History 101.04

Spring 2010
Instructor (text): 
201 Wheeler
Day & Time: 
TuTh 11-12:30

This research seminar is for students interested in writing about frontiers or borderlands in the Americas. Projects on any time and any place in the Western Hemisphere are welcome, so long as they concern zones of interaction between two or more sovereign peoples. Papers on relations between English colonists and Abenakis in colonial Maine will be as relevant to this seminar as papers on human trafficking across the contemporary Mexico-Guatemala border. Students will be encouraged to look to the Bancroft Library for primary sources relevant to their research, and part of the seminar's energies will be directed toward navigating the library's vast materials. The Bancroft has one of the world's premier collections of materials bearing on the history of the Americas, and its holdings relevant to frontiers and borderlands are rich and diverse.

During the first few weeks of the term we will orient ourselves in the historiography of frontiers and borderlands by reading and discussing some of its most innovative, article-length scholarship. The articles will concern a wide range of times, places, and peoples, and will explore such themes as communication, religion, violence, trade, technology, state-formation, disease, slavery, labor, and cultural exchange in frontier or borderland regions. Just as important, the articles will model some of the core skills you will have to cultivate in order to write your own papers: formulating a question; locating and analyzing relevant evidence; developing an argument and structuring it through sub-arguments; and situating one's work within existing scholarship.

Because it is difficult to write a first-rate paper in a single semester, it is critical that we hit the ground running. Participants in this seminar will be expected to discuss their proposed topic in class during the first week. Topics should be well in hand and research under way by week three. Students interested in enrolling are strongly urged to contact Professor DeLay as early as possible in the fall term to begin a conversation about potential paper topics.