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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 362
Course Title: History of the American West
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Analysis of Western America from colonization to the present. The course traces the imperial, commercial, intellectual and social relationships constituting the trans-Mississippi region. In particular, it appraises the interactions of diverse populations in a frontier borderland over the course of several generations. Furthermore, significant attention is given to territorial acquisition, population mobility, economic development and popular culture. Prerequisite: Junior standing.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): Junior standing.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Occasional offering.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

The required text must be assigned and supplemented with a minimum of two recommended texts. Additional primary and secondary sources may be assigned as well. Other appropriate scholarly monographs may be assigned.

Major Problems in the History of the American West
By Milner, Clyde, Anne Butler, & David Rich Lewis, eds. (Houghton Mifflin)
The American West: A New Interpretive History
By Hine, Robert V. & John Mack Faragher (Yale)
Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier
By Billington, Ray Allen & Martin Ridge (New Mexico)
American West
By Schweikart, Larry (Wiley)
It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own: A New History of the American West
By White, Richard (University of Oklahoma Press)
Oxford History of the American West
By Milner, Clyde, et. al., eds. (Oxford)
The Legacy of Conquest
By Limerick, Patricia (Norton)
Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth
By Smith, Henry Nash (Harvard)
Conquests & Consequences: The American West from Frontier to Region
By Higham, Carol L. & Katerberg, William H. (Wiley-Blackwell)
Power and Promise: The Changing American West
By Gary Clayton Anderson & Kathleen P. Chamberlain (Pearson)
Course Objectives
  • To recognize the main currents of U.S. history in regard to the trans-Mississippi West.
  • To explore the interrelationships between westward expansion and the continental hegemony of the U.S.
  • To compare and contrast various historiographical perspectives on the American West.
    Measurable Learning
    •  Describe the significant people, places and events of Western American history.
    • Analyze the historical processes and institutions that distinguished the Spanish and Canadian borderlands frontiers.
    • Explain the influence of Manifest Destiny on antebellum politics and the westering population.
    • Study the observations of women and men on the overland trails into the Far West during the nineteenth century.
    • Differentiate the major objectives, campaigns, and outcomes of the Mexican and Indian Wars.
    • Understand and explain the ways in which gender and gender roles shaped the experiences of women and men in the settlement of the West.
    • Describe the growth of transportation systems, mining corporations, commercial agriculture, military fortifications and cattle drives.
    • Analyze the contributions of the western territories to the emergence of vigilantism, populism and progressivism.
    • Describe the influence of sunbelt cities upon the westward tilt of national politics and economic growth during the twentieth century.
    • Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and trends in the historiography of the American West.
    • Describe and analyze the interactions of diverse populations and the emergence of a dominant American presence.
    Topical Outline:

    Because the course represents an upper level history elective, it bears a distinctive responsibility for teaching advanced knowledge within the discipline. It must be distinguished as an advanced course by three structural components: extensive reading, intensive writing, and historiographical thinking. It must require advanced students to complete both in class and out of class projects (i.e., midterms, finals, team reports, quizzes, research papers). The course reading load should be at least 100-0pp.; writing assignments should total c5000 words.

    • Defining the West and its history • Native homelands • Spanish and Canadian borderlands • New France and the fur trade • Federal support of explorers and emigrants • Legacy of acquisition • Cowboys, outlaws, and violence • Women and gender roles in the West • Reforming the West • Railroad, ranching, mining and agricultural labor • Living on the land • Water policy and conservation • The western home front • New cities, new lives • Owning the West • The West in popular culture

    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Tonia Compton Date: October 17, 2012
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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