Classics in American History

History 39F

Fall 2005
210 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Tu 2-5

This seminar is designed especially to introduce college freshmen and sophomores to American history by acquainting them with some of the major works in the literature. Some are old classics, e.g., Ben Franklin's autobiography and Tocqueville's Democracy in America, which have become renowned almost as much as historical documents as for their historical content. Others, e.g., Kenneth Stampp's Peculiar Institution, Winthrop Jordan's White Over Black, and Matthew Josephson's Robber Barons, have taken on the character of classics in that almost from the moment they were published they became, and remained, indispensable reference points for every scholar who thereafter worked on their subjects. Finally, some of the books we will read (e.g., Kessner's Golden Door) may not deserve the title ";classic"; in either of the above senses, but rather serve exceptionally well to get into important modern subjects, or use special historiographical techniques, that as yet enjoy no classic treatment. All the books have been chosen because they make good reading as well as provoke thought about American history. Faithful attendance and active class participation are required.