Senior Seminar in American Studies
310 Stager Hall
Hours: Monday, 2:30 - 4:00
Wednesday, 2:30 - 4:00
and by appointment
This is a research seminar. We shall spend the first half of the semester exploring various facets of the process of conducting research using different types of documents, as well as the use of evidence and the development of effective analytical strategies. Because of the nature of the course, the principal component of the final grade will be the research paper submitted (50% of grade, which will reflect both the quality of research and the effectiveness of writing); two shorter writing assignments will represent 20% of the final grade, while participation in class discussions will represent the final 30%. Students will make a 10-15 minute formal presentation of the results of their research at one of the final two classes of the semester.
The instructor expects that students will attend all class meetings, will prepare reading assignments before the class in which they are due and participate fully in discussions, and will submit papers on the date due.
The research examples focus on Lancaster because of the proximity of libraries, historical societies, and governmental agencies, which will facilitate conducting research in primary sources. During a number of classes we'll also meet with authors and archivists and have the opportunity to discuss the processes of research, conceptualization, and writing.
Sept. 2 Introductory Meeting: Course requirements and expectations.
Walking tour of Lancaster (weather permitting).
Sept. 9 Why the History of Place is Important
Lewis Mumford, "The Value of Local History" (1927), in Bonnie Marranca, ed., A Hudson Valley Reader (Woodstock, NY, 1995), pp. 19-25. EDISK
Robert R. Archibald, A Place to Remember: Using History to Build Community (Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press, 1999), pp. 9-154, 198-221.
Lewis Mumford was one of the great writers and urbanists of the twentieth century. In this essay he argues for why an understanding of local history is essential to the human condition. Think about Mumford's arguments and try to apply them to the community in which you have grown up. Be prepared to explain why they are useful or why they don't apply to your home town.
Archibald is a professional historian who for years has been president of the Missouri Historical Society. He has come to see public history as different from academic history, as it is rooted in the community, yet also recognizes that in practice public history has to do much more to engage an increasingly diverse and distracted American society. As you read A Place to Remember think about what you recall about the communities in which you grew up, what meanings you find in everyday places and occurrences, and how you might write about those things. How do communities "reflect our collective identity"? What did you learn from Archibald that helps you think about the history of place and why it matters?
Sept. 16 Constructing the College's History (meet in College Archives, S-F Library)
Introduction to the College Archives with Christopher Raab.
David Schuyler and Lydia Wood, Thy Campus Stretching Long: The Franklin & Marshall College Landscape 1853-2000 (Lancaster, 2007).
Sept. 23 How a Community Constructs its History: The Christiana Riot
Thomas P. Slaughter, Bloody Dawn: The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. ix-xiv, 3-138, 182-92.
"Report of Committee on the Commemoration of the Christiana Riot and Treason Trial of 1851," Papers Read Before the Lancaster County Historical Society 15 (Oct. 6, 1911): 237-43. EDISK
John W. W. Loose, "The Christiana Riot Anniversary Exercises," Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society 55 (1951): 181-85. EDISK
Writing assignment # 1: This paper challenges you to think about the meanings of history and historical memory. Write a short (6-8 page) analysis of the meaning of the Christiana Riot, and what the 1911, 1951 and 2001 celebrations reveal about what a community chose to remember. In addition to the readings for Sept. 16, students should think about the 1911 monument and the 2001 commemorative events. Feel free to consult newspapers and other potentially valuable sources. Due Oct. 7, 2009.
Sept. 30 Constructing a Community's History: the 1950s
Jack Brubaker, "The 1950s: Brawl over sprawl begins," Sunday News, Aug. 1, 1999; idem, "Famous, infamous call county home," Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, Aug. 2, 1999; idem, "Conflict in Korea, A-bomb threat fuel Cold War fears," Lancaster New Era, Aug. 2, 1999; idem, "Consolidation changes face of education here," ibid., Aug. 3, 1999; idem, "Hot cars, squealing tires, wild pranks," ibid., all of which are included in Lancaster Newspapers, Inc., Our Century in Lancaster County, 1900-1999 (Lancaster, PA. 1999), pp. 35-41.
Jack Brubaker is a journalist rather than a professional historian. This is not to privilege historians over journalists, but rather to point to differences in disciplinary training, research methods, and writing (journalists tend to be much better at engaging a broader public). As you read these pieces, think about the world of Lancaster in the 1950s that Brubaker constructs from the pages of Lancaster's newspapers. How do the topics he covers conform to or differ from scholarly portrayals of the decade? what does he include that doesn't usually merit inclusion in traditional texts? what topics that you consider important are missing from these accounts?
Oct. 7 The Idiosyncracies of Place
John R. Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places (New York: Walker & Co., 1998).
Stilgoe is a landscape historian who teaches at Harvard. He is interested in the vernacular—the everyday humanly-shaped environment rather than the planned landscape. As you read Outside Lies Magic, think about how his observations of the humanly-created landscape change (or don't affect) the way you see things around you. That is to ask, what are you learning from Stilgoe's approach and how can you use it in your own thinking?
Writing assignment # 2: Students should prepare a prospectus for their research paper. This prospectus should include a summary statement of the topic, the research to be undertaken, and anticipated conclusions. The prospectus should include a full bibliography, with annotations for those sources/books that will be most important to the paper. Please submit a complete draft by noon on Oct. 26, so we can discuss it at our individual meetings prior to your submitting the final version on Nov. 4.
Oct. 14 From Community to Region
Jack Brubaker, Down the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake (University Park, PA, 2003).
Think about the kinds of sources Brubaker uses, especially the interviews and oral histories. Do you find that the individual lives / relationships with the river he presents complement the historical research and analysis? Do the historic photographs enrich the text, and if so, in what ways? Think about Brubaker's authorial strategy: how successful is it in evoking the history of river and region? what doesn't get adequate attention in the book? any ideas why not? what other options there are for writing about a region?
Oct. 21 Writing History -- from the seminar paper or lecture to the printed page
Meg Gerstenblith, "A City Besieged: The 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Lancaster," Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society 102 (Winter 2000): 138-75. EDISK
Andrew Kuhn, "The Ku Klux Klan in Lancaster County," Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society 98 (Fall 1996): 106-23. EDISK
M. Alison Kibler with Lisa Richman and Randi Weinberg, "The Fulton Opera House in Black and White: African American Protest and Performance in Lancaster, 1890-1915," Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society 106 (Fall 2004): 50-65. EDISK
David Schuyler, "Musser Park: An Enduring Gift to the City of Lancaster," Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society 106 (Fall 2004): 66-83. EDISK
As you read these articles, please think about the evidence used, the analysis, and the conclusions. What other types of materials could the author have consulted? do you find the analysis sound and the conclusions persuasive? be prepared to explain why or why not.
Oct. 28 Individual Meetings with Instructor
Nov. 4 Confronting Change
Hourglass Foundation, "Later than we think?," a supplement to the Sunday News, Nov. 22, 1998.
Lancaster Crime Commission, "Initial Report: City's future lies in embracing 'Fixing Broken Windows' Strategy," supplement to the Sunday News, Mar. 11, 2001.
Nov. 11 Individual Meetings with Instructor
Nov. 18 Individual Meetings with Instructor
Dec. 2 Student Reports on Research Projects
Dec. 9 Student Reports on Research Projects
Dec. 14 Final Papers Due, 4:00 P.M.