American Civilization


San Jose State University

Fall 2008     AMERICAN STUDIES 1A   Sean Connelly

              Seminar Requirements, Section 22

office: CL 414N hours: T/Th, 3-4

phone: 924-1367 and by appointment

course blog:

The purpose of seminar is to clarify and complicate our understanding of American Studies 1A course materials. To that end we will discuss lectures and readings, screen relevant films for wider context, test our knowledge with quizzes, and engage one another in a spirit of scholarly camaraderie



We will be reading prodigiously. Give yourself time to finish the assigned texts. I strongly advise that you read actively, with pen and dictionary at hand.


Two analytical essays– topics will be given as the semester proceeds– are required for this course. Writing assignments should meet college-level standards in terms of mechanics (grammar, syntax, etc.) and depth of content. I am available to help you with drafting your papers.


Please come to seminar having completed the reading assignments and with comments and questions.  Becoming familiar with the historical and cultural narrative of American Civilization will enable us to flip the script, think against the grain, come to terms with any confusions and explore new ideas. Your informed participation, then, is vital.

American Institutions Requirement

State law requires all students graduating from a CSU campus to demonstrate knowledge the US Constitution. This seminar will satisfy that requirement.


You will earn a single, 6-unit grade for the lecture and seminar.  The grade will be determined as follows:

2 Midterms (15% each) 30%

Paper #2  20%

Final exam 20%

Seminar requirements(participation, quizzes, written work) 20%

Paper #1 10% 

AMS 1A: American Civilization

Fall 2008 Course Schedule 

T 8/26 Introductions and Course Overview

TH 8/28 Film: The New World (2005)

N (Norton) 1: Three Old Worlds Create a New, 1492-1600

T 9/2 Agricultural Technologies and Practices Among Native American Women (MD)

N2: Europeans Colonize North America, 1600-1650

TH 9/4 The New England Puritans: Views from the “City” (JG)

H (Heath): John Winthrop (147-149); A Modell of Christian Charity (149-157); Bay Psalm Book/New England Primer; Bay Psalm Book; Psalms (various); Alphabet (198-206)

T 9/9 Ecological Conflicts (MD)

N3: North America in the Atlantic World, 1600-1650

H: New England” (136-39); William Bradford (164-165); Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I, Ch. IX and Book II, Ch. XI, XIV, XIX (167-177); Thomas Morton (140-141); and all selections from Book I (141-144)

TH 9/11 Captivity Narratives as a Foundation of American Fiction (SC)

H: Mary W. Rowlandson (206-208); Preface and Narrative of Captivity, (208-232)

T 9/16 New World, New Women: Captivity & the Construction of Gender (MD)

N4: American Society Transformed, 1720-1774

TH 9/18 The Pueblo Revolt (MD)

H: New Spain (46-47); Don Antonio de Otermín (86-87); Letter on the Pueblo Revolt (88-95); The Coming of the Spanish & the Pueblo Revolt (Hopi) (95-99)

T 9/23 Jonathan Edwards and the First Great Awakening (JG)

N5: Severing the Bonds of Empire, 1754-1774

H: Jonathan Edwards (315-317); Personal Narrative (317-327), Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (328-339)

TH 9/25 Olaudah Equiano, the Black Atlantic, and the Making of the Liberal Subject–Part 1  


H: Olaudah Equiano; Interesting Narrative (526-554); Benjamin Franklin (365-367); The Way to Wealth (367-373)

T 9/30 Equiano – Part 2 (SC) 

N6: A Revolution, Indeed, 1774-1783


T 10/7 Film: Shays’ Rebellion: America’s First Civil War?  

N7: Forging a National Republic, 1776-1789

TH 10/9 Republican Motherhood (JG)

H: “John Adams / Abigail Adams” (471-472); Letter from A. to J., March 31, 1776 & Letter from J. to A., April 14, 1776 (473-474

T 10/14 Machine Technology in the Early Republic (MD)

N8: The Early Republic: Conflicts at Home and Abroad, 1789-1800

Jefferson, Query XIX, On Manufactures (URL TBA); Hamilton, Report on Manufactures (URL TBA)

TH 10/16 American Drama to 1860 (SC) 

R (Richards): TBA

Paper 1 due

T 10/21 Film: One Nation Under Law (John Marshall and the Supreme Court)

N9: Defining a Nation, 1801-1823

TH 10/23 Slave Religion (JG)

H: David Walker (801-02); Appeal…to the Coloured Citizens of the World (802-812); Harriet A. Jacobs (841-842); Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (843-860) 

T 10/28 Cotton, North & South (MD) 

N10: The Rise of the South, 1815-1860

H: Herman Melville (1055-57): begin Benito Cereno (1084-1141)

TH 10/30 Faith, Hope, and Parity: “Let My People Go” Guest Lecturer: Jeremy Harris

H: Finish Benito Cereno

T 11/4 Henry David Thoreau: Being at Home in the World (SC)

N11: The Modernizing North, 1815-1860

H: Henry David Thoreau (749-751); Where I Lived and What I Lived For (765-775); Economy (URL TBA)


T 11/11 Veteran’s Day Holiday – begin A Frontier Lady

TH 11/13 Abolitionists and Feminists (MD)

N12: Reform and Politics in the Age of Jackson, 1824-1845

H: (Intro to) Grimké sisters (812-813); S. Grimké, Letter VIII; A. Grimké, Appeal (814-825); E.C. Stanton (861-862); Reminiscences and Declaration (862-866)

T 11/18 The California Missions: A Dream Gone Awry (JG)

N13: The Contested West, 1815-1860

Fr. Jose Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Rubio, “The Missions of California in 1833” (handout)

TH 11/20 The Pilgrimage of Sarah Royce (JG)

Finish A Frontier Lady, Sarah Royce

T 11/25 Frederick Douglass: Literacy as Property (SC)

N14: Slavery and America’s Future: The Road to War, 1845-1861

H: Frederick Douglass (866-867); Narrative (867-931)

Paper 2 due

TH 11/27 Thanksgiving Holiday

T 12/2 The Hollywood Civil War Film (SC) 

N15: Transforming Fire: The Civil War, 1861-1877

TH 12/4 Patriotism and Subversion in the Civil War Era: “It’s all just music, man” (Jeremy Harris)

T 12/9 Christmas in America (JG) 

N16: Reconstruction: An Unfinished Revolution, 1865-1877

William Bradford, “Christmas 1621” in Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647 (handout); Clement Clark Moore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (handout)

Final Exam: Monday, December 15, 9:45 to noon in the lecture hall

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