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Course Syllabus

Course Information
HIST 4378: The American West
Spring 2011, JO4.102

Professor Contact Information

Jeff Schulze, JO4.622, 972-883-2073,
Office hours: MW 10:30-11:30 and T 9-10, or by appointment

Course Pre-requisites, Co-requisites, and/or Other Restrictions

HIST 1301, HIST 1302, HIST 2301, HIST 2330, HIST 2331, or the equivalent.

Course Description
As you will soon learn, the meaning of the “West” has generated quite a bit of debate. Does the term
describe a region just beyond an ever-advancing line of Anglo American settlement, a geographical place,
or simply a state of mind? If it is a “place” and not a “process,” where does it begin and end? What,
exactly, distinguishes the history of the American West from the broader narrative of U.S. history? In other
words, why study it separately? Keeping these debates in mind, we will survey the major political,
economic, and cultural developments in the history of the American West from the Spanish Colonial period
up to the present day. Through a combination of outside readings, in-class discussions, lectures, and films,
we will touch on the key turning points in the region’s history, focusing on the evolution of race and gender
relations, the persistence and growth of ethnic and cultural minority groups, and the role of the federal
government in the West’s economic, political, and cultural development. The purpose of this course is to
provide students with not only a general overview of the history of the American West, but with a more
complete understanding of how different segments of the American population experienced and influenced
that history.

Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

1) Identify and describe the major political, economic, and cultural themes that characterize the
history of the American West
2) Outline the major events (including violent conflicts, demographic, climatic, and/or cultural shifts,
economic developments, and government initiatives) that directly affected the trajectory of the
region’s history
3) Describe the evolution of race and gender relations in the American West
4) Demonstrate the ability to read critically and write clearly and concisely

Required Textbooks and Materials

Milner, Butler, and Lewis, Major Problems in the History of the American West, Second Edition
David J. Weber, What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680?
Sherry L. Smith, Sagebrush Soldier: Private William Earl Smith’s View of the Sioux War of 1876
Louis S. Warren, The Hunter’s Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth-Century America
Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River

Course Syllabus Page 1

Assignments & Academic Calendar

1/11 Course intro/nuts and bolts

*Begin reading Major Problems, 1-39
1/13 Defining the West
*Begin reading Major Problems, 42-69 and Weber, What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680?

1/18 Spanish Exploration/The Spanish Borderlands

1/20 The Spanish Missions

1/25 Quiz 1 and class discussion, What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680? and Major Problems, 42-69
1/27 The Texas Revolution/National Expansion
*Begin reading Major Problems, 156-193 and Smith, Sagebrush Soldier

2/1 The U.S.-Mexican War/Westward Movement

2/3 The Indian Wars (film clips: They Died with Their Boots On vs. Little Big Man)

2/8 Quiz 2 and class discussion, Sagebrush Soldier

2/10 Cowboy Culture and the “Western”: Various film clips
*Begin reading Major Problems, 238-266

2/15 Western Families

*Begin reading Major Problems, 303-339
2/17 Railroads, Mines, and Economic Growth

2/22 Western Reservations and Federal Indian Policies

2/24 Exam 1 (Take-home essay due)
*Begin reading Major Problems, 379-413
3/1 Western Water Woes
3/3 The New Deal in the West (film clip: The Plow that Broke the Plains)

3/8 Federal Indian Policy and the Indian New Deal/Repatriation

3/10 World War II and Unrest in the West
*Begin reading Warren, The Hunter’s Game

3/15 No class (spring break)

3/17 No class

3/22 Land Woes in New Mexico (film clip: Salt of the Earth)
Begin reading Major Problems, 416-452
3/24 “Other” Westerners

3/29 Quiz 3 and class discussion, The Hunter’s Game

*Begin reading Major Problems, 485-524
3/31 The Federal West

4/5 The Atomic West

4/7 Indians and the Atomic West
Begin reading White, The Organic Machine

4/12 Hetch Hetchy and the Environmental Impulse

4/14 Film: Swimming Upstream

4/19 Quiz 4 and class discussion, The Organic Machine

4/21 The Rise of Native America

Course Syllabus Page 2

*Begin reading Major Problems, 526-555

4/26 Tourism and the Mythic West

4/28 Exam 2 (Take-home essay due)

Grading Policy
Your four quizzes will account for 40% of your final grade, your two exams another 40%, and
since class discussions are a key component of this course, you will also be evaluated on
attendance and participation. This will make up the last 20% of your final grade. Finally, I DO
NOT offer extra credit assignments. Your six graded assignments will be your only chance to do
well in this course.

Course & Instructor Policies

Should you miss a class, you are responsible for obtaining notes from a classmate and/or arranging
any make-ups. In other words, I will not make my own notes available to students. I DO NOT
offer make-ups on quizzes, and will ONLY excuse a missed quiz grade with legal or medical
documentation. Late take-home essays will be penalized one-half letter grade per day. If you must
miss an in-class exam, please keep in mind that make-ups are ONLY granted with legal or medical
documentation or at my discretion, and must be BOTH arranged AND completed within ONE
WEEK of the exam date.

I DO NOT allow the taping of class lectures unless you can produce documentation from
Disability Services that recommends otherwise. Laptops are allowed, but students that abuse this
privilege will have it revoked. Drinks are permitted, but eating during class is not. As always,
remember to turn off and put away your cell phones and ipods.

For a complete overview of University policy, visit the following URL:

These descriptions and timelines are subject to change at the discretion of the Professor.

Course Syllabus Page 3