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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Geography (GEOG)

GEOG 423Y (US) Historical Geography of North America (3) Exploration, settlement, and changing patterns of human occupance from the seventeenth century to the 1930s.

GEOG 432Y Historical Geography of North America (3)
(US)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.


This is an upper-division, writing-intensive course that presents an overview of current scholarship on the evolving historical geography of the continent. It does this through a set of lectures given by the instructor, through directed readings that will be the basis of class discussion, and centrally through research essays that offer students the opportunity to research, write and argue historical geographies. Research in historical geography is a process of engagement with partial evidence and with secondary material to open windows on aspects of past lives, past economies, and past places.

Since an introductory level overview of the historical geographies of the continent is presented in GEOG 122: The American Scene, this class does not offer a comprehensive survey of regions and periods. Rather, it focuses on three themes— staples and the colonial era, local transformations in agricultural and industrial communities in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the packaging of memory—as a way to expose students to primary evidence and current debates.
In the unit on the colonial era, the focus is on a variety of records that illuminate the development of economies based on staples such as fish, fur, tobacco, rice and iron, drawing on evidence from the Lords of Trade and Plantations in London, and from correspondence between merchants and planters, as well as scholarship on the material culture of houses, farms and settlements.

For the unit on local change, workshops illustrate how to tease out information from the manuscript census, county atlases and corporate histories; students then pursue similar material for a locale of their own choice and submit drafts of an evolving research essay. A short presentation to the class encourages the effective distillation of visual and data evidence to communicate research findings.

On the packaging of memory, the class critically examines how historic sites are presented, and how interpretations have changed in response to shifting academic and popular concerns.

Lectures are interspersed with discussions of readings, workshop demonstrations, and by student presentations. Eleven distinct writing exercises are used as the basis of allocating the overall grade.


General Education: None
Diversity: US
Bachelor of Arts: Social and Behavioral Science
Effective: Fall 2011
Prerequisite: GEOG 122 3 additional credits in geography or 6 credits American history

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.



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