FALL 2008


Dr. Thomas J. Humphrey

Rhodes Tower 1938

216.523.7183, or email: tom.humphrey@csuohio.edu

Office Hours: Monday/Wednesday 11:00-12:00.


Course Objectives: By tracing the contacts between indigenous peoples, Europeans, and Africans from the late fifteenth century through the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763, this course examines the conquest and colonization of the North American.  While that story has been regularly, and variously, told, it is too often one sided.  Historians have for too long told the history of the conquest and colonization of the Americas from over the shoulder of European colonizers.  They have, collectively, justified the retellings of events and use of documents that privilege some sources and some perspectives over others, and, in the process, have reshaped contemporary communities and perspectives by re-colonizing the non-European inhabitants of early America.  Their view often builds on a misplaced notion of American exceptionalism and implicitly justifies the vicious acts European colonizers used to sanction their power over their opponents. It continues by cataloguing the slow, bloody march of Europeans across the continent and gives the whole story a feeling of inevitability.  It usually concludes by recounting how powerful and sophisticated European society became in North America, so powerful and so independent in fact that colonists broke away from Britain, specifically, to form their own independent nation.  

The historians who tell that version of events, however, often downplay the contingency of colonization and of history. Their version of the colonization of the Americas focuses on how Europeans colonized the countryside instead of focusing on the inherently competitive nature of colonization.  Colonization is not the process of how one group takes control of a region.  Colonization is the process by which groups of people wrestle for control of a region and the people who inhabit it.  By restoring agency to that story, this course emphasizes the fundamentally competitive nature of colonialism and provides a corrective to the kind of North American exceptionalism that dominates the historiography.  Colonization is thus a contingent process that pitted against each other different groups of people with varying strengths and goals.  The outcome of that process was unclear.  Such a view, however, takes us out of our comfort zones.  It forces us to rethink those ideas on which we have relied to understand the history of the early Americas.  It shows how combatants legitimated their claims to property and power by validating their brand of authority over others and by invalidating the authority of their opponents.  Such a view of colonization demonstrates not a colonial process but colonial processes and leads us to a deeper understanding not of Early America but of the early Americas.

Readings: The bulk of the readings for the course are scholarly monographs.  Each historian presents his or her perspective on some aspect of colonial American society.  Some books cover the entire period, while some only cover part of it.  Others extend beyond the scope of the course.  Students are responsible for all the material in these books.  The books are all available at the Cleveland State University bookstore, but I also encourage you to find these books at your local bookstores or web sites like amazon.com. 

Daniel Richter, Facing East From Indian Country.

Jennifer L. Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery.

Alan Taylor, American Colonies: The Settling of North America.
Matthew Dennis, Cultivating a Landscape of Peace.
Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil's Snare.
Richard S. Dunn, Sugar & Slaves.
Sharon Block, Rape & Sexual Power in Early America.




Quizzes:  I will administer six (6) unannounced quizzes during the semester.  These quizzes will be identification-style quizzes in which I ask you to describe specific events, ideas, or an author's point of view.  I use these to make sure you stay current with the readings and that you attend class regularly. I will draw on your readings and on material we cover in class.  Each quiz is worth 10 points and students may drop the lowest quiz score. If you miss a quiz, you cannot take it later. I will also take attendance and will lower a student's grade by one full letter grade for every six absences, excused or unexcused. 

Papers: Students will also write four papers during the course of the semester.  The first two papers will cover specific portions of the course. They will run 6 to 8, double-spaced, type-script pages of manuscript.  Each of these papers is worth fifty (50) points.  The first paper is due on 3 October 2008.  The second paper is due 8 November 2008.  Papers placed in mailboxes or under doors will not be accepted.  Late papers will be accepted in extreme cases only. 

The third paper will be a final paper that runs 10 to 12 pages and is worth 100 points.  This final paper will be due in class at the time of the final exam. Students, however, must hand in a rough draft of their final paper.  This rough draft is worth 20 points.  It is due 1 December 2008. I will not accept late rough drafts.  I will edit your papers for content and writing and get them back to you by the final class.  You will then rewrite them and hand them to me during the final exam period.

