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Teaching American History


that is related to two sets of historical facts. ... To Brandel, historical events are merely: ... 'Events are often only momentary outbursts, surface ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Teaching American History

Teaching American History
  • Conceptualizing American History via
  • Event Analysis
  • but first why are you here?

Teaching American History
  • Good answer!
  • But here is another answer
  • that is related to two sets of historical facts.
  • Historical Facts Set 1 For several decades I
    have been interested in this question

Teaching American History
  • If I am such a wonderful teacher, then why dont
    my students do better on my exams?
  • My favorite answer to the question
  • is that it is because many of my students
  • do not read the assigned readings.
  • But why do they not read the texts?

Teaching American History
  • Perhaps it is because
  • Many history texts are boring
  • and
  • Many history texts are simply data dumps
  • that attempt to say a little about everything,
    and are poorly organized

Teaching American History
  • Again, lets go back to the question,
  • Why are you here?
  • Historical Facts Set 2
  • In 2002 I read an article in the NEJM,
  • renewed a childhood friendship, and
  • soon the idea for 12 Days That Changed America
    was born
  • In 2003 our dean changed the merit system,
  • and I tweaked the book proposal for 12 Days and
  • added Dr Olsons issue analysis idea
  • and approached Bill about a TAH grant
  • In 2004, the grant was funded

Teaching American History
  • Since then 12 Days was converted
  • from a trade book into a textbook,
  • changed its name to Currents,
  • and was signed with McGraw Hill
  • but ultimately published
  • with ME Sharpe

Teaching American History
  • The idea of Currents in American History is to
  • - provide good stories
  • about days of impact
  • that can help students frame the contours
    of the American past
  • and enable them to understand cause and
    effect relationships

Teaching American History
  • Last year I had 3 hours for this lecture so I
    used the time to talk about historiography and
    changes in the history profession over the last
    two centuries
  • Lucky for you, this is now a 1 hr lecture
  • so you can skip the next 15 slides
  • but please remember this one thing ...

during the last 150 years the pendulum has swung
Narrative history
Analytical history
back toward Analytical history
wrapped into a narrative structure
(Notice Do not learn because the following
material will NOT be on the final exam)
  • I will make a statement about history
  • and you tell me ...
  • 1) if you agree or disagree with the statement,
  • 2) if you think most academic historians today
    agree with the statement, and
  • 3) if you think historians 100 years ago would
    have agreed with the statement

Teaching American History
  • Agree or disagree?
  • History is essentially linear, progressively
    marching on a gradual gradient upward.
  • The task of the historian is to arrange the facts
    in their proper order and let the facts speak for
  • The task of the historian is to search for
    universally applicable generalizations.

Teaching American History
  • Answer key to statements 2 and 3
  • Today, most academic historians disagree with
    each statement
  • 100 years ago, most historians agreed with each

Teaching American History
  • Why did most historians 100 years ago embrace
    these statements?
  • The short answer is because most academics a
    century ago believed in the notion of progress.
  • But why.....

Teaching American History
  • If progress was really real,
  • then the primary task of the 19th century
    historian was to explain why or how the march of
    time propelled humankind forward rather than
  • Here are some common answers given by the great
    19th century philosophers of history

Teaching American History
  • Prophets of Progress in the Golden Age of
  • Thomas Carlyle human progress is the result of
    great men
  • Jules Michelet history is the story of people
    overcoming misery, bringing freedom into the

Teaching American History
  • Georg Hegel
  • history is the unfolding of truth, ultimate
    reality what happens is a reflection of the
  • the dialectic method
  • thesis, antithesis, synthesis

Teaching American History
  • Marx dialectic materialism
  • stages of history
  • primitive communism
  • slavery
  • feudalism
  • capitalism
  • advanced communism

Teaching American History
  • August Comte father of sociology
  • stages of humanity
  • theological era
  • philosophical era
  • age of science with goal to find
  • laws of society and apply them

Teaching American History
  • Leopard von Ranke
  • through history, humanity can discover the
    ultimate Truth, Gods plan for humanity
  • Herbert Spencer Social Darwinism
  • progress will proceed if mother nature has her

Teaching American History
  • In the early 20th century, however, the idea of
    progress was questioned, if not outright
  • Why do you think 20th century scholars began to
    doubt the reality of progress?

