HIST152: Survey of United States History to 1877 (Spring 2001)

Instructor: Doug Sackman 
E-mail: dsackman@pugetsound.edu
Phone: 253.879.3913
Office: Wyatt 138
Office Hours: MW 11-11:50 a.m. Th 1-1:50 p.m.
I am also available to meet with you at other times; just e-mail me for an appointment.

In his novel Ecotopia, Ernest Callenbach envisioned Northern California, Oregon, and Washington separating from the U.S.A. to become a break-way "green" republic. Using this imagined place as a kind of base camp, we will explore the multifaceted relationship between landscape and human identity in the region. We will ask: How have different peoples encountered, experienced, and represented the environment in the Pacific Northwest? How has the environment, or at least their understandings of it, shaped their sense of who they are or want to become?

Like soil, "landscape" has many layers. We could say that the bottom layer is the natural environment in all of its complexity; on top of that are the human-made changes that have transformed the natural world into human habitats; and on top of these, are the leaves and humus of cultural values and human representations of nature. Identity is a no less complicated term, but for now we can simply say that it is what we believe our selves to be. It is the meaning we connect to our existence. While there are many factors that shape human identity (family relations, for example), this course seeks to uncover the role and place of landscape in shaping and expressing human identity. We will explore how Americans' contact with and experience of nature and each other in the region has been mediated by the landscapes they have created, whether they be the constructed wilderness of Mount Rainier, the watery world of Puget Sound, or the Skid Roads and Space Needles of the region's cities.

Landscapes are both places in which people struggle over resources—or such issues as the building and placement of monuments or waste sites—and they are places that are imbued with value and memory. The values and memories are created over time. Because of this, much of the course will be devoted to looking at how landscapes change in the past and to putting the landscapes that exist now into historical context.

Format and Objectives
In the above description, I have emphasized what "we" will do. I mean that: the course is meant to be a collaborative investigation. Class time will be devoted largely to discussions of the readings and the issues they touch upon. These include novels, historical documents, as well as art history and environmental and natural history. We will also take at least one group field trips during the course of the term. Students will be asked to make their own landscape excursions as well.

I've designed the course to give you a range of opportunities to participate in the class and contribute to its course. Of course, you are encouraged to actively engage with discussions, raising questions, making points and otherwise contributing to the flow of the conversation. Note that the reading load for this course is heavy and in some cases involves material that is quite dense. The readings for the course are extensive, and essential. Your reactions to the content, ideas and evidence presented in the reading will be crucial to what we do in class. Doing the reading in time for class is thus critical to the success of the course.

In reading selections, you will find it useful to take notes and write down particular questions you might have or topics you would like to discuss. As a student, I found that underlining or highlighting passages, while helpful, was not the best way to prepare me to participate in class discussions. I started to take notes on a separate sheet of paper (or on my computer), listing the relevant page number on the left and then some idea or quote that I found interesting next to it. In class, then, I could use this as an index of my ideas, and then point to a particular passage as a basis for a question or to present my perspective on a particular issue. You may find that developing a note-taking system will work for you. Please bring the readings to class on the day for which they are assigned. If you do not do the readings, you will get little out of the class. If you do the readings, but have nothing to say about them, then the class as a whole will suffer. The more you get involved, the more you will get out of the class, and the more exciting, engaging, and successful the class will be as whole.

As a Scholarly and Creative Inquiry Course, Ecotopia allows students to develop a serious, informed and deep engagement with the seminar's topic. Ideally, students in this course: 

  • Will develop an analytic, personal and "grounded" understanding of the relationship between landscape and identity in the Pacific Northwest
  • Will develop their skills of oral and written expression
  • Will develop their abilities to make a sustained, scholarly argument, including being able to formulate a position on an open-ended topic and effectively use evidence to support that position
  • Will develop their abilities to read texts of all kinds closely, interpret their significance, and express their understandings and evaluations to others in the class
  • Will gain practice working collaboratively with their peers 
  • Will gain practice in "reading" landscapes
  • Will develop their sense of intellectual and creative integrity and independence


