NOTE: At the start of each week, I will post a  lecture video with discussion questions.  I will also provide you with linked readings.

You will be asked to post a response to each week’s topic on our  OPENLAB. This assignment will be due each Monday by noon.

Classes begin Fri. 8/25.  Your Self-Introduction is due Friday, Sept. 1.          


Weekly Schedule

Unit 1 : First Encounters and the American Enlightenment (1492-1810)

Week 1                                              

  • Register for OpenLab and request membership to our course site
  • Post your introduction to the class on OpenLab
  • Explore class website


Week 2   First Encounters in the New World

Read your classmates’ introductions and respond to one or more of them

View   “Lost History of the Taino People” 

History of the Iroquois (Five Nations)

Read Christopher Columbus, “On His First Voyage to America, 1492”  (Here is a PDF version of the letter)

Bartolome de Las Casas “Destruction of the Indies”

Ned Blackhawk “Without Indigenous History, There is No US History”

Post a response on OpenLab to a key episode, line, or theme from your readings and/or documentary. Try not to duplicate a point made by another student but feel free to expand on his or her post.


Week 3  The Pilgrims Come to New England (1620)/The  Dutch Come to New Amsterdam (1609)

ViewThe Pilgrims  (PBS FILM) 

Read: William Bradford Of Plymouth Plantation (1650)

Our Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History

View “New York: Before the City” (with Eric Sanderson)

Read: Jacob Steendam’s    “In Praise of New Netherland” (1636) 

The Flushing Remonstrance


Week 4 The American Enlightenment

Read: Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography (1790) [Chapters 1-3 and 9 “Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection”]

Read: Venture Smith, A Narrative of a Native of Africa (1798)

View: My Video Lecture on  Venture Smith and New York Print History


Week 5

Read: Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence (1776)

Abigail Adams “Remember the Ladies”

Phyllis Wheatley “On Being Brought From Africa to America”(1773)

Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Paper #1

The Constitution

Assignment: Discuss  the inconsistencies in our Founding Documents (Declaration and The Constitution)


UNIT TWO: The American Renaissance (1810-1865)


Week 6 

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature,”  “Self-Reliance” and  “American Scholar”


Week 7

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience  and  Walden


Week 8:

Read: Edgar Allan Poe (Selected Stories)  “Tell-Tale Heart”

Listen:  Poe’s “The Raven” 


Week 9

Herman Melville’s  Moby-Dick (film); and excerpts from novel


Week 10

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (film); and excerpts from the novel


Week 11  The Fight for Women’s Rights

Read: Margaret Fuller “Educate Men and Women as Souls”

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Declaration of Sentiments” (1848)

Sojourner Truth “Ain’t I a Woman?”

Extra Credit: Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (film); Harriet Tubman (FILM), The Scarlet Letter


Week 12   The 1619 Project and the History of Abolition

Read: Frederick Douglass’ “Autobiography”

View: William Lloyd Garrison and The Liberator

              Douglass “What to the Negro is the 4th of July?” (1852)

1619 Project

The Long Battle Over History


Week 13

Walt Whitman Song of Myself (1855/1892), selections

Emily Dickinson, selections


Weeks 14-15 The Civil War

Abraham Lincoln “Gettysburg Address”

Walt Whitman “O Captain! My Captain!”

View: Glory (Film)

Recommended: Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln]

Final  Essay due




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