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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)
Category/Comments - Primary Source
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)
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 Learning Outcomes
  1. Analyze the relationship between westward expansion and the development of American politics, economics, and culture.
  2. Explain the impact of American western expansion on indigenous populations from the colonial period to the present day.
  3. Explain the historical development of the American West as a region and the mythology of that region.
  4. Analyze the contributions of diverse populations to the building of the American West.
  5. Analyze primary documents within a historical framework.
Major Topics/Skills to be Covered:
  • Defining the West and its History
  • Native Homelands
  • Spanish and Canadian Borderlands
  • New France and the Fur Trade
  • Federal Support of Explorers and Emigrants
  • Manifest Destiny
  • The Mexican-American War
  • The Overland Trail
  • Growth of transportation systems, mining corporations, commercial agriculture, military fortifications, and cattle drives
  • Homesteading and western land policies
  • Mormon migrations and settlements
  • Populism & Progressivism in the West
  • Cowboys, Outlaws, Violence and Vigilantism
  • Women and gender roles in the West
  • The Indian Wars
  • Water Policy and Conservation
  • Hollywood
  • Impact of the Great Depression on the West
  • The Western Homefront in World War II
  • Post-war sunbelt cities
  • 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: September 10, 2015
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 learning outcomes and cover the subjects listed in the Major Topics/Skills to be Covered section. 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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