  1. Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia 
  2. Charles Wilkinson & Billy Frank, Jr., Messages from Frank's Landing 
  3. Molly Gloss, Wild Life 
  4. David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars 
  5. Ecotopia Reader

A. Attendance, Participation, Discussion Papers and Document Gathering Assignments (24%)
This category includes reading, attendance & participation in discussions. Regular attendance is expected. Students can participate in class by making points and connections, raising questions, listening and responding to the comments of other students, and otherwise engaging with the flow of the discussion. The discussion papers, which will not be graded but will be assigned a number from 0-4 that assesses their general quality, give you a chance to consider the reading assigned for the day that the discussion paper is due and pose a question or raise an issue that the class as a whole might discuss in our class session. You will have a discussion paper due 7 times in the course of the term; you may skip one day of your own choosing. In other words, you are required to turn in 6 discussion papers. [Guidelines below in the syllabus].

B. Tacoma Landscapes Paper (17%)
A 4-5 page paper exploring 2 types of Tacoma Landscapes: (Choose among Industrial, Commercial, Sacred, Park, Residential or Public Landscapes); guidelines will be distributed in class.

C. Interpretive Essay (21%)
A 4-6 page paper due in week 8 related to the readings and issues of the course. Topics and guidelines to be distributed by week 6.

D. Final Project (34%)
The final project involves the following four components:

a. Scouting Report: A prospectus for your final project due in week 9.
b. A 7-10 page, analytic essay on a particular landscape and/or a particular "text" about landscape. Must include a bibliography with at least 6 sources. (This reflects the "scholarly inquiry" aspect of the seminar.)
c. Your own "Landscape Portrait." You present another mode of engaging with the landscape that is the subject of your analytic essay. Photographs, personal essay, poetry, "landscape event" (ask me), artwork, Web site, video, collage, music. Use your imagination. (This reflects the "creative inquiry" aspect of the seminar.)
d. A short in-class presentation on your topic. More specific guidelines for the final project will be distributed later in class.

E. Presentation (4%)
An in-class presentation of 5-7 minutes on a person, place or thing—or an animal, vegetable or mineral—that is a significant part of the Pacific Northwest. The presentation should be informative as well as interpretive. A bibliography listing at least two sources consulted must be turned in on the day of the presentation. A sign-up sheet for topics will be distributed in the second week of classes.

The Importance of Preparation (and the Reading Journals or Quiz option)
To work well, each and every students needs to do the reading, and to reflect upon it. That is, you need to come to class not only having taken in the words, but also thinking about their implications. To encourage responsible reading and reflection in the course (as well as cultivate sound college course preparation habits), you my find it a good idea to keep a Reading Journal. First, you need to obtain a journal of some kind. For every class, you should make an entry in your journal about your thoughts and observations about the reading for that day. You may want to write about issues, ideas or perspectives in the reading that catch your eye. You may want to record or make notes on particular quotes in the reading. Your entry need not be a polished piece of writing (indeed, that's not the purpose); it can be informal and open-ended. What you would want to do with a journal entry is intellectually engage in some manner with the reading material.

In any event, the course will fail if only a portion of students do the reading with care. In previous semesters, I have had making reading journal entrances a daily requirement. But in some ways that proved to be a distraction, and took away from the development of studentÕs intellectual autonomy. Still, because of the importance of reading and preparation, we will collectively make an assessment of how things are functioning in week 5. A quiz will be administered, and we will discuss as a group whether some mechanism (e.g. required journal entry, quizzes, daily discussion papers, or other means) should be introduced, and what weight to give such a mechanism in the overall structure.

