Instructor: Doug Sackman
Office: Wyatt 138
Office Hours: TTh 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., F 11 - 11:50 a.m. (and by appointment)
Instead of one American West, we are now faced with many. These many Wests have surfaced because recently a new group of historians, wishing to value the multiple stories peoples have told about the West (or El Norte or the navel of the world or Gam Saan) have attempted to break down ethnocrentric frontier mythology and instead give us a multicultural and perhaps even a multiperspectival Western history. Following those tracks, we explore the encounters, exchanges and conflicts among peoples and between people and nature, with a view to uncovering what the western regions can tell us about our nation’s motto: e pluribus unum.
The flux of the West is a matter of geography as well as perspective. For some historians, the West begins at the frontier of Europeans and Natives on the eastern seaboard, and then progressively moves west over time. In this view, the Old Northwest of the Ohio Country is categorized as part of the West until a certain point when it transmogrified into the Midwest. Others use the Mississippi or the 98th meridian or the Rocky Mountains as the firm dividing line between the East and West. But how far west does this West go–does it include Hawai‘i and Alaska? A recent "Atlas of the New West" says no, and it even excludes the Pacific Coast, including Western Washington, from the domain of the real west. Our course will give some attention to all of these fluctuating wests as well as to these issues of definition, but the course will be anchored to the Pacific Slope–the far western region centering on the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Some attention will be given to bordering areas, including Hawai‘i, Alaska, British Columbia and Mexico. Chronologically, we will concentrate on the period between the onset of European penetration of the region in the late 18th century through World War Two.
In this course we will approach the Pacific Slope from several angles. We will look for the dynamics of cultural conflict and exchange among competing peoples in the region, attending to issues of race, class and gender. We will ask how regional identities have been made, and look at the relationship between culture and nature over time in landscapes that have been both celebrated and transformed to an astounding degree. Throughout, we will examine the ways that western experience has been translated into stories, whether in the oral traditions of native peoples, the triumphalist narratives of national expansion, the fictional accounts of writers and filmmakers, and the critical accounts of recent historians and writers who have attempted to rewrite the dominant narrative of western history. The course, then, will encompass three major themes:
1) diversity and the dynamics of cultural encounters on the "frontier,"
2) the role of nature in the making of western history, and
3) the relationship of myth or narrative to western experience and history.
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. To make the course work, then, you will have to come to class having done the reading and having thought about questions or comments you might want to bring up in class discussion.
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. The readings for the course are extensive (averaging about 100 pgs per week, though it varies considerably), 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.
Ideally, students in this course:
1. Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River
2. Annie Dillard, The Living
3. Carlos Schwantes, Hard Traveling: A Portrait of Work Life in the New Northwest
4. John Steinbeck, The Harvest Gypsies
5. History 369 Reader
Guidelines for each of the assignments will be distributed when appropriate in the term.
1) Attendance and Participation [20%]
(including seven informal writing assignments and group work)
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. Informal writing assignments, which will not be graded but will be assigned a number from 0-4 that assesses their general quality, include seven short [1-2 page] papers: Five prep papers (explained below), a film discussion paper on one of the two films screened for the class, and one photograph narrative. You are also expected to attend at least three out of the four talks in the lecture series on "Crossing the Continent and Nation Building: Alexander Mackenzie, Lewis and Clark, and the Geographic Expansion of Canada and the United States" (more information to be given in class). Please write and turn in a short note about each talk you attend.
2) Class Presentation [5%]
A ten-minute presentation on a topic of your choosing.
3) Paper One [20%]
A four-to-six page paper, due in Week 5 (topics and guidelines distributed by Week 3).
4) Paper Two [20%]
A four-to-six page paper, due in Week 12 (topics and guidelines distributed by Week 9).
5) Research essay [35%]
An 8-12 page paper on a topic of your own choice; prospectus due in Week 9, final draft due Wednesday of finals week by 3 p.m.
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 more than two but less than three days will be lowered a full grade. Work turned in later will be lowered one and 1/3 grade.
For the presentation, please choose a topic that has some relevance to this class. Presentations should be no more than 10 minutes long, but the format for the presentation is up to you. However you decide to present your findings, the best presentations are well-organized, rehearsed, informative, interesting, and engaging. They at once do a good job of presenting information in an interesting manner and conveying a few larger points or conclusions about the topic. While your presentations no doubt will be informative, we will also be interested in your interpretations. Thus, you might want to consider these kinds of questions: What significance do you see in your topic? How does it relate to other aspects of Western history we’ve looked at in the class? Does it tell us something about one or more of the three main themes of the course?
On the day of your presentation, please also turn in an annotated bibliography of at least three sources consulted (at least one of which should not be a web-based source). The annotation can simply be 2-4 sentences describing the source and the way it is useful. You may wish to ask me for ideas for sources.
