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Speaking of American History

Sarah McNair Vosmeier

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Course Description
Studying history provides both pleasure and practical benefits.   Reading primary sources can be like using a time machine -- it takes only a little imagination to feel like you are in another time.  Analyzing primary and secondary sources also provides the practical benefits of a liberal arts education.  In particular, we will learn to use historical imagination, to analyze difficult texts, and to make historical arguments.   Speaking about history under various circumstances will help us strengthen oral communication skills.
    In our discussions this term, we will focus on the theme of  "American Slavery, American Freedom" -- to what extent is the American experience characterized by our highest ideals of liberty and individualism, and to what extent by our failing to achieve those ideals?  We will also consider how oral communication has changed over time.

                Calculating Grades
                Informal Communication
                21%    Preparation and Participation
                15%    Prepared Interview

                Formal Communication
                12%    Historic Speech
                20%    Article Presentation               

                16%    Midterm Exam
                16%    Final Exam

Nota Bene
Our class time provides an opportunity, rare in modern life, to focus for an extended time on a single task and conversation.  Please do not multitask -- to avoid distraction for others and temptation for ourselves, we will not use laptops, cell phones, etc. during regular class time.  (Laptops will be useful during scheduled workshops, however.) 

Late assignments will be penalized, and in-class assignments cannot be made up.  If you have an emergency and want to request an exception to this rule, contact me before the due date.

About items needed for this class
Our discussions will be based on close readings of texts, and you will need notes on the texts in the form of marginalia.  Thus, you should  budget appropriately for printing and photocopying in addition to the books you purchase.  (My class records show that the printing costs associated with marginalia pay off in significantly better grades.)

The following are available at the bookstore:
        Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom    (also on reserve at Duggan Library)
        O'Hair, Rubenstein, and Stewart, A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking

You will also need a bound journal -- choose either a good quality journal with acid-free paper or an inexpensive composition book.  Because you will be printing out most of the readings for this class, a three-ring binder will be convenient.  All of these items are available at the bookstore.

About Preparation, Participation, Presentations, and Exams:

Preparation and Participation:
    We will all enjoy our time together more and find our work more rewarding if everyone prepares and participates fully.  People who excel in participation read carefully and come to class with effective reading notes; they make useful comments in class or ask helpful questions, and they facilitate others' participation as well; they also complete brief assignments included in this portion of the grade adequately and on time.   
    Occasional brief assignments (such as marginalia checks or study guide contributions) allow you to demonstrate careful preparation for class.  
    Brief, informal speaking opportunities include the elevator pitch assignment, impromptu recaps of discussion or lecture details, and sharing your commonplace book entries.
    Your commonplace book (also part of this portion of your grade) will hold quotes you can use for future public speaking occasions, and it can also serve as a keepsake for this stage of your academic career.

    The prepared interview is similar to the kind of speaking you will do in a job interview.
    For the historic speech, you will deliver a speech from Hanover's history.
    The article presentation is similar to the presentations historians make at history conferences.

Two blue book exams will include identifications and essay questions.


Speaking and Reading about History
Jan. 8, 2018 (Mon.)    Lecture: "Defining Terms." 
Jan. 10, 2018 (Wed.)    "Discussion: Vosmeier, "On Marginalia," 2016 ( online);  Walker, Of Education, 1673 (excerpt online); Johnson, lecture at Google, 2010 (video online); Fleming, "Keeping a Commonplace Book," 2012 (online);     "Chicago Manual Footnote Style" (online). 
            Lecture: "The Commonplace Book."
            Workshop: The commonplace book.
Jan. 12, 2018 (Fri.)    Meet in the Duggan Library Archives. 
            Workshop: Using archival material (manuscript speeches).  Pocket Guide, 2-6, 8-13. 

Jan. 15, 2018 (Mon.)    Discussion: Kirkman, Science of Railways, 1903 (excerpt online); Krantz, "Professionalism and Ethics," 2015 (online); Miller, "Why What You Learned in Preschool is Crucial in Work," 2015 (online); Pocket Guide, 27-32.
Jan. 17, 2018 (Wed.)    Meet in the Learning Center.
            Workshop: Use of sources. Pocket Guide, 60-77.

Speaking of Seventeenth-Century Virginia    
Jan. 19, 2018 (Fri.)    Lecture: "Seventeenth-Century Virginia."

Jan. 22, 2018 (Mon.)    Discussion: Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom, 1975 (pp. xiii-xv [2005 edition], 3-6, 379-87).
Jan. 24, 2018 (Wed.)    Discussion: Smith, True Travels, 1630 (excerpts online).
Jan. 26, 2018 (Fri.)    Discussion: Smith, General History of Virginia, 1624, and other autobiographical excerpts, 1608, 1617 (excerpts online).

Jan. 29, 2018 (Mon.)    Discussion: Morgan, 71-91. 
            Workshop:  Elevator speeches. Krantz, "Developing Your Elevator Pitch," (handout).
Jan. 31, 2018 (Wed.)    Discussion:  Rountree, "Powhatan Indian Women," 1998 (online -- click on blue "PDF Full Text" to the left and print out);  Pocahontas, autobiographical fragments, c. 1608-1616 (online).
Feb. 2, 2018 (Fri.)    Workshop:  Prepared Interview.  Krantz, "Art of Interviewing" (handout); Pocket Guide, 20-27, 34-44.   Elevator pitch due.

