The Frontier in Global History

HISTORY 103B.003

Fall 2015
204 Wheeler
Day & Time: 
W 10-12P
What is a frontier? It is certainly more than a line on a map. “The frontier” has been represented as place of egalitarianism and rugged individualism, a source of elementary energy and democratic ideals. It has also stood for conquest and appropriation, a place of exploitation and genocide. To American historian Frederick Jackson Turner, the frontier represented “the really American part of our history.” Yet there is nothing exclusively American about frontiers and their representations; wherever the power of a state stands “at the hither edge of free land,” there are frontiers. In this seminar we will engage the global history of continental expansion in three geographical regions: the American West, Germany’s East and Russia’s borderlands. Through the examination of diverse primary sources and the works of modern historians, we will study frontiers as spaces of imperial expansion and conflict as well as sites of interaction and coexistence. This course is designed for students of American or European history as well as those with an interest in global history, environmental history, or the history of empires and borderlands. 
Michael Dean received his PhD in History at U.C. Berkeley in 2014, where he studied the history of nations, migrations and empires. His current research project, “A Small Nation in an Age of Empires: Czech Nation-Building in a Globalizing World, 1848-1938” explores the rise of a modern Czech identity in German Central Europe amid waves of mass labor emigration, empire building and the spread of global markets. He enjoys engaging with students about the entanglement of local and global histories, the formation of individual and collective identities and the history of frontiers in the modern world.

Course Books

The Middle Ground by White, Richard Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9781107005624 Required
Taming the Wild Field by Sutherland, Willard Cornell University Press. ISBN: 08011442095 Required
Winnetou I by May, Karl Independently published by Marlies Bugmann. ISBN: no ISBN Required
The German Myth of the East by Liulevicius, Vejas Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780199546312 Required
A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov, Mikhail Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780143105633 Required