The Course

History 238

The American West

Professor Jeff Roche

TT: 1:00-2:20

Kauke 136

No other part of the country is so surrounded by myth, historical misinterpretations, and hype as the American West. In this course, we will seek to understand the West as it was and how it has come to be known. Central to our understanding is the concept of regionalism – we will examine the West as both a place and as a process. To gain a better understanding of the way these processes operate over time, we will examine three important periods and places in the West: the first part of the course we will examine empire in Southwest and the relationships between the Pueblos, the Spanish, and the Comanche. We will then turn our attention to the commodification and development of  the Great Plains as part of the industrialization of the United States. Lastly, we will look at Los Angeles as the preeminent city of the American West and the most important city in the twentieth century United States. We will approach our examination of the West using the tools of the environmental historian, the cultural historian, the economic historian, and the social historian.


Student Learning Goals:

A working comprehension of the historical narrative of the American West

A fundamental understanding of the skills of historical research

The ability to find, analyze, and process both primary and secondary sources

The ability to read critically a variety of sources and apply your analysis to larger historiographic trends

The ability to put your skills to work in a historical research paper

To ability present your ideas in both formal and informal settings