Discussion Papers
The class is divided into five "groups"—A, B, C, D, or E. (This is for the purpose of dividing up the class—you will be writing your discussion papers individually, not in groups). Discussion papers for your group are due on the days indicated in the course schedule (below). Under no circumstances, including computer failure, may discussion papers be turned in late. (In certain circumstances, I may allow you to switch the day for which you write a discussion paper, but you must ask me about this at least 24-hours in advance). Discussion papers should be typed and between 1 and 2 pages long. The discussion papers involve two components: a topic discussion and an issue identification:

Topic Discussion: For the topic discussion, I would like you to write 2-3 paragraphs or so about some aspect of the reading for that day that grabs your attention and you would like to discuss. I am not looking for you to summarize the reading. Instead, I would like you to identify some theme or issue raised in the reading and interpret its significance. You need not deal with the reading as a whole; in fact, you may want to focus on a small part of the larger reading. You may wish to draw comparisons between the readings of the day, or between the reading of the day and previous readings. You may wish to discuss how the reading relates to some larger issue in the class (e.g. what is landscape? What is the relationship between environment and culture? What different ideas about the natural world have different peoples held, etc). You must include at least one quotation from the reading in your paper (normally, stronger papers use such citations). Please provide the page number in a footnote or in parentheses for your quotations. I will on occasion ask you to summarize or read your topic discussion for the class.

In including a quote from the reading, please integrate the quotation into your own sentence, and write the last name of the author and the page number on which the quotation appears (if available) in parentheses (or use a footnote, if you prefer). For example, you might write:

Dolores Hayden suggests that a person's "sense of place is both a biological response to the surrounding physical environment and a cultural creation" (Hayden, 16).

This is one way of linking up the quote to your own words in a sentence. Avoid just plopping in the quote, i.e., don't do this:

Peoples' relationship to the landscape is both physical and mental. "An individual's sense of place is both a biological response to the surrounding physical environment and a cultural creation as geographer Yi-Fu Tuan has argued" (Hayden, 16).

Issue ID: The second component of the discussion paper is the identification of some issue that can be suitable for class discussion. This can be two or three sentences long, and it can be as simple as identifying a quote from one of the readings that you find illuminating and interesting or questionable and briefly stating what important issue you see in the quote. You might also raise a point of comparison between readings. The issue may be related to your topic discussion, though it need not be. Be prepared with these: I will on occasion ask you to present your issue id in class as a way to start discussion.

Grading Policies
The work in all of the above categories will be taken into account to determine your final grade. In general, the writing asks you to go far beyond the recitation of facts and information. You will be formulating your own ideas and arguments, gathering and organizing evidence to support your positions, and putting it all together in finished essays that are at their best polished, engaging, original, creative, and/or provocative. The discussion papers are more informal in orientation, and one of their purposes is to allow you to pursue your ideas and hone your writing talents without the pressure of grades. The following statements will give you some idea what level of work and participation constitutes what kind of grade in this course:

Work that is of D-level or below does not rise to the standards of expectations in the class, which are reflected in the description of C-level work.

C-level work is considered both average and respectable in this course. Work that merits a C represents a serious engagement with the class and the course materials by the student. For papers, this means that the paper deals with its topic, makes use of the proper number and type of sources, shows that the student has grappled with the readings and issues, and advances a central idea or thesis. Yet, the thesis may be vague and there may be problems with the mechanics, organization or clarity of the paper. In terms of participation, the C-level student regularly attends, is attentive to what is going on in the classroom, occasionally offers ideas and perspectives in class, completes the discussion papers in satisfactory fashion, and willingly contributes to small group discussions.

B-level work is very good. It represents both serious engagement with and reasonable mastery of the course material. The B-level student maintains their degree of engagement throughout the course, and usually their work shows improvement. Papers that merit a B are well-crafted and organized, advance a central thesis that addresses the paper's topic in an interesting or illuminating fashion, are mostly free from mechanical and grammatical errors, draw effectively on a range of materials, and are generally persuasive and cogent in their argument. B-level participation involves regular attendance and participation in class discussions, and is an active and engaged listener as well (showing that he or she can pick up on the contributions made by others in the class) Comments and contributions are often based on a careful consideration of the readings. For example, such a student may sometimes point to a specific passage in the text to back up or develop their comment or question.

