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Readings in Early American History

by Marcus Rediker at the University of Pittsburgh

This intensive reading course is designed to acquaint graduate students with the rich, many-sided scholarship of early America. It will cover the period from roughly 1600 to 1800, focusing on topics such as European expansion, Native America, the origins and growth of slavery, the experience of women, and the development of capitalism. (The course does not consider the historiography of the American Revolution, which requires a course of its own.) Our emphasis on breadth (of subject matter and interpretation) will hopefully help students to prepare for comprehensive examinations. Throughout the semester we shall endeavor to take into account the research and reading interests of the members of the class.

Every week students will write short papers (two pages) that will be placed on reserve in the History Department office and read by all other members of the class before our meeting on Tuesday afternoon. (Papers will be due on Monday at noon.) Each student will also take responsibility for introducing one week's reading, setting it in context and outlining its scholarly reception for the class as a whole. There will be no final exam, no final paper. It is expected that every student will give maximum effort to the class and contribute to it (in writing and in discussion) in utterly serious and conscientious ways. Anyone who is not prepared to give such effort should not take the course.

The following books are available at the University of Pittsburgh Bookstore:

  • Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery.
  • Denys Del├óge, Bitter Feast: Amerindians and Europeans in Northeastern North America.
  • Richard S. Dunn, Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624-1713.
  • Jack P. Greene, Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture.
  • Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century New England.
  • Kenneth Lockridge, A New England Town: The First Hundred Years, Dedham, Massachusetts, 1636-1736.
  • Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia.
  • Gary B. Nash, The Urban Crucible: The Northern Seaports and the Origins of the American Revolution.
  • Mary Beth Norton, Founding Mothers and Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society.
  • Kirkpatrick Sale, The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy.
  • John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1680.
  • Eric Wolf, Europe and the People without History.
  • Peter H. Wood, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion.
  • Keith Wrightson, English Society, 1580-1680.

All reading materials have been placed on reserve at Hillman Library.

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