HIST 120 American Lives (Fall 2018)

Portraits of Melba Pattillo Beals, Frederick Douglass, and Benjamin FranklinAn examination of autobiographies and memoirs by Americans both well-known and obscure. These reflections by people from diverse backgrounds who made and experienced American history provide insight and perspective on the historical periods in which they lived.  Subjects vary by semester.

This semester, the course will focus on three individuals who were at once representative and exemplary of three centuries of American history: Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine; Frederick Douglass, one of the most forceful voices for abolition and civil rights in the nineteenth century; and Benjamin Franklin, the eighteenth-century printer, man of letters, and diplomat.


General Education

This course falls in the Humanities sub-domain (Domain I.B). Its general education learning objectives are:

  • Communicate effectively in writing
  • Demonstrate a Critical Understanding of Human Diversity

Goals and Objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Describe autobiographies as a type of historical source, including the opportunities they offer for historical analysis as well as their limitations.
  • Understand how the historical context in which the authors lived and wrote shaped how they presented themselves and their experiences.
  • Place autobiographies in their historical contexts and discuss the relationship of the texts to contemporary historical events and other historical sources.

Course Schedule (Section 01F – MW 8:30)

Course Schedule (Section 002 – TTh 8:30)


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