A-level work is exceptional. Not only do A-level papers display all of the good qualities of a B-paper, their central argument is advanced with an exceptionally impressive degree of sophistication, originality or insight. The paper's organization, craft and use of evidence are all excellent. In terms of participation, contributions to class discussions are both frequent and particularly insightful.

Late Policy: Assignments that are up to 24 hours late will receive a 1/3 grade reduction (e.g. a B would become a B-); assignments turned in more than one but less than two days late will be lowered 2/3 of a grade; work turned in 3 days late will be lowered a full grade; work turned in beyond 3 days late will receive a 1 1/3 reduction.

Academic Honesty
Faith in your academic integrity is vital to all we do at UPS. It should go without saying that the college expects that all work submitted for evaluation in courses will be the product of the student's own labor and imagination. Of course, you are free to speak with others about your work and share ideas and perspectives. In writing your papers, though, you are developing your own ideas and arguments. You can incorporate the ideas or words of others in your own paper, but to do so you must properly cite your sources. Turning in a paper that attempts to pass off the words or ideas of others as your own constitutes plagiarism (see The Logger for more information on plagiarism and university policies on academic honesty). Like other forms of cheating, plagiarism is a contamination that pollutes our environment. Students who knowingly turn in work that involves plagiarism or is marred by other forms of cheating will not pass the course (i.e., they will receive an F), though more severe penalties may be recommended for egregious cases.

One can understand the temptation to turn in illegitimate work: students working under intense pressures may turn to cheating as an easy way out. But to do so, you not only steal the work of others, you cheat yourself and your fellow students as well. A real degree from UPS cannot be obtained through looting. If you are worried about your grade or completing an assignment, please come and talk to me. I can work with you to help you get over the hurdles and make it possible for you to get something positive out of the course.

Course Schedule
Note: Readings with a number are from the Ecotopia Reader, the photocopied packet of readings; bulleted readings are from the books. Groups that have a discussion paper due on the readings for that day are noted in the brackets after the date (for example, members of groups a, b, and c have discussion papers due in class on 1/24).

Week 1: Groundwork: Defining Landscape
1.17: Introduction: Mapping Home and Going to the Mountaintop (MLK mountaineering)
1.19: Readings:

Wallace Stegner, "The Sense of Place" [handout]
Barry Lopez, "The Mappist" [handout]
John Stilgoe, "Outside Lies Magic" [handout]

Document gathering assignment 1, due in class: Find a newspaper article that has something to do with landscape in the Pacific Northwest—an environmental issue, or urban or population growth, outdoor recreation, etc. You may use the Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer or the Tacoma News Tribune. You may also use the New York Times or any other newspaper. This can be a recent article or an historical one. Under the database area of the UPS library Web site, you will find several databases that will be helpful in completing this assignment, including Proquest Newspapers (a database that gives you the option to search Washington State newspapers under "Washington Newstand"). You can find this database, as well as others that could use, under the Databases A-Z button, at the left of the library catalogue page ( http://simon.ups.edu/).

Please write a paragraph in which you reflect on the significance of the article for understanding how people relate to landscape in the Pacific Northwest. Attach a copy of the article to the paragraph, and be prepared to share your findings with the class.

Week 2: The Regional Landscape
1.24 [Groups A, B, and C]: Landscape and Place: Conceptual Issues and Methods of Exploration and Analysis

For the discussion paper:
Group A—please focus on reading 1 for the discussion paper and issue id, but be sure to read all 3 of the readings
Group B—please focus on reading 2 for the discussion paper and issue id, but be sure to read all 3 of the readings
Group C--focus on reading 3 for the discussion paper and issue id, but be sure to read all 3 of the readings

1. J.B. Jackson, "On the Word Landscape"
2. Tim Cresswell, "Defining Place"
3. Dolores Hayden, "The Power of Place"

1.26 [Groups D and E]: Landscape and Place: Literature, Geography and Ecology

4. Barry Lopez, "A Literature of Place"
5. Barry Lopez, "American Geographies"
6. Arthur Kruckenberg, "A Natural History of Puget Sound"

Document gathering assignment 2, due in class: Find an advertisement (from a magazine, newspaper or from television) that makes use of landscape imagery to sell a product. In a paragraph, please analyze how the advertisement uses such imagery to sell the product. In the course of your discussion, you must use an appropriate quote from one of the Lopez readings.

