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The American South
Senior Seminar
History 498
Fall 2010

Professor: Steve Estes
Office: Stevenson 2070D
Phone: 707.664.2424
Office Hours: M/W 2:30-3:30; T 3:00-4:00
Class Meets: 5:00 p.m. - 8:40 p.m. Tuesdays

Course Objectives:
This course is a readings and research seminar in the history of the American South. We will take a fairly long view of southern history beginning with readings on the role of southerners in the American Revolution, progressing through the Civil War and civil rights movements and ending in the present. There are scholars who believe that the South is no longer a distinct cultural region. They argue that urbanization, industrialization, and a strong sense of American nationalism have led to an “end of southern history.” By the end of the semester we will have done original research and will come up with our own answers to this question.

James Cobb, Away Down South
Joseph Crespino and Matt Lassiter, The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism
Joseph Ellis, American Sphinx
Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul
Edward Larson, Summer for the Gods
Michael Shaara, Killer Angels
Tim Tyson, Blood Done Sign My Name
+Articles and Reserve Readings

Course Requirements:
Classroom Participation & Reading (30% of final grade): As an advanced history seminar, meeting once a week on Tuesday evenings (5:00 p.m. - 8:40 p.m.), this course requires that students keep up with the reading and actively participate in class discussions. At the beginning of the term students will choose one week to lead the discussion for half of the allotted class time. You must come to consult with me before you lead the discussion. Leading the class discussion is worth 20 percent of the final grade and general participation throughout the rest of the class is worth an additional 10 percent.

Readings Journal (40% of final grade): Each week, you need to write a typed, one-page review of the book or articles that we are reading. This review should briefly summarize the primary argument or topic of the readings, and it should analyze how effectively the author conveys his or her main points. For academic books and articles, does the author look at the relevant source material? Does s/he place the work in a historical and historigraphical context? What questions did the work(s) raise in your mind? Was the writing engaging? Journals are due twice during the semester. (See schedule.)

Term Paper (30% of final grade): The term paper, dealing with any aspect of southern history, is 15-20 pages in length. It must be based on both primary and secondary sources. Note that there is a proposal due about midway through the semester and a rough draft of the first few pages due about a month later. Students will give a 5-7 minute presentation of their research at the end of the semester. This paper is worth 30 percent of final grade—including grades on proposal, introduction rough draft, and on the research presentation at the end of the semester.

Course Schedule

Week I: Introduction 8.31
Required Reading: None
Part 1: Student Introductions & Discussion of Reviews / Research Topics
Part 2: View & Discuss O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Week II: Of Planters and Presidents (Part 1) 9.7
Required Reading: Ellis, American Sphinx, xiii-74, 139-199
Part 1: Discussion of Book
Part 2: Primary Source Analysis: Jefferson Writings

Week III: Of Planters and Presidents (Part 2) 9.14
Required Reading: Ellis, American Sphinx, 200-368
Part 1: Student-led Discussion and Reviews
Part 2: Professionalism and Ethics in Historical Education

Week IV: Po’ Whites 9.21
Required Reading: Carl Osthaus, "The Work Ethic of the Plain Folk: Labor and Religion in the Old South," Journal of Southern History 70:4 (November 2004): 745-782; and Stephanie McCurry, “The Two Faces of Republicanism: Gender and Proslavery Politics in Antebellum South Carolina,” Journal of American History, Vol. 78, No. 4 (March 1992). [On-line through Library Databases]
Part 1: Student-led Discussion
Part 2: Discussion: Class and Southern History

Week V: The Slave Market 9.28
Required Reading: Johnson, Soul by Soul
Part 1: Student-Led Discussion
Part 2: Debate: Slavery and Capitalism

Week VI: The War 10.05
Required Reading: Shaara, Killer Angels
Part 1: Student-led Discussion
Part 2: Video Clip: Gettysburg; Discussion: Military History and Historical Fiction

Week VII: Southern Identity (Part 1) 10.12
Required Reading: Cobb, Away Down South, 1-184
Part 1: Student-led Discussion
Part 2: Video Clips: All the King’s Men (1949 and 2006)

Week VIII: Research Day 10.19
Required Writing: Research Proposal (1-page on thesis and sources)
Due today in Estes Mailbox (History Department Office)
Required Reading: None
No Class Meeting

Week IX: The Scopes Trial 10.26
Required Writing: Readings Journal (Part 1: Including an entry on Summer for the Gods!!)
Required Reading: Larson, Summer for the Gods (Skip chapters 5 and 10)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion
Part 2: Video Clip Inherit the Wind; Discussion of Paper Proposals

Week X: The Long Civil Rights Movement 11.02
Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past” Journal of American History (March 2005): 1233-1263; Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua and Clarence Lang, “The ‘Long Movement’ as Vampire: Temporal and Spatial Fallacies in Recent Black Freedom Studies” Journal of African American History (March 2007): 265-288. [On-line through library databases.]
Part 1: Student-led Discussion
Part 2: Critique the Professor

Week XI: Civil Rights and Historical Autobiography 11.09
Required Reading: Tyson, Blood Done Sign My Name
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Video Clips: Eyes on the Prize

Week XII: The End of Southern History (Part 1) 11.16
Required Reading: Lassiter & Crespino, Myth of Southern Exceptionalism, Intro, Chapters 1, 4-8
Part 1: Student-led Discussion
Part 2: Video Clips: Southern Racism and American Cinema

Week XIII: Southern Identity (Part 2) 11.23
Required Writing: Draft of research paper introduction (two pages)
Required Reading: Cobb, Away Down South, 185-340
Part 2: Discussion: The “Southern Strategy” and the Politics of Southern History

Week XIV: The End of Southern History (Part 2) 11.30
Required Writing: Readings Journal (Part 2) Due today and should include today’s reading.
Required Reading: Lassiter & Crespino, Myth of Southern Exceptionalism, Chapters 9-13
Part 1: Student-led Discussion & Reviews
Part 2: Rebel Flag Debate

Week XV: Student Presentations 12.07
Required Writing: Research Paper Due
Begin Student Presentations

Week XVI: Final Exam 12.14 (5:00 pm – 6:50 pm)
Complete Student Presentations