Stephen Arch
Michigan State University

The American Revolution

[Comment by Steve Arch: This course was taught for the general education curriculum at Michigan State University.  It enrolled 100 students, and attempted (as the syllabus suggests) to cross a few disciplinary boundaries.]


Integrative studies is an approach to a subject which makes use of multiple intellectual disciplines in order to reach a fuller understanding of the subject than might be obtained through a single discipline.  Accordingly, one goal of this course is to encourage you to see Revolutionary America from a variety of intellectual perspectives: economic, military, political, literary, racial, ethnic, pictorial, scientific, and so on.  You will be introduced to some of the many different ways in which human beings systematically try to understand human culture.  This is a course in cultural knowledge.  One method that all disciplines employ is careful reading of original sources.  You will be asked to learn to read a variety of original and secondary sources--poems, a novel, paintings, architecture, history, maps, state documents, diaries, an autobiography, etc.--and to read them sympathetically and rigorously.  This is a course in close reading.  Finally, I ask you in this course to write two formal papers, four short response papers, and a midterm and a final exam (both of which will include at least one essay question).  The third goal is thus to demonstrate your grasp of the first two goals by writing clear, logically-argued essays.


Edmund Morgan, The Birth of the Republic
Edward Countryman, The American Revolution
Richard and Joy Buel, The Way of Duty
James Flexner, The Light of Distant Skies
Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution
Ethan Allen, Narrative of Ethan Allen
Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Huntley
Merrill Peterson (ed.), The Portable Thomas Jefferson
Phillis Wheatley, Collected Works
S. Arch (ed.), Coursepack for 211C

Required work:  Midterm exam (20%)
                             Final exam (20%)
                             2 three-page analytic essays (20% each)
                             4 one-page response papers (5% each, 20% total)
                             Attendance at lectures
                             Attendance & participation at discussion sections

--The midterm and final exams will consist of both short-answer (factual)
questions and essay (interpretive) questions. [Anne Keller will grade the
midterm exam; Prof.  Arch and Anne Keller will grade the final exam.]

--The three page analytic essays will address topics handed out in class one
week in advance of the due date.  Topics will have been previously raised in
lecture and discussed in sections; essays will pursue one topic through an
analysis of one or more texts or passages from texts. [Prof.  Arch will of your essays, Anne Keller will grade the other.]

--One page response papers are due on Mondays at the beginning of class.  In
them, you are to respond to that day's assigned reading material: asking
questions, noting problems, tying ideas or themes together, grappling with
philosophical issues, etc.  You might spend your one page discussing merely one
point, or you might spend it raising a number of points: in either case, you
will be graded on writing style (1/3) and on insights into the material (2/3).
(Prof.  Arch will grade the response papers.]

--Attendance will be taken at lectures once a week (on average); you are
permitted two unexcused absences.  Attendance will be taken at all or most
discussion sections; here, too, you are permitted two unexcused absences.


8/28    Introduction
8/30    Countryman, pp. 1-73 (lecture)
           Coursepack, pp. 1-5 (section)

9/4     Labor Day--no class
9/6     Countryman, pp. 74-245 (lecture)
          Coursepack, pp. 7-13 (section)

9/11    Morgan, pp. 1-76 [Response papers, Groups 1 and 2)
9/13    Morgan, pp. 77-156 (lecture)
           Coursepack, pp. 15-20, 36-38 (section)

9/18    Declaration of Independence, in Portable TJ, pp. 235-241;
           Coursepack, p.39 (Response papers, Group 3]
9/20    Articles of Confederation, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, in
           Morgan, pp. 163-184 (lecture)
           Coursepack, pp. 49-53, 91-97 (section)

9/25    Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, in Portable TJ, pp. 23-152
           [Group 1]
9/27    Jefferson, Notes, pp. 153-232 (lecture)
           Coursepack, pp. 27-33, 73-75 (section)

10/2    Quarles, pp. 1-93 [Group 2]
10/4    Quarles, pp. 94-200 (lecture)
            Coursepack, pp. 55-61 (section)
10/6    * First analytic essay due by 12:00 noon

10/9    Wheatley, pp. 1-68 [Group 3]
10/11   Wheatley, pp. 69-124, 162-187
            Coursepack, pp. 63-71

10/16   Midterm exam
10/18   No classes

10/23   Allen, Narrative (in its entirety) [Group 1]
10/25   Allen, Narrative (lecture)
            Coursepack, pp. 99-119 (section)

10/30   Buel, pp. xi-71 [Group 2]
11/1     Buel, pp. 72-171 (lecture)
            Coursepack, pp. 21-26 (section)

11/6    Buel, pp. 173-281; Mary Silliman's War (video) [Group 3]
11/8    Mary Silliman's War (video)
           Coursepack, pp. 79-89 (section)

11/13   Flexner, pp. 1-96 [Group 1]
11/15   Flexner, pp. 97-156
            Coursepack, pp. 121-128
11/17   * Second analytic essay due by 12:00 noon

11/20   Flexner, pp. 157-247 [Group 2]
11/22   No classes

11/27   Brown, pp. 1-94 [Group 3]
11/29   Brown, pp. 95-231

12/4      Brown, pp. 232-285
12/6      conclusion

12/12     Final exam, 3-5 pm

*Page numbers in the coursepack refer to the handwritten numbers in the
lower-right corner of each page.  Additional short readings may be assigned for
discussion sections.  Discussion sections meet every Wednesday even if no
readings are scheduled for that particular Wednesday (except for 10/18 and
11/22, as announced).