the emergence of Canada as a distinct country with two founding languages and cultures – French and English. Stretched along the northern border of the United States, Canadians have had to define and defend themselves against – and trade and ally with – their more powerful and populous neighbors. Examining Canada’s different political and cultural perspective on the United States can help Americans see their own nation in a revealing, new light.

 

The reading will be a mix of histories and historical documents, as well as contemporary press coverage of Canada.  The reading will total about 120-140 pages per week.  Each student will develop a paper linking a contemporary Canadian issue or controversy with historical evidence for its development.  The final paper will be approximately 12-15 pages, carefully edited.  Each student will also make an oral presentation, explaining that project (with appropriate powerpoint images), to the class.  There will be no mid-term or final exam. 

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

American History to 1865

HIUS
2001
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

This course will explore the early history of the United States including its colonial origins.  We will examine the American Revolution, the creation of republican governments and the union of the states, and the strains on that union which led to the Civil War of the 1860s.  In addition to politics, we will consider the economy, culture, and society of early America, with an emphasis on the role of common people, the enslaved, and Native Americans – as well as the national leaders.

 

The reading will be a mix of histories and historical documents, with a weekly commitment of approximately 80 pages.  The course will include 2 lectures and 1 discussion section per week.  The discussion sections will focus on interpreting historical documents and preparing for exams and papers.  The course emphasizes improving your skills at analytical and persuasive writing based on historical evidence. 

 

There will be a mid-term exam, a final exam, a core paper developed through 3 installments, and a couple of quizzes.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
120
Course Type: 
Discussion Sections: 
6

Comparative Cultural Encounters in North America

HIUS
7021
Graduate
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.

Course Instructor: 

The Age of Jefferson and Jackson

HIUS
3051
Undergraduate
Spring
2016

This course explores the American struggle to establish a republic on a national scale.  We will examine the politics, economy, social structure, and culture of the union created by the American Revolution and the bitter but creative debates over the meaning of the revolution and the proper form of republican government. Although we will pay special attention to Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, we will explore the conditions of all Americans: men and women, rich and poor, slave and free, Indian and settler. Because contemporary America owes much to the conflicts and compromises, accomplishments and failures of the early republic, understanding that period will deepen your perspective on our place in time.

This course also means to develop your abilities to reason critically from diverse evidence and to argue persuasively in support of your conclusions.  So we will emphasize the interpretation of primary sources, analytical papers and participation in discussion.

There are three assigned books: (1) Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: Writings (New York: Library of America, 1984) [only available in hardcover $21.05] (2)  Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (New York: Norton, 2013); (3)  Harry L. Watson, ed., Andrew Jackson vs. Henry Clay: Democracy and Development in Antebellum America (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 1998).  The reading averages 90-120 pages per week, but primarily consists of primary documents which need close, careful attention.

There will be two lectures per week, on Monday and Wednesday, and a discussion section on Thursday or Friday.

In addition to active participation in discussion, the course requires a mid-term exam, final exam, a document analysis, and a paper based on documents and due in three installments (of 1, 2-3, and 6-8 pages each).

Course Instructor: 
Subscribe to Taylor, Alan

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

  

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