[The following should give you some idea of the grading criteria: a presentation that is researched adequately, is informative, and is organized effectively is roughly a B-/B; presentations that manage to be engaging and are especially interesting in their interpretations and/or imaginative and creative in their presentation move up higher on the scale; presentations that are less well-organized, poorly presented, drag on beyond the time allotted, and/or are not very informative move down on the scale.]
In thinking of a topic, feel free to talk to me about your interests and we might be able to come up with one together. You may also wish to browse Hine and Faragher, The American West or Schwantes, The Pacific Northwest for possible topics. After everyone has selected topics, I will assign days for the presentations (and if the day selected for your presentation doesn’t work for you, we can make adjustments).
Please select your topics by Tuesday, February 3. I will pass around a sign up sheet.
There are seven short writing assignments, including five prep papers, one film discussion paper, and one photograph narrative. These are meant to be somewhat informal assignments, giving you the opportunity to develop and express your ideas free from the pressure of grading. These papers will be carefully read, and though I will not be able to make extensive comments on them, they will be assigned a number from 0-4 that assesses their general quality. Papers that receive a two are considered good. If you receive zeroes and ones, you should put more effort into future papers so that they merit twos. Papers that are particularly well crafted and present an exceptionally penetrating, creative, or sophisticated analysis, interpretation or reaction to the reading, film or other subject merit threes or fours.
There are five prep papers of one-to-two pages each that reflect on the reading for the day and identify a topic suitable for class discussion. The purpose of these assignments is to deepen your engagement with the material, allow you to pursue and communicate your own perspectives in written form, improve your writing through practice, and give you and the class a launching pad of ideas going into the day’s discussion. Prep papers for your group are due on the days indicated in the course schedule in the syllabus. Bring them with you to class, but they will be turned in at the end of class since you may need to refer to them during class time. Under no circumstances, including computer failure, may prep papers be turned in late. (In certain circumstances, I may allow you to switch the day for which you write a prep paper, but you must ask me about this at least 24 hours in advance). Prep papers should be typed and between one and two pages long. The prep papers involve two components: a topic discussion and an issue identification.
For the topic discussion, I would like you to write two-to-three 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. In finding an angle from which to approach the reading, you might find it useful to relate your topic in some way to one of the three major themes in this class, i.e., 1) diversity and the dynamics of cultural encounters on the "frontier," 2) the role of nature in the making of western history, and 3) the relationship of myth or narrative to western experience and history. This is a suggestion but not a requirement.
The second component of the prep paper is the identification of some issue that can be suitable for class discussion. This can be one or two 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. You might also raise a point of comparison (e.g. the different ways that Bret Harte and Annie Dillard portray settlers). 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.
Film Discussion Paper
For one of the two films screened for the class, I would like you to write a one-to-two page discussion paper. You may wish to relate something you see portrayed in the film to some aspect of Western history we have discussed in class or to one or more of the course’s three main themes. Film discussion papers are due in the next class session following the screening of the film.
The Photograph Narrative will be explained in a hand-out later in the term.
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). 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, 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.
Readings should be completed by the day in which they will be discussed, and you should bring the appropriate texts with you to class. Those readings with a number are drawn from the History 369 Reader.
Part I: Myth and Western History
Week 1: From the Old West to the New Wests
1.20: Three Trails West: Myth, Environment, and Cultural Encounters
1.22: The Frontier Thesis and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West [Groups A and B]
1. Frederick Jackson Turner, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History"
2. Richard White, "Buffalo Bill and Frederick Jackson Turner"
Week 2: Frontier and Region
1.27: Placing the West and Northwest [Group C]
3. Patricia Limerick, "What on Earth is the New Western History?"
4. Donald Worster, "New West, True West"
5. Patricia Limerick, "Region and Reason"
1.29: Landscapes and Regional Identity [Groups D and E]
6. John Findlay, "A Fishy Proposition"
7. "Tacoma Invites You"
Week 3: Printing the Legend
2.3: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
2.5: Visions, Narratives, Spaces [Group A]
8. Elliott West, "Stories"
9. James Ronda, "Imagining the West" (pp. 57-75)
Film discussion paper due
Part II: Columbian Encounters: Furs, Empires, and Natives, 1741-1840
Week 4: The Northwest Coast and the Columbia as Contact Zone: Russians, British, Americans and Indian/First Nation peoples
2.10: Exploration and Otters [Group B]
9b. Exploration Documents (Cook and Vancouver)
10. James Clifford, "Fort Ross Meditations"
2.12: River Journeys and the Contested Space of the Columbia [Group C]
11. Selections from The Journals of Lewis and Clark
12. Ronda, "Coboway’s Tale"
Week 5: A Hybrid World: Furs, Trade, and Cross-Cultural Exchange
Monday Talk: Mark Spence, "Let's Play Lewis and Clark: Strange Visions of Nature and History at the Bicentennial"
2.17: Columbian Encounters [Group D]
13. Ross, "The Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River"
Richard White, The Organic Machine, intro and chapter 1
2.19: [Group E]
14. Elizabeth Vibert, "Traders Tales"
First paper due Friday by 4 p.m.; turn it in to the folder next to my office.