Teaching American History
  • Annales School
  • Mid 20th century historians who wanted to
  • enlarge the scope of history
  • make greater use of the social sciences
  • focus mainly on the structures that cause
    events rather than the events themselves

Teaching American History
  • To Annales School historians, to understand the
    past we need to understand that
  • geographical time (the relationship between
    humans and the environment) moves slowly
  • social time (the relationship between groups in
    society) moves at a moderate pace
  • individual time (event history) moves very

Teaching American History
  • To Brandel, historical events are merely
  • surface disturbances, crests of foam that the
    tides of history carry on their strong backs.
  • Events are often only momentary outbursts,
    surface manifestations of... larger movements and
    explicable only in terms of them.

Teaching American History
  • Some 21st century academics (and most of the
    public) believe that
  • historical discourse today is too specialized,
  • too much current history is driven by theory that
    gives too little importance to individuals as
    decision makers
  • and we need to return to more narrative history
    and biography

Teaching American History
  • Currents in American History will
  • conceptualize the American past by assessing the
    causes and consequences of 14 critical turning
    point events that have shaped American political
    and popular thought.
  • describe each event in an engaging narrative that
    draws on the passion and emotion of each
    historical era.
  • show how each day of destiny triggered a set of
    new events that changed American beliefs and led
    us into a new era of history.
  • organize facts that offer insights into how the
    present is created by past actions.

Teaching American History
  • If you were asked to select one
  • turning point event for each generation
  • since the generation of 1776,
  • what moments would you select?
  • What factors would influence your decisions?
  • My selections were ....

Teaching American History
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction The Genesis of America
  • Chapter 1 Conceived in Liberty The Story Behind
    the Story
  • Chapter 2 Defining the American Dream, July 2,
    1776 The Declaration of Independence and the
    Forging of a New Nation
  • Chapter 3 Undeclaring War, February 18, 1799
    Navigating Neutrality
  • and the Ramifications of the Pursuit of
  • Chapter 4 Struggling for Survival, September
    13, 1814 The Battle for
  • Baltimore and the Emergence of American

Teaching American History
  • Chapter 5 The Inauguration of Andrew Jackson,
    March 4, 1829 America Enters the Age of the
    Common Man
  • Chapter 6 In the Name of Manifest Destiny, May
    9, 1846 The War with
  • Mexico and the Acquisition of the American
  • Chapter 7 A Nation Divides, April 12, 1861 Fort
    Sumter and the Era of the American Civil
  • Chapter 8 Presidential Bargaining, February 26,
    1877 The Compromise of 1877 and the Price of
    National Unity
  • Chapter 9 The Sinking of the Maine, February 15,
    1898 The Spanish American War and the Emergence
    of America as a World Power

Teaching American History
  • Chapter 10 The Silencing of Woodrow Wilson,
    September 25, 1919 Peace, Normalcy and the Rise
    of American Isolationism
  • Chapter 11 The Day of Infamy, December 7, 1941
    Pearl Harbor and the
  • Transformation of the Modern World
  • Chapter 12 A Nation Mourns, November 22, 1963
    The Assassination of
  • John F. Kennedy and the End of American
  • Chapter 13 America Taken Hostage, November 4,
    1979 The Iranian Hostage Crisis and the
    Restructuring of the World Order
  • Chapter 14 Terrorists Stun America, September
    11, 2001 Negotiating Security and Liberty in the
    21st Century

How to use Currents in American History
For online maps, photos, primary sources, audio-
visuals, and questions that support CURRENTS IN
AMERICAN HISTORY, see this link
Teaching American History, 2006
Welcome to the SHSU Teaching American History
Site!   Here we will list resources for Summer
2006. Links Readings Presentations LINKS
Currents in American History http//www.sharpelear
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