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COURSE NAME: "The American Experience I: From the First Colonies to the Closing of the Frontier"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Andrea Lanzone
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:00 PM 4:15 PM

This course provides an overview of American history from early European discoveries and settlements to the closing of the frontier. Main emphasis will be on the economic, political, social, cultural, and artistic experiences that shaped the Republic and its people. Main themes will be the wilderness and the frontier, the struggle for independence, slavery and civil rights. Special attention will also be devoted to the impact of Puritanism, the pioneer spirit, democracy and freedom, and Manifest Destiny.

Satisfies "Early Modern History" or "Modern History" core course requirement for History majors.

The course will analyze important historical events in US History – migrations, freedom and oppression, the power of government and the power of the people, and the development of different “American” identities—and will try to connect them with their implications in everyday American lives. In order to do that, topics such as colonization and cultural interactions between Europeans and Native Americans, the issue of slavery, the American Revolution, the beginning of a new industrial society, and the westward expansion will be lengthily analyzed through a combination of lectures, audiovisual and extensive conversation. There will be two class meetings per week. Lectures will be followed by questions and discussion. Students should come to lecture prepared, completing the assigned readings before each class meeting.

This American Experience 1 provides the student with an introductory and general understanding of United States of America in terms of historical events, social systems, economic processes and ideologies. One of the aims of the course is to enhance student's skills in critical thinking and reading. To this end, students shall investigate one key event in the history of the United States to determine how race, geography, class, and culture have contributed the creation of the American Nation. Group discussions will be a central part of the course structure. In successfully completing this course, students will further develop their abilities to:

1)      Formulate a research question about a historical topic

2)     Assemble and evaluate primary and secondary sources

3)     Analyze events, actions, and ideas of historical significance.

4)     Formulate precise and effective historical arguments.

5)     Understand and engage with the main themes of colonial, revolutionary, and 19th century American history

6)     Consider the influences of such factors as: economics, politics, ideology, race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, and geography.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
A People's History of the United States of AmericaHoward ZinnPerennial978-006-239734-8  
A Nation of ImmigrantsJohn F. KennedyOxford University Press019516047-9  
The Disuniting of America: Reflection on a Multicultural SocietyArthur SchlesingerW.W. Norton and Company978-1-4000-6457-1  

Final ExamAn Essay on the connection between the America of today and the American History that we have reviewed and analyzed in class, will determine students’ capacity to recognize, understand and critically debate the concepts learned in the course. 20%
PapersStudents will write two seven page papers on a topic which interests them and is relevant to the course. The papers will be graded based upon students’ capacity to develop a strong research question and critically analyze the materials used in class. 40%
Attendance and ParticipationStudents’ active participation in our discussions is absolutely necessary to making the course work well. The high percentage of students final grade that will be based on their attendance and participation.40%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the co
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

More than TWO absences will have a negative effect on the grade, the more absences, the negative-er the effect.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


week 1 Indigenous America 
(Hans Koning, Chapter 1 The Conquest of America)
(Howard Zinn, Chapter 1, Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress)

week 2 The Age of Explorations
(Hans Koning, Chapter 4, The Enslavement)
(Hans Koning, Chapter 5, Up North: Virginia and Plymouth)

week 3 Early Colonial Period
Howard Zinn, Chapter 2, Drawing the Color Line)
(JFK, Chapters 1, A Nation of Nations)

Colonial Society and the Duel for North America
(Hans Koning, Chapter 6, The wars with Europe)
(JFK Chapters 2 and 3)

Week 4 War for Independence
(Howard Zinn, Chapter 5, A Kind of Revolution)

Confederation and Constitution

Second War for Independence

Week 5 Jeffersonian / Jacksonian Democracy

Week 6 Forging the National Economy

The Ferment of Reform

Week 7 The Slavery Controversy
(Howard Zinn Chapter 9, Slavery without Submission, Emancipation without Freedom)


Week 8 Manifest Destiny
(Hans Koning, Chapter 7, How the West was Lost (and won) P.85-96

Week 9 Renewing the Sectional Struggle

The Road Toward Disunion

Week 10 The Civil War
(The New press: Remembering Slavery, Chapter 1, The faces of Power)

Week 11 The Ordeal of Reconstruction
(The New press: Remembering Slavery, Chapter 2, Work and Slave life)

Week12 The Gilded Age and the Closing of the Frontier
Howard Zinn, Chapter 7, "As Long as Grass grows and Water runs"

Week 13 Industries and Cities
(JFK, Chapters 5: The immigrant Contribution)

Week 14 How the West was won/How the West was lost
(Hans Koning, Chapter 7, How the West was Lost (and won) Pg.96-101)

FINAL exam