HIST 3311: Nineteenth-Century American West
This course offers a survey of the major themes in the history of the American West to 1900. Although the class follows a rough chronology, it focuses tightly on three critical and overlapping themes: 1) cultural encounters in the West, encompassing not only the popularly familiar interactions between natives and European newcomers, but also among various Euro-American groups, the Spanish-speaking populations of the Southwestern borderlands, and Asian immigrants to the Pacific Coast; 2) the reciprocal relationship between people and the environment, meaning not merely the impact of hunting, logging, mining, and city-building, but also the profound influence of the natural world on the people who lived and worked there; and 3) the cultural symbolism of the American West, both as an enduring national icon and as an ideology that shaped the settlement of the region.
Andrew R. Graybill is new to SMU, having arrived in the summer of 2011 to serve as an associate professor of history as well as the director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies. A San Antonio native, he received his BA from Yale and his PhD from Princeton, and comes to Dallas after eight years at the University of Nebraska. His first book, Policing the Great Plains: Rangers, Mounties, and the North American Frontier, 1875-1910, is a comparative study of the two most famous constabularies in the world. At SMU, he teaches classes on the North American West, the environment, Texas, and the Southwest.
Learning Outcomes and Benefits
In this course, students will learn – among other skills – the following:
- How to read and evaluate primary and secondary historical sources;
- How to write an expository, argument-driven essay;
- How to think critically about complex social and political issues;
- How to state and defend an assertion in a college seminar environment;
- How to draw useful connections between the past and the present.