Topic outline

  • Course Description

    The course traces the history of family life in the U.S. from the time of European settlement to the end of the nineteenth century. Drawing on an interdisciplinary array of sources from popular literature to material culture, we will explore how the family both affected and was affected by the major historical developments of these centuries. Our study will include Anglo-American nuclear families as well as families and groups which did not fit the norm--slave families, immigrant families and utopian communities. A central focus of the course will be the importance of the family in defining and reproducing gender roles and relationships.

    • Required Texts

      D'Emilio and Freedman, Intimate Matters

      Susannah Rowson, Charlotte Temple  (get an edition edited by Cathy Davidson)

      Christine Stansell, City of Women

      All other readings listed on the syllabus are posted on this courses page. Bibliographic information is available on the first or last page of each document.
      • Writing and Evaluation

        Essay #1 Due September 21  (20%)

        Use multiple sources to write a 5-7 page paper on a topic relating to the colonial era (roughly 1620 to 1770). Topics might include the place and status of women, children and childhood, issues of sexual regulation, or any other theme or issue you find compelling.You could start with a thesis and draw on varied sources to support it--i.e. "Town Officials in Puritan New England used coercive measures to shape their communities, intervening in personal and family matters in matters we now consider private.” You may focus on any geographic region, though more of our class materials pertain to New England. It is optional to find and incorporate additional source materials for your essay. Papers should  incorporate direct quotations from the readings.  Cite primary sources amply to support your claims and give the reader a robust appreciation for the time period.

        Revisions of Essay #1 and Charlotte Temple in-class writing are due on October 31st.  Earlier submissions welcome.

        In-class writing on Charlotte Temple.  (15%)

        On Tuesday October 10th you will be writing about Charlotte Temple in class.  The prompt for the writing is below.  You may do as much as you like outside of class in preparing for this assignment.  Bring notes, class materials with highlighted and marked passages, etc.  You will have the entire class to write.  You may use your laptops.  I will be evaluating this as an in-class writing, so don't worry too much about style and organization.  If you are taking the class as designated writing and would like to revise this into a paper for the portfolio I will be happy to work with you. You may also revise this writing outside of class for a higher grade.

        Popular culture texts, it has been observed, resonate with the social issues of their time. Apply this insight to the novel, Charlotte Temple. In what ways does this first American bestseller embody the conflicts and concerns of the era which produced it? In answering this question, refer to both the novel and to the secondary sources from the class which help to contextualize the novel. Identify particular changes and issues(i.e. problems of sexual and social regulation, shifting dynamics of parent child relations, changing ideas of womanhood) and make connections between these broader historical patterns and specific aspects of the novel.

        Research Paper  (30%)
        Students will write an 8-10 page research paper on a topic of their choice.  Details in the document below.  Research proposals are due on November 7.  Final papers due Wednesday, December 6th by 3PM.

        Final Exam (25%)
        A combination of short answer and essay questions.  Date and time of exam to be scheduled by the registrar.  The best way to prepare for the exam is to do the reading, come to class, and take good class notes.

        Attendance and Participation (10%)
        To get the most out of this class you need to complete the reading before class and come prepared to discuss the material.  More than two unexcused absences will negatively affect your final grade.  At the end of the semester, students will make short presentations based on their research. 

        3 credit option:  6-8 page paper on a topic related to the class (30%); Charlotte Temple in-class essay (20%); Final Exam (40%); Participation (10%)

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