Part III: Gold and Manifest Destiny, 1840-1884
Week 6: Mexico, Californios, and American Conquest
2.24: The Borderlands and the Spanish Mission in California [Group A]
15. Documents on Spanish California
2.26: "…The Hands of an Enterprising People" [Group B]
16. William Henry Dana, from Two Years before the Mast
17. John O’Sullivan, "Manifest Destiny"
18. William Perkins, "Life at Sonora,"
19. John Ridge, "The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta"
20. James Sandos, "‘Because he is a liar and a thief’"
Week 7: Contested Claims in the Gold Rush
3.2: Gold Rush and Social Fissures [Group C]
21. Malcolm Rohrbough, "No Boy’s Play"
22. Sucheng Chan, "A People of Exceptional Character"
23. Tse Chong-Chee, "Letters to Tsi Chow-Choo"
Evening Talk: William Robbins, "Downwind from Lewis and Clark: The Human and Ecological Costs
3.4: Roaring Camp: Gender and Memory [Group D]
24. Bret Harte, "The Luck of Roaring Camp"
25. Dame Shirley Letters
26. Bret Harte, "Tennessee’s Partner"
27. Susan Johnson, "’My own private life’: Toward a History of Desire in Gold Rush California"
Part IV: The Oregon Trail and the Transformation of the Northwest
Week 8: Landscapes of Promise and Dispossession
3.9: The Oregon Trail [Group E]
28. Oregon Trail Documents (The Letters of Narcissa Whitman; Sidney Walter Moss, from The Prairie Flower; Knight’s Journal; 1850 letter)
30. Chief Joseph, "An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs"
3.11: Puget Sound Indians and the American Takeover [Group A]
29. Seattle’s Speech
31. Alexandra Harmon, "Treaties and War"
Explore Web page on Indians of the Pacific Northwest; be prepared to briefly report on something you saw: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award98/wauhtml/aipnhome.html
Week 9: Women and Westward Movement
3.23: [Group B & C]
32. Abigail Scott Duniway, from Path Breaking
33. Selections from The New Northwest
34. Susan Armitage, "Tied to Other Lives: Women in Pacific Northwest History"
Begin Dillard, The Living
3.25: The Oregon Trail
Prospectus due Friday by 3 p.m.
Week 10: Imagining Settler Society
Dillard, part I
4.1: Mining Landscapes and the Environment [Group D]
34. William Robbins, "Nature’s Industries: The Rhetoric of Industrialism in the Oregon Country"
35. Katherine Morrissey, "Mining, Environment and Historical Change in the Inland Empire"
36. William Cronon, "Kennecott Journey"
Week 11: The Worker’s Frontier
4.6: Who Built the Northwest? [Group E]
Organic Machine, Ch. 2
Schwantes, Hard Traveling, Part 1
4.8: Photograph narrative due in class
Schwantes, Hard Traveling, Part 2
Part V: Citizenship & Race: the borderlands of the West through WWII
Week 12: Exodus & Promised Land
4.13: Americanization and Resistance [Group A]
37. Matt Garcia, "Friends of the Mexicans?"
38. Dorothy Fujita Rony "Resistance, Return. and Organization"
39. Carlos Bulosan, from America is in the Heart
4.15: The Dust Bowl and the Garden of Eden[Group B]
Steinbeck, The Harvest Gypsies
40. Documents on Dust Bowl California
Second paper due Friday by 3 p.m.
Week 13: Water and the Remaking of the Columbia
4.20: Dams and Salmon [Group C]
Organic Machine, chs. 3 & 4
4.22: Aluminum Melting Pot?: War Industries, Western Migration, Social Amalgamation
Rosie the Rivetter
Week 14: Citizenship, Race, and Identity
4.27: [Group D]
41. Erika Lee, "At America’s Gate"
4.29: [Groups E]
Asian American Dreams and Dispoessessions
42. Patricia Limerick, "Disorientation and Reorientation"
43. Korematsu v United States website: www.washington.edu/uwired/outreach/cspn/curaaw/main.html
Web site: "Camp Harmony" Assembly Center in Puyallup: www.lib.washington.edu/exhibits/harmony/Exhibit/default.htm
Film: A Family Gathering
Monday evening film: Lone Star, time and place TBA
44. Sarah Deutsch, George Sánchez, and Gary Okihiro, "Contemporary Peoples/Contested Places"
Final paper due in my office Wednesday, May 12 by 3 p.m.