Feb. 5, 2018 (Mon.)    Discussion: Mann, "America Found, and Lost," 2007 (online);  Rolfe, letter to Dale, 1614 (online).
Feb. 7, 2018 (Wed.)    Prepared interviews (schedule t.b.a.).  
Feb. 9, 2018 (Fri.)    Prepared interviews (schedule t.b.a.).  

Feb. 12, 2018 (Mon.)    Prepared interviews (schedule t.b.a.).  
Feb. 14, 2018 (Wed.)    Discussion: "Memorable Americans," 2017 (online);  Frisch, "American History and the Structures of Collective Memory," 1989 (online -- click on blue "Download PDF" button to the right and print out). 
Feb. 16, 2018 (Fri.)    Review.

Feb. 19, 2018 (Mon.)    Midterm exam
Feb. 21, 2018 (Wed.)    Discussion of speeches from Hanover's history:  Crowe, "Address to Literary Societies," 1857 (online); Bruce, graduation speech, 1945 (online); Austin, graduation speech, 1964 (online); Pence, commencement address, 2008 (online); Reisser, commencement address, 2014 (online). 
            Workshop:  Special occasion speeches.  Pocket Guide, 80-108, 192-202.  Commonplace books due.

Feb. 23, 2018 (Fri.)    Meet in the Duggan Library Archives.
            Workshop:  Transcribing Civil War letters. 

Winter Break

Speaking of the American Revolution
Mar. 5, 2018 (Mon.)    Lecture: "The Revolutionary Era."
Mar. 7, 2018 (Wed.)    Discussion: Declaration of Independence, 1776 (
Mar. 9, 2018 (Fri.)    Discussion: Abigail Adams, "Remember the Ladies" letter, 1776 (online).
            Workshop: Public speaking.  Pocket Guide, 13-20, 126-37.

Mar. 12, 2018 (Mon.)    Historic speeches delivered.
Mar. 14, 2018 (Wed.)    Historic speeches delivered.
Mar. 16, 2018 (Fri.)    Meet in the Duggan Library computer lab.
            Workshop: Bibliographic Instruction.

Speaking of the Nineteenth Century
Mar. 19, 2018 (Mon.)    Lecture: "The Civil War."
Mar. 21, 2018 (Wed.)    Discussion: Monfort letters (online).
Mar. 23, 2018 (Fri.)    Discussion: Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863 (online); Sojourner Truth, Ain't I a Woman?" speech, 1851 (online).

Mar. 26, 2018 (Mon.)    Workshop: Presentations and visual aids.  Pocket Guide, 110-23, 140-54.  Meet in the Duggan computer lab.
Mar. 28, 2018 (Wed.)    Discussion: Pogle, New Popular Reciter and Book of Elocution, 1901 (excerpt online); Pocket Guide, 167-87. 
Mar. 30, 2018 (Fri.)    Presentation consultations, no class meeting.


Conference on Twentieth-Century America
Apr. 2, 2018 (Mon.)    Article presentations.   Clotfelter, "Die-Hard Fans and the Ivory Tower’s Ties That Bind," 2015 (online -- click "PDF Full Text" to the left and print out).
Apr. 4, 2018 (Wed.)    Article presentations.   Lowe, "From Robust Appetites to Calorie Counting," 1996 (online).
Apr. 6, 2018 (Fri.)    Article presentations.   Adams, "Follow the Money: Engineering at Stanford and UC Berkeley during the Rise of Silicon Valley," 2009 (online -- click "PDF Full Text" to the left and print out).

Apr. 9, 2018 (Mon.)    Article presentations.  Flowers, "The Launching of the Student Sit-in Movement," 2005 (online -- click "PDF Full Text" to the left and print out).
Apr. 11, 2018 (Wed.)    Assignment t.b.a.
Apr. 13, 2018 (Fri.)    Review.  Commonplace book due.

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Suggestions for Achieving the Objectives

    of the General Education Requirements

(the Speaking Area of Competence and Engagement


the Historical and Social Perspectives Core Curriculum Requirement)

Objectives of the Speaking ACE
Demonstrate skill in structuring oral presentations for maximum effectiveness, interest and clarity

Present clear positions on subjects of importance and support them with evidence

Critically evaluate and respond to the arguments of others, recognizing premises, chains of reasoning, ambiguities, implications, and logical

Consider purpose, audience, context, and style in spoken work

Objectives of the HS CRE

Examine the distinguishing features of the social world in a global or historical context.  
By reading and discussing primary and secondary sources on American history (detailed  above), we will examine features of American society in historical context.  This objective is a part of everything we do, but exams are an especially clear way for students to  demonstrate this objective.

Confront issues of causality and human motivation.
We will use primary and secondary sources to consider what motivates people to behave the way they do and how to determine what causes change over time.  Class discussions and most graded assignments provide the opportunity to demonstrate this objective.

Give consideration to ethical issues embedded in the social world.
Discussing liberty and individualism in historical context is an example of considering ethical issues embedded in the social world.  Class discussions and most graded assignments provide the opportunity to demonstrate this objective.

Explain key ways of evaluating evidence when examining historical and social issues.

From readings and lectures, students will learn how historians make historical arguments and how they use evidence to support those arguments.  This objective will be a part of almost everything we do, but the "Use of Sources" assignment is an especially clear way for students to demonstrate this objective.

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