Old Dominion University
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Jane Merritt

Teaching Schedule, Fall 2012

HIST 346, Colonial and Revolutionary America, Tues/Thurs. 1:30 - 2:45 pm

HIST 346, Colonial and Revolutionary America, Tues/'Thurs. 4:20 - 5:35 pm

HIST 602, The American Revolution and Historical Memory, Wednesday 7:10 - 9:50 pm


General Course Offerings

HIST 201, Introduction to Historical Methods

HIST 201 prepares history majors for successful completion of their upper-division courses and introduces them to historical thinking on a variety of levels.  We examine the methods and mechanics of historical research, writing, and critical analysis, including the art of class presention.  The course focuses on building basic skills for conducting historical research including locating, utilizing, and evaluating sources.

HIST 345, Native American History

This course explores the history and culture of Native American peoples from the pre-Columbian period to the present day.  We focus on the ways that cultural interactions affected and transformed Indian beliefs, practices, and social structures in North America and the ways that American Indians, in turn, redefined themselves.  Issues and problems include:  Reconstructing the histories of oral cultures (methodology and its limitations); Cultural contact (the impact of contact on both American Indians and Europeans); Cultural identities (construction of "Indians" by Europeans and Native American concepts of self); Policies and politics (negotiating a working relationship between cultures and their relative success or failure); and Sovereignty and self-determination (contemporary struggles for political autonomy and natural resources).  We will also look at the complex relationship between popular images of Indians and the realities of their lives. 

HIST 346, Colonial and Revolutionary America

This course explores North American history from earliest contact between Europeans and Native Americans through the ratification of the federal constitution of 1787.  In particular we look at early American history through the interactions of a variety of peoples and cultures-Native American, European, and African.  We compare the early European settlements of Spain, France, and England, as well as Puritan New England, Quaker Pennsylvania, and Anglican Virginia and their interactions and effects on already established Native American communities.  We look at colonial expansion and migration in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to see how communities dealt with internal and external conflicts.  We examine the religious awakenings and revivals of the 1740s-60s and their effects on community order.  We probe the growing diversity of colonial regions, the disparities between western backcountry and the urban coastal regions, and the attempts at British imperial reform and control.  Finally, we explore the ideological underpinnings of the American movement for independence and the new political structures that emerged after the Revolution.

HIST 495 or 695, Indian Identity and the Ambiguities of Race

Today, with the social and economic implications of Native American tribal membership and the continuing fight over the allocation of natural resources, the question of what or who constitutes an Indian has become a politically contested idea.  Much of the new historical scholarship, influenced by anthropology as well as cultural studies and literary criticism, questions the presumed essential nature of Native American identity and the concept of race.  It is no longer accurate to assume there is one way of being Indian.  We will begin to explore and define the concept of Indianness and how it is represented historically.   Does Indian identity change over time and how?  If Indian cultures and communities incorporate elements of Euro-American cultural practices are they then less Indian?  In other words, how does one measure cultural identity?  We will also explore the implications this contested and porous concept of identity has for constructions of ethnicity and race in American society. 

HIST 495 or 602, The Atlantic World and Early America 

It no longer makes sense to look at Early American History simply as the evolution of thirteen British colonies clinging to the eastern seaboard of North America and their eventual struggle for independence.  Colonial America did not develop in isolation.  During the early modern period (1500 - 1800) global processes of imperial, economic, and demographic expansion drew British North America into transnational networks that spanned the Atlantic Ocean and brought European, African, and American inhabitants together in new and interesting ways.  While remaining grounded in the relatively familiar British American setting, this course explores the Atlantic World as a place, a process, and a new field of historical inquiry.

HIST 495 or 602, The American Revolution and Historical Memory

From 1776 on, the Revolution has been invoked repeatedly to explain the nature of American institutions and identity.  Indeed, because this era deals with the foundational story of the United States, Americans have difficulty separating facts from fiction.  Myths and legends that we learned as children sometimes substitute for more nuanced understandings of historical events.  This course will introduce the principal writings and interpretations of the era of the American Revolution from the mid-eighteenth century to the ratification of the Federal Constitution of 1787.  Weekly readings and class discussions focus on eighteenth-century American society and culture; the British Empire and its relationship to the colonies; the ideological underpinnings of the independence movement; the effects of revolution on women, African Americans, and Native Americans; popular political actions; and the attempts to create new forms of government in the aftermath of the war.  Perhaps more importantly, we will try to make sense of the role that historical memory played and still plays in our understanding of the American Revolution.

HIST 602, Readings in Early American History 

This course is designed to give entering graduate students, those preparing to take a masters examination, or those writing a thesis in early American history a broad introduction to the principal writings and interpretations of American history from the period of European colonization of America to the beginning of the American Revolution.  Weekly readings and class discussions focus on the development of American cultures and identities during the first two centuries of British colonization of North America (though we also look at Spanish and French presence).  Important to the development of American identities and the formation of American social, political, and economic life were the interactions between Native American, European, and African peoples, which involved both conflict and accommodation.  Besides providing an overview of early American history and historiography, the course also seeks to train students in the arts and habits of critical thought and expression.    

Contact Information

Email Jane T. Merritt

Office: 757.683.3949 or 3945

Fax: 757.683.5644

Office Hours (BAL 8022)

Fall 2012: Tues/Thurs. - 11:30 am - 1:00 pm and 3:00 - 4:00 pm, or by appointment


Research and Publications

Course descriptions