All of the papers cover the same topic. While we will discuss this throughout the course, the general topic is: How did competing groups sanction their authority in the early Americas?  The goal is to interrogate the processes of colonization and the ways in which various groups legitimated their authority over others.  This is, in fact, the goal of the course. 

This course meets the following criteria for the Writing Across the Curriculum General Education:
1.    Require students to write between 3,000 and 5,000 words (10-20 pages, double-spaced, in 12-point font, with 1” margins) in writing assignments (which may include drafts).
2.    Final versions of at least one assignment should total at least 2,000 words (eight pages).
3.    Teach students writing-to-learn strategies that foster students’ experiences in learning and writing-to-communicate strategies that foster students’ respect of readers’ experiences. Whenever possible, planning assignments (e.g. reading logs, pre-writing strategies) and peer reviews should be included.
4.    Assign writing complex enough to require substantive revision for most students.  The instructor should give feedback to assist students in preparing subsequent papers or drafts of papers.  This feedback should not consist entirely of mechanical correction of punctuation and grammar.   
5.    Provide instruction in discipline-appropriate forms of texts, arguments, evidence, style, audience, and citation.
6.    Assign writing throughout the semester. 
7.    Where appropriate, address the needs of students regarding library competency.
8.    Assign writing in English unless the course is specifically geared to improving writing at the 300-level in another language. 
9.    In order to receive a C or better in the course, students must write at a satisfactory skill level (C or better).  If the student’s writing is weak, but shows understanding of the course material, the student may be assigned a D, in which case WAC credit will not be received for the course.
10.     Maximum enrollment for this course is 35 or 45 with a graduate assistant.


Due Dates for Papers:

1st paper: 3 October 2008

2nd paper: 8 November 2008

Rough Draft of Final: 1 December 2008.

Final Paper: 8 December 2008, 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm.


Course Schedule:


Week One: Readings: Taylor, ch. 1; Richter, Prologue; Dennis, Introduction.

Topics: Introduction: Power and Authority in the Early Americas; Natives in the Americas Before Contact


Week Two: Readings: Taylor, ch. 2; Dennis, 1, 2, 3.

            Topics: Natives before Contact; Europeans before Contact


Week Three: Readings: Richter, chs. 1, 2; Morgan, Introduction and ch. 1.

            Topics: Contact


Week Four: Readings: Taylor, chs. 3, 4, 5; Dennis, 4, 5.

Topics: New Spain; Canada; New France; Central and South America


Week Five: Readings: Taylor, chs. 6, 7; Dennis, 6, 7.

            Topics: Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay English Colonies.


Week Six: Readings: Richter, ch. 3; Taylor, chs. 8, 9; Norton, .

            Topics: Puritanism; The Puritan Dilemma; New England; Religion and Witchcraft


Week Seven: Readings: Taylor, ch. 10; Dunn, 1-5.

Topics: The West Indies; Slavery in the New World


Week Eight: Readings: Morgan, chs. 2-6, Dunn, 6-8.

Topics: Slavery


Week Nine: Readings: Taylor, ch. 12.

Topics: New York; New Jersey; Pennsylvania


Week Ten: Readings: Norton; Block.

Topics: Women, Sex, and Witchcraft


Week Eleven: Readings: Richter, ch. 4; Taylor, chs. 13, 15.

Topics: Rebellions: Bacon and Leisler; and Awakenings

Week Twelve
: Readings: Richter, ch. 5; Taylor, 14.

Topics: Contested Authorities in the Atlantic World


Week Thirteen: Readings: None.

Topics: The Early Americas at Mid Century


Week Fourteen: Readings: Taylor, chs. 16, 18.

Topics: The Seven Years' War


Week Fifteen: Readings: Richter, ch. 6; Taylor, chs. 17 and 19.

            Topics: Paxton Boys; Pontiac's Rebellion; New Colonialism; Post-colonialism