Amcon 101: Declaring Independence: 1607-1865
First Year, Semester I
Spanning more than two centuries, from the founding of the colonies to the Civil War, this course begins the discussion of questions central to the entire sequence: “What is an American?” “What does it mean to be free?” “What kind of place was British America before the Revolution? What did the Declaration declare? What kind of Democracy did the founders practice? Students explore the institutions, images, and stories of Euro-Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans, and they trace how the meaning of those stories and myths changed between the colonial period and today.
Among the topics, dense facts and texts we study in this course are: Literatures of exploration and colonization; the Pocahontas myth in art, literature, and history; the Pilgrim/Thanksgiving myth and the first Anglo-Indian alliance; Puritan religion and life; Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and American individualism; the Tea Party in history and contemporary mythology; the Declaration of Independence as literature and the promise of equality; early American newspapers; Toqueville’s Democracy in America. In addition to these academic pursuits, students also begin working on a series of hands-on civic engagement projects that will span all four courses.