Research Seminar: 19th- and 20th-Century North American West

taught by David M. Wrobel

Download complete syllabus at this link.

Course Description:

This research seminar designed to provide a constructive and collaborative framework of professor and peer review for researching and writing on any aspect of the nineteenth- or twentieth-century North American West—environment, culture (including western representation in art and literature), borderlands, urban issues, race-relations, Native American, political or economic history. The first four weeks of the course are devoted to analysis of two book monographs, a scholarly article and a book chapter, as well as the recent content of journals pertinent to your research interests. Because of the large class size, we will meet in two separate groups for the next nine weeks to discuss your individual research projects in their various stages of development. We will reconvene as a whole for the last two weeks of class and in finals week for paper presentations, in conference session format.


Participation in weekly discussions of readings; presentations on your own work in progress and that of colleagues; final presentation in conference session format; short report on the recent contents of a scholarly journal (500 words); one book review on either required book (500 words); a reader report on one paper draft (500 words); and, the main assignment for the course: an article/essay-length manuscript (10,000-12,500 words, including notes). You may, of course, work on a thesis or dissertation chapter during the semester, but must structure the capstone paper to meet the above requirement.

Course Readings:

  • Boyd Cothran, Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).
  • Jerry J. Frank, Making Rocky Mountain National Park: The Environmental History of an American Treasure (University Press of Kansas, 2013).
  • Gary Anderson, “The Stealing of a Golden Land: Ethnic Cleansing in California,” in Ethnic Cleansing and the American Indian: The Crime that Should Haunt America (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014), 192- s218.
  • Benjamin Madley, “Unholy Traffic in Human Blood and Souls”: Systems of California
  • Indian Servitude Under U.S. Rule,” Pacific Historical Review, 83 (November 2014):

Class Schedule:
Week 1: January 15: Course Introduction + Discussion: California Indian History
Reading: Anderson, and Madley
Week 2: January 22: The State of the Fields: Journals Review + Cothran
Reading: 1 Journal + Cothran
Week 3: January 29: Cothran Redivivus + Frank
Reading: Frank + Cothran (re-examine)
Week 4: February 5: Frank Redivivus + Project Outlines Cothran Reviews Due
Reading: Frank (re-examine)
Week 5: February 12: Historiographical Landscapes (Group A) Frank Reviews Due
Week 6: February 19: Historiographical Landscapes (Group B)
Week 7: February 26: Historiographical Landscapes (Group C)
Week 8: March 5: Historical Significance (Group A)
Week 9: March 12: Historical Significance (Group B)
No Class March 19: (Spring Break)
Week 10: March 26: Historical Significance (Group C)
Week 11: April 2: Crafting History (Group A)
Week 12: April 9: Crafting History (Group B)
Week 13: April 16: Crafting History (Group C)
Week 14: April 23: Final Presentations: Conference Sessions 1-3
Week 15: April 30: Final Presentations: Conference Sessions 4-6
Final Week: May 7: Final Presentations: Conference Sessions 7 & 8