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American Society and Culture:



Western Heritage



This is primarily a history course in which selected documents and literary works highlight important historical times or events in the birth and growth of America. It picks up where Western Heritage left off, with the 18th century. Thus, it sets North America throughout in relation to its European ancestors (and its South American neighbors). The reading of substantial works of literature is considered essential in order for the student to acquire an in-depth sense of the American experience. The student studies four areas which outline and help define that experience:

(1) American identity: colonial days to the mass immigration of peoples in the 19th and early 20th centuries;
(2) Race: slavery to the civil rights movement;
(3) Rise of America as an industrial power: big industry to the Depression and the New Deal;
(4) Modern America: the Cold War and the other contemporary issues.


Possible sequence of topics:

  • Colonial establishment
  • The Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution
  • The Constitution
  • Immigration
  • Slavery
  • The Civil War
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • Growth of Big Industry and Monopolies
  • The Labor Movement
  • America's Westward Expansion and Internationalism
  • World War I
  • The Depression and the New Deal
  • World War II
  • The Cold War
  • The 1960s: Protests, Counterculture, Reaction
  • The Status of Women
  • The New Immigrants from Asia and Latin America
Recommended Texts: Declaration of Independence; U. S. Constitution
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Henry David Thoreau, Essay on Civil Disobedience
Frederick Douglas, Life of a Slave
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
B. T. Washington, W. E. B. DuBois, Langston Hughes (selections) Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Stanton, Charlotte Gilman (selections) Richard Rodríguez, Hunger for Memory, Days of Obligation
Amy Tan, The Joyluck Club