American Frontiers, Homelands, and Empire
Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 quarters
Students will explore the juxtaposed themes of Frontier and Homeland, Empire and Periphery and the Indigenous and Immigrant experience. We will use historical analysis (changes in time) and geographic analysis (changes in place) to critique these themes, and will turn toward cultural analysis for a deeper understanding of race, nation, class and gender. We will take as our starting point a critique of Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis”—that the frontier is "the meeting point between savagery and civilization"—as a racist rationale for the colonization of Native American homelands. We will consider alternative histories of Anglo-American expansion and settlement in North America, with interaction, change, and persistence as our unifying themes.
We will study how place and connection is nurtured, re-imagined and interpreted, particularly in Indigenous and recent immigrant communities. We will connect between the ongoing process of "Manifest Destiny" in North America and subsequent overseas imperial expansion into Latin America, the Pacific and beyond. The colonial control of domestic homelands and imperial control of foreign homelands are both highlighted in recent patterns of recent immigration. These patterns involve many "immigrants" who are in fact indigenous to the Americas, as well as immigrants from countries once conquered by the U.S. military. The American Empire, it seems, began at home and its effects are coming back home and will be contested again.
In fall quarter, we will track the historical progression of the frontier across North America and overseas and the territorial and cultural clashes of immigrant and colonized peoples. We will hear firsthand the life stories of local individuals and communities to understand their narratives of conflict, assimilation, resistance and survival. In the winter quarter, we will look at contemporary case studies that show the imprint of the past in the present and how 21st-century North American communities (particularly in the Pacific Northwest) are wrestling with the legacies of colonization, imperialism and migration. In particular, we will examine the overlapping experiences of Native Americans and recent immigrants, and Indigenous territories and migrations that transgress or straddle the international border as defined by "Homeland Security. This program offers ideal opportunities for students to develop skills in writing, research, and analysis.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day
|December 4th, 2013||This program will accept new enrollment with faculty approval.|
|November 18th, 2013||Winter fee has been added ($13).|
|April 26th, 2013||This program is now Fall-Winter (not offered during spring); the description has been updated to reflect that change.|
|January 17th, 2013||This program is now lower division (offered to freshmen and sophomores).|