Spring, 2008


Between 1754 and 1763 the government of Great Britain fought, and won, a major imperial struggle with the French.  Much of that fighting occurred in North America, where British colonists supported the empire with little protest or objection.  Within twelve years, however, many of those same colonists were supporting political protests and military preparations directed against both King and Parliament.  This sudden shift in political attitudes, which historians now call the American Revolution, is the first focus of this course.  The Revolution resulted in a vicious eight year war that is usually called the War for Independence.  That conflict is the second focus of the course.  Our textbook will provide you with a basic background narrative.

As we proceed chronologically, we'll also review the various ways by which historians have approached the study of the era.  Here our approach will be interpretive, asking how differing individuals and schools of thought within the historical profession have phrased questions, conducted research, developed arguments, and presented conclusions about America in the second half of the 18th century.  Our problems book will serve as the basis for our discussions here.

The main topics of study in this era are political and military, reflecting both the emphasis in documents of the era and the subsequent attempts by state and national leaders to place themselves within the context of the Revolution and Independence.  At times, however, we'll stop to look at some of the other features of the era which attract contemporary interest in such areas as religion, architecture, and social change.

The course thus has two primary objectives.  The first is to introduce the people, places, events, and ideas of America in the second half of the eighteenth century that have become important to historians as they seek to interpret the causes, conduct, and consequences of a modern revolution.  The second is to introduce the historiography of the era, exploring how differing views and interpretations reflect the opportunities and challenges of the historian's craft.

Our department is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Our dean asks that each syllabus offer a comment on our relationship to the liberal arts.  

Course Mechanics

Every course has some administrative procedures that assist us in achieving our course objectives.  Here are some of the important details:

Attendance:  Butler requires attendance at every class meeting, and requires that I report any time that you are absent from three consecutive classes.  I'll record attendance on a weekly sign-up sheet that I'll pass around.  I ask you to fill in your name on the seating chart the first week; please keep your chosen seat and help me link names with faces.

Office Hours:  I maintain a regular office hour in Jordan Hall 382B from 11:00 to 11:45 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I'll also be happy to schedule appointments at any mutually convenient time.  If your visit to my office involves a question of grading, be certain to bring the paper in question with you.  My department phone is 940-9868 if you need to call me.  I have Voice Mail and will return calls to daytime phone numbers.  My e-mail is ggeib@butler.edu   I am happy to accept papers by e-mail, but I insist you retain a copy of your paper until you are certain from my acknowledgment that I have received your transmittal.  My Web page is http://blue.butler.edu/~ggeib/

Readings:  If you have not already done so, visit the Butler Bookstore and pick up the books that are the basis for our discussions and writing assignments.  The current assigned books are listed here.  These books were listed as "in print" when book orders were placed.  If any go out of print (as sometimes happens), I'll make suitable substitutions.  If the Bookstore is unable to provide a title, I suggest you visit some of the good electronic bookstores out on the WWWeb.

On the back of your course introduction sheet is an assignment grid for the semester.  I list the readings as assigned one period before we will draw upon them in class.  Some writing assignments will require you to make independent use of the readings.  Our writing intensive assignments will require you to use the Internet and the resources of Irwin Library

Class Participation:  I structure our class discussions to encourage your participation.  The color of the paper upon which the handout with the assignment grid is printed assigns you to one of the discussion teams that we'll maintain this semester.  On each discussion day I'll ask your team to name a spokesperson (rotating the job so that everybody does the job at least once).  The spokesperson's job is to lead a group discussion in which you prepare responses to a series of questions that I'll assign on the basis of the readings, and to present the group's answers to the rest of the class.

Course Grade:  I will assign course grade upon the basis of the three papers you submit during during the semester.  The two mid-semester papers are 25% each, the final paper is 50%.  

Butler seeks to identify students who are experiencing academic difficulty early in the term so that the student can meet with an academic adviser.  For that reason I report a midterm grade for each student, which will be the average of the grades on the early papers.

Unlike some years in the past, this class does NOT carry writing-intensive credit.  The class does qualify for Division One (Humanities) credit in the current core curriculum.   

A Word About Language:  The American Revolution is over two hundred years away from us, and language changes over time.  You will find that many of the people we study use a vocabulary quite different from our own.  Keep a dictionary handy, and don't be afraid to use it when you encounter new words, phrases, and ideas.

About Grading:  I maintain a discussion of grading here.  I normally return papers one week after they are submitted.  I will accept e-mail papers with enclosures in Microsoft Word; other formats give my Mac trouble.  Save a copy of all papers.  Late work is nearly always hurried and superficial work; as a result it usually earns a quite low grade.  As a reward for submitting the first two papers on time, I will allow a rewrite opportunity during the week after those papers are first returned; the paper grade is the average of the original and the revised grade.  I assume late papers have already exercised their rewrite option.  The "drop dead" date for all such late submittals is the time listed in the schedule for the final examination.

Graduate Assignment:  Butler regulations require that students taking this course for graduate credit must complete additional assignments beyond those required of undergraduates.  For that reason, you are required to prepare  book reviews of two scholarly monographs written during the last decade on topics directly related to this course.  Most writer's guides offer directions of good ways to prepare a review.  Keep in mind that a review is much more than a report.  A report merely summarizes the content of a book; a review offers a critical evaluation that is based upon an understanding of the historiographic context of the work.  The first review is due in the sixth week of the semester, the second in the twelfth week.  Each should be 750 to 1000 words, footnote direct quotations, and include a full bibliographic citation.  I maintain a guide to book reviews that you may find useful.

Special Accommodation:  I strive to follow our University policy 

Paper Assignments:  Papers will be linked from here.

      Paper One

        Paper Two

        Paper Three

GWG  12/19/07