Throughout the history of the United States, the physical and human resources of the American West have been imagined in numerous, often contradictory ways--as a place to increase the voting power of pro-slavery and abolition forces in the years leading up to the Civil War, and as a place where freed slaves might own their own land; as a place where middle-class families could own their own productive farms, and as the "Great American Desert;" as a place with unlimited natural resources to be exploited, and as the birthplace of the modern environmental movement. The American West spans a huge area of land and has meant many things to many people--at the same time, though, "the West" is a meaningful concept within American culture. In this course, students begin developing the intellectual habits necessary to write and speak effectively and with integrity, through focusing on interdisciplinary perspectives on the American West as an "imagined" place. Students engage in independent research and produce a substantial paper on an issue in the American West. Affiliate department: English.