CC: The American West in the Age of Empire, 1802-1917 - Is the settlement of the "Wild West" something unique to the American experience, something so exceptional and significant that can even explain America's history and culture?  Or is it simply the American version of the expansionist and imperialist impulse shared by all powerful capitalist nations in the 19th century?  This class examines the major period of Euro-American settlement of the vast lands west of the Mississippi River.  But it goes far beyond the familiar story of "cowboys and Indians." In the same years when all European and some Asian powers expanded territory and exported governance, culture, racial ideologies, and economic structures abroad through colonization, the young United States sought to do the much the same on its "frontier." At the same time, the great American West of myth - full of self reliant pioneers, freedom loving cowboys, friendly prostitutes, gold miners, ranchers, and gamblers - was born, in novels, painting, photographs, wild west shows, and films, which themselves spread rapidly around the globe.  The importance of the frontier to the nation's idea of itself was reflected in the terrible anxiety Americans felt when in 1890 when the census announced the frontier was "closed."  This event set the stage for military expansionism into the Philippines, Cuba, and Central America and indeed a new role for American power in the 20th and 21st century world.




As a ConnCourse, this course makes connections across the liberal arts.

Enrollment Limit

Enrollment limited to 28 students.