Week 3: Ecotopia? 
Tales from the Field 1 Due Monday by noon; please turn them in to the folder next to my office, Wyatt 138
1.31 [A]: Readings:

Callenbach, Ecotopia, 1-47
7. "Dropping Out"

2.2 [B and C]: Readings:

Callenbach, Ecotopia, 47-118
8. Community Supported Agriculture

Week 4: Mount Rainier/Tahoma and the Wilderness Idea
2.7 [D and E]: Readings:

Callenbach, Ecotopia, 119-181

2.9 [A]: Question: Why did the "white man" climb the mountain?

9. Denise Levertov, "Settling"
10. John Muir, "Wild Parks and Forest Reservations of the Far West"
11. Phelemon Van Trump, "First Ascent of Mount Tacoma"
12. Arthur Tulee, "The Ascension"

Week 5: Wilderness, continued
2.14 film: Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven
2.16 [B and C]: Readings:

13. William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness"

Mid-term assessment of reading: Diagnostic quiz and discussion of degree of reading accomplished, and potential methods to increase accountability, if needed (for example, reading journal, quizzes, etc.).

Week 6: Encountering the Native Landscape/Waterscape
2.21 [D]: Excursion to Jones to see Abby Williams Hill

14. Jonathan Raban, "Landscapes of the Pacific Northwest"
15. James Cook, from A Voyage to the Pacific
16. George Vancouver, selection from A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific
17. Peter Puget, from the Journal

2.23: [E and A]: Readings:

Messages from Frank's Landing, 3-46
19. Seattle's Speech

Week 7: Salmon Struggles: Restoring Nature and Culture
2.28 [B and C]: Readings:

Messages from Frank's Landing, 49-104

3.2: Library Session

Week 8: Oregon Trail and Logging Landscapes
3.7 [D]: Readings:

21. Peter Boag, "Environment and Experience"

3.9 [E]: Readings:

22. James Stevens, selection from Paul Bunyan
23. Stewart Holbrook, selection from Holy Old Mackinaw
24. Ken Kesey, selection from Sometimes a Great Notion
25. David Wagoner, "Elegy for a Forest Clear-cut"

Interpretive essay due Friday 3.10 by 5 p.m.; turn them in to the folder next to my office, Wyatt 138

Week 9: Logging Landscapes
3.21 [A]: Readings:

Gloss, Wild Life, 1-69

3.23 [B]: Readings:

Gloss, Wild Life , 70-129

Week 10: Men, Women, Bigfeet, Big Trees, and Tall Tales
3.28 [C, D, and E]: Readings:

Gloss, Wild Life, 130-end

3.30: I will be away at the Environmental History Conference: No Class; You may wish to work on your "Scouting Report"

Week 11: Race and Whiteness in the Northwest: Invitations, Exclusions and Exile
4.4 [A and B]: Readings:

Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars, 3-112

4.6 [C]: Readings:

26. Patricia Limerick, "Disorientation and Reorientation"

Scouting Report Due, Friday 4.7 by 5 p.m.; turn them into the folder next to my office

Week 12: Islands in the Racial Stream
4.11 [D and E]: Readings:

Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars, 113-215

4.13 [A]: Readings:

Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars, 216-326

Final project presentations

Week 13: Islands in the Racial Stream, cont.
4.18 [B]: Final project presentations

Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars, 327-end

4.20 [C]: Final project presentations

20A. John Findlay, "A Fishy Proposition"
20B. Webber, "In the Zone of Filtered Sunshine"

Week 14: The Emerald City, Grunge City
4.25 [D and E]: Final project presentations

Music Scene: Come as you are
28. James Lyons, "Grunge"
31. Emily Russin, "Seattle Now: A Letter"

4.27: Freshfest

Week 15
5.2 Final project presentations
Final project due Wednesday 5.10 by 5 p.m.