At the end of the Revolutionary War, Americans faced the enormous challenge of building an independent nation with its own identity and place in the world. Over the next sixty years, the first generations of independent Americans sought to do just that as they navigated a range of problems that had existed prior to 1775 as well as new ones that developed alongside the new United States. During the semester, we will focus on several key questions about the period:
- What did the American Revolution mean both for the United States and its citizens?
- What were the characteristics of America’s unique political system and why did it develop along these lines?
- How did slavery, westward expansion, and American economic development influence one another?
- What role did societal norms (particularly in regard to religion, gender, and race) and cultural institutions play in helping Americans to navigate the world around them?
During the semester, students will develop their skills and knowledge in the following areas:
- Interpret historical evidence in written, visual, and material forms.
- Develop research questions based on a finite group of sources.
- Analyze the historiography of a field.
- Interpret individual arguments as part of a larger scholarly conversation.
- Work collaboratively to develop narratives about history and historiography.